One Luddites Journey Learning GIS

By: Genevieve Everett

Before graduate school I asked friends that had been through graduate programs for some advice, and again and again I was warned that it would fly by fast. They weren’t wrong. Here I am, deep into my final semester of graduate school wondering what happened to the time. I guess it’s true, time flies when you’re having fun….or when you’re really stressed out.

One of the most stressful courses I signed up for in this program was the “Applied Spatial Methods in Archaeology” class. This class consisted of learning/using ArcGIS to create viewsheds, data dictionaries, etc., out of archaeological data. I had never used GIS, and I am not the most technologically savvy person out there, so I knew going into this class that I would be out of my comfort zone. I got passing grades in the class, but there were very few moments where I felt fully confident using ArcGIS. It was frustrating, and I hated asking my classmates for help, because we all have our own stresses to deal with. Looking back, I was so thankful that I took the class, because it has been immensely useful since.

Fake Boundary to show use of Websoil Survey and ArcGIS

This past summer working for PennDOT as a PHAST intern I used ArcGIS all the time to georeference historic maps, historic aerials, engineering plans, and to draw in project area boundaries, which I converted into maps for reports. One of my favorite uses of GIS is creating an AOI in Web Soil Survey, which creates a shapefile showing the soil(s) in the project area. First you upload the project area boundary into Web Soil Survey, which displays the project area boundary (in the real world coordinates that you set in ArcGIS), and the soils present within it. You then download the shapefile associated with the AOI, and bring it into ArcGIS. I created a fake project boundary to show what the end product looks like. In this example there are two soils present, 14B and 214A, which have unique names. For example, 14B, which makes up 98% of this fake project boundary is called Sheepscot. Sheepscot is a cobbly very fine sandly loam. Web Soil Survey also provides information about elevation, slope, farmland classification, typical stratigraphic profile information, and parent material. All of this information comes in handy when writing technical reports.

Another reason I am really glad I took that class is that I have been using ArcGIS heavily for my thesis. Part of my thesis is conducting a spatial analysis of lithics and lithic raw material from a Paleoindian site in New Hampshire, in comparison to another site nearby. By extension, I am attempting to determine what type of activity or activities were being carried out in this area. With the help of Dr. Chadwick, classmates, past theses, and my own problem solving (mostly through the ESRI website), I have made a lot of progress and learned a few new things. One of those things was creating a “fishnet” to create the excavation block grid out of two datum points, because there is no GPS data. Most recently I taught myself how to create Choropleth maps. Choropleth maps display where individual or multiple artifacts are in relation to one another in the excavation block using color gradients. As you can see in the image, each color is correlated with a particular number of Waste Flakes, and the quadrants for which they were found. For example, the red quadrants in the “Total Waste Flakes K-Block” image are the quadrants that have a higher count of waste flakes (90-176). I am also looking at the distribution of artifacts by Zone (or Strat), which are easily displayed in these Choropleth maps for comparison (shown below). My next step is to take these Choropleth maps, and do hot spot/cluster analysis.

The moral of the story? Try something new, even if it scares you. It’s cliché, but you’ll never know if you don’t try.

IUP ANTHROPOLOGY DEPARTMENT

Working At the Carnegie Museum: A Love Affair.

By: Kristina Gaugler

The Carnegie Museum and I have a long history.

Early photograph of the Hall of Architecture

I was born and raised in the North Side of Pittsburgh, and like many a “city kid” I was shuttled by school bus to and from the Carnegie Museum throughout grade school, middle school, and high school. I have vivid memories of sitting at the long wooden tables in the museum cafeteria, under enormous glass windows, scarfing my brown bag lunch so I could get back to exploring. I was the kid who shushed classmates who were interrupting the docents, who asked a thousand questions, read every single word on the exhibit displays, and who didn’t want to leave at the end of the day. When I was an angst-ridden teenager, I would hang out at the museum after school, moping around the hall of architecture or sitting alone in the replica Egyptian tomb. Visiting the museum now, so many years later, I still have the same feelings of comfort and wonder as I did when I was younger. As an archaeologist and general history enthusiast, I love all museums, but the Carnegie definitely holds a special place for me. It feels like my museum.

My purpose in writing this post is to share some of my experiences working and volunteering at the Carnegie. I hope that I also highlight the notion that outreach programs and education within public institutions is valuable, worth our efforts, and fun for people of all ages.

I went to the University of Pittsburgh for my undergraduate in anthropology. While attending Pitt I had a work-study position through the Carnegie at the “Bone Hunters Quarry,” where I taught visitors (mostly school groups) about extinct animals through the excavation of a fake site. I learned that if you gave a small child a chisel and told them to dig wherever they wanted, you were very likely to ignite a spark within them that excited their curiosity in the past. Although, on occasion a spark was ignited within them to throw the chisel, sometimes narrowly missing your own head, those times were fun too. Either way, this was the first time that I really began to discover how much I enjoyed talking to visitors about archaeology and history.

Talking with visitors during Artifact I.D. day at the Carnegie

After graduating from Pitt, I found work as an archaeological field technician. Eventually though, I decided that I wanted to take a break from full time field work to prepare to go back to graduate school. Through a series of fortunate events I began, once again, to work for the Carnegie Museum. This time I volunteered at the Edward O’Neil Research Center, which is the Carnegie Museums off-site collections facility. My supervisor and friend, Amy Covell, allowed me the freedom to work on projects that interested me in the lab. When I started volunteering at the annex, the building was in the process of being renovated and many artifacts were going to be moved to new locations. Thus, I began my time there by helping to build permanent supports for fragile materials, including prehistoric pottery, stone tools, and glass artifacts. I learned proper handling of artifacts in accordance with the most current curatorial procedures, and I learned conservation techniques used in cleaning objects, including removing old plastics, adhesives, and ink that were used in the early days of museum storage and curation.

My favorite task at the museum however, was to be a part of the educational outreach programs. Last June I had the opportunity to speak with visitors about archaeology during the Carnegie’s “After Dark Program,” a monthly series where guests can come to the museum in the evening to explore, eat, drink, and hear lectures on various subjects. Another one of my favorite programs at the museum is “Artifact Identification Day.” This event gives visitors the opportunity to bring in their heirlooms and artifacts to have them identified by staff. It is always amazing, and sometimes humorous (see photo of me holding a Lodoicea) to help identify the items that people bring.

Holding a Lodoicea, or sea coconut, during Artifact I.D. Day. Lodoicea is the largest seed in the world! (And yes, it does look like a butt)

 

I have often thought of the Carnegie as being a museum of a museum. The Carnegie began acquiring artifacts and creating exhibits over a hundred years ago, and many of those early exhibits and artifacts are still on display. Working and volunteering at the museum gave me the opportunity to be a part of the team of people who were helping to conserve and protect these cherished items for future generations. To me, protecting artifacts and archaeological sites begins by showing people why they should care about them. For this reason, programs and institutions that promote stewardship of the past are incredibly important. History is made up of millions of stories. One of those stories is bound to pique the interest of someone! I’m very thankful for my time at the Carnegie, and I look forward to many more years of learning and visiting!

Photo of “Early Hall of Architecture” from: http://carnegiemuseums.org/about-us/our-history/

IUP DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY

“Me Too”: Taking a Stance Against Work-Place Harassment in Archaeology

By: Genevieve Everett

I’ve been thinking a lot about the “Me Too” movement and how women have been affected by work related harassment and assault within the field of Archaeology. As a woman coming to the end of my graduate studies, I am preparing for a future of working as a “field-based scientist”. I have been thinking about what it means to be a woman in the sciences, and the unpleasant experiences so many women have experienced and endured in the not so distant past. I obviously cannot speak for every individual that identifies as female, but I can say that the subject of work place harassment and assault has only recently been publicly addressed, and quantified in two well-known (within the field of Archaeology) surveys. The results of the surveys were provided by the Southeastern Archaeological Conference (SEAC) in “Preliminary Results of the SEAC Sexual Harassment Survey” (Meyers et al. 2015), and in the article, “Survey of Academic Field Experiences (SAFE): Trainees Report Harassment and Assault” (Clancy et al. 2014). While the SEAC survey is very important, and sheds light on improper work related harassment (when is it ever proper?) specific to archaeology, I am going to briefly discuss the SAFE survey.

It should be noted, not all respondents to the SAFE survey were Archaeologists, however, Archaeologists did account for 159 of the respondents (23%), out of a total of 666 total respondents (Clancy et al. 2014). The SAFE survey was distributed as a link through email and social media calling for field-based scientists, such as CRM professionals. Participants were asked to respond to a series of questions pertaining to age, gender, etc. And most importantly, questions related to sexual harassment and assault, whether personal or observed.

In terms of demographics, the results indicate that 77.5% of the respondents were women (Clancy et al. 2014). Likewise, various respondents provided varying sexual orientations and ethnicities, however, majority of respondents were heterosexual and white. Professionally, respondents included, students (grad/undergrad), professors (of all levels), researchers, and all others outside of the field of academia. Long story short, the survey indicated that women at the “Trainee” level of the employment ladder provided that they have experienced either harassment, assault, or both at higher rates than any other professional. For example, 84% of women at the trainee level indicated that they have experienced some sort of work related harassment, while women in “higher” positions experienced lower rates of harassment (Clancy et. al 2014). In the survey, most women indicated that the perpetrators were higher on the “professional hierarchy”, people in “power”.

If we look at trends of the “Me Too” movement, women around the country are coming out with allegations against men of “power”, individuals that control the purse strings. It might not seem like it, but what’s happening in Hollywood and politics is also happening in Archaeology (made clear in the SAFE survey), and it has been happening for a very long time. I’ve heard people say, “Why are women all of a suddenly speaking out?” They’re not “suddenly” speaking out, many women have come forward, but we haven’t heard about it, because the individuals that are, are either not famous enough or they have been ordered under legal agreements to keep silent about the case. I think it’s great that the systemic problem of work place harassment and assault are being addressed in our field, but more needs to be done. I’d be very curious to see the results of a similar survey now, in 2018, when women are banding together to support one another and speak out. I’d like to see responses to how men and women would like to see and contribute to a safe working environment. How can this be achieved? I completely agree with Clancy and her colleagues that the only way to improve the unwanted and uncomfortable situations in the field is, “raising awareness of the presence of hostile work behaviors, discrimination, harassment, and assault (particularly women); creating guidelines for respectful behavior; and adopting independent reporting and enforcement mechanisms” (Clancy et al. 2014). The only way forward is to re-educate professionals, for BOTH men and women at all levels of the profession to take a hard stance against work place assault and harassment, and support those that still fall victim to these experiences.

IUP DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY

My Brief Encounter with a Metal Detecting Hobbyist (Not a Love Story)

By: Genevieve Everett

Over break I was out doing some Christmas shopping at my boyfriends favorite fly shop in Pittsburgh. He spends A LOT of time (and money) there, so he’s gotten to know the staff pretty well, and by default, I have too. Anyway, seeing as I am clueless about fly-fishing one of the staff, Sharon was helping me pick out fly tying material. Sharon proudly introduced me to another regular customer: “This is Gen, she’s studying Archaeology”. The man that she introduced me to immediately decided to tell me that he and his buddies go metal detecting, and all of the “cool” stuff that they’ve found, including, Civil War era buttons, and so on. I nodded as he went on and on about taking objects from areas they knew they were not supposed to be taking them from. He continued to defend his side (at this point I couldn’t get a word in) by stating in some many words, “Why can’t I take these objects and teach my grand children about the past when institutions like the Smithsonian have repositories where artifact assemblages just sit there for years collecting dust?”

Before I go on to tell you how I responded, I will go on to tell you the little that I know about metal detecting in archaeology. Metal detecting is often used as a tool by archaeologists at battlefield and fort sites (Gettysburg, Fort Necessity, etc), because, well, there’s a lot of metal where gunpowder is involved. For example, this summer, the PHAST crew and myself did a metal detecting survey at Fort Deshler, a French and Indian War era fort in Pennsylvania. There are also strict laws (that vary by state) that dictate where and when you can metal detect. According to the Society for American Archaeology, there are distinctions made between private, state, and federal property. If on private property, one must have written permission from the landowner, otherwise it is considered trespassing. Same goes for state property, but this varies by state. Finally, it is typically illegal to metal detect on federal property without a federal permit, much like any federal archaeological work. Metal dectors are definitely breaking the law if they’re disturbing and recovering artifacts from an archaeological site. The moral of the story is, if you’re a metal detecting hobbyist, you better know the laws surrounding the hobby, or you could face jail time and/or fines.

Okay, so my response to the man? I understood where the man was coming from in his final point, so, I didn’t want to come off as “snooty” or “preachy”, because if I’ve learned anything about dealing with the public, that is the first way to make collectors go on the defensive. I told him that his exploits sound really interesting, because, hey, the guy seems like he’s fascinated by the past, even if how he chooses to learn about it is possibly illegal. However, I did tell him that as an archaeologist I have a few suggestions for future metal detecting. I went on to say that he could get in a lot of trouble if he continues to do what he’s doing, especially if the land he’s doing it on is protected. I told him to read up on Pennsylvania metal detecting laws, and if ever in doubt, and when possible, ask for written permission. I told him to photograph and record what he finds and where before pocketing it. In addition, I explained that leaving the found object in the ground, and marking/photographing the location is ideal, and to follow that up by contacting the state archaeologists of the find. By contacting the proper people, he would be making a contribution to the understanding of the past.

I know this guy might not change his ways, but maybe he will? It’s hard to say, since this was such a brief encounter. Before my time in the IUP Applied Archaeology MA Program (no, this is not a plug for the program!) I would not have felt as confident in speaking up about collecting/looting. Like I said above, learning to talk with collectors in a civil manner is the only way to reeducate them about their actions. We may not be able to get through to everyone, but it’s worth the try.

IUP DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY

Tools of the Trade: Actual Archaeology at PennDOT

By : Angela Jaillet-Wentling

From underneath a rusty 1927 Studebaker coupe car (an antique even in my youth) frame, my Papa called out to myself and my brother, “Can one of you kids hand me a the flat-head screwdriver with the stubby handle?” At the ripe old ages of six and four, we may very well have handed him a pair of pliers for all we knew.  He’d roll out on his card dolly with a smile, accuse us of being monkey wrenches, show us the tool he’d meant and head back under an engine most people had given up on fifty years prior. What I’d learned from my Papa, even as I spent more time playing with and picking on my younger brother, was that every job has a tool and some tools are more appropriate than others.

Photo 1. Shovel testing /Phase I archaeological survey, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. Courtesy Angie Jaillet-Wentling (2017).

One of the first things about archaeology that I found re latable was this idea. I also like dirt, so it’s worked out well as a life/career choice for me! I began my career in Cultural Resources Management (CRM) in transportation through an internship with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). As a note though, when I told my Papa that I wanted to be an archaeologist and there were jobs for in places like PennDOT, he laughed and hit me with one of the biggest myths I face as a transportation archaeologist “So, you’re going to hold up progress on the highways?!” Another thing my Papa taught me is that you can face almost anything with humor and a quick response. Being new to the profession, I don’t know that I had a good response to his question other than to laugh, give him a mock grumpy look, and say it wasn’t true. This is still true, but now I can tell him we rarely “hold up” a project and that we’re there to ensure that we don’t inadvertently lose out on our shared heritage by pushing projects through without consideration.

As a PennDOT archaeologist, we’re hired as historic preservation specialists and called Cultural Resource Professionals (CRPs) (https://www.paprojectpath.org/penndot-crm/home).  We help guide the implementation of PennDOT’s cultural resources program and the ways in which the individual engineering districts navigate the Section 106 (of the National Historic Preservation Act, as amended [1966, 2016]) (http://www.achp.gov/nhpa.pdf) process and how it may affect the overarching National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (1969) (https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/ceq/NEPA_full_text.pdf), process.  On a more localized level, what this means is that I work as one part of a team which includes myself covering below-ground cultural resources and my counterpart, an architectural historian, covering the above-ground cultural resources realm. We attend design field views early in the project planning process, provide guidance as to what studies may be needed, sometimes performing these studies ourselves, and ensure that each project follows the process in the most efficient way possible. We’re responsible for Findings of Effect or the determination of whether a project’s activities will affect cultural resources and, if so, how PennDOT can mitigate for that impact.

Photo 2. Backhoe Sounding of Ground-Penetrating Radar survey, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Courtesy Angie Jaillet-Wentling (2017).

That all sounds awfully convoluted and legal, and it is, but it’s also done in equal parts archaeology technical know-how and documentation (findings, reports, and even public outreach).  On any given day, I can be found roadside wielding a soil probe or shovel to determine the extent of previous disturbances (Photo 1) or monitoring the removal of modern overburden by a backhoe to ground-truth the results of a ground-penetrating radar survey (Photo 2) or floating in a kayak in freezing weather to delineate canal resources (Photo 3) or pecking away on my keyboard to notify Federally-Recognized Tribes and Nations across the nation of project status or preparing legally-binding programmatic agreements.  We conduct background research on our projects to provide the best guidance possible and sometimes this gives us a better idea of the methods we’d like to use to investigate differing project areas and potential cultural resources.

Preparing haphazardly for this blog post, I asked Gen Everett what she’d like me to write about.  She though that I should discuss what I do as a CRP and possibly advice for graduates heading towards CRM.  There’s a joke archaeologists like to tell about classifying artifacts, you’re either a lumper or a splitter – as in you either associate or you differentiate the different characteristics of artifacts. I’m going to lump what I find most critical to completion of my daily duties and advice into one basic idea: know your tools and to do this ask questions! 

Photo 3. Canal survey of a portion of the Kiskiminetas River, Westmoreland and Armstrong Counties, Pennsylvania. Left: Angie Jaillet-Wentling. Middle Background: Railroad Trestle. Right: Canal Towpath Bridge Abutment. Courtesy Don Burden (2017).

Archaeology and CRM is filled with resources (and not just the cultural/archaeological/historical kind) in both its practitioners and its methodologies. Familiarize yourself with different methods of investigation so that you can develop a nuanced and effective approach to identifying and evaluating cultural resources that may be impacted by a project. This means that you might need to move beyond the standard shovel testing to remote sensing methods to backhoe trenches. You should be comfortable with the different options, so that you’re confident in choosing the most appropriate tool for the task.  To be comfortable and confident, familiarize yourself with the methods and the people that know them best understanding that you might not be the expert, but you know who is. You can’t come by this knowledge without putting in the research and asking questions!

Once you get to the point where you have something to impart, be it knowledge or support, it probably doesn’t hurt to share it with others. I think this applies to research and experience. What’s the use in learning about our history, if you can’t use that to help others increase awareness?  Publish and present what you can.  Graduate students in the future will likely cite it or critique it, but it furthers your field of study.  I was very fortunate to have early and often mentorship from PennDOT, in the form of the usually laughing and story-telling, Mr. Joe Baker. I count myself even more fortunate in my latest stint as a PennDOT CRP, because we get to work with and help mentor the PennDOT Highway Archaeology Survey Team (PHAST) (https://iblog.iup.edu/trowelsandtribulations/tag/phast/, https://iblog.iup.edu/trowelsandtribulations/2017/08/31/my-summer-as-a-phast-intern/, or https://iblog.iup.edu/trowelsandtribulations/2016/07/13/pennsylvania-highway-archaeological-survey-team-midseason-update/comment-page-1/). It’s a joy to hear their questions, answer what I can, and pose some back to them.

Angie Jaillet-Wentling

Angela Jaillet-Wentling, M.A., RPA | Historic Preservation Specialist

PA Department of Transportation

Bureau of Project Delivery | Cultural Resources Unit

CRP Archaeologist Engineering Districts 12-0/11-0

 

IUP ANTHROPOLOGY DEPARTMENT

VA to PA: Musings From A First Year Graduate Student

By: Jessie Hoover

 

Excavations at Hanna’s Town

Hello, my name is Jessie Hoover, and I am a first-year graduate student of the Applied Archaeology Program. My fieldwork over the summer of 2017 consisted of two field schools. First, from May to June, I supervised undergraduates, through Longwood University, at the Randy K. Wade site in Randolph, Virginia. I fell in love with this site! It is so rich in cultural material; every feature is bound to have at least five full bags of artifacts! The site is a Late Woodland period site located in the Stanton River Battlefield State Park. I lived out of a tent for four weeks, braving wind, rain, and bugs (sometimes all three at once). I woke up one morning with a bug bite right below my eye, causing major swelling, but I reminded myself that it was all in the name of archaeology! The most interesting find was a pile of corn cobs within a fire pit feature. The way the corn cobbs laid looked like they were just thrown into a fire yesterday, reminding me to remember the people that occupied the area, not just the artifacts.

After moving to Pennsylvania in July, I started IUP’s field school at Hanna’s Town in Westmoreland County, PA. This site reminded me that not every site is going to resemble the Wade site. Sam Edwards and I worked weeks in a 5’ x 5’ unit with barely any artifacts to show for it. We did find a few interesting features, which were small post holes a semicircle. Unfortunately, the lack of artifacts makes it hard to draw conclusions from these features.

Me with Representative Eric Nelson visiting excavations at Hanna’s Town

Once my archaeology season ended it was time to hit the books with the start of my first semester of grad school. I was nervous and excited about going to grad school and moving to another state. Luckily I was not too nervous about the actual school work since I only took a year off from school. I knew time management was key and avoiding procrastination (Netflix) at all costs was important coming into the program, but knowing and implementing time management are drastically different! To support myself thought my first semester, I had to get a part-time job. Course work and job shifts have proved quite the balancing act; I have needed to make many adjustments. During the beginning weeks, I never gave myself a break. Between work and reading assignments, I always felt overwhelmed. I really had to have a heart-to-heart with myself to set aside time to do something fun and take a break before insanity takes its toll. Because of this decision, I have been able to get closer to my cohort, which has done wonders for my morale. Your cohort and professors are there to HELP YOU, this cannot be stressed enough! Since it is close to Thanksgiving, I am highly thankful for my cohort and the others who have come into my life since beginning of my grad school journey. Whether we are working on Barber assignments or just hanging out, the support has made this experience easier.

IUP DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY

Yes, Archaeology is a Science Too…

By: Genevieve Everett

For the past few weeks the Public Archaeology class and I have been preparing to host the high school students involved in the Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) program. The Upward Bound program aims to serve, “high school students from low-income families; and high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree” (U.S. Department of Education). UBMS, a local branch of Upward Bound, prepares high school students for college with the possibility of pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). The UMBS students are required to come to IUPs campus one Saturday a month for tutoring sessions and/or workshops. This month (November) the students woke up bright and early to participate in four archaeology centric workshops.

In planning for the workshops, our class brainstormed a theme and three objectives to convey the scientific aspects of archaeology. We chose the theme, “Scientific Method” (a concept most high school students have learned), and our three objectives were to show how the scientific method is used in archaeology, highlight the inter-disciplinary aspects of archaeology, and how math and technology aid archaeology. Most importantly, our goal was to provide a hands-on experience that actively engaged the students as opposed to simply teaching them through lecture. The four workshops developed by our class include: Dendrochronology/Archaeoclimatology, Geophysics/archaeology, how to lay out test units (using the Pythagorean Theorem), and dissecting owl pellets/zooarchaeology.

Jessie and I partnered up, and decided to create a dendrochronology workshop, which evolved into a focus on what tree rings (annual growth of a tree) can tell us about past climate events and how this may have effected settlement and subsistence in the past (Archaeoclimatology). I for one knew little about the methods behind “dendro”; therefore, it was a personal learning experience for me. Our learning objectives for this workshop were to show how archaeologists use dendrochronology and the limitations of the dating methods, and the ability to look for past climatic events in tree rings and their effects on the surrounding environment.

One of the horizontal cross cut hand-outs

Jessie and I created a few PowerPoint slides explaining what dendrochronology is and what each tree ring can tell us about the trees growth (i.e. wider rings=healthy growth, smaller rings=dry seasons, less healthy growth). With this information, Jessie and I gave the students two hand-outs displaying horizontal cross cuts of trees that represented two hypothetical beams from two log cabins found in close proximity on the North American Great Plains. In this hypothetical scenario, Jessie and I, the archaeologists asked the students to help determine the first year of growth of each beam, the year each tree was cut, and which drought event (The Dust Bowl or the 1890’s Drought) was present based on the tree rings. The students were given two dates: 1886 and 1919 for first year of growth from which they were asked to count out toward the outer most ring (last year cut) to find the climate event and the year the tree was cut. Likewise, they were asked to make observations and work together to figure out the three objectives of the activity.

A good portion of the students (sorry, no hard statistics) were able to determine the first year of growth by testing out the two dates for first year of growth (1886 and 1919) on one hand-out at a time by counting out and up in time. Counting out and up in time allowed the students to pin-point where the climate events occurred, and finally the year the tree was cut. Other students needed a few hints to get them going. We rounded out the activity by explaining that dendrochronology is by no means a perfect dating tool, instead, we weigh the date from dendro against other methods such as radiocarbon dating and diagnostic artifacts from excavations. Additionally, we discussed the impacts of climate on humans in the past based on our own knowledge of the effects in contemporary contexts.

Overall, as a student of archaeology with an interest in Public Archaeology, this was as much an educational experience for me as it was for them. I’ve had minimal opportunities to interact with the public other than what I’ve done for my graduate assistantship and at field school. When working with the public, especially high school aged kids, you have to be able to balance all the different learning styles (tactile, visual, auditory, etc) in one workshop. This is definitely not easy, and I give teachers props that are able to balance them all. I think that if Jessie and I had a little more time to develop the activity, that our workshop could have the potential to be a valuable teaching tool for all learning styles. One major take away from the student evaluations is that these kids want less lecture and more hands-on activities. Personally, I think that we provided them with plenty of opportunities for hands-on learning, but the audience has spoken, and as educators, it is our duty to adapt to these “criticisms” and work on making these workshops more fun and engaging.

IUP DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY

Growing Up In Cemeteries, Pt 2.

By: Zane Ermine

Hello everyone! This is Zane Ermine again with another blog post! This week I’m going to be talking about headstone symbolism throughout the last 300 or so years in North America. (I should note that this is an extremely brief generalization based off of my previous knowledge and some basic research).

Headstones and cemetery engravings have changed drastically throughout the years. From the onset of using stone markers to designate burials, there were often intricate designs incorporated with the name, birth and death dates of the individual onto the face of the stone. These were usually carved with a hammer and chisel and due to the time and effort that were necessary to process an individual monument, set designs were chosen and offered to the families. These designs had themes that were common throughout the industry.

Here are just a handful of the more common symbols:

Dogwood – often a symbol of Christianity, it can also represent eternal life and resurrection.

Dove Often representative of the Holy Spirit, also symbolizes peace in death or the ascension to Heaven.

Dove

Draped Urn – the urn is an ancient symbol of death – often draped with a cloth to represent a separation between life and death

Draped Urn

Wheat – the Grim Reaper is generally depicted as carrying a scythe – can represent a life well lived, harvested at its time.

Lamb – common on children’s stones, it can represent innocence – a lamb in Jesus’ flock

Lamb

 

Example of Greek temple style monument

Eventually, tombstones grew into a status symbol – you can often tell which family had the most money by their large and intricately carved family stone. These headstones were often influenced by the popular architecture of the time; you can find Egyptian or Greek style stones during their respective revivals between the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Around the 1930s, some companies began slowly adopting sandblast technology to engrave their headstones. Rubber was (and still is) used as a stencil to prevent the sand from eroding sections of the stone that are meant to remain untouched. The technology has remained relatively stable since this period, despite varying methods for attaching the rubber and the introduction of computer software. Currently, adhesive-backed rolls of rubber are cut from a stencil cutting machine and placed on the blank monument die. The machine cuts the stencil directly from a CAD program and a to scale computer draft of the stone.

A modern headstone, showing detailed sandblast work. The 3 symbols across the bottom represent the deceased’s various hobbies.

These days, symbolism seems to have taken a back seat to artistic creativity. Modern technology has drastically increased the range of designs that can be placed onto a monument – instead of hand-carving designs, computers and automated sandblast machines do much of the work. Some of the older staples, such as dogwood, doves, roses, or clasping hands have stuck around, although this is more likely due to tradition or aesthetic values, rather than symbolism. Customers can now choose from wider range of designs including sports emblems, cartoon characters, or a variety of animals or vehicles. The art of tombstone design has shifted from inert symbolism to a more blatant pictorial representation of an individual’s life.

Material Referenced:

https://www.in.gov/dnr/historic/3747.htm

http://washtenawhistory.org/images/tombstone_symbols_v8.pdf

http://www.graveaddiction.com/symbol.html

http://www.thecemeteryclub.com/symbols.html

http://www.creepybasement.com/cemetery-symbols/

Images Referenced:

http://washtenawhistory.org/images/tombstone_symbols_v8.pdf

http://www.davismonumentspa.com/specialty-monuments

 

IUP DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY

Growing Up In Cemeteries Pt. 1

By: Zane Ermine

Hello everyone! My name is Zane Ermine and I’m a second year graduate student of the Applied Archaeology program. Gen had originally asked me to write a post about what I had done this summer. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get away from work for a long enough period, so I didn’t really have time for anything archaeology related. So, I’ve decided to share a hobby of mine – something related to historic preservation in which my dad and I have been volunteering our time for the last 5 or so years.

My dad and I take pictures of tombstones. It sounds weird when you put it bluntly like that, but there’s a legitimate reason for it – genealogy. The pictures are taken for a group called BillionGraves; their purpose is to allow individuals to easily find their loved one’s headstones and graves through the internet. It has the secondary (but in my opinion, significantly more important) function of recording cemetery data for the longevity and digitalization of cemetery records.

BillionGraves has a model similar to Find-A-Grave, the popular cemetery search engine that’s been around for years. Where they differ is that BillionGraves is trying to document entire cemeteries with GPS coordinates, as well as a photo for each individual burial. After the photos are uploaded, other volunteers transcribe the information carved onto the stone so that it becomes searchable.

It can be hard to understand the importance of this kind of documentation until you are in a cemetery where most of the headstones are unreadable from the wear of time. Headstones have been particularly affected in SW PA due to industrialization and acid rain. Losing a headstone is akin to losing an entire person – but somehow it happens all the time. Cemeteries overgrow, stones weather, and people forget. It’s a sad truth, but with photographs and written records, some of the loss can be mitigated.

Since I’ve started photographing for the site, I’ve taken 59,954 pictures in 401 cemeteries across 9 states. I don’t know how many entire cemeteries we’ve taken, but it’s definitely over 100 at this point.

My family has been in the monument industry for over 100 years – I grew up in cemeteries, and through the family business, I spend a lot of time in cemeteries. It’s amazing to see all the different levels of craftsmanship, the different stone materials, and how the styles have evolved over the years – and through a process like this, I can experience every stone in a cemetery individually. It’s something I thoroughly enjoy while also taking comfort in knowing that the information can be genuinely useful in the long run.

I’m going to leave you with some of the most famous headstones I’ve personally taken for the site. If anyone has any questions, I can be reached at ddkw@iup.edu.

Andy Warhol – St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery, Bethel Park, PA

Herbert Morrison – Scottdale Cemetery, Scottdale, PA The radio announcer for the Hindenburg Disaster (Oh, the humanity!)

 

Mister Fred Rogers –- Unity Cemetery, Latrobe, PA buried in his mother’s family’s mausoleum

Edward “Blackbeard” Teach – Ocracoke Island, NC Has no headstone, decapitated and buried at sea, marker is the closest thing to a headstone

Francis Scott Key – Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Frederick, MD Wrote the Star-Spangled Banner

 

Zane’s father (far left), Zane (next to his father), and two of their workers rotated this statue, because it was facing away from the cemetery.

 

IUP DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY

Drowning in Dirty Dishes: My Thesis Research At Pandenarium

By: Samantha Taylor

Upon enrolling in graduate school, I had a pretty clear understanding of what aspects of archaeology interested me the most: the African Diaspora and historic ceramics. I never imagined that I would actually be able to pull those two interests together into a thesis topic, but here I am over a year later, waist-deep in artifacts from my thesis site.

The Half-Cellar Foundation at the John and Rosie Allen Residence

My thesis research is on Pandenarium, an antebellum (pre-Civil War) African American diaspora site in northwestern Pennsylvania. In its prime, Pandenarium was home to dozens of ex-slaves who had been freed by their owner, Virginia physician Charles Everett, upon his death. Along with freeing his former slaves, Everett’s will also funded the creation of a modest-sized settlement in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. The freed people of Pandenarium arrived to the settlement in the fall of 1854 to find 24 furnished houses that were built by the local abolitionists. Rosie Allen, a first generation occupant of Pandenarium, was quoted saying that the settlement was “just like heaven.” Despite the economic pull of nearby cities such as Sharon, New Castle, and Mercer, Pandenarium was inhabited until the 1930s.

Excavating Test Unit 2 during the first day of the Public Archaeology Event

My research focuses specifically on a single household at Pandenarium belonging to John and Rosie Allen, the original inhabitants and first-generation freed slaves at the site. In particular, I want to compare the ceramics found around the Allen’s half-cellar foundation to those recovered from a nearby (the Old Economy Village), another antebellum freed African American site (Timbuctoo, New Jersey), and a Virginia plantation that neighbored Everett’s (Monticello, Virginia). The comparative analysis focuses on structures at each of these sites that date approximately to the same time period that Pandenarium was inhabited. By conducting this analysis I hope to determine what types of ceramics the Allen’s were using, how they were using them, and in what ways they were participating in the local and regional economy.

After nearly four months of deliberation and planning with my thesis committee, my thesis fieldwork began on July 14th 2017 and was completed September 17th  2017. Of course there was a month-long break in between those dates in which no fieldwork occurred and my hands (and brain?) were bleeding from all of the washing and cataloging I was doing. Fieldwork consisted of a total of 28 shovel tests around the half-cellar foundation, and two judgmental 1-meter by 1-meter test units.

Both professionals and the interested public were involved in the weekends activities

In order to accomplish this I enlisted the help of my committee, fellow graduate students, and the public. The first weekend of fieldwork went without problem. I was assisted by my amazing mentor, Casey Campetti, and was able to clear the land, lay out my STP grid, and even finish digging the first three STPs. However the next three weekends were riddled with bad weather and poor field conditions, causing me to cancel a total of four days of field work. By the first week of August, 25 of my STPs were completed but we were unable to begin the two test units. Angela Jaillet-Wentling, one of my committee members and the only other person to conduct archaeological research at Pandenarium, and I were able to organize a public archaeology weekend at the site in order to introduce the site to the public and finish up my fieldwork.

Pandenarium’s inaugural Public Archaeology Event occurred on September 16th and 17th. The invitation was extended to the local Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology chapter, graduate students and anthropology professors at IUP, retired veterans, a reporter from a local newspaper, and interested members of the local government. A total of 19 individuals attended the public event, 8 of which participated both days. The event consisted of a site tour, a quick informative speech about the site, the excavation of two test units and three STPs, along with a lunch generously provided by the Jaillet-Wentling clan. The event was also featured on the front page of the Record Argus Newspaper on September 24th, 2017. Overall, feedback from the Public Archaeology Event at Pandenarium was positive and most attendants were interested in attending future public archaeol

A small sample of some of the unique artifacts found at Pandenarium

ogy events. Angie and I hope to assist in hosting more public archaeology events at Pandenarium in the future, as the site is a rare glimpse into a marginalized past.

Following Pandenarium’s Public Archaeology Event, my fieldwork was completed and I have been in cataloging hell. I’m being dramatic, I actually really enjoy cataloging, researching, and analyzing everything that has been unearthed at Pandenarium. To date, I have cataloged and washed 3,226 artifacts from Pandenarium. Also, I currently have a really awesome undergraduate student assisting me with washing! So far this whole “thesis” thing has been a really insane, stressful, and educational experience. I feel as though I’ve really grown as an archaeologist and a person. My future goals for this site are the following: to get Pandenarium listed on the National Register, to track down descendants and get them more involved in archaeology and research at the site, and to hopefully inspire someone *cough* Dr. Ford *cough* to start an undergraduate field school at the site.

In the meantime, if you have questions shoot me an email (TJKW@iup.edu) and keep yourself updated on my research by following the hashtag #Pandenarium2017.

Pandenarium Public Archaeology Day 2017 Article

IUP ANTHROPOLOGY DEPARTMENT