Monitoring at Fort Necessity

By: Matthew Bjorkman

 Over the summer I was the crew chief for a monitoring project at Fort Necessity in Farmington, PA. This was my first opportunity to work professionally as a crew chief, as well as my first experience with monitoring work. Monitoring is different than most archaeology jobs. Our job was to watch and monitor a construction crew working at the site, and make sure that no archaeological resources were disturbed. If archaeological resources were unearthed, we would need to excavate and document the resources in a timely manner, so work could continue. The crew and I would also have to provide information to the construction crew, comprised of non-archaeologists, about what we were seeing and about the possible impacts the construction could have on archaeological features or artifacts.

The machinery and crews at work.

The construction crew was working to remove an old parking lot and retention pond that were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) in the 1930s. At the time of the construction of the parking lot and retention berm, the National Park Service (NPS) had a philosophy of getting visitors as close to the park as the possible and having the park in good condition to receive these visitors. The CCC parking lot is located just northeast of the reconstructed fort, so close that visitors at the time would not even need to exit their vehicle to see the fort. The retention pond was constructed to help control drainage and make the park more accessible. For some back story, Fort Necessity is located in a large, natural clearing called the Great Meadows. At the time of the battle in 1754, the Great meadows would have been less inviting to human traffic than it is today. The two creeks in the meadow (Great Meadow Run and Indian Run) would have snaked through the meadow and would have been surrounded by grasses and wetland plants. By all accounts, the Great Meadows was a wet place, especially during the Pennsylvania summers when thunderstorms routinely pummel the area. Long story short, when the land became a national park, multiple modifications were made to the landscape for the sake of the visitors. Today, the NPS has a new philosophy about presenting Fort Necessity to the public. In 2016, the NPS began implementing the Great Meadows Restoration Project to remove artificial landscape modifications (among other things) to restore the Great Meadows to how it would have appeared in 1754. The project that the crew and I got to work on was a part of this project.

As the work began it became very apparent that monitoring is not like the other projects that I have worked on in the past. It is MUCH easier. We did not have to dig through clay in the hot, summer sun. Instead, we got to watch large machinery do it for us. The CCC parking lot is not like a typical asphalt parking lot we are all familiar with. This parking lot was created using fill, mostly clay, that was packed down to create an impervious surface for vehicles to drive on. The parking lot was buried over the years by topsoil and vegetation that had grown over it after the parking lot went out of use just a few years after it was constructed. The construction crew removed the topsoil with a bulldozer and a trackhoe at an impressive rate (minus the rain delays, because, Pennsylvania).

As the topsoil was removed, the crew used metal detectors to look for metallic artifacts and walked across the area to visually inspect for other artifacts. After the topsoil was removed, the construction crew began removing the parking lot fill layer. This was when communication between the archaeology crew and the construction crew was the most important. Underlying the parking lot fill is the historic A horizon, or in other words the historic ground surface. It was this layer that we did not want to dig through as it has a high potential to have archaeological resources. It may seem funny to hear that the archaeologists did not want to find artifacts. However, this project was not an excavation, it was to monitor the construction to ensure archaeological resources were not affected. As the construction crew moved through the fill, we needed to be vigilant and prepared to stop the machine operators if features appeared, or before the historic A horizon was contacted. Thankfully, the crew and I were able to develop a good working relationship with the operators (they even let me sit in one of the machines and showed me how it works!) and develop trust in each other’s expertise.  In all, the removal of the parking lot and retention pond went very smoothly.

I said earlier that our goal was not to find artifacts, but we did find some interesting things that are worth reporting in this blog post.

Figure 1: Yale padlock faceplate.

The metal detectors helped us locate some items of interest. We found a Yale brand padlock faceplate (Figure 1) that probably dates to the late 1890s- early 1900s. The bulldozer pulled up the base of an old flagpole (Figure 2) that once stood in the field as well as a US Department of Interior survey datum marker (Figure 3). A side note, in the picture you will notice that printed on the survey datum are the words “Unlawful to disturb,” and when we pulled this up I got very nervous, but it all turned out well. My two crew members (Shout out to Britney Elsbury-Orris and Hannah Winters) located three articulating pieces of a blue transfer print ceramic vessel (Figure 4). Lastly, in the parking lot fill layer, we located a completely intact glass insulator (Figure 5), that were commonly used on telegraph lines in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Figure 2: Flagpole base that got pulled up by the bulldozer.

Figure 3: US Department of Interior survey datum.

Figure 4: Articulating blue transfer print ceramic pieces with Romantic style design.

Figure 5: Glass insulator located in the parking lot fill.

In all the project was a great experience for everyone on the crew. Fort Necessity is a wonderful and notable place that I have had the pleasure of working at over the last two summers. I was personally able to gain valuable experience leading a crew, but more importantly I learned how to interact with the construction crew and develop a working relationship that allowed for the project to go smoothly. The guys working the machines were a pleasure to work with and I hope I can work with them again on a project someday. Lastly, go visit Fort Necessity National Battlefield! It’s free, fun, and not that far from Indiana or Pittsburgh. While you are there make sure to visit Jumonville Glen and Braddock’s Grave which are located just up the road from the fort.

 

IUP Anthropology Department

I Can Munsell That (Part 2)

Welcome everyone, it’s time for another edition of my personal favorite posting series, “I Can Munsell That.”  Today we have a special guest, Mr. Bonejangles!  Mr. Bonejangles, do you have anything to say to our wonderful audience?  Oh, I guess you can’t really talk without lips or a tongue or lungs or some form of Re-Animator fluid…  You know what Mr. Bonejangles, we’ll get to work on that as soon as this post is finished.

I don’t know if that’s what it’s called.  It’s a nutcracker that’s been sitting in this office for I don’t know how long.  It looks a little spooky, so I’m just going to assume he’d be a spooky bloke with some wise guy sense of humor, chattering his teeth at jokes or in between some skeletal pun.

As I’m sure you can see, Mr. Bonejangles is a very photogenic skeleton/nutcracker.  However, he does not fit well with a Munsell Soil Color Book.  His colors are a little too glossy to truly match so a few are as close as I could reasonably match.  Bonejangles has five main colors that seem relatively consistent throughout, though there may be some variance in shading, lighting, thickness of paint, or my eyes playing tricks on me.  Mr. B. has two shades of white that I matched closely with colors on the White Page (who would’ve guessed).  The white used for his skeleton minus the skull looked to be 9.5/N (white) and the white of his skull 8/N (white).  Then there is the shiny black which I matched closest on Gley 1 with 2.5/N (black).  I do think his color could be better matched, however I did not have access to a page devoted to the differences between dark black and slightly darker black.  Bonejangles also has these brilliant green highlights along his skull which matched almost perfectly (in my eye) with 10Y 6/4 (pale olive).  Finally, the final color that makes his spookiness pop, bright red eyes, which look like 10R 3/6 (dark red) or at least that’s the closest color I could find.  I admit his eyes are a bit too bright but I must work with what I have.

I would like to leave you on a side note, IUP Anthropology Department is hosting an Open House for International Archaeology Day on Oct. 20th from 12:00-3:00pm on the ground floor of McElhaney Hall.  We are displaying artifacts, faunal specimens, student research, flintknapping and atlatl demonstrations outside (weather permitting).  We hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

IUP Anthropology Department

Isle Royale National Park

By: Genevieve Everett

 

If someone told me a year ago I’d be living and working at Isle Royale National Park (ISRO in NPS speak) in the middle of Lake Superior, I would have said, “Where?” Obviously, I knew where Lake Superior was, but I knew nothing about the cultural history and the archaeology of the region, especially that of Isle Royale. Once I heard about the job/Pathways internship (thank you Danielle!), I began the arduous process of applying on USAJobs.com. After a month or more of waiting, I was offered a position as a seasonal Arch Tech for ISRO! May 29th came fast, and before I knew it, I was on the Ranger III floating across Lake Superior to one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever had the pleasure of living and working for three plus months.

An office with a view!

A little background on the island…Isle Royale became a National Park in 1940, opening it up to the American public, and protecting it from further development. Before the inception of the park, Euro American fisheries and cabins dotted the shorelines, mining companies prospected for copper, and long before that, native peoples utilized the island, “Minong”, meaning “The Good Place”, for its plentiful resources, including caribou, sugar maple, and fish. Additionally, the island is one of the first places where American Indians mined copper industriously, which is best exampled at Minong Mine on the island’s north shore.   All these histories are intertwined into a complex network of traditional beliefs, stories, and experiences that make this place so intriguing.

Marley in front of one of the prehistoric copper mining pits

This summer I got to work with a fantastic group of people: my supervisor, Seth DePasqual, and my two co-workers, Marley Chynoweth and Rudy Martinez II. Throughout the summer, we performed site monitors around the island, checking on existing sites, assessing their condition and potential threats. For example, some sites are near the shoreline where there is potential for erosion. It is our job to record this and make a determination for future remediation. Another project that I really enjoyed was a pedestrian survey to find an early 20th century fur trappers cabin near one of the inland lakes. All that we knew was that it was at the southwest end of the lake, which covered a large swath of land. Several of our sites were only accessible by water, so, we got to spend a lot of time paddling! In addition, Marley and I had a chance to leave the island for a week to work at a Fur Trade site with our friend Danielle (IUP Applied Arch alumna) along the Grand Portage in Minnesota. Several trade items were recovered from this site, including, glass beads and tinkling cones.

2018 ISRO CRM crew on the trusty Nighthawk!

For me, the highlight of this summer was the Relict Shoreline Survey (RSS). The relict shoreline or Nipissing (ca. 5,000 years B.P.) lake water levels were much higher than they are today. Using GIS and LiDAR, Seth located areas along the old Nipissing shoreline that might have a good place to land a canoe back in the day.  Using a Garmin GPS, we would bushwhack to these areas. Today, they do not look like the beaches that they were 5 millennia ago, instead, there are thick groves of trees and other vegetation. It isn’t until you sink a shovel test in that you tend to find fine beach sands and pebbles. We had a lot of success in locating new sites this summer, all of which had chipped stone artifacts and/or copper (modified/natural) artifacts.

Danielle and Marley showing off a copper knife with tang from one of the Nipissing sites

Small copper point found in a tree throw at a Nipissing site

As a kid I wanted to go to sleep away summer camp, but never did. Well, that wish came true this summer, because living at Isle Royale was like adult summer camp. On the weekends I’d hike the Mott loop, a 2.7 mile trail on Mott that has some of the most beautiful views (in my opinion) on the island, picking wild blueberries along the way. Early in the summer, I took a weekend trip to Amygdaloid Island with some friends to see more of the north shore. That same weekend, we hiked back from McCargoe Cove, down past West Chickenbone Lake (lots of moose there), east along the Greenstone, up to the Ojibway Tower, and back down to Daisy Farm. I caught my first ever lake trout. I swam in the cold, cold waters of Lake Superior at night, and quickly ran back to the sauna to warm up. Got to go to the Rock of Ages lighthouse, that is being restored back to its original glory by https://rockofageslps.org/. Was part of a Search and Rescue (SAR) crew, carrying an injured visitor out of the back country on a litter. Kayaked from Mott to Rock Harbor, and back again on a particularly calm day…..

Kayaking down Lorelei Lane

My “backyard”

Rock of Ages Lighthouse

Okay, I’m done blabbering on. The point is, this was an incredible summer filled with so many personal and professional experiences that I will never forget. By extension, I feel more confident in my abilities as an archaeologist. While it was hard to leave the island last week, I am ready to take on the next challenge…hopefully somewhere just or equally as beautiful as Isle Royale.

IUP Anthropology Department

 

IUP Goes to ACRA’s 24th Annual Conference!

By Kristina Gaugler

The American Cultural Resources Association (ACRA) is a national industry trade group whose primary mission is to advocate for the wide-ranging interests of the cultural resource management (CRM) industry. Complete with their own code of ethics and recommended best practices, ACRA members include a diverse group of large and small firms who work across the country in the CRM industry.

Second year graduate students in IUP’s Applied Archaeology program had the opportunity to attend ACRA’s conference this past September 6-9th. The conference was held in the beautiful French Art Deco styled Carew Tower, also called the Netherland Plaza Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio. Unlike the many academic and research focused anthropological conferences that are held yearly, the ACRA conference is specifically geared to those who work outside of academia, in the private or public sectors of the CRM industry. It is for this reason that attending the conference was such a great experience as it provided valuable insight into the issues facing archaeologists working outside of the academic field. Students had the opportunity to sit in on a number of topics that ranged from how the current political climate was affecting the CRM industry, to how professionals should proceed in the wake of the #metoo movement. This conference also gave students the opportunity to network and engage with business owners and experienced CRM professionals in a relaxed and relatively informal atmosphere.

Photo overlooking the dining hall in Carew Tower, taken by Ross Owen.

The first session of the conference was a discussion on the current political climate in Washington DC. and its impact on the CRM industry, specifically there was a long conversation on how the November mid-term elections could potentially impact the field. Topics that were considered included the current state of infrastructure funding, the push for stream-lining regulations within the administration, and the impacts of changing environmental policy regulations. Presenter Marion Werkheiser, ACRA’s Chief

Lobbyist, noted that the decisions being made in Washington have the potential to create more work for CRM professionals, especially if lands that were formerly protected are opened for development, but that efforts to stream-line undertaking these projects to create money saving short cuts, have the potential to be very destructive to cultural resources.

Session 5 was titled “Building Great Workplaces: How the #MeToo Movement is Affecting the CRM Industry.” This was an excellent discussion on the ways that not only management and business owners should handle the reporting of workplace misconduct or sexual harassment, but also the steps employees can take to be heard, and the legal ramifications of such conflicts. This session was presented by attorney Julie Pugh, which made for an extremely informative dialogue that was given from the perspective of the people who counsel, litigate, and resolve these types of issues. Pugh had a lot of valuable insight on how to handle these difficult situations appropriately, and within the bounds of the law.

The final session that I found particularly interesting was Session 10, which discussed the ways that the Academy and the CRM industry can promote “synergy” between each other. IUP Professor, Dr. William Chadwick was a panel member during this discussion as he has worked for many years as both an industry professional and as a university professor. A task force was created within ACRA to work towards accomplishing the goal of improving the relationship between CRM and the academy. This session had a lively discussion and audience members were very keen to share ideas and stories, as well as complaints with the panelists and each other. The consensus was of course, that there should much more collaboration between the two fields, however the exact method for promoting this is still debated.

Session 10, Promoting Synergy Between the Academy and CRM Industry

By attending this conference students were given the chance to get an in depth look at the people, companies, and issues that make up the CRM industry. Unlike many other academic conferences, there were very few students in attendance at ACRA. I hope that in the future universities and companies alike can work to encourage more students to attend, as all of us at IUP found the conference to be valuable and fun!

Having fun on our drive to ACRA! Students from left to right; Jessie Hoover, Andrew Malhotra, Joseph Bomberger, Ross Owen, Christopher Thompson, Steven Campbell, Kristina Gaugler

 

IUP Anthropology Department

Humanity and Science Unearth Together at St. Mary’s College of Maryland’s Historical Archaeology Field School

By Mace Long

 

During the summer, I spent ten weeks concentrating on gaining skills in excavation, data collection and archeological recording in the field, laboratory and classroom at the St Mary’s College of Maryland Historical Archeological Field School. At the late 17th century Leonard Calvert House, I personally unearthed part of a horseshoe, a lock mechanism, Rhenish stoneware, Venetian glass, creamware, projectile points, fragments of oyster shells, iron nails, pieces of clay tobacco pipes and much more. Chief Archaeologist Travis Parno emphasized that “these excavations at the site of Maryland’s first capital have revolutionized the understanding of colonial architecture and the material culture of the period.”

The archeological field school site is part of Historic St Mary’s City surrounded by a large living history area, museum and The Maryland Dove ship. While spending full days excavating at the site, we took turns giving public tours. It was fulfilling to be able to discuss the background history and present the successes of our dig site.

 

 

 

 

 

During the Tidewater Archaeology Weekend, I witnessed the incredible instructive value of allowing people of all ages to sift through dirt themselves and be educated physically with exciting hands-on participation. In addition, I greatly enjoyed the variety of field trips to Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown and Montpelier where we observed methods used by other sites.

As part of the St Mary’s College of Maryland’s Historical Archaeological field school, we boarded and rode the Maryland Dove learning all kinds of techniques and mechanisms regarding 17th century ships. (IUP Graduate Student Mace Long)

The St Mary’s College of Maryland Historical Archaeological Field School was one of the most incredible educational experiences of my life, as it heightened my understanding of A.L. Kroeber’s quote “[Archaeology] is the most humanistic of the sciences and the most scientific of the humanities.”

 

Photos provided by Mace Long and the Historic Saint Mary’s City Field School Blog

IUP Department of Anthropology

I Can Munsell That?

By Zachary Fischer

Today I wanted to bring back an old favorite of the blog, the old field school game, Can You Munsell That?  At the beginning of the week, our cohort Janee brought in a few loaves of pumpkin bread that were just lovely.  As the week went on hungry grad students nibbled on the bread.  This left us with the final slice of a slightly crumbly, but still delicious, pumpkin bread.  So, as I was deciding on what to write, bringing up the Munsell idea, Janee joked that I could Munsell the bread.  I thought to myself, “You know what? I will.”

A chunk of pumpkin bread.

 

A well loved copy that has served its time in the department.

So what is this Munsell thing that I keep jabbering about?  I’ll give you a quick background.  The Munsell color system was produced by Dr. Albert H. Munsell (1858-1918) who was known as an artist and inventor. He created this system to provide a descriptive and systematic form to communicate color.  We as archaeologists, and archaeologists in training, use this system to describe the color of soil layers in a profile.  Normally, you take a sample, pack it down, and place it under the color chip on the chart.  Be careful to avoid touching the color chips as colors can fade and these books aren’t known to be cheap.  I would love to talk more about the Munsell system itself but I honestly don’t know all that much about it.  This was something of a refresher for me and a learning experience for myself and a few cohorts.

I attempted to do this alone, going from page to page, comparing the color of the bread and those in the charts.  Frankly, I couldn’t get a perfect match but had a thought on the closest color.  I was thinking something along the lines of 10YR 4/6 (dark yellowish brown), truthfully it is a bit more yellow than any of my pages show. Unsure, I did what all good social scientists should do and found new perspectives.  By found I mean left my office to see Janee and Heather who were nibbling away at their own lunches.  Both could see where I was coming from and partially agreed.  There was the suggestion of 7.5YR 5/8 and this interests me.  We may have this standard system but we do not all see the exact same shade or hue.  What I think belongs on 10YR, someone else might think goes on 7.5YR.  However, there is one piece I overlooked and that was the crust.  After consulting the physically closest cohorts, a few of us agree that it’s 10YR 3/6 (dark yellowish brown).  Again, I find it interesting that some colors we see may look the same or completely different.  This makes me wonder how effective the Munsell system will be in the future of archaeology but that’s a thought for another day.  Maybe if I get to do a Part 2 I’ll ramble on the topic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can learn more about the Munsell Color System at Munsell.com.

IUP Department of Anthropology

I’m Not Old Enough To Carbon Date Yet

Howdy folks, my name is Zachary Fischer but let’s pretend like you know me and just say I’m Zac.  Let me tell you a little about myself.  I like long walks on the beach, gazing at the stars, and… I’ve just been informed that this is not a dating site.  Great! There goes my plan for an archaeological personal ad (on here anyway).  Well this is awkward and I’m no good at transitions so…

This is my face, you're welcome world.

This is my face, you’re welcome world.

I graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Anthropology where I focused on archaeology.  I’m currently a student of the Applied Archaeology MA program at IUP.  I’ll be blunt, archaeology was not Plan A.  I started as a Natural Sciences: Pre-Pharmacy major but organic chemistry blocked that path.  I decided to start looking around for a new venture.  I honestly had no clue what else I wanted to do but I knew I wanted to find something that made me happy.  I remember reading an undergraduate catalog while grabbing lunch and the section that popped out most to me was anthropology.  Something about it took me back to a contemporary anthropology course I took with Dr. Abigail Adams.  It was one of the few courses that I took something away from beyond the course material.  I figured it was worth looking into and took an intro to archaeology course the next semester with Dr. Lara Homsey-Messer.  It stuck on me so I made the switch.  It didn’t take long for me to feel like I made the right decision.  I became more interested with each class I took and field school just cemented that feeling.  I could drag this on and on, and I kind of want to, but I think most of you don’t want my life story and I totally get that.  So I’ll stop this particular line of rambling with this, I consider finding archaeology alongside an incredibly supportive department to be a blessing.  My undergrad years spent with the anthropology department at IUP are something I would never trade away.

 

Dr. Sarah Neusius showing me how it’s done.

 

I really don’t have any archaeological experience beyond field school and a few other focused undergrad courses, unless you count watching a ridiculous amount of documentaries on ancient Egypt as a child.  Anyway, I took some time off after graduation with the intent of working in CRM but ended up working for an insurance company in Pittsburgh.  So after about a year later I decided to apply for graduate school, ready to refocus myself on archaeology.  Besides if I didn’t do it now, well, who knows when I would have?  So here I am.  I hope you’ll join me and follow along as I learn with my new cohorts.

 

IUP Anthropology Department