Reflections On A Summer At Historic Hanna’s Town

By: Heather MacIsaac and Kristina Gaugler, Field School Supervisors

Heather works with Karlena and Marina to identify soil colors with a Munsell book. (Photo credit: Dr. Ben Ford).

Between July 18th and August 18th, I had the privilege of training and working with eleven IUP students at Hanna’s Town. Most of these students had no prior experience with excavation, arriving on the first day armed with sunblock, lunches, and a willingness to learn as much about fieldwork as they could.

Close-up of a 20th century ring. (Photo credit: Heather MacIsaac)

Under guidance from Dr. Ben Ford and Dr. Bill Chadwick, the students set up six excavation units. The professors selected the areas for units based on the preliminary results of a geophysical survey conducted by graduate student David Breitkreutz. Geophysics benefits archaeologists by highlighting things below ground which may be the remnants of former human activity – houses, roads, fireplaces, burials – but is not precise enough to reveal exactly what lies under the surface. Field school students excavated in areas where Breitkreutz’s survey results pointed to buried circular patterns and a long, thick stripe that cut across the empty field near the reconstructed Hanna’s Town Fort. Were these subterranean shapes colonial era hearths or Native American round houses, and could the stripe be the original Forbes Road, the main street of the Hanna’s Town settlement? Only excavation could answer those questions.

My own first experience with digging took place during my sophomore year of undergrad at the site of a 19th century observatory in Wisconsin. As luck would have it, the first few weeks of digging produced nothing but rocks, but at some point the rocks appeared less and less in the excavation unit and were replaced by broken lab equipment, early lightbulbs, and even pieces of neon-painted pottery from when the observatory turned into a hip young poets’ club in the 1960s before the building was demolished. As I worked with students this summer, I found myself envious from time to time of the quality of the equipment available to them: canopies for shade, rain-proof field journals, binders for paperwork, and a fully working digital total station!

It was incredible watching the students gain confidence in their abilities, to see them face and overcome challenges each day, and to take ownership of their work and knowledge when visited by the public, tour guides, county reps, and other professors. While things didn’t always go as planned (i.e. flooded units or runaway notes), everyone had a good time at field school. Excavation uncovered the remains of wagon ruts and campfires, part of a large but yet unidentified stone structure, and a possible storage space for a prehistoric Native American house, all things which will prompt future research and a continued interest among students and visitors alike in Pennsylvania’s history.

-Heather

Working hard or hardly working? Kristina decided to spend break exploring reconstructed cabins at Hanna’s Town. (Photo credit: Heather MacIsaac)

On July 12th, 2017 I visited Hanna’s Town prior to the start of fieldwork to help get the site ready in preparation for their arrival. Coincidentally, almost exactly two hundred and thirty-five years earlier from that day, on July 13th, 1782, Hanna’s Town was attacked and burned to the ground by a force of Seneca and British soldiers. Fortunately, this ominous coincidence was not foreshadowing of the peril to come. In fact, short of a few rain storms, our entire field season was quite pleasant.

Using the established Hanna’s Town site grid, we located the six test units we would be excavating. Ten of the eleven participating students were split into pairs and assigned to a test unit. The eleventh student, Brennan Winzer, also a graduate student at IUP, was actually doing his own field work in a separate area of the site, although he had help from a rotating set of our students daily. The units were laid out in 5ft x 5ft squares (at historic sites we typically don’t use the metric system!) and after discussing the finer points of excavation techniques, we began digging. It is important to note, that across the Hanna’s Town site there is a layer of soil disturbance due to years of plowing. Therefore, the artifacts that come out of these upper most levels are likely not in situ. Indeed, all

A view of a stone feature that extended into the next unit. It is unknown if it is part of a historic or prehistoric structure. (Photo credit: Heather MacIsaac)

of the test units that I was personally responsible for supervising had large visible plow scars and/or mixed top soils, and the features we encountered were primarily located at the interface between the plow zone and the subsoil, the tops of them likely removed by plowing.

Throughout our excavations, there were some particularly interesting features, and a few of them would definitely benefit from further study. There was a semicircular ring of post molds in a test unit west of the reconstructed fort. Although no artifacts were associated with this feature, it’s appearance suggested that it could possibly represents the border of a Native American structure, probably prior to the Hanna’s Town occupation.  In our trench unit, there appeared to be a wagon rut, in what we hope was the remnant of a long searched for road. A few interesting artifacts were discovered near this feature, including what seemed to be a two tined fork. My favorite feature at the site was located within two adjacent units. A large pile of burnt rocks, showing visible heat induced cracks, reddening and spalls, were lying in what appeared to be two straight(ish) interconnected lines. It is still unclear what this feature is, in part because we found no artifacts in association with it.

In 2009 I completed my own first field school at Kincaid Mounds in Illinois. A few years later, while working as a field and lab technician, I would often muse over the things that I wished I could share, or advice I would give, to students who were planning on entering this field. Fast forward to me supervising this field school, and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to get to do just that. It was great sharing my experience with students new to field work. They say that teaching is sometimes the best way to learn. I definitely felt that together, we all became better archaeologists, and at the same time learned more about the history of a very interesting site in western Pennsylvania.

-Kristina

First Day vs. Last Day: Everyone gradually accepted that they would become walking dirt clods. (Photo credit: Dr. Bill Chadwick and Dr. Sarah Neusius)

IUP Anthropology Department

The Final Countdown for Graduate School – Round 2…..

By: Jared Divido

It’s hard to believe that I’m already mid-way through my last semester of graduate school in the MA in Applied Archaeology program here at IUP.  The saying “time flies” could not be more applicable to the feelings and experiences that come along with graduate school.

I’m currently on spring break working on the data analysis phase of my thesis research, which involves testing the feasible use of 3D scanning technology for constructing comparative faunal (animal) bone specimens.  Three-dimensional technology has been making a lot of headway in the field of archaeology as a method for constructing or re-constructing 3-dimensional models of found artifacts, site structures, and even site profiles.  The 3D scan of a given object enables the researcher to create a fairly accurate digital model, which could then be used in a multitude of ways for things such as digital archival storage, research collaborations via file sharing, 3D printing for educational purposes, etc.  My background research has found that much of the applicability of 3D scanning has largely focused on the 3D printing aspect of the technology, yet there has been little attention given to usability of the 3D scans as raw data themselves.  My thesis research is attempting to focus on an important aspect of zooarchaeology, which requires a well established comparative animal bone reference collection for the identification and analysis of animal bones that are recovered from archaeological sites.

Animals bones at archaeological sites are often found fragmented, but they can provide the researcher with a wealth of information about the past, including things such as the human subsistence strategies, tool making/tool use, environmental conditions and changes, etc.  A comparative reference collection can often help identify the bone down to taxon or species level by looking at the surface features on the fragmented skeletal element.  Yet, the accessibility of a well established comparative animal bone collection requires a lot of laboratory space and the availability of wide range of animal species.  This often requires researchers to borrow or loan specimens from other institutions, which can be a rather costly and timely process in the end.  I’m ultimately trying to determine if 3D scanning technology could complete replace this process by using the 3D scans in place of the physical skeletal specimens.

At the end of March, I will be travelling to Vancouver, Canada to present a poster presentation on my research at the Society for American Archaeology’s 82nd Annual Meeting.  This will be a great opportunity to share my research findings with others in the field, while also being there to show support for my fellow colleagues whom are also presenting at the conference.  Furthermore, as Danielle mentioned in her blog post, conferences are a great way to network with colleagues and other respected professionals in the field.

I will admit that my academic and professional career interests have not always been oriented toward archaeology or cultural resource management (CRM).  In May 2012, I graduated from IUP with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology with the intent to pursue a career in forensic anthropology.  I worked hard to make that dream a reality by travelling nearly 3,580 miles away from home to attend school at the University of Dundee, which is located in Dundee, Scotland.  While at the University of Dundee, I had the opportunity to study at the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification, under the direction of Professor Dame Sue Black (a highly respected forensic professional in the UK).  One might wonder how I transitioned from forensic anthropology to the study of archaeology, but there is a rather intricate connection between the two fields.  My thesis research in the UK involved testing forensic methodologies for cut mark analysis, which are actually deeply rooted in past archaeological field investigations and techniques.

Thus, following the completion of my first master’s degree, I travelled to the Spanish Balearic Islands to perform my first archaeological field school, which involved the excavation and analysis of Roman funerary units and human remains, dating from the 14-16th centuries.  Upon my return back to the United States after my field school, I came to the realization that I wanted to gain more knowledge and experience in archaeology.  I was very happy when I discovered that IUP had an Applied Archaeology program because of my past experience with the faulty during my undergraduate program.  In July 2015, I participated in my second archaeological field school with IUP, which was focused on the excavation of an identified GPR anomaly at Historic Hanna’s Town (1773-18th century) in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.  I can honestly say that IUP has well prepared me for a career in archaeology or CRM.  I am currently a graduate research assistant for Dr. Sarah Neusius, which has provided me with opportunities to work with the IUP faunal comparative collection, various archaeological faunal assemblages, and faunal databases from numerous prehistoric sites.

The faculty has a real concern and interest for the success of its students.  I have also made some wonderful friendships and created great memories along the way that will last a lifetime.  I look forward to finishing up my final semester and seeing what my future holds upon graduation in August!

IUP Department of Anthropology

There and Fighting Through Mordor to get Back Again…A Graduate Student’s Experience

By: Sarah Henley

Coming into the program I had a Bachelors degree in Sociology and little experience or knowledge about archaeology besides from what I learned on my own through volunteer work at a Civil War camp in Kentucky, a field school in Ireland, and books. My first semester I felt out of place because it appeared like everyone else knew so much more and had more experience than I did. However, I was not alone in the grueling stress of first year graduate work. After working my butt off through classes, the PHAST program, and other various experiences I no longer feel out of place. Plus, this past October I finally got to meet my mentor, Stefanie Smith, in person when I went to Athens, Georgia for the SEAC Conference. I found out that she and I were so similar in our experience it was scary but awesome. Overall graduate school has been one crazy, what feels like never ending, roller coaster ride of stress, sweat, blood and tears, and the occasionally random fun times.

My thesis, in a nutshell, involves investigating the manufacture and trade of Cypriot Red Slip ware (CRS) in Cyprus using portable X-ray Fluorescence (pXRF). I will be testing and comparing the elemental composition of CRS sherds, which date to the Roman and Late Roman Periods, and clay bed samples in Cyprus to determine possible manufacturing origins of the CRS. Then I will connect my results and data to Cypriot trade. Currently I am at a temporary stand still due to things that have occurred in my personal life, three classes and an increasing school work load, and working as a lab assistant 10 hours a week. It is frustrating because I really want to start writing my thesis, and I also have to prepare for my trip this upcoming May, to Cyprus, but what can you do? Life happens.

IUP Department of Anthropology

How I Survived Grad School So You Can Too

By: Danielle Kiesow

A wise man once told me, “You need to remember what makes you a good procrastinator: confidence!” That wise man is my father, and while he might deny he ever endorsed my habit, it’s that confidence (whether procrastinating or actually getting work done) that has carried me through the Applied Archaeology program here at IUP. I’m now a second year graduate student, just one semester and one completed thesis shy of graduating. I am so happy that I chose IUP to continue my archaeological education: I have learned so much about North American archaeology, laws and ethics in cultural resource management, and about myself.

By far the hardest part of grad school is learning time management. Only three classes (nine credits) are required per semester for this program, and coming out of regular 15-18 credit semesters in undergrad, I didn’t think much of it until syllabi day at the beginning of my first semester. The first year of grad school in this program is more difficult than the second year because you’re adjusting to a new location (in my case, transplanting from Wisconsin and going through cheese curd withdrawal), in some cases getting back into school after a hiatus, getting to know your cohort and your professors, and panicking because you can just see your thesis looming on the horizon.

But don’t worry! By the second year of this program you’ve gotten into the swing of things and you’ve become closer to your cohort (and you’ve realized there’s such a thing as Wine Festivals on campus). Your thesis topic is tackled head-on in the first Cultural Resource Management course, so once you have an idea and a support system in your thesis committee you just have to keep on plowing through, one chunk at a time.

After courses this spring, I will be heading back to the Midwest to northern Minnesota to work with Grand Portage National Monument on the Grand Portage Reservation as an archaeological technician for about a year and then after that, we’ll see what happens! Interning for the National Park Service over the past two summers and learning how and why archaeology is done in North America through this program has made it possible for me to find a job right after classes. There are also some things I learned outside of classes that I thought would be useful for those considering archaeology or for those in the program here:

  1. The archaeological community is smaller than you think and a lot of job opportunities boil down to who you know, not what you know. If you say anything negative about another archaeologist or if you don’t have a good attitude or good work ethic out in the field, that will travel and future employers will know.
  1. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions in class. Make all those student loans worth it!
  1. Grad school can be overwhelming and it’s easy to get caught up and work on projects or your thesis 24/7. At the very least, take 2-3 hours out of your week and get together with your cohort for trivia at Twisted Jimmy’s from 7-9pm on Friday. Take a deep breath, grab a drink, share a few laughs, and don’t think about any work that needs to get done.
  1. Make sure you are passionate about your thesis topic. If you are lukewarm about it from the start, you will hate it all the more when you’re trying to motivate yourself to write it four months down the line.
  1. Whatever Dr. Ford says, looking at pictures of puppies and watching cute puppy videos are not a waste of time.
  1. You’ll be amazed at the opportunities you can get if you just ask. I got an internship at Isle Royale National Park in 2015 just by introducing myself to the park archaeologist over some ice cream and asking if there were any projects that he wanted to farm out to students for theses. This in turn snowballed into internships and theses for both Isle Royale and Grand Portage, a job this summer at Grand Portage, meeting and networking with other archaeologists, and trainings and certifications. There is always someone out there who needs another field tech or who has a dream project just waiting to be realized.
  1. If you’re feeling discouraged and stressed, remember that everyone else in your cohort is probably feeling the same way. You are not alone. Reach out to others!
  1. In these two years, your cohort and the cohorts above and below you will become your colleagues and your closest friends. Another reason to go to all the archaeology conferences once you graduate!
  1. You can answer every question in class with the phrase “It depends.” But don’t do that.
  1. You will doubt yourself from time to time, but this program sets you up to succeed. You need to remember what makes you a good archaeologist: confidence!IUP Department of Anthropology

Rocks and Roosters

By: John Rolf

Hey. What’s up? My name is John Rolf and I am a first year graduate student at IUP. As cliche as it sounds, I have wanted to be an archaeologist since I was a child. I used to devour anything I could related to foreign cultures, exotic locales, and action-adventure. Basically I was a huge fan of Indiana Jones and Dirk Pitt. However, with a subscription to Archaeology magazine, I learned early on that archaeology wasn’t all about fighting nazis and combing the desert for lost arks. Still that did not deter me from seeking a career in the field, rather it made me more fascinated by it.

rocks

Rocks: the worst thing to dig through

I received my BA from WVU, go Mountaineers, in sociology and anthropology with a focus in anthropology. It was here that I worked closely with Doug Sahady as a teaching assistant for both the WVU 2013 Field School and Archaeology Lab the following semester. It was during the field school that I learned two very important things besides how to conduct an archaeological investigation; digging through a garden of rocks is not fun and roosters make wonderful companions at archaeological sites since they eat all the bugs you dig up. That fall, as monotonous as it was, I assisted in cataloguing over 7,000 artifacts that semester too. If you want to talk about fun, try sitting in a shed looking at rocks for hours on end picking out what are artifacts and what are not, and then developing a database for it all on top of it. During this time, I also assisted Carl Mauer, president of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology – Mon/Yough Chapter 3, at the Schriver Farm site near Garards Fort, PA. We never really found anything outside of small chert flakes at this site, but it did give me a ton of experience conducting site surveys, laying grids, and identifying artifacts.

john-rolf

Me in Colorado!

After my undergrad, I took a year off to think about what I wanted to do, and at the time Colorado seemed like a good idea. So I moved to Colorado Springs. It was a beautiful place and I would have loved to stay out west, but grad school started scratching the back of my brain. I was interested in pursuing a degree that focused on the applied aspects of Archaeology, and I wanted a program that let me implement technology into my investigations. Ever since I attended a seminar in my undergrad about a man who used magnetometers for geophysically surveying a field, I’ve wanted to get training to do that professionally, plus use it in archaeological investigations. After a few Google searches, I stumbled upon IUP. I filled out the application a few weeks later, took my GRE’s (which are the worst by the way), packed up and headed back across the country to Oakland, Maryland, aka my hometown, but not before I visited the beautiful town of McCall, Idaho where my wonderful girlfriend was attending school at the MOSS Program.

If you ask anyone in my graduate class, they will tell you how great grad school is, and it really is, but there is no way to express the amount of work involved in pursuing a masters degree in Archaeology. By the end of the semester I will have written enough words to fill a small novel (literally!). I wouldn’t change a thing though. This program has taught me so much this semester alone and I cannot wait to continue on my educational journey here at IUP.

The Life and Times of a Stressed out Graduate Student

meadowcroft-atlatl

Field trip to Meadowcroft Rockshelter!

By: Sami Taylor

Hey guys, my name is Sami. I’m a first year graduate student here at IUP. I received my BA in History at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia earlier this year

I first learned about IUP through my spring 2015 internship with the Cultural Resource Management program at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. After getting in contact with Dr. Ben Ford and discussing the program with him via email I decided to apply. Making my final decision to enroll was difficult to say the least. I couldn’t decide whether to attend an applied program or a more theory-heavy program. I spoke with a variety of my professors, archaeologists from around the east coast, and read every bit of information about IUP available. (At one point I even listened to a podcast that featured Dr. Ford.) After weeks of mulling it over, I made my decision to attend IUP and enrolled in classes. I’m so thankful I decided to attend IUP. The friendships, experiences, and knowledge I’ve acquired from attending this program is irreplaceable.

powwow

My first Pow-Wow in Pittsburgh

Since moving to Indiana my life has changed pretty drastically. I now spend around 80% of my time working on assignments, 10% of my time managing an online catalog, and the other 10% of my time goofing off with my fellow students. Though getting used to busy days and sleepless nights has been difficult, I don’t regret a second of it. I’ve learned so much about archaeology in only three months. I’ve made so many great friendships in both my cohort and the cohort ahead of us. My cohort and I were fortunate to be welcomed into this program and into this department with welcome arms. The community here in the IUP Anthropology Department is close-knit. We laugh together, cry together, and pull all-nighters together.

It would be really hard to mention just one experience I’ve since attending IUP so I’ll list some of my favorites:

  1. Attending my first Pow-Wow in Pittsburgh at the beginning of the semester with Heather.
  2. Going to ESAF in Langhorne with Gen.
  3. Going to the Meadowcroft Rockshelter with most of the graduate students.
  4. Spending long, homework-filled weekends in McElhaney with Danielle
    meadowcroft-matching

    ‘Accidentally’ matching in our Meadowcroft t-shirts

    and Heather (they’re usually full of not-so-funny youtube videos).

  5. Going to Trivia Night with Danielle, Heather, and Jared.
  6. Annoying Dr. Chadwick and Dr. Ford in their offices.
  7. Meeting members of previous cohorts and getting to know them.
  8. Drinking way too much coffee in Dr. Ford’s 9 AM class just to stay alive.

I can’t believe how much fun I’ve had this semester, and how much I’ve grown so far. I have no doubt that IUP is going to help me achieve my goals as an archaeologist. I’m really excited for what’s to come, and I know I’ll continue meeting so many great people along the way.

International Archaeology Day 2016

By: Genevieve Everett

International Archaeology Day is upon us! Saturday, October 15th to be exact. Get excited!! Dr. Lara and I have been meeting weekly to discuss logistics, and reaching out to undergraduate and graduate students to get involved. Some of you have participated in the past, and for some of you it’s your first time. Our event will include Historic and Prehistoric archaeology, a GPR demo, flintknapping, Zooarch, a kids table, and much more!open-house-flyer-16-1

This is our chance to show the community what we know, and why archaeology is important, and connects us to the past. It is not only our duty to educate the community, but make it fun at the same time. If we just put a bunch of artifacts on a table and tell our guests what they are and where they came from, that isn’t interesting or fun. We as archaeologists know that they are interesting, but how can we make them come alive?

We can ask people to come to Archaeology Day, even bribe them with snacks, but we want them to walk away saying, “Wow, that was really cool! I want to get involved in my local archaeology chapter” or “I am changing majors tomorrow”. Most importantly, we want them to walk away thinking that archaeological sites are a valuable resource that should be protected. Now, I know that isn’t going to happen with everyone, but that is how we should think about this day. It’s an opportunity to show the public why we do what we do.

We look forward to seeing you all there!

I’m New Here.

By: Genevieve Everett

Hi, I’m Genevieve, or Gen! One of the first things that people notice about me are the tattoos on my arms. Without fail someone asks me about them, especially my most prominent one, a trowel on my right forearm. As you know, once you get a tattoo, well, you’re pretty much stuck with it. And so, it has become a permanent reminder to live up to my own personal goal of doing exactly what I want to with my life and career, archaeology.

trowel

A little more decorative than your typical trowel.

After graduating from my undergraduate with a double BA in Anthropology and History, I spent several years working in the service industry. I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my degree. One day in 2010 while bartending at my old job, making Bloody Mary after Bloody Mary, I struck up a conversation with an acquaintance that had been working in archaeology for years. I told her I had been looking into field schools around the country, so, she gave me her card, and on the back of she wrote, “STATE CONSERVATION RESCUE ARCHAEOLOGY PROGRAM (S.C.R.A.P)”. A year later I found the card (I still have it) in an old recipe box amongst other pieces of scribbled on paper and ticket stubs. So, the summer of June 2011 I drove up to my first field school at a Clovis site in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and never looked back!

first-field-school-2

At my first field school through the State Conservation Rescue Archaeology Program (SCRAP) in 2011.

Besides SCRAP, I spent a few years going into the Temple University anthropology lab to help clean historic artifacts from Elfreth’s Alley (the longest continuously occupied block in the country) in Philadelphia. One of the PhD. students had organized a fantastic public archaeology lab day for volunteers with all experience levels to come help. In the summer we were also provided with an opportunity to come out to the alley and excavate behind the museum.

elfreths-alley

A photo of me screening behind the Elfreth’s Alley museum in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

As much as I enjoyed spending my free time taking part in these experiences, I decided it was time to step it up. The next step was to begin the process of applying to graduate programs. I told myself, “I either have to be in graduate school or working another CRM job before I am thirty”. So here I am, on the cusp of turning 30, and I have never been so sure of my decision to make archaeology a career until now.

My life is not all archaeology, so I will leave you with this…

etch-a-sketch

Yes, I can draw on an etch-a-sketch…

Exploring the Late Prehistoric in Central Western Pennsylvania

By Sarah W. Neusius

More than a decade and a half ago, then Director of IUP Archaeological Services, Dr. Beverly Chiarulli, and I observed that Pennsylvania archaeologists sometimes referred to the area around Indiana as vacant during the last centuries of the Pre-Columbian period. The dominant cultural tradition archaeologists recognize for southwestern Pennsylvania after AD 1000 is the Monongahela tradition, and while there had been a lot of research on Monongahela sites in counties to our south and west, there wasn’t much known about the inhabitants of our immediate area. Thus it was fairly logical to assume that this was a cultural backwater or even vacant at this time. The tradition that our area was used only for hunting early in the Historic era also supported this idea.

However, based on work that Dr. Chiarulli had been doing with the Pennsylvania state site files and predictive modeling, she knew that there was a relatively large numbers of Late Prehistoric or Late Woodland village sites recorded – at least 30 apparent villages for the Conemaugh-Blacklick and Crooked Creek watersheds alone. This went against the assumption that this part of the state, which can be called central western Pennsylvania, was a sort of cultural backwater and even uninhabited after AD 1000. The problem obviously seemed to be that most of these sites had not received much professional attention; very little was known about them, and even less was included in the regional literature.

LPP area

Red circle outlines the approximate area of interest for the IUP Late Prehistoric.

The IUP Late Prehistoric Project or LPP, was initiated because of these observations, and it continues today because there is still a lot to learn. It only made sense for IUP archaeologists to explore these recorded sites. They are accessible, potentially well preserved, and likely to add significantly to Pennsylvania archaeology. Since approximately 2000, many IUP faculty and students have focused on learning more about sites in the Conemaugh-Blacklick, Crooked Creek, and Loyalhanna drainages of west-central Pennsylvania dating between approximately AD 1000 and 1600. We have employed field schools, student projects, and MA thesis research to learn about these sites. We also have been incorporating sites studied by IUP archaeologists during the 1970s and early 1980s as several of these are LPP villages that haven’t been thoroughly analyzed and written up. Occasionally the work of IUP Archaeological Services has dovetailed with these efforts as well. Dr. Chiarulli, myself, and Dr. Phil Neusius all have participated in excavations and analyses related to this project. With this summer’s field school at the Squirrel Hill site, Dr. Homsey-Messer and Dr. Chadwick also have become part of this initiative. Together, we are adding significantly to archaeological knowledge of the distribution of people during the Late Prehistoric. Some of our information has been shared through meetings presentations, Masters theses (available through the IUP website) and publications. However, there is a great deal more to be written about, and I am currently working hardest on this aspect of the project.

Before explaining a little bit more about the areas of research that have been pursued, I’d like to clarify the use of the term Late Prehistoric. You may have learned that Late Woodland is the name archaeologists use for the end of the Pre-Columbian times in places like Pennsylvania. In the southern Midwest and Southeast, Late Woodland follows the collapse of Middle Woodland Hopewellian societies by approximately AD 500. It continues in these areas until Missisisppian cultural developments are evident between AD 800 and 1000, when archaeologists designate a Mississippian period continuing until Historic times. Elsewhere evidence of Mississippian tradition societies has not been found by archaeologists, and in the Upper Midwest the Late Woodland often is not seen as ending until European Contact. The situation on the eastern edges of the MIdwest, is a little more complicated. Some archaeological traditions including the Fort Ancient tradition, found mostly in Ohio and West Virginia, and the Monongahela tradition, found mostly in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, often have been designated as Late Prehistoric because of the similarities in dating, presumed interactions with Mississippian societies, and similar material culture (e.g. shell-tempererd pottery and communities with central plazas). Thus, it has been more common to call Monongahela tradition sites Late Prehistoric than Late Woodland. Because central Western Pennsylvania encompasses the northern edges of the Monongahela area and some of our sites can be considered Monongahela, we use the term Late Prehistoric rather than Late Woodland for our project.

One of the highlights of the LPP is the development of an extensive catalogue of radiocarbon dates for the sites in our area. When we began this project in 2000, there were not any radiocarbon dates for the LPP sites and villages. Now there are approximately 85 dates some of which are standard radiometric dates, but the majority of which are AMS dates. These latter Accelerator Mass Spectrometry dates now are the preferred radiocarbon dating method because they require less carbonized materials – as little as 20 mg as opposed to the 10 grams required for wood charcoal by standard radiometric dating methods. This means less material is destroyed in the dating process. Another advantage of AMS dating is that the dates often are more precise; they usually have date ranges within 50 years plus or minus from the mean. In any case in just over a decade and half we have greatly increased our ability to understand the chronology of the Late Prehistoric in our area. Most importantly we have been able to show that occupation of these watersheds spans the entire Late Prehistoric as shown in this chart of some of the dates we have obtained for Conemaugh-Blacklick Watershed sites. Note the AD years from AD 100 to almost AD 1800 in calibrated years across the bottom of the chart. These dates certainly span the Late

conemaugh dates pic

Radiocarbon date ranges for some Conemaugh-Blacklick watershed sites.

Prehistoric period from AD 1000-AD 1600. Calibrated years are approximations of calendar years based on adjusting radiocarbon years to known fluctuations in the amounts of carbon in the atmosphere. This figure gives you date ranges at both the 68% confidence interval (dark brackets) and the 95% confidence interval (gray lines) so that the earliest date on this chart has a 95% probablity of falling between approximately AD 650 and AD 1175 and a 68% probabilty of falling between approximately AD 775 and AD 1025 while the most recent date falls between ca. AD 1290 and AD 1780 at the 95% confidence interval and between ca. AD1400 and AD 1650 at the 68% confidence interval.

Another highlight of the LPP has been our identification of a possible cultural boundary between Mononghaela people and their neighbors to the north. Although many of our sites can be assigned to the Johnston Phase of the Monongahela tradition, others, especially those in the Crooked Creek drainage, appear not to truly be Monongahela, and to exhibit closer ties to Late Woodland groups living in northwestern Pennsylvania. These more northerly people seem to have made different ceramics, especially pots made with limestone temper as opposed to shell temper, as well as possibly to have less organized villages. Recently, and in part due to LPP research, the Crooked Creek Complex has been defined to encompass these sites, but there is a lot more that needs to be learned about these sites and those still further north, as much of the data remains in the hands of avocational archaeologists, and has only been partially studied. Important Crooked Creek Complex sites for which IUP has collections are Mary Rinn (36IN29) and Fleming (36IN26). This year an undergraduate honors thesis will be exploring the Mary Rinn site through geophysics as well.

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Contrasting ceramics from the Johnston site (Johnston Phase Monongahela) and the Mary Rinn site (Crooked Creek Complex).

A major undertaking of LPP archaeologists has been re-investigation of the Johnston site (36IN2) , located near Blairsville. This large village site is the type site for Johnston Phase Monongahela (AD 1450-1590), and it may be the second largest known Monongahela village. It was excavated in the 1950s by archaeologists from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh before the completion of the Conemaugh lock and dam. Today it is buried beneath flood sediments of the Conemaugh River Lake on land belonging to the US Army Corps of Engineers. By conducting five IUP archaeological field schools at Johnston beginning in 2006, we have added greatly to the information on this site, demonstrating that it is a multi-component site of some complexity, and we have called the definition of the Johnston Phase itself into question. Although, there is still much more potential for research at Johnston, we have obtained more than 40 radiocarbon dates from this site alone and recovered hundreds of thousands of artifacts. As a result, we are pausing in our excavations to take more thorough stock of what we have been learning. Graduate and undergraduate theses have now focused on ceramics, bone tools, faunal remains, lithics, FCR, and botanical remains from the Johnston site. Three others still in progress are exploring the site’s geomorphology, the spatial distribution of materials, and micro-artifactual evidence, and I am immersed in the analysis and write-up of our findings as well.

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Excavations in progress at the Johnston site, 2012 (left), 2010 (right).

These are only a few highlights of the IUP Late Prehistoric Project, which has been employing excavation, geophysical survey, as well as faunal, botanical, lithic and ceramic analyses to gather evidence concerning the forgotten or porrly understood Late Prehistoric villages of central western Pennsylvania. As a result these villages are forgotten no more. If you are an IUP graduate or undergraduate student, you should consider joining other IUP archaeologists and getting involved with some aspect of this project. There are many worthwhile projects that you might undertake, and I will be happy to explore possibilities with you.   Whether or not the LPP is your cup of tea, it is an important part of the archaeology IUP is doing, and you can anticipate hearing more about it in the future.

Advanced Metal Detecting for Archaeologists at Fort Necessity

Uncontrolled metal detecting can be one of the most destructive activities at an historic-period archaeological site, especially a battle or military site. And it is illegal to metal detect, or remove any artifacts, from a National Park without an Archaeological Resource Protection Act (ARPA) permit. But with the proper research design and permits a systematic metal detector survey can be a very powerful archaeological tool. That’s what 16 IUP students and faculty learned at Fort Necessity this past weekend.

The class was taught by the Advanced Metal Detecting for Archaeologists (AMDA) as a Register of Professional Archaeologists (RPA) continuing education course. In addition to IUP, 10 other participants from Cal, Juniata, University of Binghamton, and the National Park Service took the class. AMDA is a group of professional archaeologists dedicated to integrating metal detecting into archaeological research. Since IUP has an excellent assemblage of geophysical equipment, it was natural for us to add metal detecting to our skill-set.

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IUP Anthropology undergraduates Amanda Telep, Chyna Haley, James Miller, and Brendan Cole learning proper technique from AMDA instructor Sheldon Skaggs. Photo by Chris Espenshade.

The class began with a day of lectures on the mechanics and use of metal detectors, as well as many examples of how metal detectors can be used for historic and pre-contact period archaeology. The next two days were spent in the field collecting real archaeology data.

Quick history of Fort Necessity: A 22-year old George Washington was sent to western PA to push the French from the region. On May 28, 1754 colonial and native soldiers under Washington’s command killed Joseph Coulon de Jumonville and most of his force who were carrying a message ordering Washington’s force to leave the area. Expecting a reprisal from the French, Washington’s troops fortified their depot in the Great Meadows, naming it Fort Necessity. On July 3, 1754 French soldiers under the command of Louis Coulon de Villiers, Jumonville’s brother, attached Fort Necessity. After a day of fighting in the rain Washington surrendered. The killing of Jumonville, which Washington admitted to in his surrender, ignited the Seven Years War, the first truly inter-continental war.

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Metal detector survey at Fort Necessity National Battlefield. Note the string transects to ensure proper coverage and the pin flags to mark finds. Photo by Chris Espenshade.

It has long been believed that the heaviest French fire came from the tree line southeast of the fort where the trees reached within 60 yards of the fort. That’s where we focused our metal detecting efforts for the field portion of the class. We found evidence of the battle in the form of dropped and fired musket balls as well as other artifacts relating to the attack. These data confirm that at least some of the French were attacking from this location.

We also now have a cadre of IUP archaeologists trained to use metal detectors on an archaeological site – a skill that we can use here and that students can take with them into the professional world. It was a very productive and successful weekend.

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AMDA Fort Necessity National Battlefield Class Photo. Photo by Chris Espenshade.