My thesis fieldwork in Cyprus (by Sarah Henley)

This past May, I traveled to Cyprus to conduct my Masters thesis research. The purpose of my research is to use portable X-Ray Fluorescence (pXRF) analyze the elemental composition of Roman and Late Roman Period (30 B.C. to A.D. 614) Cypriot Red Slip ware (CRS) sherds, which basically provides a chemical “fingerprint” for sherds made from different clay sources.  My original goal was to compare my results to naturally-occurring clay bed samples in order to investigate their origin of manufacture, as well as regional trade patterns across Cyprus and parts of neighboring Turkey.

I traveled with Dr. Robert S. Moore from the IUP History department, and Dr. William R. Caraher from the University of North Dakota History department. We spent the first night in Larnaca, Cyprus, which is located in Larnaca Bay on the southeastern part of the island. Larnaca is a somewhat noisy city, with an oceanfront full of restaurants, an ancient fort at one end, and a marina on the other. There is also a beautiful church located down the road from the fort. Throughout the city there are various types of architecture, which gives the city character. As you make your way down small alleys you can find shops and more restaurants. The beach was also nice, but not as beautiful as other places I have seen in the Mediterranean.

The next day, we traveled to Polis, which is located on the western side of the island, and to give you an idea of the island’s size it took about 3 hours to get there from Larnaca. The inner terrain of Cyprus is beautiful with the Troodos Mountains, and the southwestern coast, which both reminded me of Greece. Polis was a nice small town, and much quieter then Larnaca.  The next 4 days we worked in a small, fairly dirty, basement where all the ceramic artifacts were curated. The first day I spent running tests with CRS body sherds to figure out how to go about collecting my data. I had not anticipated for each ceramic sherd to have concretion, which are limestone deposits that accumulate on artifacts that have been in the ground for long periods of time. Concretion can only be completely removed by acid, which takes a great amount of time to remove.  The next 3 days I spent collecting my data. I tried to test areas on each sherd that had the least amount of concretion.  On May 20th we returned to Larnaca. The last 4 days we worked in a warehouse, which was cleaner then the curation building in Polis. The sherds were in bags, which were in crates that were marked by excavation unit(s). Dr. Moore had e-mailed me a list of the CRS sherds, and I pulled them from the crates, and bags. Fortunately, these sherds had less concretion on them because they were surface finds.

XRF unit (left) and example of concretion on an CRS sherd (right)

A professor from Messiah College’s history department, Dr. David K. Pettegrew, an associate of Dr. Moore and Dr. Caraher’s, brought a group of undergraduate students to Cyprus. On my last day I had the opportunity to talk to the students about pXRF and my thesis. While in Cyprus Dr. Moore showed me the sites in which the sherds I tested came from. In Polis the sherds were excavated from the porch of a Christian basilica dating to the 6th/7th century A.D. In Larnaca the sherds were collected from a Roman Period site that used to be a major southern port town.  Overall, I had a  good experience; the only down side was I was not able to collect clay bed samples as originally planned. Later in June I will be meeting with the Applied Research Lab people at IUP, who will help me to statistically statistically analyze my data.

IUP Department of Anthropology

IUP Archaeologists March for Science

By: Genevieve Everett

Last Saturday, Earth Day, Dr. Sarah, Danielle, Kate, Jared, Heather, Sami and I woke up in the early morning hours to hit the road for the March for Science in Washington DC. The weather forecast was calling for rain all day, so we came mostly prepared for that, with our signs of support in tow. We arrived at the Metro Station around 9 am, still feeling groggy from our early start, but energized to join the thousands of people coming to the march for science.

Bill Nye!

After a short Metro ride, we were heading toward the National Monument where we stood in line looking on at the beautiful new National Museum of African American History and Culture . We were surrounded signs that read “Science not Silence” and people in lab coats. Waiting in line to get into the rally, the rain began with a light drizzle. Inside the gates we made our way through the crowds to stand in front of a giant jumbo-tron to watch the many speeches that were planned for the day. Different scientists or supporters of science, young and old came to speak about the importance of science, and how it has impacted their lives and the lives of others. Sadly, no archaeologists spoke, but it was inspirational nonetheless. And finally….BILL NYE THE SCIENCE GUY came out to end the rally. The rain began to pick up, but the moment we had all been waiting for had finally come! He stood at the podium speaking about the need to encourage lawmakers to take the sciences seriously for the well being of all. As a kid I idolized Bill Nye, and now that I’ve grown up I still see the same passion that came through my television set, and it makes me feel a glimmer of hope for the future of science and our planet, because as many signs around us said, “THERE IS NO PLANET B”.

With time to kill, we stopped and got some lunch at a little deli where we had a chance to “dry” off a bit. With our stomachs full, we headed toward the front of the march. Waiting on the side of the road we watched as Bill Nye and a long line of smiling faces proudly held a “March for Science” banner. We joined the masses of people, holding our own signs high. We heard the occasional call and response chant of,  “WHAT DO WE WANT? EVIDENCE BASED SCIENCE. WHEN DO WE WANT IT? AFTER PEER REVIEW!”. There was an overall feeling of connectedness, and it was an awesome feeling. The march ended at Union Square across from the Capitol Building where everyone dispersed to go back to their normal lives.

A week later I am sitting at my computer thinking how lucky I am to be able to stand up for what I believe in. Archaeology may not be the first thing people think of when they think of science, but we are scientists through and through. With the treat to cultural resources in this country, we must work to preserve and protect them, because they are non-renewable resources, just like our precious planet. Although last Saturday was a long day after being up early and getting soaked, it was completely worth it in the name of science!

IUP Department of Anthropology

American Grad Students in Canada: Our trip to the SAA, eh.

By: Matthew Bjorkman and Britney Elsbury-Orris

Hello! We are Matthew Bjorkman and Britney Elsbury-Orris, and this is our first contribution to Trowels and Tribulations, and honestly…what took so long! We are both first-year graduate students in the Applied Archaeology program, and we have had the pleasure of attending way too many conferences this semester. At the end of the fall semester, while we were riding the high of turning in our final assignment, we volunteered to become members of the IUP Ethics Bowl team. While we did not fully understand the time commitment we had just signed up for (we blame the lack of sleep), we knew that it would give us an opportunity to flex our ethics muscles in competition at the 82nd annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Beautiful view outside the Convention Center

Despite being poor college students once again , we were able to book our trip. Departing from Pittsburgh at way-to-early in the morning, we had a short layover in the San Francisco airport before finally arriving in Vancouver the day before the conference (Trip bonus: we flew on United on both legs of our trip and neither of us was asked to give up our seat or got stung by a scorpion). After wandering aimlessly in the city for an hour, we arrived at our hotel, Hotel Blu. The hotel was fantastic, far too classy for this duo. Our first day, the day before the start of the conference, was spent figuring out how to get our phones to work in a foreign land, and meeting up with Ethics Bowl teammates and other IUP students. We got together and searched for a spot to grab dinner. After searching for a restaurant that Matt swears was selling a pound of wings for $3, we abandoned our search and settled for the White Spot. Here we tested the local brews, ate exotic poutine, and discussed our up-coming presentations and competition.

IUP Ethics Bowl team!

The Ethics Bowl was on the first day of the conference. Fighting off jet lag and the exhaustion of traveling 3,000 miles, team IUP arrived at the Hyatt hotel at 7:30 in the morning. Practice run-downs of our cases and guidance from our mentor did little to calm our nerves. With friends and fans in the crowd, our team performed wonderfully, crushing the cases that were presented. We solved the issue of the troubled museum exhibit, and we fixed Sandy Melmac’s curation crisis. Sadly, we did not crush the competition, and lost by 1 point to the home town Simon Fraser University.

The Ethics Bowl was over before we wanted it to be, but we were now able to experience all the SAA conference had to offer. At first, the number of things happening at the conference was overwhelming. With over 4,000 attendees, this was the largest conference that either of us had attended. We explored the program and the convention center, highlighting presentations we wanted to try to get to. The beautiful part about the SAA conference is that there are sessions on just about any archaeological topic you can think of. Over the course of the conference, we attended presentations on Classic Maya architecture, isotope analysis of faunal remains, geoarchaeology, territorial behavior and ecology, and more. We vi

Looking across the bay at North Vancouver

sited the poster presentations of our IUP colleagues and explored the projects of archaeologists from around the world. We even networked at a CRM (cultural resource management) expo with other archaeologists who were looking for people to work for them over the summer, part-time, and permanently.

Even though we were in Vancouver for a conference, we made time to have a little vacation for ourselves. We explored the city experiencing its beautiful scenery and the other great things that Vancouver had to offer. We reunited with long lost friends from our undergrad days at Penn State and even met up with those we had already met at IUP over countless dinners and drinks. We also had the opportunity to attend a MLS soccer game featuring the Vancouver Whitecaps and the LA Galaxy. We sat in the supporter’s section and like to think we were the reason why the Whitecaps got their 4-2 upset victory.

Go Whitecaps!

In conclusion, even though we did not win the Ethics Bowl, we still had a lot of fun on our trip. The Ethics Bowl gave us the opportunity to get an idea of how we should prepare and what we should expect next year in Washington D.C., when we win. 😉 We got to attend presentations in which we learned about various archaeological work being done throughout the United States and even within Canada and other countries and gained ideas for our future research. We got to see old faces in which we talked with them over many dinners and drinks. We even got to meet new ones in prospects for a CRM job in the future and go to our first MLS soccer game. If you get the chance, take the opportunity to attend this conference. It will definitely benefit you in the long run! Hopefully we will see you all next year in Washington D.C. for the 83rd annual SAA meeting and our second Ethic’s Bowl appearance.

IUP Department of Anthropology

Archaeology and the Public: A New Way To Bridge The Gap

By: Genevieve Everett

This semester we have been talking a lot about how to get the public involved/interested in archaeology and the preservation of cultural resources. Most importantly, how can we make what we do relevant to people outside of our field?  We have read Jeremy Sabloff’s book, “Why Archaeology Matters”, which discusses the many ways in which archaeologists are contributing on a local, regional, national and global scale.  According to Sabloff, as archaeologists we should be “working for living communities, not just in or near them”(Sabloff 2008:17). An excellent example of someone that is attempting to work with the public is ‘space archaeologist’, Sarah Parcak.  Parcak’s new project, GlobalXplorer allows the public to get involved in the effort to combat looting of archaeological sites around the world.

Sarah Parcak is an Egyptologist, and is best known for her work looking at satellite images to find archaeological sites and signs of looting. According to the website, “So far, Dr. Parcak’s techniques have helped locate 17 potential pyramids, in addition to 3,100 potential forgotten settlements and 1,000 potential lost tombs in Egypt — and she’s also made significant discoveries in the Viking world and Roman Empire.” (GlobalXplorer 2017). Check out the TED talk for which Parcak earned the  2016 TED prize of 1 million dollars. Parcak used her award to create GlobalXplorer as a way to train the public to spot looting on satellite images. I went to the website, and decided to sign up as a global explorer. Once signed up, there is a short tutorial video that explains what looting typically looks like when looking down on the earth from a satellite. Once the tutorial is done, a satellite image/tile is brought up, and based on what your learned in the tutorial, you must decide if this tile displays looting or not. It’s much harder than you think, because trees, bushes and mounds of dirt kind of look like looting pits; however, once you look at enough tiles you begin to recognize the pits versus the natural landscape. To date, over 44,000 people have signed up to look at the tiles, and over 9 million tiles have been explored so far!

The work that Parcak has done is incredible, and for an archaeologist like myself, I find this to be extremely fascinating, and an awesome platform for getting the public involved in a joint effort to protect cultural resources. People are drawn to research like Parcak’s, because it is innovative and interactive. Just spouting facts at people about why looting is bad is not enough; rather, giving people the knowledge and tools to combat looting makes them feel like they are making a contribution to something big. Parcak’s research seems to be bridging the gap between archaeologists and the public, creating a new generation of stewards. As more people get involved with this project, there is a better chance that archaeological sites will be protected from looting and destruction. I am really excited to see how GlobalXplorer progresses!

IUP Department of Anthropology

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

A graduate student’s musings on the NEH and NEA

By: Genevieve Everett

The arts and humanities have always meant a great deal to me as I was lucky enough to be raised in an environment in which expressing oneself was done through painting or drawing in or outside the lines. As a child, my mother and grandmother both took me to as many museums in Delaware and eastern Pennsylvania as they could. All of these experiences opened my eyes to the world around me. However, it wasn’t until fourth grade that I found a way to express myself. Fourth grade was the year when students were given the opportunity to pick out the instrument of their choice and get weekly music lessons from the school music teacher. No, I did not go to a fancy private school, on the contrary, I went to PUBLIC school where my education was FREE. I still remember the day my mother took me to the school cafeteria to pick out the instrument that I would end up playing for nine straight years, the clarinet. This is going to sound real cliché, but music made me who I am today. I struggled with attention deficit disorder as a kid, but still managed to do well in school, because I found something that I excelled in and enjoyed. I credit my interest in the arts and humanities to those music teachers that taught us to tap our feet in time to the music, to the women in my life that showed me that the past is part of the present, and the history, anthropology/archaeology teachers that broadened my understanding of the world.

You may be asking yourself, “why did she just go off on that tangent about music and art and history?” Well, without the arts and humanities, I would not be where I am today: a graduate student studying applied archaeology. The things I listed above, the experiences, especially learning to play an instrument cannot be directly attributed to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) or the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), but the federal recognition of importance of the arts and humanities in the 1960’s created programs that would affect millions of Americans and American institutions for years to come.

Okay, a little background information on the NEH and NEA…

The NEH and NEA were established as federal agencies by President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 29, 1965 in response to a 1964 finding that, “the emphasis placed on science endangered the study of the humanities from elementary schools through postgraduate programs”. The 1960’s were a time of civil unrest, and the American people began to question the status quo. The civil rights movement was in full force, the first real talks around human impacts on the environment were being seriously discussed, and people recognized that the arts and humanities were not getting their fair share. Since the implementation of the NEH and NEA, it has not all been smooth sailing. The agencies have experienced drastic cuts throughout their 50 + year tenure. Now in 2017 the NEH and NEA are facing similar cuts under the new administration. So, we tell ourselves, “oh, no big deal, they’ll bounce back just like they have in the past.” WRONG. The new administration wants to cut federal spending by $10 trillion dollars, and the NEH and NEA are low on the totem pole when it comes to funding priorities under a conservative agenda.

What does this have to do with archaeology? While archaeology is technically considered a science (whether social or a ‘true’ science, it is a highly debatable within archaeology), it still falls in the ranks of the humanities, such as history and social studies. The NEH provides grants to archaeological or closely related archaeological projects. For example, Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections is one of the NEH grants created to help, “cultural institutions meet the complex challenge of preserving large and diverse holdings of humanities materials for future generations by supporting sustainable conservation measures”. It is projects like this that protect cultural resources from destruction and deterioration. Although having little do to with archaeology, a project that uses art for the betterment of the American people is the NEA Military Healing Arts Partnership which, “supports creative art therapy programs to help our nation’s wounded, ill, and injured service members and their families in their recovery, reintegration or transition to civilian life”. Without the NEH and NEA, projects such as these will fall by the wayside, and the arts and humanities, including archaeology will suffer.

If you are reading this, and are a concerned citizen just as I am, you can sign this petition: Do not defund the NEA or NEH AND speak to your state and local representatives.

 

Material referenced:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/30/arts/design/donald-trump-arts-humanities-public-television.html

https://www.neh.gov/about/history

Image:

NEA and NEH logo image

 

PCSS Conference

By: Genevieve Everett

This past weekend I drove out to Harrisburg for the 63rd annual Pennsylvania Council for Social Studies (PCSS) conference. The conference theme this year was “Creating Global Citizens Through Issues Focused Instruction”.

Part of my public archaeology assistantship is to go to this conference to present to social studies teachers from all over the state. My contribution to the conference was a presentation on “The Crisis in Archaeological and Cultural Heritage in the Middle East”. The first question I asked my audience, “have any of you taught arpcss-conferencechaeology in your classrooms?” was received with side-glances and heads awkwardly turning to look at their neighbor to see if they had taught the subject. I took that as a resounding, “NO”. From there I began to discuss cultural heritage destruction, and back that up with several case studies. I began with two based in the Middle East concerning the Giant Buddha’s of Bamiyan Province in Afghanistan and Palmyra in Syria. These are two examples of religiously motivated destruction of cultural resources and heritage, but I didn’t want my audience to think that this only happens in the Middle East. I wanted to drive home that the destruction of cultural resources and heritage is a global issue. Not all destruction is religiously motivated, we also see looting and selling of antiquities on the black market in economically depressed countries, and individuals that loo

giant-buddhas

Giant Buddha of Bamiyan

t sites for their own personal collections. I continued to explain context and its importance in archaeology. When artifacts and features are looted, broken or completely destroyed, they lose their meaning and interpretive value. I ended the discussion by talking about Sarah Parcak, the satellite archaeologist that is using satellite imagery to compare maps over time that show increased looting, especially in Egypt. Parcak hopes to use these maps to prevent further looting of sites worldwide. Did I mention she is my hero? To read more about her research follow the link below!

looting

Two satellite images depicting increased looting holes at a site in Egypt between 2009 and 2012

My main goal at this conference was to get these teachers interested (and excited) in incorporating archaeology into their curriculum by providing resources that they can use in their classroom. One such lesson plan called, “Trash Talk” has students examine modern trash the way that archaeologists look at trash pits to make inferences about the people that were using the objects, and how they were used. I even found a lesson plan pertaining to context, which I will provide a link to below. I had fantastic social studies and history teachers growing up, but I do not recall being taught archaeology at all. I hope that my presentation opened the eyes of some of these teachers, veterans and newbies to a new way of presenting the past to their students.

Links:

Sarah Parcak- National Geographic fellow and satellite archaeologist

Context exercise

 

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!

The Bronze Age in Northern Vietnam

By: Francis Allard

allard-2

Bronze artifact from Hanoi

During the month of July, I spent one week in Hanoi (Vietnam) with a colleague who teaches at another university. Our objective was to meet with archaeologists at the Institute of Archaeology of Vietnam to discuss the establishment of a new project that focuses on the development of Bronze Age societies in northern Vietnam, from the earliest evidence of bronze metallurgy in that area (in about 1200 BCE) to the last centuries of the first millennium BCE (at which point large complex bronzes such as drums were being manufactured). Although I’ve worked mostly in southern China since the 1990s, I’ve also made multiple trips to northern Vietnam over the past 25 years. My interest in the archaeology of that area is in fact not surprising, since these two adjoining areas (southern China and northern Vietnam) share many cultural traits with one another.

allard-4

Dog with a 2,000 year old decorated brick (village near Hanoi, Vietnam)

While in Vietnam, my colleague and I also met with a number of archaeologists at universities and museums, visits which resulted in us gaining access to over 20 bronze artifacts or fragments dating to the period we’re interested in. As you can see in the photos, it’s possible (and sometimes preferable) to work with incomplete artifacts or even small fragments (as long as we know which type of artifact it came from). We were given permission to take these objects out of Vietnam and are planning to conduct XRF (X-ray fluorescence) analysis on them to determine their copper, tin and lead content, information that can then be used to understand how knowledge of metallurgy was transmitted among craft specialists and adapted to meet local conditions. Following the completion of the XRF analysis, our plan it to return to Vietnam to do the same with additional bronze objects and to discuss with our Vietnamese colleagues the future expansion of the project to include field activities.