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!

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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.

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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…

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Yes, I can draw on an etch-a-sketch…

IN SMALL THINGS FORGOTTEN: MICRO-ARTIFACTS

By Lara Homsey-Messer

 Microartifacts are the small materials that fall through a standard ¼” screen. Generally archaeologists who study microartifacts look at the range from 1 to 4 mm, though some brave folks go down to as small as half a millimeter! Artifacts this small are difficult to see and require magnification, making their study somewhat tedious. As a result, they typically receive little attention. Since they are assumed to duplicate the same information we get from macroartifacts, only a handful of American archaeologists routinely study them. However, studies over the last two decades convincingly demonstrate that microartifacts are not simply smaller versions of larger artifacts. Rather they provide different kinds of information which supplement macroartifact studies. For example, at the Mississippian period site of Wickliffe Mounds in western Kentucky, my colleagues and I found tiny copper fragments inside a house structure. Only two slivers were found during 10 years of fieldwork, but when we looked at the microartifact assemblage (derived from the heavy fraction of flotation samples), we found hundreds of pieces—most of them just 1mm small! Even more interesting, chemical analysis of those fragments showed that it wasn’t elemental copper that Mississippian people used to make items of personal adornment (such as ear spools), but a fragile copper oxide, the kind that can be ground into a pigment for paint. Europeans who encountered historic period Native Americans recorded brightly painted houses, so this finding really shouldn’t be all that surprising. And yet if we hadn’t looked, we would not have found evidence for it. Since then we have found micro-sized pieces of other mineral pigments, including galena (black), hematite (red), and kaolinite (white)—all colors that had symbolic significance for Native Americans.

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Left: microartifacts from Wickliffe Mounds (the copper is center, bottom row). Right: artist’s reconstruction of a painted Mississippian house.

Several IUP students in the Department of Anthropology have incorporated microartifacts in their research. Junior Harley Burgis is looking at microartifacts from the Paleoindian through Archaic site of Dust Cave (in northwestern Alabama) as part of her Honor’s thesis. Harley is comparing microartifacts from different kinds of features, such as hearths, possible storage pits, and middens. The hearths are of particular interest because they come in many shapes and sizes. So far, she has found that the smaller hearths are more likely to contain burned shell and fish bone, while larger hearths seem to have a wider variety of materials, including bird and mammal bones, nutshell, and lithic debitage. Also, the bone is the bigger hearths is calcined, suggesting that those fires burned at a higher temperature than the small hearths. So it seems that at Dust Cave some hearths were reserved for steaming mussels and/or fish at low temperature, and others were multipurpose fires for broiling many kinds of foods at high temperature.

Graduate student Kevin Gubbles (May ‘16) looked at microartifacts as part of his Master’s thesis on fire-cracked rock (FCR) at the Johnston Site, a Monongahela village in western PA. Kevin conducted a neat experiment to figure out how hot and how often rocks need to be heated to create FCR. One of his findings is that repeated heating of sandstone not only cracks the rocks and colors them red, but it also causes micro-sized grains of quartz sand to sluff off, what we call “attrition.” This is especially true for rocks that have been boiled in hot water. And the higher the temperature, the more attrition is produced. Looking through the microartifact assemblage at the Johnston site, there are copious quantities of these single grains that match the physical appearance of the experimentally produced ones, particularly in hearth features. The huge quantities of attrition discovered by Kevin suggest that stone-boiling technologies continued even well after the adoption of ceramics.

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On left, experimental FCR with micro-sized grains of attrition. At right, archaeological microartifacts from a Johnston Site hearth.

Senior Paige Reimers is also looking at the microartifacts from the Johnston Site as part of her Honor’s thesis. She is comparing the microartifact content of different features to better understand how these they may have functioned. She is particularly interested in comparing the post mold features from the stockade and private domestic structures to post molds found in the central public plaza—a place generally kept free of structures and debris. The presence of posts here is surprising and we hope that microartifacts may shed light on what they were used for. Her analysis has just begun, but so far she has found a lot of the “attrition” mentioned above, supporting Kevin’s results that stone cooking, including stone boiling, was commonly employed at the Johnston Site, creating a long of refuse in the process.

The Archaeological Services Center at IUP

By Bill Chadwick

The Archaeological Services Center (Center) is a faculty-led applied archaeology research center that utilizes graduate and undergraduate student workers located in the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The Centers’ primary goal is to provide opportunities to both graduate and undergraduate students to obtain experience supervising and conducting field and laboratory archaeological projects prior to graduation. The Director of the Center, Dr. William Chadwick, is the only regular faculty staff member of the Center.

Ashley excavating a shoveltest

Ashley McCuistion and Hannah Harvey digging test pits.

The Center offers a wide array of services to public and private organizations to assist in cultural resource and historic preservation projects required by state, federal and local laws or as part of environmental impact assessments. Since 1989, the center has conducted more than $5,000,000 in projects and technical assistance to agencies as diverse as the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Indiana County, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the National Park Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers–Pittsburgh District, the Allegheny National Forest and numerous planning commissions. The services that the Center provides include, but are not limited to, Geomorphological Reconnaissance and Geophysical Surveys, Consultation, Phase I discovery, Phase II evaluations, and Phase III excavations of significant archaeological sites. The Center is focused on those sites and projects located in the Upper Ohio Valley.

Hannah and Emily using the GPR

Hannah Harvey and Emily Masters conducting a ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey for Pennsylvania DOT.

Archaeological projects through the Center provide students opportunities to have hands-on experience working with some of the technologies that are at the forefront of archaeological research and the Cultural Resource Management (CRM) industry. The Center has access to the latest geospatial technologies including, but not limited to, real-time sub-meter accurate GPS units, a Nikon Total Data Station, a Leica Scan Station C10 3D Laser Scanner, and ESRI ArcMap software. The geophysical equipment and methods used on projects by the Center can include two Ground-Penetrating Radar systems, Gradiometry, Resistivity, Conductivity, Electromagnetic Induction, and Metal Detection. The available laboratory equipment includes an Olympus DELTA Professional XRF, a Nikon Eclipse E200 Polarizing Trinocular Microscope, and a Flote-Tech Flotation System. Geomorphological equipment that can be used during the projects include Edelman and Buck Augers, Gouge Augers, Piston Samplers, and sediment analysis equipment such as a drying oven, electronic scales, sediment splitters, and a set of sediment sieves and a sieve shaker.

Whether continuing on into graduate studies or entering the CRM industry, students who have the opportunity to participate in projects through the Center have a enhanced understanding of the real-world application of methods and technologies that are used to study archeological resources. This knowledge gained through the Center provides students experience beyond the classroom that is invaluable when moving from their academic lives into their professional careers.

Crew walking across floodplain

Off to work we go!

Another Kind of Summer Project

By Sarah Neusius

Summer is often the time for academic archaeologists to do fieldwork, but this summer my energies are focused on something different, and certainly not less important: the preservation and use of archaeological datasets. Most archaeologists know that there’s a lot more to archaeology than fieldwork, but even after the cleaning, cataloging, and analysis of materials, archaeologists still have a responsibility to the data they have generated. Articles and reports allow us to present our interpretations of what we have found, and curation facilities care for and make accessible the actual artifacts we recover. However, the observations we make about artifacts, in other words, the data we generate, also are important to curate. Keeping our data accessible to future archaeologists so they can reevaluate our conclusions in the light of new information and new theoretical perspectives is an archeological obligation, but one on which our discipline is just beginning to focus. The digital age provides both greater possibilities and greater challenges for us in this respect.

Of course it is now standard to record archaeological data in digital format. Everything from artefactual datasets and images to field notes and geophysical data can be stored digitally reducing concerns about  storing paper records and images so that they will remain stable. On the other hand we all know that both software and hardware evolve at a lightening speed, rapidly making the formats we use obsolete and our data inaccessible. Nowadays archaeologists also are increasingly interested in the new ways to share their data that the internet provides. Along with web publishing there are many efforts to provide open access to archaeological data.

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The Worldwide Distribution of Resources stored in tDAR (from www.tdar.org, accessed 7/6/16 )

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Types of Data Stored in tDAR (from www.tdar.org, accessed 7/6/16 )

Among these the Digital Archaeological Record or tDAR, which has been developed by archaeologists and computer scientists under the auspices of Digital Antiquity now affiliated with Arizona State University. tDAR is an international repository for digital archaeological data, images, and documents that provides open access and includes integrative tools for analysis and has a core mission of helping archaeologists be better stewards of the data they generate. tDAR promises to keep these resources accessible in perpetuity by migrating to new digital formats as they become standard, and it also provides some powerful tools for integrating datasets created in different formats by different archaeologists so that comparison among site assemblages, settings, regions, and time periods is possible. These integrative aspects of tDAR allow archaeologists to address macro level questions in ways the published record does not because we can use and combine the original datasets rather than just the published summary data.

All of this is why my main project this summer is working with other zooarchaeologists who are part of the Eastern Archaic Faunal Working Group (EAFWG). Together and with funding from the National Science Foundation (BCS-1430754)   we are preserving and integrating more than 50 Archaic Period (ca. 10,000-3,000 BP) faunal datasets and associated documents in tDAR. Eventually these datasets will be publicly accessible for students and other researchers in the EAFWG collection within tDAR.

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The Eastern Archaic Faunal Working Group

These datasets were generated over the last sixty or more years by Kosterphotosarchaeologists working on sites located in the interior parts of the Eastern North America. Because of a strong interest in human-environment interactions among American archaeologists during this period, recovery and analysis of animal remains as well as of bone and other artifacts was standard in these excavations. This tradition of emphasizing zooarchaeological analysis continues today among Midwestern and Southeastern Modocimages.archaeologists interested in all of the Pre-Columbian periods. Good preservation has meant that large amounts of animal bone as well as mussel and snail shell often are recovered and significant faunal datasets have been generated for this region. Some of the better known of these sites are emblematic of the Eastern Archaic including Modoc Rock Shelter and the Koster site in Illinois, the Green River shell middens such as Carlston Annis in Kentucky, and Dust Cave in Northern Alabama, but there are many other Archaic sites as well. Some of these Dust Cavedatasets were recorded on paper only, and some of the earliest digital faunal datasets were also created as a result of these excavations. Moreover archaeologists in this region continue to generate significant faunal data today. Unfortunately, these data have remained dispersed across a wide variety of institutions and inaccessible to the larger archaeological community because they are recorded in a variety of formats and curated by individual researchers, some of whom are now deceased or no longer actively involved in Archaic period scholarship.

The EAFWG includes zooarchaeologists from IUP, the Illinois State Museum, the University of Kentucky, Florida State University, the Illinois Archaeological Survey, State University of New York at Oneonta and the University of Michigan at Flint. Besides meeting at professional conferences and staying in touch through email and conference calls, we have held formal workshops. In fact, our most recent workshop was hosted here at IUP in mid-May and included my GA, Scott Rivas as well as myself.

EAFWG@SAA 2016

EAFWG at SAA 2016. Scott Rivas is at right and Sarah Neusius is second to right.

Our goal is to use tDAR to preserve significant Archaic period faunal datasets and to bring them collectively to bear on research into the Archaic Period in Eastern North America. Not surprising traditional explanations for Archaic period variability and change, which have seen environment and demography as causal, have been questioned by contemporary researchers arguing that cultural identities, sociopolitical interactions, and ritual practices also explain some Archaic phenomena. In essence today’s archaeologists seek to understand Archaic period hunter-gatherers as more than participants in the ecosystem, and this raises new questions about the way Archaic data has been interpreted over the last half century or more. We think zooarchaeological data has much to contribute to these debates. Ultimately we have some macro-level questions about the variable use of aquatic resources by people who lived in this area during the Archaic period, which we believe will contribute meaningfully to better understanding of the Archaic period. However, we aren’t there yet, and instead are immersed in a long process.

Over the past year and through this summer I have been involved with myriad details, most of which would be far too boring for a blog such as this. However, I hope you can see why there are many steps in the EAFWG project. These have been accomplished with the help of several IUP undergraduate students and graduate students, and have included 1) creating digital databases from paper records in the first place, 2) finding and removing errors from digital datasets, 3) uploading digital datasets to tDAR, 4) providing metadata about what is in each dataset and what variables it contains, and 5) relating datasets created through the use of tDAR ontologies. We also have been exploring how comparable our Archaic datasets are in terms of taphonomy and contexts sampled, and working on measuring environmental and demographic variation during the Archaic period. By the end of the summer, we hope to begin to consider our research questions concerning the use of aquatic animals more directly.

For me personally, this summer project has meant little chance to be outside as much as I would prefer or to develop the muscles and fieldwork tan that I often do. Regardless, because the Archaic period was my first love in North American archaeology and this project is giving me an opportunity to revisit my dissertation research on the Koster site, it also is pretty exciting for me. Both collaboration with other zooarchaeologists, and looking at data I know well with new perspectives is a lot of fun. So if you encounter me this summer and find me slightly glassy eyed from staring at the computer screen, rest assured that I’m still absorbed in archaeology!