Growing Up In Cemeteries Pt. 1

By: Zane Ermine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

IUP DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY

Drowning in Dirty Dishes: My Thesis Research At Pandenarium

By: Samantha Taylor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pandenarium Public Archaeology Day 2017 Article

IUP ANTHROPOLOGY DEPARTMENT

Munsungun and Moose

Logging road

By: Genevieve Everett

At the beginning of September, one week into the second year of my graduate studies I packed my car and headed up to Maine to help friends of mine that had received grants to excavate near a quarry site for nine days. I’ve spent countless hours in cars on road trips up and down the east coast; so spending half a day at the drivers seat is very familiar to me. All I require is good music or talk radio and a leg stretch every now and again. Amanda Telep, a recent IUP undergraduate came along for the adventure.

Home Sweet Camp

On our first day we met up with Heather Rockwell and Nathaniel Kitchel and the rest of the crew. Nathaniel and Heather both received their PhDs from the University of Wyoming, however, they have focused much of their research in New England. Before we arrived at our campsite, we had to drive close to 55 miles on bumpy narrow logging roads. To give you an idea of how remote this area was, when Amanda and I were leaving to cross from the United States into Canada, the boarder officer asked, “Are you lost?” We arrived at our campsite at dusk just as the rain began, and yes, the rain stayed with us for most of the trip. I kept joking that I had “water front property”, because a huge puddle had formed just outside my tent. After setting up, we all huddled inside of the canvas tent to eat salsa mixed with mac and cheese, which can only be described as hot gooey deliciousness. We used the canvas tent as our meeting place every morning and evening for meals. The area we were in is pretty remote; so all provisions were brought in with the hope that nothing was left behind.

Okay, so onto the archaeology, and why we were there…

Amanda, Heather and Lara workin hard!

Every morning we drove into the site looking out for the giant logging trucks that seem to creep up on you out of nowhere. On our first official day in the field, Nathaniel and Heather gave us a tour of the quarry and the area where Heather was focusing her research. So far, the site(s) have a prehistoric component, however no temporal determination has been made. Several transects were laid out to cover Heather’s area of interest (eventually each STP was plotted with a GPS). Shovel testing made it possible for Heather to begin determining where concentrations of artifacts were being recovered, and finding the boundary (based on sterile shovel tests). We were finding hundreds of flakes every day, especially in the tree throw that took almost an entire day to excavate!

Some of the Munsungun at the outcrop peaking through moss

On one of the last days I had an opportunity to go up to the quarry site where Nathaniel was excavating a 1 meter x 1 meter test unit at the base of the quarry outcrop. This outcrop is a Munsungun chert source, a raw material utilized by prehistoric peoples to make stone tools. Interestingly enough, Munsungun chert is found in the form of lithics and lithic debitage at many Paleoindian sites in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, hundreds of miles away. By the time I got up to the quarry site Nathaniel and Tom (another volunteer) had excavated roughly 30 cm through natural shatter and cultural debris (flakes, etc). It was almost overwhelming how much cultural material was present at the quarry. There was a peaceful eeriness about this area, broken up by the chatter of angry red squirrels from time to time.

Counting flakes at the end of the day…on a plate.

A couple of our afternoons were spent driving to and from (a total of about 45 miles) what we dubbed “Cell Phone Mountain” to check email and make phone calls, because there is zero cell service out there. I have to admit, it was really nice being disconnected from the world for a few days. The view from on top of “Cell Phone Mountain” was phenomenal, especially since fall starts early up there, so we had a chance to see some really gorgeous fall foliage. Every night we took turns making dinner and cleaning up. On those evenings when it wasn’t raining we sat around a fire admiring the night sky unobstructed by light pollution. We also managed to make a considerable dent in the beer that we all brought along with us, because archaeologists “work hard, play harder”. Honestly, we were in bed most nights before 10 pm, because we were up every morning at 6:30 am. So yeah, not much in the way of partying.

The entire crew minus Tom and myself

All in all, this trip was an incredible professional and educational experience. I got to meet new colleagues that I hope I will have a chance to work with one day. I was also offered invaluable advice about starting/finishing my thesis. If I was forced to say one bad thing to say about this trip, it would be that we didn’t see a living/breathing moose, only a reproduction of one at the Kennebunk rest stop. Maybe next time!

 

 

Canoeing on one of the last days in the pond behind camp

Gettin fancy in our field clothes

Our only moose sighting

Test unit next to the outcrop

In the bushes to get out of the way of a logging truck!

 

IUP ANTHROPOLOGY DEPARTMENT

 

A Trip to Philly for a Look at the CRM Industry

By: Patrick McGinley

23rd Annual ACRA Conference

Hello, my name is Patrick McGinley, and I am a second-year grad student in the Applied Archaeology M.A. program. The weekend of Friday September 8th, I travelled to Philadelphia, PA, with Dr. William Chadwick and four other second-year grad students from the CRM II class being taught this Fall to attend the 23rd annual American Cultural Resources Association (ACRA) conference. ACRA is a national trade association for firms working in the Cultural Resource Management (CRM) industry, of which IUP is a member through its Archaeological Services. We left Thursday the 7th to stay in Philly overnight so that we could attend the first sessions early Friday morning. The conference had a total of 10 sessions over two days, and we had time to do some sightseeing as well.

The sessions covered a wide variety of topics, from political issues, to tax credit programs for historical preservation, to climate change’s effects on the industry, to the I-95 Philadelphia Project. On Saturday, “Student Day,” there was a special meet-and-greet session and a question-and-answer session with a panel which had several decades of experience in the CRM industry between them. One of the most interesting sessions for me personally was regarding the future of CRM in the Trump administration, which discussed what President Trump’s actions to this point suggest about his attitude toward regulation reform, environmental policy, and infrastructure development. The sessions that were specifically designed for students were valuable and definitely one of the highligh

The brick flooring from Benjamin Franklin’s cellar kitchen

ts of the weekend. The meet-and-greet allowed us to connect with many of the attendees of the conference, all of whom are actively employed in the industry all over the country. I even got to talk briefly with the president of ACRA, Duane Peter. The Q&A featured five panelists, including IUP’s own Dr. Chadwick, who discussed how to prepare for and get a job in this industry and gave tips for being successful in it.

During our lunch breaks and in the evenings after the last session had ended, we had time to explore the heart of Philadelphia and eat some great food. The conference was located along Rittenhouse Square, so we were already in Center City. In addition to all the nice places to eat, we were able to see Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Benjamin Franklin Museum, and more.

Ultimately, I think this was a valuable experience for my classmates and I for several reasons. It is important to go to these types of conferences as a student in order to get a glimpse of what the professional world looks like. The professionals attending these conferences are very knowledgeable about archaeology, CRM, and a whole host of other topics pertaining to our field. Also, it is crucial to make connections with these people and to get to know them, because they will be our future peers, if not future employers. Lastly, I think attending the ACRA conference in particular was important for us because it gave us an opportunity to hear about the “business side” of CRM and archaeology. Moreover, it has made me more aware of what the industry is like and the larger world in which it operates. As we heard from the speakers, the importance of associations like ACRA has increased in recent years to ensure that cultural resource and heritage protection laws are strengthened and updated as the CRM industry continues to grow into the 21st century.

The grad students enjoying the conference and Philadelphia!

 

IUP Anthropology Department

 

My summer as a PHAST intern

By: Genevieve Everett

PHAST 2017 Crew (from left to right: Sami, Zaakiyah, Gen)

This is going to sound real cliché, but time flies when you’re having fun! That’s exactly how I feel about this past summer as a PennDOT Highway Archaeological Survey Team (PHAST) intern. Last day of Spring 2017 classes was Friday May 12th, so my parents came to visit me in Pittsburgh that weekend as a celebration for finishing my first year of graduate school. The following Monday, May 15th was our first day of work. Yes, not much of a break, but that’s being in grad school! Our first week was basically orientation where Joe Baker, the PHAST Supervisor told us that if we weren’t feeling lost during our first few weeks of work there was something wrong with us. Well, speaking for myself, I was definitely feeling a bit lost and rusty in the digging shovel test pit department since it had been quite some time, but after a couple of weeks of doing it day after day I was becoming more confident in my work.

A friendly little sheep at one of our projects

We were immersed in CRM life: living out of a suitcase, staying in hotels, and eating out for every meal. Our projects took us to different counties all over the Common Wealth, which was probably one of my favorite aspects about this job. We saw parts of Pennsylvania that I would have otherwise skipped over on the way to other places. Pennsylvania is BEAUTIFUL! Most of the work we were doing was Phase I (bridge replacements/rehabilitation), however, we did do some Phase II work, several GPR surveys, metal detecting, cleaning/cataloging artifacts, mapping in ArcGIS, and writing reports.

Old wooden boxcar at the Muddy Creek Forks project

One of my favorite projects this summer was a Phase I/II at historic Muddy Creek Forks Village in York County. We excavated around the railroad Section House built by the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad in the early 20th century for the Section Gang. The Section Gang maintained 10 miles of track year round, storing their track car and tools in the Section House. The Ma & Pa Railroad was an important part of industrial life in early-mid 20th century, making it easier for individuals to travel between York and Baltimore and to ship/receive goods. The Section House is an important resource for understanding what early-mid 20th century life may have been like for railroad workers. Eventually, the Section House will be raised onto a new foundation, and rehabilitated for future generations to enjoy along the walking path at the Ma & Pa Railroad Historic Village. Seriously, if you’re ever in the area, visit this site.

All in all, it has been an incredible and educational summer. As much as I love being out in the field I am definitely ready to start back up with classes and work on my thesis!

Visit the IUP Anthropology Department

 

Reflecting back on my first year…

I am currently sitting in the Days Inn Hotel in State College (my current Monday-Friday home) for three weeks. I am one of three graduate students that were hired as an intern for the PennDOT Highway Archaeological Survey Team (PHAST). We are getting a healthy dose of what it is like to work in CRM. Last week, this week and the follow week, we are digging test units upslope from the Juniata College field school at the Hatch Site. Prior to this project we have been working in Allegheny County and Indiana County. It has been a busy beginning of the summer, but I’ve learned so much so far! Another perk to this internship is getting to see the different parts of PA that I’ve never visited. Lucky for us, we are surrounded by great food (and beer) in State College. Tonight we are trying Austrian food!

The PHAST crew at the Hatch site: from left to right: Zaakiyah, Sami, and Gen.

Sitting here in my hotel room, I am reflecting on my first year of graduate school. Coming into the program I was pretty anxious about diving back into school after being out of academia for almost eight years. I took a long time off, working in the service industry, going to field school and working in CRM briefly. I wasn’t sure if I knew how to write a paper still. The first few weeks were a little rocky, but I kept pushing myself, and I got into a routine, and yes, I can still write. Time management is everything in graduate school, especially the first semester of your first year. It is impossible to leave any assignment until the last minute, because it is very likely that you have one or two assignments for another class due the same day or week. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE! You can ask anyone from the cohort above you, your quality of life will be much better if you just realize that you may be doing school work most days in order to get assignments done on time and at a level that is worthy of graduate school.

The place that I spent most of my time during the first year was in the graduate lounge and in my office that was provided to me for my Public Archaeology graduate assistantship (GA). The office and graduate lounge was especially helpful, because it was a place that I could work in peace. I live in Pittsburgh, so having a place to leave my lap top and other belongings was especially nice. My GA pushed me to get to know my cohort and the cohort above me a little better. Managing the blog and other social media outlets allowed me to take a break from academic writing, and do a little creative writing. Similarly, I was able to speak about issues, such as the defunding of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment of the Humanities freely. Ultimately, my GA made me feel like a part of the program that I may not have otherwise felt.

Getting to know your cohort is one of the best things you can do for yourself, and the professors drive this home to you from the very beginning. No, it is not possible to be friends with everyone, but making a concerted effort to get to know one another is helpful for two reasons: 1. You’re all going through the same stress, so they are likely the people that will understand what you’re going through the most 2. You are there to help one another when you’re confused about an assignment. These people are likely to become your co-workers in the future, but even better, your friends. Your reputation is everything in this field, so it is crucial to be professional, but also be willing to hang out and enjoy the moments that you’re not doing school work with them!

Finally, I found that taking part in every opportunity presented to me through the program is really important. Any colloquium or field trip that is offered, take advantage of it. This includes conferences (if you present a paper or poster you are eligible for funding). Your professors like to see you getting involved, but also, these are opportunities you may not otherwise get outside of school. We met a lot of important people, such as the advisory council for our program, and they looked at our resumes, and told us what CRM firms are looking for. We also had an opportunity to meet and hear Dr. Todd Surovell speak. You’re paying for your education, so make sure you take advantage of everything that times allows!

Attempting to do homework outdoors on a nice day.

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

Is Archaeology Robot-Proof?

By: Genevieve Everett

I am a huge talk radio fan, specifically National Public Radio (NPR). I listen in my kitchen, and on my way to and from school. On my commute, I listen to Morning Edition and Marketplace, lots of news, traffic reports, weather, and so on. Teenage me that was blasting the Clash in my car would be really surprised by thirty year old me, listening to talk radio over music. Anyway, Marketplace has this series right now about “Robot-Proof Jobs”. According to their website, “The McKinsey Global Institute analyzed the work activities of more than 800 occupations in the U.S. to determine what percentage of a job could be automated using current technology. It turns out, a small fraction of jobs are either entirely automatable or entirely robot-proof” (Marketplace.org). This got me thinking about archaeology, and how robot-proof our profession is in the 21st century.

Some of the jobs that are listed under “0% Automatable” include: Ambulance Drivers, Animal Scientists, Astronomers, Historians, Dancers, and Music Directors and Composers. Conversely, jobs that are “100% Automatable” include: Dredge Operators, Movie Projectionists, Medical Appliance Technicians, and Slaughterers and Meat Packers (Marketplace.org). There is a clear difference between these two categories, the “0% Automatable” involve interpretation and creativity, while the “100% Automatable” jobs are labor intensive, and do not require much in the way of creativity or interpretation.

Is it possible that archaeology could be done by a robot? Could a robot be trained to dig a shovel test pit? Maybe. Can a robot consult with stakeholders in a community concerned that a federal undertaking will destroy their sacred site? Probably not. In the situation where an undertaking requires creative or alternative mitigation as opposed to traditional data recovery (excavation), could the robot deal with this decision? No. Robots are generally programed to do what they are told, so small changes would be difficult to process. Every archaeological project is different and is subject to change, because so many people are involved in decisions surrounding a project or federal undertaking. Also, interpretation of data is required when a project is done. A robot might be able to recognize different ceramic types, but it cannot see the class divide that is present across the site.  In other words, a robot cannot provide the same critical thinking and interpretation that a trained archaeologist can.

Robots are not all bad, in fact, maybe robots will be helpful to archaeologists in the future. Archaeologists already use lots of high-tech gadgets that make our lives easier, including, GPR, GIS, GPS, drones, and so on. However, much of this technology still requires a human to turn it on and operate it. That being said, technology is our friend, and robots are definitely not taking our jobs anytime soon.

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