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

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

 

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

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

 

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

Success after IUP

By: Kristin Swanton

My passion for archaeology was a direct result of my older brother, Michael, and great uncle, Charles Wray, who both worked as archaeologists in New York. In 2007, I graduated with a Bachelors degree in Anthropology and Religion from Syracuse University. After completing two fieldschools and two archaeology internships, I developed my interest in historical archaeology and working with stakeholder communities.

After college, I knew I wanted to attend graduate school, but my faculty at Syracuse recommended that I get more experience in cultural resource management. I took off two years between undergraduate and graduate school, but it was worth it. I was lucky to be part of the first graduate class in the Masters for Applied Archaeology program at IUP. As a graduate student, I was able to tailor my Master’s thesis to focus on a contact-period battlefield in eastern Connecticut that involved multiple interested parties.

A volunteer dig at the Governor Wolf mansion in PA

The coursework and mentoring from the IUP faculty directly prepared me for my various jobs after graduate school. I have had the opportunity to work for an international engineering firm, as well as the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office (NJHPO) and the U.S. Forest Service. Currently, I work as a Historic Preservation Assistant for the NJHPO, where I assist staff members in their review of projects requiring Section 106 compliance and New Jersey State permits. With my Master’s degree from IUP, I gained the skill sets necessary in CRM and satisfied the Secretary of Interior qualifications as a professional archaeologist.

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

My final semester…..

By: Katherine Peresolak

The Carroll Farm

It’s amazing how quickly the past two years have gone, but I was warned! It’s exciting to be in my final semester and focusing on thesis work and writing. My research centers on a historic home (and farm) located in Fayette County that stands on what is now DCNR land. The primary goal was to determine when the older, hand-hewn timber part of the house was built. This and three other research questions were investigated using several methodologies: documentary research, archaeological excavation, architectural survey, dendrochronology (tree-ring dating), and soil chemistry analysis. Answers to my research questions will provide the DCNR managers support in arguing for the home’s and site’s significance and need for funding. While the use of dendrochronology to date house timbers and soil chemistry analysis to understand the farm fields and land use/quality has been so interesting, probably the most exciting part of this project for me has been the public archaeology aspect.

 

Joanna Furnace, 2006, Wheelwright Shop

My own experience in archaeology began when I was 16 and still in high school. Two annual festivals are held at Joanna Furnace in Berks County, to which my mom regularly took my sister and I. I honestly did not want to walk away from the open excavation when I saw it, and my mom saw an opportunity to ask if they (SPA Chapter 21) took volunteers. Ever since then, public archaeology has been dear to me, and I can’t wait to share the results of my thesis research with DCNR and other publicly-accessible outlets so that the history of a 19th-century log house in rural SW Pennsylvania can be told. Another valuable part of my thesis has been the accessibility to three individuals with a family connection to the house. Their involvement only improved what I have been able to conclude in my study.

Staffordshire pottery sherd

I am planning to defend my thesis soon and fully graduate by May, which is exciting, and I look forward to the job opportunities that will be available afterward. Traveling to new places and seeing cotton fields, Cyprus swamps, and other things like Armadillo shells (it’s almost like seeing a live one, right?) and uncovering Staffordshire pottery (trust me, it’s cool) has always been one of my favorite parts of fieldwork, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Attending My First ESAF Conference!

By: Cheryl Frankum

1st

Looking at artifacts in the Snyder Complex

The conference experience for a typical graduate student can range from total exhilaration in meeting and connecting with new people and discovering new work being done to terrifying bouts of stage fright if you need to present. Luckily for myself and the crowd- I was not presenting, and I attended my first Eastern States Archaeological Federation (ESAF) conference solely as a care-free attendee! This allowed me the focus and ability to attend almost all of the conference, so please enjoy my synopsis of a wonderful meeting.

2nd

Snyder complex- Jen Rankin showing Paleo stratigraphy

ESAF offered an incredible fieldtrip on Thursday November 3, 2016 that visited two of the most notable Paleo-Indian sites in New Jersey: the Snyder Complex and the Plenge Site. The tour was well attended, and began with a caravan of our vehicles that arrived to the Snyder Farms location. Jen Rankin (Temple, AECOM) and Michael Stewart (Temple, NJHPO) took visitors through an imaginative journey of what the site would have looked like then and now. Their study has partly focused on examining and understanding the past Paleo environment along the Delaware River, and how this changed through time. Guests were treated to a special look at Jen’s current excavations and were offered a hands-on experience with the artifacts that were recovered from the site!

3rd

the Plenge Site- tributary to Delaware River

4th

Plenge Site- everyone gathered to look at surface where most fluted points were found

The Plenge Site tour was led by Joe Gingerich, with a special visit from Leonard Ziegler (SPA) who has been instrumental in collecting and recording the site since its discovery in the early 1970s. The Plenge site is one of the most important Paleo sites as it has produced 226 fluted points to date. The tour consisted of your everyday corn fields along the riverfront, and what a view it was!

The Friday sessions I attended delved into Pennsylvania quarries and discussed where Native Americans were obtaining their toolstone. If you went to the SPA meeting this past spring- Friday was a repeat of that. A real treat was when Peter Leach from GSSI gave the IUP crew a special demonstration of the new GPR model SIR 4000! We all did some transects right there over concrete and disturbed areas, and of course he showed off the instruments new bells and whistles. Friday night was the Canadian-American Friendship party, and while I went with the intention of meeting Canadians, I actually met archaeologist from SUNY and UCONN! I did ask Kurt Carr where I could find some Canadians to introduce myself to, and he jokingly replied to find the people holding the green beer bottles!

Being that I have a great interest in Historical Archaeology, I was ready for the Saturday session that consisted of multiple presenters5th who worked on the I-95 project- Urban Archaeology in Historic Philadelphia! This was exceptionally entertaining for me as I am going to begin excavation on my first privy next week, and many of the AECOM presenters spoke about the privies excavated on this project, over 400!

I always try to make the very most of every conference, and ESAF was no exception. I was able to learn many new things, meet new people, and reconnect with the ones I admire! I would call this meeting a success, and encourage all of you to attend as many of these types of events as possible.

IUP at the SHPO, Part 1

By: Hannah Harvey

dave-hard-at-work

Dave Breitkreutz hard at work mapping a report

This fall, IUP’s archaeology program is being well represented at the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). David Breitkreutz and myself, both “third-year” grad students, are currently working as independent contractors helping to process a backlog of archaeological survey reports into PA’s Cultural Resources Geographic Information System (CRGIS). This work is part of a larger project to design and implement a new SHPO-wide data management system, which is serving as mitigation for the destruction of an archaeological site.

wall-of-backlogged-reports

At the start of the project, a wall of backlogged reports!

The day-to-day work is fairly straightforward: grab a report, enter report data into the CRGIS database, map the survey area in GeoMedia (which links to the report record in the CRGIS web interface), put the report in a folder, slap on a label, file it in the record room… and repeat! Sounds pretty simple, and for many reports it is that easy. However, we’ve been learning that each survey and each report is unique due to the nature of the undertaking, the terrain, the consultants’ reporting styles, and whether or not sites were recorded. Naturally, a few of these reports are problem children and very difficult to process, especially when the report is older than I am and the volume with all the project maps has vanished. Needless to say, the variety keeps things interesting!

Even when the work feels a little repetitive, it is an important part of the SHPO’s task of managing compliance-driven archaeological survey across the state. For every project, after the field and lab work has been completed, the report ends up at the SHPO where a trusty team of archaeological reviewers read the reports to assess the presence of sites, whether or not they’ll be impacted by the undertaking, and in some cases to evaluate their eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places. These folks are responsible for ensuring that significant archaeological sites are given appropriate consideration (whether avoidance or mitigation) as projects move forward. After a report has been accepted by the SHPO, it needs to be recorded and mapped within CRGIS so that we can keep a record of the locations and results of these surveys. That’s where Dave and I come in! As we process reports, they become searchable within CRGIS and available to consultants and researchers. Without this processing, the locations and findings of these surveys are effectively “hidden” from consultants and SHPO staff alike.

reports-processed

As the reports are processed, they get filed in the SHPO record room.

Many aspects of this job are extremely educational and dovetail nicely with the things we learned in our graduate classes. For me personally, it’s been a fun challenge to work with an unfamiliar GIS application (even if I’m still partial to ArcMap). Plus, reading through all these reports is like a whirlwind course in some really cool PA archaeology! But looking at the bigger picture, it’s been helpful to learn what happens to reports and how they are reviewed. Seeing the tail end of the process helps me to better appreciate the importance of careful work in the field, the lab, and in creating clear and understandable reports. After all, once a site has been excavated, it has been destroyed, but that information will continue to exist within these reports and maps.