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

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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.

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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!

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the Plenge Site- tributary to Delaware River

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

International Archaeology Day 2016

By: Genevieve Everett

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

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

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

We look forward to seeing you all there!

Exploring the Late Prehistoric in Central Western Pennsylvania

By Sarah W. Neusius

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

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

LPP area

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

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

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

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

conemaugh dates pic

Radiocarbon date ranges for some Conemaugh-Blacklick watershed sites.

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

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

ceramics

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

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

excavation shot

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

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

Advanced Metal Detecting for Archaeologists at Fort Necessity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.