The Final Countdown for Graduate School – Round 2…..

By: Jared Divido

It’s hard to believe that I’m already mid-way through my last semester of graduate school in the MA in Applied Archaeology program here at IUP.  The saying “time flies” could not be more applicable to the feelings and experiences that come along with graduate school.

I’m currently on spring break working on the data analysis phase of my thesis research, which involves testing the feasible use of 3D scanning technology for constructing comparative faunal (animal) bone specimens.  Three-dimensional technology has been making a lot of headway in the field of archaeology as a method for constructing or re-constructing 3-dimensional models of found artifacts, site structures, and even site profiles.  The 3D scan of a given object enables the researcher to create a fairly accurate digital model, which could then be used in a multitude of ways for things such as digital archival storage, research collaborations via file sharing, 3D printing for educational purposes, etc.  My background research has found that much of the applicability of 3D scanning has largely focused on the 3D printing aspect of the technology, yet there has been little attention given to usability of the 3D scans as raw data themselves.  My thesis research is attempting to focus on an important aspect of zooarchaeology, which requires a well established comparative animal bone reference collection for the identification and analysis of animal bones that are recovered from archaeological sites.

Animals bones at archaeological sites are often found fragmented, but they can provide the researcher with a wealth of information about the past, including things such as the human subsistence strategies, tool making/tool use, environmental conditions and changes, etc.  A comparative reference collection can often help identify the bone down to taxon or species level by looking at the surface features on the fragmented skeletal element.  Yet, the accessibility of a well established comparative animal bone collection requires a lot of laboratory space and the availability of wide range of animal species.  This often requires researchers to borrow or loan specimens from other institutions, which can be a rather costly and timely process in the end.  I’m ultimately trying to determine if 3D scanning technology could complete replace this process by using the 3D scans in place of the physical skeletal specimens.

At the end of March, I will be travelling to Vancouver, Canada to present a poster presentation on my research at the Society for American Archaeology’s 82nd Annual Meeting.  This will be a great opportunity to share my research findings with others in the field, while also being there to show support for my fellow colleagues whom are also presenting at the conference.  Furthermore, as Danielle mentioned in her blog post, conferences are a great way to network with colleagues and other respected professionals in the field.

I will admit that my academic and professional career interests have not always been oriented toward archaeology or cultural resource management (CRM).  In May 2012, I graduated from IUP with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology with the intent to pursue a career in forensic anthropology.  I worked hard to make that dream a reality by travelling nearly 3,580 miles away from home to attend school at the University of Dundee, which is located in Dundee, Scotland.  While at the University of Dundee, I had the opportunity to study at the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification, under the direction of Professor Dame Sue Black (a highly respected forensic professional in the UK).  One might wonder how I transitioned from forensic anthropology to the study of archaeology, but there is a rather intricate connection between the two fields.  My thesis research in the UK involved testing forensic methodologies for cut mark analysis, which are actually deeply rooted in past archaeological field investigations and techniques.

Thus, following the completion of my first master’s degree, I travelled to the Spanish Balearic Islands to perform my first archaeological field school, which involved the excavation and analysis of Roman funerary units and human remains, dating from the 14-16th centuries.  Upon my return back to the United States after my field school, I came to the realization that I wanted to gain more knowledge and experience in archaeology.  I was very happy when I discovered that IUP had an Applied Archaeology program because of my past experience with the faulty during my undergraduate program.  In July 2015, I participated in my second archaeological field school with IUP, which was focused on the excavation of an identified GPR anomaly at Historic Hanna’s Town (1773-18th century) in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.  I can honestly say that IUP has well prepared me for a career in archaeology or CRM.  I am currently a graduate research assistant for Dr. Sarah Neusius, which has provided me with opportunities to work with the IUP faunal comparative collection, various archaeological faunal assemblages, and faunal databases from numerous prehistoric sites.

The faculty has a real concern and interest for the success of its students.  I have also made some wonderful friendships and created great memories along the way that will last a lifetime.  I look forward to finishing up my final semester and seeing what my future holds upon graduation in August!

IUP Department of Anthropology

A graduate student’s musings on the NEH and NEA

By: Genevieve Everett

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Material referenced:

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

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

Image:

NEA and NEH logo image

 

Rocks and Roosters

By: John Rolf

Hey. What’s up? My name is John Rolf and I am a first year graduate student at IUP. As cliche as it sounds, I have wanted to be an archaeologist since I was a child. I used to devour anything I could related to foreign cultures, exotic locales, and action-adventure. Basically I was a huge fan of Indiana Jones and Dirk Pitt. However, with a subscription to Archaeology magazine, I learned early on that archaeology wasn’t all about fighting nazis and combing the desert for lost arks. Still that did not deter me from seeking a career in the field, rather it made me more fascinated by it.

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Rocks: the worst thing to dig through

I received my BA from WVU, go Mountaineers, in sociology and anthropology with a focus in anthropology. It was here that I worked closely with Doug Sahady as a teaching assistant for both the WVU 2013 Field School and Archaeology Lab the following semester. It was during the field school that I learned two very important things besides how to conduct an archaeological investigation; digging through a garden of rocks is not fun and roosters make wonderful companions at archaeological sites since they eat all the bugs you dig up. That fall, as monotonous as it was, I assisted in cataloguing over 7,000 artifacts that semester too. If you want to talk about fun, try sitting in a shed looking at rocks for hours on end picking out what are artifacts and what are not, and then developing a database for it all on top of it. During this time, I also assisted Carl Mauer, president of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology – Mon/Yough Chapter 3, at the Schriver Farm site near Garards Fort, PA. We never really found anything outside of small chert flakes at this site, but it did give me a ton of experience conducting site surveys, laying grids, and identifying artifacts.

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Me in Colorado!

After my undergrad, I took a year off to think about what I wanted to do, and at the time Colorado seemed like a good idea. So I moved to Colorado Springs. It was a beautiful place and I would have loved to stay out west, but grad school started scratching the back of my brain. I was interested in pursuing a degree that focused on the applied aspects of Archaeology, and I wanted a program that let me implement technology into my investigations. Ever since I attended a seminar in my undergrad about a man who used magnetometers for geophysically surveying a field, I’ve wanted to get training to do that professionally, plus use it in archaeological investigations. After a few Google searches, I stumbled upon IUP. I filled out the application a few weeks later, took my GRE’s (which are the worst by the way), packed up and headed back across the country to Oakland, Maryland, aka my hometown, but not before I visited the beautiful town of McCall, Idaho where my wonderful girlfriend was attending school at the MOSS Program.

If you ask anyone in my graduate class, they will tell you how great grad school is, and it really is, but there is no way to express the amount of work involved in pursuing a masters degree in Archaeology. By the end of the semester I will have written enough words to fill a small novel (literally!). I wouldn’t change a thing though. This program has taught me so much this semester alone and I cannot wait to continue on my educational journey here at IUP.

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.

PCSS Conference

By: Genevieve Everett

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

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

giant-buddhas

Giant Buddha of Bamiyan

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

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

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

Links:

Sarah Parcak- National Geographic fellow and satellite archaeologist

Context exercise

 

International Archaeology Day in a few words…

By: Genevieve Everett

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Atlatl demo on the Oak Grove

This past weekend in the midst of midterms and homecoming we held our International Archaeology Day event for the public. It was a beautiful, unseasonably warm fall day. Campus was abuzz with students and alumni headed to the game, and along the way they had a chance throw darts/spears with an atlatl, “a tool that uses leverage to achieve greater velocity in dart-throwing, and includes a bearing surface which allows the user to store energy during the throw”. It’s basically like throwing darts at the bar on steroids (kind of, sort of). It’s really fun, and gives you a perspective on the concentration and precision that must have gone into the use of this tool by early humans. Did I mention that it’s REALLY fun!?

After a vigorous workout of throwing darts you could head into McElhaney Hall on the ground floor where undergraduate and graduate students were set up to teach you about everything from micro-artifacts to what a flotation/wet lab is. I won’t bore you with a description of everything, instead I will share photos of the days events, because that’s much more exciting! Before I do that, I hope that everyone that was able to attend had a fun and educational experience, and we look forward to seeing you next year!

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Prehistoric table and prehistoric artifacts

 

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Kids room making wampum and hand painting

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Historic archaeology, zooarch lab, micro-artifacts, and Zaakiyah handing out dirt cups!

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Flint knapping demo

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Chris giving a GPR demo on the Oak Grove.

Special thanks to: Susanna Haney for coming out and giving the flint knapping demo, Lori and Andy Majorsky & Margie and Frank for putting on the atlatl demo! LAST, BUT NOT LEAST: All of the students that participated in the event!!

 

Cited material:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spear-thrower

I Can Munsell That Pt. 2

By: Genevieve Everett

Side note: THIS SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15th from 12-3pm  at McElhaney Hall on the Ground Floor is our INTERNATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGY DAY event! Come one, come all!

What’s Halloween without candy? I remember having the occasional box of raisins or
bag of pretzels thrown in my pillow casecandy-corn, and for most children, this was unacceptable! When I think of Halloween candy, I think of CANDY CORN! For those that have never had the tiny morsel’s, they are pure sugar shaped into what you’re supposed to assume is little kernels of corn? Who knows? Whatever it is, I love it! Time to Munsell!

So, as you can see in the photograph, I ‘dissected’ the candy corn into three parts: white, orange and yellow. I pulled out the handy, dandy Munsell and put the white piece to the test, and guess what? There is a ‘WHITE’ section at the very back of the Munsell Color Book. I wanted to know what makes soil white, and this is what I found out, “Clear or white (soils), usually due to the presence of calcium and magnesium carbonates, gypsum or other more soluble salts”. Cool!  So, the white piece came out (to me) as 2.5Y9.5/1….WHITE! Next, I took the yellow piece of the candy corn and tested it against the several yellowish colors. Yellows in the Munsell vary from straight up yellow to varying hues of reddish yellows and brownish yellows. The closest I could come to this bright yellow candy was 2.5Y8/8…YELLOW! Last, but no least, the orange piece. First I want to point out thacandy-corn-munsellt the word orange does not show up in the Munsell Color Book ONCE. According to the Munsell color blog, “orange isn’t part of Munsell’s primary hue color. The color is represented in Munsell’s “intermediate hues”—the colors between two primary hues.  So the color orange is referred to as “yellow-red” (YR) because it is located between the primary hues, red and yellow”. This does not mean that orange doesn’t exist naturally in the natural world. SO, this led me to look at the reddish yellows. I went back and forth between 5YR and 7.5YR…and I decided the orange that is candy corn orange does not fit any of the Munsell colors. It’s its own unique combination of yellow 5 and red 3 dye!

To learn more about ‘hue, value, and chroma’, click the first link “Soil Color Never Lies”, below!

Cited material:

Soil color never lies

The Color Orange Touches Off a Testy Debate

 

I Can Munsell That

By: Genevieve Everett

munsell-book

I’ve decided to continue something that a previous poster started, and that is to Munsell something other than soil!

First, what is the Munsell color system? The Munsell color system was created by Dr. Albert H. Munsell (1858-1918), an accomplished artist and inventor. “Munsell’s work in developing a systematic approach to teaching and communicating was influential in evolving color science theory at the turn of the century.” We as archaeologists use the Munsell color system to describe soil colors in a profile. I won’t go too deep into this subject, because, well, I am not well versed in it (yet!), but if you want to learn more, I suggest taking the soils class when it is made available.

cat-munsell

Now for the fun part! I’ve been thinking, about what to Munsell, and I came to a conclusion, a dangerous one…my vicious cat, Isabelle! I’ve decided that this entire series, at least for the month of October will be ‘Halloween’ themed, so, what better way to do that than with a black (or is she?!) cat. Isabelle decided to be extremely cooperative today with this photo shoot until I put a trowel near her body. Luckily cats shed, A WHOLE LOT, and I was able to find clumps of her hair on the floor.

In the field, you take a small piece of soil from the profile with your trowel, and pack it down so that you can place it under one of the many color chips in the book. NEVER TOUCH THE COLOR CHIP, because they will fade. It usually helps to either be in full sunlight or full shade, because I’m telling yocat-hair-munsellu, many soil colors look like various shades in the book. For example, there are three shades of ‘yellowish brown’ (10YR 5/4, 5/6, 5/8), all of which look pretty much the same, so do yourself a favor and make it a little easier on the eyes. In my case, I took the wadded up ball of fur, and tested it under various color chips. 5YR 2.5/1, black? No. 7.5YR 2.5/1? No. 2.5Y2.5/1, black? YES! Okay, this is not scientific by any means, but it looked the closest to me, and since no one else has tested a Munsell on cat fur before, I’m going to stick with this answer.

What ‘Halloween’ themed thing, blob or monster would you like to see put to the Munsell next week? Leave comments below!

I will leave you with a really cool website, Munsell.com. Check out their color blog! The link below was a project they did to describe the unique soil colors of several National Parks in the United States for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service:

The Soil Colors of the National Parks

Quoted material:

Albert H. Munsell & The Munsell Color Theory

 

International Archaeology Day 2016

By: Genevieve Everett

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

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

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

We look forward to seeing you all there!

The Bronze Age in Northern Vietnam

By: Francis Allard

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Bronze artifact from Hanoi

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

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

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