Columbus Day vs. Indigenous Peoples’ Day vs. Italian Heritage Day

With President Biden officially recognizing October 11th as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we question what may happen to Columbus Day, typically celebrated on the second Monday of October. Several states have been celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day for years in protest of Columbus Day, saying the Christopher Columbus “brought genocide and colonization to communities that had been in the United States for thousands of years.” Columbus Day has been celebrated as a federal holiday since 1968, and as a national holiday from 1934, from the belief “that the nation would be honoring the courage and determination which enabled generation of immigrants from many nations to find freedom and opportunity in America.”

At a United Nations conference in 1977 idea of an Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first proposed by a delegation of Native nations. In 1990, South Dakota became the first state to observe Native American Day. Columbus Day is a federally recognized holiday, and Indigenous Peoples’ Day is not, however there is proposed bill from Congress in the works. Although, U.S. cities and states can choose to observe or not to observe federal holidays.

A sunrise ceremony in observation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Randall’s Island in New York City.

Indigenous people have protested Columbus Day for many years, and favor a complete transformation of the holiday, rather than a separate celebration for both. Many wonder whether this acknowledgement from the President is actually doing enough for the Indigenous, while other see it is a promising beginning. Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation stated, “transforming Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day will encourage young Navajos to have pride in the place and people they come from and the beauty they hold within.” While the proclamation does not address issues Indigenous people face with land, water, or female disappearances, some believe that it will help bring awareness to these problems.

Many Italians support Columbus Day and others have called for an Italian Heritage Day, to still allows them to celebrate their heritage. After an 1891 lynching of 11 Italians in New Orleans, many Columbus statues were erected. The president of the National Italian American Foundation stated, “Columbus represented their assimilation into the American fabric and into the American dream.” He believes that Indigenous Peoples’ Day should not “come at the expense of a day that is significant for millions of Italian-Americans” and that the Indigenous are still worthy of their own holiday to “celebrate their contributions to America.”

Some have taken to calling this day of the year both Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Italian Heritage Day. Festivities across the U.S. today still include celebrations for all three titles.

What do you think?

Do you think Columbus Day should be forgotten, despite its intention towards “commemorating the country’s spirit of exploration and honoring Italian-Americans?” Should all three titles be used and celebrated on the same day? Will Indigenous Peoples’ Day increase advocacy toward Indigenous efforts?

 

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Further Reading:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/11/us/indigenous-peoples-day.html
https://www.wsj.com/articles/columbus-day-indigenious-peoples-day-what-to-know-11633787027#:~:text=When%20Congress%20officially%20made%20Columbus,to%20the%20Congressional%20Research%20Service.
https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/10/08/a-proclamation-indigenous-peoples-day-2021/
https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/11/us/indigenous-peoples-day-2021-states-trnd/index.html
https://americanindian.si.edu/nk360/informational/columbus-day-myths

 

3D Archaeology: Tech, Techniques, and Applications for Artec3D Scanners

On October 5th, the Pennsylvania Archaeological Council held their first in a series of four programs in honor of 2021 Virtual Archaeology Month. This session was titled 3D Archaeology: Tech, Techniques, and Applications for Artec3D Scanners, and was led by Lisa Saladino Haney, Ph.D., assistant curator of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and Josh Cannon Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh Honors College.

The Artec Space Spider.

Haney started by describing the types of 3D scanners that she is using and that could be applied to future field archaeology projects. These Artec3D scanners are the Space Spider and Eva. The Space Spider is a handheld, portable scanner that uses blue light technology that works best when scanning smaller objects or finer textures or details. It also works well with complex geometry, sharp edges, and incised ceramics. It has internal temperature stabilization, meaning it works well in the winter and summer. The Eva works better with larger objects and is also portable. It uses structured light scanning technology to capture its images. Because of its larger field of vision, it can capture more in less time. Combining both scanners allow for the collection of even more details. The presenters stated that these scanners work much better with shiny surfaces than photogrammetry. Overall, the scanners capture reflective surfaces, have a higher level of accuracy, and work faster in post-processing than photogrammetry.

The Artec Eva.

Dr. Haney and Dr. Cannon are working with University of Pittsburg honor students in a museum internship program to instruct them on how to use this technology, and once trained can hopefully send them to other sections of the Carnegie Museum where needed. Projects the scanners are being used for right now include an exhibition titled From Egypt to Pittsburgh, in which the team are scanning small fragments from a 1922 excavation from an Egyptian city called Amarna, in the hopes that the pulverized royal statuary pieces can be reconstructed and used for future research. Another project, Egypt on the Nile, plans on scanning a model of a Dahshur funerary boat to create both a virtual and physical model. They also plan to use the scanners to scan broken pot pieces to then create magnetic replicas that can be used to “put the pot back together” in a sort of puzzle, increasing accessibility and the chance to interact with ‘artifacts’ for the public.

The 3D models created from the scanners are extremely accurate, with precise and detailed measurements. This allows the data from the models to be of high quality scientifically, making them great for sharing to researchers around the world, especially in times of covid where travel and use of collections is limited. The models also aid with conservation efforts, allowing pieces to be brought out, scanned, and then put safely away, with the data being used for study and public engagement. Aligning pottery sherds with the Artec3D software that are difficult to glue together, was also illustrated as a positive example of the scanners’ possibilities.

The application for scanners to be used in the field during an archaeological excavation is promising. The scanners could be used to record small finds quickly and could also be used to scan things in situ. The models produced are more detailed, more accurate, and can be done faster than hand drawings. For archeological field surveys, battery packs can be attached to belts to make the light scanners portable and give archaeologists the ability to scan in real time. However, a laptop is needed to be attached as well, to upload the scanned data. The scanner captures images instantly, the Eva can do a square meter at a time. Josh Cannon predicted that it could scan a hearth in about ten minutes. While the scanners can handle temperature changes, it might not fare well with elements like sand or dust, but if taken care of can last a long time.

The files of data from the scans are large, and therefore external storage sources are required to remove data from laptops. If files are kept on laptops, processing times will be slowed as the hard drive fills up. The presentation ended with the viewing of a scan of a wolverine skull. It took eight different scans over an hour to create the entire skull. Even the smallest details were visible, and it took up over 1 GB of data.

The presentation was incredibly interesting, and hopefully this technology will be used to aid archaeological excavations in the future. Please consider registering for the other three programs being held throughout the month of October!

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https://sourcegraphics.com/3d/scanners/artec/eva/

https://www.javelin-tech.com/3d/3d-scanners/artec-space-spider/

 

Ann Axtell Morris & Canyon del Muerto

Ann Axtell Morris.

Is anyone else patiently waiting for the movie Canyon del Muerto, which is currently in production right now? Well, I certainly am!  This film I am referring to is expected to be released sometime near the end of this year, and seeks to retell the story of Ann Axtell Morris, one of the first female archaeologists in America. She worked in the 1920s and 30s in the American Southwest and Mesoamerica and was married to Earl Morris, another archaeologist, who some say was the inspiration for Indiana Jones!

Morris sketching at Chichén Itzá.

Ann was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1900, graduated from Smith College, went to the American School of Prehistoric Archaeology in France, and married Earl Morris in 1923. Along with being a prominent archaeologist, she is known for her artistic abilities with painting and for being an author of two books titled, “Digging the Yucatan” and “Digging in the Southwest.” She excavated throughout the American Southwest, Mexico, as well as Chichén Itzá, Yucatan. Some places where she excavated are now national parks, such as Mesa Verde National Park, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, and the Aztec Ruins National Monument. As a female archaeologist Ann faced many obstacles, such as the fact that although her books were published, they were marketed to older children by publishers that did not accept the idea that a women could create literature about archaeology for adults. She was seen as “radical” for wearing men’s clothing, using a trowel, and sleeping in camps full of men in remote locations.

The Morrises investigated several sites throughout the Navajo Nation.

Despite setbacks due to prejudices, this revolver carrying women continued to trailblaze a successful career. After arriving in Chichen Itza, archaeologist Sylvanus Morley (another inspiration for Indiana Jones), assumed she would play the role of a babysitter or hostess at the site, however she convinced him to let her excavate a small, overlooked temple from which she copied many of the wall art which were included in a book she co-authored titled “Temple of the Warriors at Chichén Itzá, Yucatan.” She fostered the idea that the Anasazi were not nomadic hunter-gatherers, but rather had cities and civilizations, from her work in the Four Corners region. She helped excavate Massacre Cave in Canyon del Muerto, uncovering the remains of those slaughtered by Spanish soldiers almost 120 years ago, and Mummy Cave which houses a three-story tower built by the Anasazi and of course mummies of many ages and genders, wearing shell and bead jewelry. Mummy Cave was also where Ann spent her honeymoon with Earl, brushing off mummies and shooing away mice.

Many do not note her accomplishments, remembering only that at beginning in the 1930s she became a recluse. The cause is still unknown, but after having two daughters and settling down in Boulder, Colorado, she remained in her room most of the time. Many seem to now agree that a combination of alcoholism, diabetes, arthritis, and depression are to blame for this “life of the party” woman’s self-removal from society. She passed away at the age of 45 in “self-imposed solitude,” the cause still unknown. The movie will portray explanations for Ann’s death; her families understanding of her having “weak bones and the arthritis of the Axtells,” and the idea that her death was caused after disrupting the dead, based on Navajo death taboo beliefs.

British actress Abigail Lawrie.

Morris stated in one of her books that archaeology is “a rescue expedition sent into the far places of the earth to recover the scattered pages of man’s autobiography.” The movie based on her work in the 1920s will hopefully act as an autobiography of her work and life. As some of the first archaeologists to hire Navajo people to work in their digs (Ann even spoke a little Navajo), the film crew is taking a page out of Ann and Earl Morris’s book by heavily involving the Navajo nation in their moviemaking. The crew has even been allowed by the Navajo nation to film at Canyon del Muerto, something never allowed to film crews before! The film is directed by Coerte Voorhees, and British actress Abigail Lawrie will play Ann Morris while Tom Felton from Harry Potter will play Earl Morris. The movie will also include veteran actors like Val Kilmer, Q’orianka Kilcher, Ewen Bremner, and Wes Studi, along with Johnathan Nez who is the president of the Navajo Nation and will be portraying a time-traveling incarnation of an Anasazi. Be on the lookout, it is sure to satisfy anyone interested in archaeology!

Ann Axtel Morris was an incredible female archaeologist during a time when her gender impeded the extent of her career. However, through her own efforts and “in telling her own story, she wrote herself into the history of American archaeology.”

References:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/land-ancient-ones-ann-axtell-morris-cinematic-treatment-180978344/

https://www.nps.gov/people/ann-axtell-morris.htm

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September Colloquium: What We Did This Summer/Recently

This Wednesday, the 22nd, six of our Applied Archaeology graduate students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania presented at our monthly colloquium on What We Did This Summer/Recently. We heard from some amazingly talented students, eager to share their adventures and discoveries!

First year graduate student Emma Frauendienst.

First year graduate student Emma Frauendienst.

After a great introduction from Dr. Lara Homsey-Messer, Emma Frauendienst started us off with her presentation about her summer fieldwork at the Poverty Point World Heritage Site. Poverty Point, one of the largest Archaic Period sites in North America, is located in Louisiana. Her work, titled Downhole Geophysical Investigations of the West Plaza Rise at the Poverty Point World Heritage Site, began after receiving a grant, and facing both covid and flooding setbacks. Her team extracted 21 new soil cores, focusing on the West Plaza Rise to determine if it was a natural or constructed feature. After analysis of the cores and magnetic susceptibility data showing heavy cultural fill, it was determined that the West Plaza Rise was culturally constructed!

First year graduate students Mikala Hardie and Richard Farley.

Mikala Hardie and Richard Farley then discussed their experiences as Graduate Assistants during IUP’s Newport Field School. Newport, a small shipping town located along the Conemaugh River, was occupied from around 1790 into the early 19th century. The excavation began with shovel test pits, ground penetrating radar, and several test units, before excavation units were opened. The woods crew, led by Mikala, worked to find the walls of the general store, while also uncovering artifacts such as, porcelain, faunal remains, mochaware, and a builder’s trench, to name a few. The field crew, supervised by Richard, focused on finding the blacksmith shop and hotel, along the way uncovering post holes, slag, redware, pearlware, creamware, and transfer printed earthenware, among other things. The field school utilized photogrammetry, magnetometry, GPS, and a total station to also collect valuable information about the site. If anyone wants to know more about what it’s like as a graduate assistant at a field school, just ask Mikala and Richard, who also filled out forms and logs, took lots of pictures, and organized and supervised those working at the site!

Second year graduate student Ashely Nagle and first year graduate student Sonja Rossi-Williams.

Ashley Nagle and Sonja Rossi-Williams presented next about their time spent as Graduate Assistants in Lower Saxony, Germany at IUP’s Forensic Field School! From July to mid-August, they worked at a World War 2 B-24 aircraft crash site! They used GPR to first define the sides of their 2X2, and then used shovels more than trowels to remove the soil in their units. The team learned about archaeological methods and practices used in Germany and took several excursions across Germany, including to Hannover, Berlin, and Munich, making this an incredible cultural experience as well as archaeological. They did not find what they were looking for, an unaccounted-for soldier, but they did make progress on the site itself. The team were even featured in a German newspaper! In the future, the site will most likely undergo more excavations, hopefully by IUP students!

First year graduate student Luke Nicosia.

Luke Nicosia was the final presenter, recounting his internship in July and August this summer with the Landmark Society of Western New York, a historic preservation agency.  Founded in 1937, it is one of the oldest such societies in the US and seeks to advise property and homeowners on historic preservation planning and awareness, raise funding, and protect local historic sites. Luke conducted fee-for-service survey work and worked on their library projects. He edited site narratives and report drafts, finished reconnaissance on a survey on village properties, did covenant review, and worked in the library scanning and inventorying. He finished a massive slides project after scanning and digitizing over 80,000 slides over the course of many years (this is not his first time interning with the Landmark Society)! He also mentioned that there are many ways one can get involved in the field of historical preservation, many that align with the field of archaeology!

Thank you to all the presenters and everyone who attended our first colloquium of What We Did This Summer/Recently!

Archaeology and Climate Change

Hurricane Ida raged from August 26th– September 3rd, creating havoc and devastation throughout the United States. Ida hit Louisiana first, but continued Northeast, causing flooding, and taking the lives of over sixty people across the country. Even here is Indiana, Pennsylvania, we experienced Ida’s continued wrath with several inches of rain.

Many scientists attribute the increase of storms such as Ida to climate change. With the burning of fossil fuels mainly from transportation (which includes not only vehicles, but also ships, planes, and trains), electricity production, and industry, we see the atmosphere and oceans warming up. This leads to more moisture in the atmosphere and more frequency in storms across the states, as water vapors are more easily able to be evaporated into the atmosphere from the oceans.

Tracks and intensities of all storms reaching Category 4 or 5 intensity (>59 m/sec) in the GFDL hurricane model downscaling experiments. Results are shown for the control climate (upper left); CMIP3/A1B 18-model ensemble late 21st century (lower left); and CMIP5/RCP4.5 18-model ensemble early (upper right) or late (lower right) 21st century. All results shown are based on model version GFDL. Track colors indicate the intensity category during the storm’s lifetime.

The question remains, how does climate change affect archaeology?

Archaeologists face changing coastlines, the warming of the artic and alpine regions, and severe storms like Ida. With sea levels rising, floods increasing, and coasts eroding, archeologists are at risk of losing sites along bodies of water. Melting ice caps and glaciers are releasing sites, artifacts, and even human remains from their frozen and preserving tombs. Escalations in dangerous weather events can affect sites through harsh rainfall, landslides, and even intense winds. For example, although stone is quite durable, more exposure to the elements like water will amplify deterioration from dissolving salts.

What is being done and what can we do?

Sites can be surveyed, excavated, backfilled, sheltered, but the sad reality is that not everything is going to be protected, preserved, or saved. However, recently a new approach to this issue is being addressed by a team of researchers led by anthropologist Ariane Burke from the University of Montreal, to pursue the archaeology of climate change. This group uses archaeological and climate records to determine how our ancestors faced and surpassed environmental challenges. Archaeology can bring a new understanding to how humans in the past adapted to changing climates and use that knowledge to inform smaller regions of strategies to address these global environmental changes.

For example, a solution put forth has been to study indigenous groups farming methods as a shift from industrial farming, and their traditional fire management strategies to help decrease wildfire threats. Many surmise that in places like Mesopotamia, sea levels may also have risen, leading to developments towards irrigation and cities. Perhaps there are new ideas not yet explored, or innovations not yet discovered that could provide protections against climate change. Researchers believe solutions might also lie in climate models, which are experimented with using data from the past for solutions to future scenarios.

Whatever your views on climate change, archaeologists need to be aware of the effect storms and severe weather can have on archaeological sites. Using cultural diversity as a means to find new solutions is a great start. Archaeologists can use the past to help people face climate change today in new and innovative ways.

For Further Reading:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2021/09/03/hurricane-ida-numbers-surge-wind-pressure-damage/
https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/08/29/how-climate-change-helped-make-hurricane-ida-one-louisianas-worst/
https://www.indianagazette.com/news/police_emergency_and_courts/idas-effects-arrive-in-indiana-county/article_b649d9d9-f3ea-5533-b61e-fd9158f453b7.html
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-hurricane-ida-got-so-big-so-fast/https://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/global-warming-and-hurricanes/
https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions
https://patch.com/california/san-francisco/how-climate-change-affects-archaeology
https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidrvetter/2021/07/23/how-archaeology-could-help-deal-with-a-new-old-enemy-climate-change/?sh=20935410686f
https://www.pnas.org/content/118/30/e2108537118

 

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Never Forget

Tomorrow marks the 20th Anniversary of what we now refer to as 9/11. The horrid attack on The World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, New York is remembered as one of the worst terrorist attacks on U.S soil. The lives lost that day will forever be remembered, with almost 3,000 taken that morning.

9/11 Memorial Plaza, set where the original Twin Towers stood. (9/11 memorial plaza – Bing images)

An article from National Geographic, published this month, discusses the hundreds of thousands of artifacts that historians and archaeologists sought to recover months later. The artifacts missing “told the origin story of New York and the history of the enslaved men and women and immigrant workers who built the city into a global powerhouse.” Urban Archaeologist Sherrill Wilson ran the African Burial Ground project from the Six World Trade building that was destroyed from the fall of the North Tower during 9/11.  The Six World Trade had a “large archaeology lab used to study artifacts unearthed during city construction.”

The African Burial Ground was uncovered in 1991, showing the presence of a large African community and the horrors of slavery that contributed a great deal to the building of the city. It now rests under Manhattan’s financial district. The plot of six-acres was given to freed Africans by Dutch colonists in the early 1600s, as a place for the Africans to bury their dead. More than 15,000 people were buried there with the passing of 150 years. Bones revealed the nasty circumstances the enslaved faced, their teeth shaving traditions erased and their bones fractured. The documentation, analysis, and artifacts, of the study of this site were stored in the Six World Trade building.

A map showing the location of the African Burial Ground and Five Points Neighborhood locations.

Also in 1991, the remnants of Five Points, “one of the world’s most densely populated neighborhoods and 19th-century Manhattan’s most notorious slum,” were discovered. This site gave the archaeological record artifacts from the working-class, more than 850,00 of them! These artifacts were also in the basement laboratory of Six World Trade. The studied artifacts showed a more understated side to those that lived there, with children’s toys and matching dishes, alluding to a life more sought on just “trying to dig themselves out of poverty,” or that some were not as impoverished as originally presumed.

September 11th, 2001 also destroyed the archives of Helen Keller, records of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and art by Rodin and Picasso. While the human remains of the African Burial Ground had already been transported to Howard University in D.C., much of the other artifacts and Five Points artifacts were buried. Nearly all the African Burial Ground artifacts were recovered, but what remained of the Five Points collection was records, the artifacts themselves demolished.

Today, a monument marks the African Burial Ground and researchers are even studying soil samples to study the human microbiome for some people who lived and died almost 400 years ago! It was also later discovered that 18 of the Five Points artifacts had been lent to the archdiocese of New York in 2000. These objects are now at the Museum of the City of New York, including the “prized” teacup artifact with the image of Father Matthew, an Irish priest.

The Father Mathew teacup, one of 18 surviving artifacts of the Five Points collection. (teacup_e4c9a1af69.jpg (712×397) (cuny.edu))

The Museum of the City of New York and the 9/11 Memorial Museum house relics from the history of September 11th, preserving wreckage and memorial artifacts to remind the world of not only the destruction from that day, but also the heroism. While the “loss of understanding ourselves and where we came from” in the archaeological world occurred that day, the human lives lost was certainly the greater tragedy.  Please take a moment to remember and reflect on those who were taken and the events of that day.

IUP dedication marker.

 

Find more detail see the original article:

The archaeological treasures that survived 9/11 (nationalgeographic.com)

 

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Hello Everyone! A Mini Introduction

Happy Labor Day! I hope everyone, especially the archaeologists out there, are getting plenty of rest today! My name is Bridget Roddy, and I am the new Public Archaeology Graduate Assistant. I am starting my first year in the graduate program for Applied Archaeology here at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I completed my undergrad degree in 2020 from Ohio Wesleyan University, double majoring in Sociology/Anthropology and Psychology and minoring in International Studies. During my time there I received a grant to travel to Romania for a month for an archaeological excavation at the Roman fort of Halmyris. This strengthened my interest in archaeology, leading me here to IUP’s Master’s Program. I participated in the Newport Field School this summer, as well. My other interests and hobbies include, running, art, reading, photography, and traveling. I am excited to get started and if anyone has any questions or concerns about the blog, or if you are interested in submitting something to this page, please feel free to reach out to me through my email bzxcc@iup.edu!

Gage Huey Thesis: Social Zooarchaeology At the Philo II Village

Written by Gage Huey

Zooarchaeology, or the study of animal remains in archaeological contexts has addressed the utilitarian aspects of human-animal interaction through decades of research on nutrition, seasonality, domestication, and the various techniques of carcass procurement and processing used by hunting cultures across the globe. As a result, traditional zooarchaeological interpretations rarely address the non-utilitarian meaningfulness of animals to the peoples whose material cultures we study. The way that archaeologists tend to think about human and animal relationships in the past typically reflects the structures and assumptions from our own worldview. These assumptions situate animals as an Other to humans, they serve our needs and can be used by humans but are fundamentally a different Thing. Over the centuries, these constructed differences between human beings and nature became more naturalized, fitting seamlessly into the colonial worldview that characterizes our “modern world”. Because scientific paradigms like anthropology were constructed within this worldview and the structures it produces. The interpretations we make as scientists reflect these as well. I believe this has led to misinterpretation of animal bones present at precontact sites through a largely Western perspective.

Indigenous peoples across the world (and specifically here on Turtle Island) see and saw the natural world in ways that would be incompatible with traditional zooarchaeological interpretation. So, my thesis research engages with an assemblage of animal remains through a perspective that acknowledges that prior to the arrival of Europeans (and continuing until today), Native peoples engaged with the environment not in terms of utilization, but in terms of relationships. The assemblage I’ve analyzed is from the 13th century (c.700 BP) Fort Ancient village,

Philo II (33MU76) located in Gaysport, Ohio. This village was constructed alongside an especially nice stretch of the Muskingum River known as the Philo Bottoms. This floodplain was home to Indigenous Ohioans for centuries, evidenced by the mound complex on the ridge overlooking

Philo II. These folks would’ve made pottery out of clay and mussel shells collected from the river, shared their pit-houses with dogs and stored maize, and hunted a variety of animals. The bones of these animals frequently ended up in subterranean “storage pits”, and vary in their number, species, and bone type (element) from feature to feature. Within the 55 features I analyzed, 27% of the bones were so fragmented they could only be reliably identified as indeterminate vertebrate. The remainder of the bones were identified to species when possible, but were broadly 63% mammal, 3% bird, 2% reptile, and 5% fish. The Philo Peoples would have had stories, songs, and all manner of cultural practices that engaged with these creatures not as animals in the Western sense, but as non-human persons that participated in society just as the humans did.

These relationships likely were not thought of in

an allegorical or metaphorical sense, they were a historical, lived reality. Imagine that a great ceremony was to be held in the plaza of Philo II, and the ceremony required music. The turtles whose shells were harvested to make instruments for the ceremony were taking part in the ceremony itself. In one sense, they were there (i.e., the turtles were plentiful) because they wanted to be there. And because the turtles had graciously attended the feast, there were particular cultural practices to ensure that they were honored and would continue to engage with the people in this way.

Through my research, I am arguing that the pit features at Philo II are physical manifestations of the intersocial relationships between humans and non-human animal persons. The construction of these features would have disposed of animal bone and provided a means of constructing and naturalizing the relationships present between the Philo Peoples and the animals in which they shared an environment. They may also have connections to cultural practices of memory-making, linking them to their Late Woodland ancestors who moved great amounts of earth to combine bones, sediments, and artifacts into highly meaningful spaces. If zooarchaeologists acknowledge and engage with Indigenous scholars and the perspectives they bring to the field, it would provide an opportunity for old collections to be re-interpreted and analyzed in a new light that more accurately reflects the cultural context of the peoples whose cultures we study.

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Jamie Kouba Thesis: Bringing Archaeology into the 3-Dimesional Age

Written by Jamie Kouba

The most daunting part of earning your master’s degree has got to be picking a thesis topic.  After a year of anxiety-inducing ideas coming and going, I was talking to a second-year graduate student about technological advances in archaeology and something finally clicked.  As it turns out, there is a real need to establish digital repositories of 3D osteology comparative collections of both human and non-human specimens for researchers.  Digital comparative collections are a valuable resource for

Jamie taking photographs of a bone to make her 3D model

zooarchaeologists, bioarcheologists, osteologists, and non-specialists alike.  When a bone is recovered in the field, there are several questions that must be addressed immediately.  First, is it bone?  Second, is it human or animal.  Typically, a bone specialist is called in to make identifications, or someone accesses a physical comparative collection and hopefully identifies the unknown element.  However, an expert is not always available, and physical collections take up a lot of space, money, and time to maintain, limiting access to them.  One of the ways to supplement those issues is to reference a digital collection.  There are numerous websites out there, including Bone ID, Idaho Virtual Museum, and Sketchfab.  Different websites use different formats for how they display their specimens.  For instance, Bone ID provides 2D images, and Idaho Virtual Museum provides 3D scans, and Sketchfab is loaded with photogrammetric 3D models.  This thesis was born out of one question: are all of these digital references equal in their ability to provide identifications?

 

While doing research, I found that there was a lot of information on 2D references and 3D scanned references, but very little on the use of photogrammetry to create 3D models.  I had a feeling that 3D photogrammetric models would be the most effective form of digital reference. Photogrammetry uses a

The photogrammetry set up

series of photos to create photo-realistic 3D models.  An object is set on a rotating platform, and photos are taken all the way around it, from 3 different heights, then the object is rotated 180 degrees and the process is repeated.  This technique allows for a 360-degree view to create a 3D model with.  My thesis was designed to answer three research questions based on digital comparative collections: 1) Are photogrammetric 3D models useful in identifying osseous materials?  2) Can 3D models provide a more accurate identification than 2D photo references for osteological comparison?  3) Can 3D digital comparative specimens be used to supplement physical specimens that are not available?

In order to answer these questions, my thesis had several parts.  The first thing that I did was to create my own digital repository by creating 3D models using photogrammetry.  I made twenty models from the bones of bear, pig, cow, and human bone clones.  I also made a second digital repository of 2D images of those same bones.  Next, I designed a Qualtrics survey to test the efficacy of 2D/3D references.  I surveyed 20 people, half received 2D references, half received 3D references.  I would have preferred a larger sample, but the Covid-19 pandemic made it difficult to conduct these in person tests on a large scale.  When the surveys were finished, I ran a statistical analysis to see how effective each reference was in aiding faunal identification.  Along with the photogrammetry and survey parts of my thesis, I also analyzed a 3,600-element sample of faunal remains from Pocky Shell Ring in South Carolina.  I made notes during my identifications as to whether I used digital collections or physical collections to assist in making my identifications.

A 3D model created by Jamie

Upon starting this thesis, I assumed that the results of 2D references versus that of 3D photogrammetric references would be vastly different. What I discovered is that there are a lot of factors that can go into determining whether these references are effective.  These include the size and completeness of the element itself, whether the desired identification is of bone type, species, or which side it came from. All of my participants reported to having less than five years of experience identifying bones, so none of them were experts.  Overall people performed better on identifying bone type on a pig tibia, than they did on a bear metacarpal.  Yet those same people preformed much better on identifying that the metacarpal was from a bear, than that the tibia was from a pig.  What I can say for sure is that it appears that 3D photogrammetric references, on average, work as well as 2D references, with only about a 10% difference between them.  As for my own faunal analysis, I determined that when there are appropriate digital resources available, they are effective in helping to make the correct identification.  At the end of this, I feel that although more research is needed to confirm my results, photogrammetry can be used to create 3D digital references collections, which can be used to effectively identify unknown faunal remains.

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Savannah Weaver Thesis: Investigation of the Brush Valley Lutheran Church Cemetery using Headstone and Geophysical Analysis

 

Written by Savannah Weaver

For my thesis project I will be surveying the Brush Valley Lutheran Church Cemetery in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. The Brush Valley Lutheran Church (BVLC) established the cemetery in the mid-19th century shortly after establishing the church. The BVLC property was privately owned by the church until the late 20th century. While the Lutheran congregation still rents the property for services, the cemetery is now used by the community as well as the congregation. The main goal of this thesis project is to analyze notable changes in headstone and burial patterns by comparing the privately owned section of the cemetery to the more publicly used section. Using geophysical methods and headstone analysis, surveys will be conducted over select areas within both sections of the cemetery. Comparative analysis based on the results from these surveys will indicate cultural and historical changes within the cemetery. Secondary goals of the project will be to determine if unmarked burials are present within the selected areas and if the headstones align with their designated burials. Few studies use headstone analysis and geophysical methods together when studying cemeteries. Most researchers use one method or the other. Integrating these two methods allows for more unique data and better interpretations of the cemetery. The results will also provide cultural and historical information about the cemetery and the community it is located in.

Headstone analysis and geophysics are the two methods by

which surveys of the cemetery will be conducted. Headstone analysis examines the information on the headstone as well as size, shape, and materials used to craft it. This analysis allows researchers to examine the historical and cultural changes within a given community, such regional patterns, racial, economic, and societal influences on the formation of headstones. For this study, photographs of each of the headstones in selected sections of the cemetery will be taken and catalogued. The catalog will include the inscription, symbol, shape, size, and rock materials of each headstone. A Global Positioning System (GPS) unit will be used to capture data points of each photographed headstone and notable features within the cemetery, such as the chapel and fence line. The GPS data will be used to create a map of the cemetery to be compared against the data from the geophysical surveys.

Alongside headstone analysis geophysical methods will also be used because they provide non-invasive means of collecting data. For this study, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and Electrical Resistivity (ER) will be used. GPR will be able to identify grave shafts because of its ability to detect breaks or voids in the soil. GPR can also reach greater depths in the soil than other near surface geophysical methods as well as indicate size of the anomaly. The other geophysical method being used is ER which measures resistance soil and objects have to an electrical current. Resistance is measured by using electrical probes, spaced at various intervals. The greater the spacing the greater the depth the current will travel. ER can detect features and patterns below the ground surface. It is most successful at indicating stone, brick, cement, and highly compacted soils. Using ArGIS, maps of the GPR and ER data will be compared to each other to determine location of burials (known and unknown), changes in burial patterns, and the relationship between headstones and their designated burials. Changes in burial patterns could include orientation, shape, size, and depth. The use of headstone analysis and both GPR and ER will provide more comprehensive data and better interpretation of the cemetery and the cultural influences it reflects.

 

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