The Archaeological Services Center at IUP

By Bill Chadwick

The Archaeological Services Center (Center) is a faculty-led applied archaeology research center that utilizes graduate and undergraduate student workers located in the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The Centers’ primary goal is to provide opportunities to both graduate and undergraduate students to obtain experience supervising and conducting field and laboratory archaeological projects prior to graduation. The Director of the Center, Dr. William Chadwick, is the only regular faculty staff member of the Center.

Ashley excavating a shoveltest

Ashley McCuistion and Hannah Harvey digging test pits.

The Center offers a wide array of services to public and private organizations to assist in cultural resource and historic preservation projects required by state, federal and local laws or as part of environmental impact assessments. Since 1989, the center has conducted more than $5,000,000 in projects and technical assistance to agencies as diverse as the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Indiana County, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the National Park Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers–Pittsburgh District, the Allegheny National Forest and numerous planning commissions. The services that the Center provides include, but are not limited to, Geomorphological Reconnaissance and Geophysical Surveys, Consultation, Phase I discovery, Phase II evaluations, and Phase III excavations of significant archaeological sites. The Center is focused on those sites and projects located in the Upper Ohio Valley.

Hannah and Emily using the GPR

Hannah Harvey and Emily Masters conducting a ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey for Pennsylvania DOT.

Archaeological projects through the Center provide students opportunities to have hands-on experience working with some of the technologies that are at the forefront of archaeological research and the Cultural Resource Management (CRM) industry. The Center has access to the latest geospatial technologies including, but not limited to, real-time sub-meter accurate GPS units, a Nikon Total Data Station, a Leica Scan Station C10 3D Laser Scanner, and ESRI ArcMap software. The geophysical equipment and methods used on projects by the Center can include two Ground-Penetrating Radar systems, Gradiometry, Resistivity, Conductivity, Electromagnetic Induction, and Metal Detection. The available laboratory equipment includes an Olympus DELTA Professional XRF, a Nikon Eclipse E200 Polarizing Trinocular Microscope, and a Flote-Tech Flotation System. Geomorphological equipment that can be used during the projects include Edelman and Buck Augers, Gouge Augers, Piston Samplers, and sediment analysis equipment such as a drying oven, electronic scales, sediment splitters, and a set of sediment sieves and a sieve shaker.

Whether continuing on into graduate studies or entering the CRM industry, students who have the opportunity to participate in projects through the Center have a enhanced understanding of the real-world application of methods and technologies that are used to study archeological resources. This knowledge gained through the Center provides students experience beyond the classroom that is invaluable when moving from their academic lives into their professional careers.

Crew walking across floodplain

Off to work we go!

Voices from the Field: A Graduate Student Abroad

By Sarah Henley

Map1This summer I went to Menorca Spain to attend the Sanisera Archaeology Institute for International Field Schools and took a course on underwater archaeology from June 10-18, 2016. First I will share information on Menorca and the archaeological site where we worked then give an account of my time there. (Note: I was not able to catch/record all the history of the site so there are some gaps).


Port of Sanitja

Menorca is one of three islands off the eastern coast of mainland Spain. The other two islands are Mallorca and Ibiza. The official languages spoken on Menorca are Spanish and Catalàn. The locals also speak English, however the clarity and quality varies. The Sanisera Archaeology Institute is currently excavating the Roman city of Sanisera located on one of the northern peninsulas, and the underwater archaeology course focused on Port Sanitja. The shipwreck sites dated between the 4th century B.C. and 4th century A.D., and recovery/projects have been conducted since the 1950s.

Each day we would start out by diving for about 40 minutes at 54 feet. After diving we would head back to the field school to have lecture, lunch, and do some identification of Amphoras or ceramic vessels used to transport wine, olive oil, salted fish, etc. on ships, drawing, photography for 3D modeling, and 3D modeling.


Ancient basilica

The first day the underwater group got to tour Port Sanitja, and see and hold some of the artifacts that had been discovered. Throughout the week we learned and applied the Sanisera methodology of underwater archeological survey such as linear and circular survey, documentation, and 3D modeling to name a few. One of the things I will never forget was trying to take photos of artifacts underwater. My dive buddy and I had to take pictures of two Amphoras. The Amphoras were in a hole, surrounded by sea grass, next to a rock wall, and a bunch of fish that would not go away. When taking photos underwater you have to keep the area clear around the artifacts, not stir up the sand, and watch your bouncy. It was not easy.


Downtown Ciutadella

Each day we finished around 2:15pm, and would drive back to the residency were we had “dinner” at 2:45pm, and had the rest of the day to explore or do whatever we wanted to. The Town in which we stayed in was Cituadella on the western coast of the island. Cituadella is the second largest town on the Island along with the town of Mahon on the eastern coast.


Cave Diving (photo by dive buddy Jenna Zwiller)

During my time on Menorca I also got to go cave diving, which was amazing. Everyone in the dive group went. We first took a 10-minute boat ride out to a bay surrounded by rock cliffs. Then we dove for about 5 minutes to reach the entrance of the cave, and then dove 150 meters to the end of the cave were we surfaced. Diving into the cave was an experience. It slowly becomes dark and cold and at a couple points everything becomes blurry because of the mix of warm and cold water. Once at the end of the cave we swam on the surface and got to look at the stalactites, which were beautiful. When returned near the entrance we dove back down and swam out. Diving/swimming out of the cave felt like something out of National Geographic. The rock wall surrounding the entrance silhouetted the beautiful blue water that had light shining through it. I almost did not go because I was having some ear trouble, but I am so glad I went. When diving you have to equalize your ears as you descend and ascend. However, as a child I had many ear infections, which has left behind scar tissue and has made my eardrums less flexible. Diving is already hard on the body especially when you dive several days in a row. I was also unable to dive the last couple of course days because of my ears. Overall my experience was amazing and I will never forget it!


Sunset from the rooftop in Ciutadella

Voices From the Field: An Undergraduate Abroad

By Sean Duncan

13662448_1145568005484989_292685888_oThe site is located about 15 minutes outside of Gravina in southern Italy. It’s called Vagnari and it’s a second century Roman cemetery located in a field surround by rolling hills. The primary person and leader of the dig is Doctor Tracy Prowse from McMasters University in Ontario. We opened two trenches, one that is completely new and another that’s half and half because they weren’t able to excavate some of the burials last year. So far we have around seven burials that have been uncovered. We just got down to layer where we can trowel away the burials which is about 35-45 cms down.


I’ve learned that archaeology is a lot different here than it is in states. For example, we don’t sift every bit of dirt and for a majority of the dig we used pick axes and shovels. We also just ignore and throw away Roman tile, which would be the sort of thing we would document in American field school. I think the most challenging thing was adapting to the trench style digging and generally different style of archaeology. But it was only a little bit of a learning curve and I quickly adapted to learning how to pick away the dirt rather then slowly trowel it away.


Pennsylvania Highway Archaeological Survey Team – MidSeason Update

By Kate Peresolak


The 2016 PHAST Interns: (l to r) Brendan Cole, Kelsey Schneehagen, and Sarah Henley.

At this point in the summer, time is flying PHAST, at least for the members of PennDOT’s Highway Archaeological Survey Team. As the field director, I supervise three graduate and/or undergraduate students hired as PennDOT interns and, together, we complete small archaeological investigations ahead of PennDOT transportation projects. This year’s crew includes Sarah Henley, an IUP Graduate student, and two IUP archaeology undergraduates: Brendan Cole and Kelsey Schneehagen.


Brickworks foundation, Westmoreland County.

This PHAST season began in May, and fieldwork for seven of our current 11 projects for the 2016 season is complete. We worked near a Berks County covered bridge dating to 1869 and a culvert replacement area in Juniata County. We also utilized Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to survey the remnant concrete foundation of a large historic brickworks in Westmoreland County. Additional GPR survey, archaeological testing, and two days at an urban site in Pittsburgh are only some of the projects that await us.


Just some of the artifacts recovered from a recent PHAST project.

Cultural resource interns from Harrisburg and other state locations spend one to two days working with PHAST to experience archaeological fieldwork in Pennsylvania. In addition to working with other interns, the crew networks with established field archaeologists and other professionals working in cultural resource management (CRM). They are exposed to varying field conditions, projects, and also laboratory tasks including report graphics production, ArcMap figure creation, curation documentation, and artifact analysis.


Kelsey slingin’ soil.

The crew’s employment will continue through October, which is enough time to also learn how artifact and documentary collections are prepared for submission to the State Museum of Pennsylvania.

Check back in September for a final update on our summer activities!


Kate checking the soil profile at the bottom of an excavation unit.

Voices from the Field – Hanna’s Town Sixteen Years Later: My Career has come full circle.

By David Breitkreutz

This summer I’ve been mostly keeping up with my thesis research – a spatial analysis of Hanna’s Town using geophysics. The IDS Multi-Array Stream X ground penetrating radar, the FM 256 Fluxgate Gradiometer, and the Syscal Kid electrical resistivity meter were employed to help determine the layout of the settlement, potentially locate evidence of the 1782 raid, and to determine the extent to which geophysical applications are useful in surveying large archaeological sites. The past few weeks I’ve been employed, with TRC, on a historic Phase II near Cumberland, Maryland. After work I’ve been analyzing the results of my geophysical investigations and actually writing the thesis.


IDS Multi-Array Stream X GPR at Hanna’s Town.

While conducting background research, on previous archaeological and geophysical investigations at Hanna’s Town, I reminded myself that I worked at Hanna’s Town in the summer of 2000, while employed with Christine Davis Consultants, Inc. out of Verona, Pennsylvania. Enviroscan Inc. was sub-contracted to conduct geophysical investigations using magnetometers and ground-penetrating radar. This was the first geophysical investigation conducted at Hanna’s Town. Also, the project was my introduction to geophysical techniques and public archaeology.

That summer the Westmoreland County Historical Society sponsored their first archaeology day camp for children and teenagers, between the ages of 11-15. The students were treated to demonstrations by re-enactors, they screened dirt from our excavations, a few were allowed to “play” with the GPR, and the students were given field trips to Bushy Run. The most rewarding aspect of the project was teaching the students that had a genuine interest in archaeology. The most frustrating thing for me was debating, with the chaperons, why it’s unproductive to have the students collect cigarette butts at a Colonial site.

Over the course of the next sixteen years I became less condescending towards volunteers, avocationalists, students, and supervisors. I had learned that interest in archaeology can greatly aid in site preservation. Public archaeology/history can also generate a pride in local history. During my resistivity survey, earlier this summer, a WCHS volunteer re-enactor approached me asking me “can I help you.” I jokingly informed him that his help will be “greatly appreciated” and that I needed the “electrodes placed in 50cm intervals.” In the end he really didn’t want to help and only wanted to know if I had permission to be on the property. The re-enactor was there to guide students, from local elementary schools, around the site. There was at least six bus-loads of children per day at the site during the early summer days. It was great to see these field trips.


Syscal Kid Electrical Resistivity Survey at Hanna’s Town


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Article dated July 5, 2000.

While researching the Davis project I found an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, dated July 5 2000, titled High-tech ‘dig’ aims to find Hanna’s Town buildings . Unfortunately, the pictures from the newspaper article were too black to distinguish a younger and thinner Dave. Nonetheless I was seized with a sense of nostalgia. The “trip down memory lane” made me realize (or fear) that my entire career in archaeology has come full circle. Sixteen years later I am working on the same site, arguing with the same volunteers, while asking the same research questions using geophysical techniques. Within the article former WCHS Director James Steeley stated that the goal of the project was to locate where the houses and buildings “really were.” This is exactly the same research objectives as my thesis. In fact this dilemma has stifled all archaeologists that have conducted research at Hanna’s Town. The biggest lesson I learned here is that the results, and methods used, from an archaeological or geophysical investigation may not answer the research objectives set forth. Even if the research objectives weren’t accomplished it is still important to interpret the results from the data collected. I won’t divulge my preliminary results from my thesis research. But I will say that I keep on telling myself “a good thesis is a completed thesis”.

Another Kind of Summer Project

By Sarah Neusius

Summer is often the time for academic archaeologists to do fieldwork, but this summer my energies are focused on something different, and certainly not less important: the preservation and use of archaeological datasets. Most archaeologists know that there’s a lot more to archaeology than fieldwork, but even after the cleaning, cataloging, and analysis of materials, archaeologists still have a responsibility to the data they have generated. Articles and reports allow us to present our interpretations of what we have found, and curation facilities care for and make accessible the actual artifacts we recover. However, the observations we make about artifacts, in other words, the data we generate, also are important to curate. Keeping our data accessible to future archaeologists so they can reevaluate our conclusions in the light of new information and new theoretical perspectives is an archeological obligation, but one on which our discipline is just beginning to focus. The digital age provides both greater possibilities and greater challenges for us in this respect.

Of course it is now standard to record archaeological data in digital format. Everything from artefactual datasets and images to field notes and geophysical data can be stored digitally reducing concerns about  storing paper records and images so that they will remain stable. On the other hand we all know that both software and hardware evolve at a lightening speed, rapidly making the formats we use obsolete and our data inaccessible. Nowadays archaeologists also are increasingly interested in the new ways to share their data that the internet provides. Along with web publishing there are many efforts to provide open access to archaeological data.


The Worldwide Distribution of Resources stored in tDAR (from, accessed 7/6/16 )


Types of Data Stored in tDAR (from, accessed 7/6/16 )

Among these the Digital Archaeological Record or tDAR, which has been developed by archaeologists and computer scientists under the auspices of Digital Antiquity now affiliated with Arizona State University. tDAR is an international repository for digital archaeological data, images, and documents that provides open access and includes integrative tools for analysis and has a core mission of helping archaeologists be better stewards of the data they generate. tDAR promises to keep these resources accessible in perpetuity by migrating to new digital formats as they become standard, and it also provides some powerful tools for integrating datasets created in different formats by different archaeologists so that comparison among site assemblages, settings, regions, and time periods is possible. These integrative aspects of tDAR allow archaeologists to address macro level questions in ways the published record does not because we can use and combine the original datasets rather than just the published summary data.

All of this is why my main project this summer is working with other zooarchaeologists who are part of the Eastern Archaic Faunal Working Group (EAFWG). Together and with funding from the National Science Foundation (BCS-1430754)   we are preserving and integrating more than 50 Archaic Period (ca. 10,000-3,000 BP) faunal datasets and associated documents in tDAR. Eventually these datasets will be publicly accessible for students and other researchers in the EAFWG collection within tDAR.

EAFWGJan2015B (2)

The Eastern Archaic Faunal Working Group

These datasets were generated over the last sixty or more years by Kosterphotosarchaeologists working on sites located in the interior parts of the Eastern North America. Because of a strong interest in human-environment interactions among American archaeologists during this period, recovery and analysis of animal remains as well as of bone and other artifacts was standard in these excavations. This tradition of emphasizing zooarchaeological analysis continues today among Midwestern and Southeastern Modocimages.archaeologists interested in all of the Pre-Columbian periods. Good preservation has meant that large amounts of animal bone as well as mussel and snail shell often are recovered and significant faunal datasets have been generated for this region. Some of the better known of these sites are emblematic of the Eastern Archaic including Modoc Rock Shelter and the Koster site in Illinois, the Green River shell middens such as Carlston Annis in Kentucky, and Dust Cave in Northern Alabama, but there are many other Archaic sites as well. Some of these Dust Cavedatasets were recorded on paper only, and some of the earliest digital faunal datasets were also created as a result of these excavations. Moreover archaeologists in this region continue to generate significant faunal data today. Unfortunately, these data have remained dispersed across a wide variety of institutions and inaccessible to the larger archaeological community because they are recorded in a variety of formats and curated by individual researchers, some of whom are now deceased or no longer actively involved in Archaic period scholarship.

The EAFWG includes zooarchaeologists from IUP, the Illinois State Museum, the University of Kentucky, Florida State University, the Illinois Archaeological Survey, State University of New York at Oneonta and the University of Michigan at Flint. Besides meeting at professional conferences and staying in touch through email and conference calls, we have held formal workshops. In fact, our most recent workshop was hosted here at IUP in mid-May and included my GA, Scott Rivas as well as myself.


EAFWG at SAA 2016. Scott Rivas is at right and Sarah Neusius is second to right.

Our goal is to use tDAR to preserve significant Archaic period faunal datasets and to bring them collectively to bear on research into the Archaic Period in Eastern North America. Not surprising traditional explanations for Archaic period variability and change, which have seen environment and demography as causal, have been questioned by contemporary researchers arguing that cultural identities, sociopolitical interactions, and ritual practices also explain some Archaic phenomena. In essence today’s archaeologists seek to understand Archaic period hunter-gatherers as more than participants in the ecosystem, and this raises new questions about the way Archaic data has been interpreted over the last half century or more. We think zooarchaeological data has much to contribute to these debates. Ultimately we have some macro-level questions about the variable use of aquatic resources by people who lived in this area during the Archaic period, which we believe will contribute meaningfully to better understanding of the Archaic period. However, we aren’t there yet, and instead are immersed in a long process.

Over the past year and through this summer I have been involved with myriad details, most of which would be far too boring for a blog such as this. However, I hope you can see why there are many steps in the EAFWG project. These have been accomplished with the help of several IUP undergraduate students and graduate students, and have included 1) creating digital databases from paper records in the first place, 2) finding and removing errors from digital datasets, 3) uploading digital datasets to tDAR, 4) providing metadata about what is in each dataset and what variables it contains, and 5) relating datasets created through the use of tDAR ontologies. We also have been exploring how comparable our Archaic datasets are in terms of taphonomy and contexts sampled, and working on measuring environmental and demographic variation during the Archaic period. By the end of the summer, we hope to begin to consider our research questions concerning the use of aquatic animals more directly.

For me personally, this summer project has meant little chance to be outside as much as I would prefer or to develop the muscles and fieldwork tan that I often do. Regardless, because the Archaic period was my first love in North American archaeology and this project is giving me an opportunity to revisit my dissertation research on the Koster site, it also is pretty exciting for me. Both collaboration with other zooarchaeologists, and looking at data I know well with new perspectives is a lot of fun. So if you encounter me this summer and find me slightly glassy eyed from staring at the computer screen, rest assured that I’m still absorbed in archaeology!


Fort Necessity 2016


Fort Necessity 2016 field crew. L to R: Mike White head (supervisor), Eden VanTries, James Miller, Hannah Harvey, Samantha Jacobs, Dwayne Santella (Cal U), and Cheryl Frankum.

This week we will finish excavations at Fort Necessity National Battlefield. It’s been a good seven weeks, but all good things must come to an end. This is actually our second season at Fort Necessity. Last summer we conducted a large-scale geophysical survey using ground-penetrating radar, gradiometry, and resistivity. This summer we tested more than thirty geophysical anomalies, as well as completed a shovel test pit and metal detecting survey. We’ll be back out at the site in August to do another metal detecting survey as part of a class taught by Advanced Metal Detecting for the Archaeologist (check back later in the summer for more on that). All of this work is funded by a grant from the National Park Service (NPS) through the Cooperative Ecosystem Study Units Network.


Gradiometer results from the 2015 geophysical survey at Fort Necessity National Battlefield. The the fort itself, with its earthworks, palisade, and storehouse, is situated near the center of the image.

The Fort Necessity partnership between IUP and NPS has the dual goals of providing good real-world experience for archaeology students while providing the park with high quality research that will help them interpret and manage this nationally significant cultural resource. For those of you not familiar with Fort Necessity, it is the most recognizable landmark from a young George Washington’s foray into western Pennsylvania, during which he helped touch off the French and Indian War, and by extension the Seven Years War, which is arguably the first world war…kind of a big deal. But back to the project goals – this has certainly been a great opportunity for students. A total of 11 graduate and undergraduate students have honed their archaeological skills over the past two years, while making some money, and living in exotic Uniontown. For some of these students this is their first taste of CRM life and nearly all of them have loved it.


Buried 18th century A Horizon.


Clay pipestem (photo by Cheryl Farnkum).


Hannah and James hard at work.

We’ve also fulfilled our objective of providing the park with updated archaeological data. We’ve been able to identify nearly all of the geophysical anomalies. Most of the features date to after the George Washington period, however. Much of what we’ve found relates to the roughly two centuries between the battle and the establishment of the park. We’ve uncovered field drains, old roads, reenactor campfires, and fill episodes. But there have been highlights as well. Near the fort we uncovered a buried A horizon containing 18th century artifacts. We’ve also uncovered pieces of shot that may help us reconstruct the battle and several artifacts that date to the time of the fort. And we’ve still got a week to go.

If you are in Fayette County next week, stop by and see us.