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 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!


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.


Sarah Parcak- National Geographic fellow and satellite archaeologist

Context exercise


International Archaeology Day in a few words…

By: Genevieve Everett


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!


Prehistoric table and prehistoric artifacts



Kids room making wampum and hand painting


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


Flint knapping demo


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:


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:


The Color Orange Touches Off a Testy Debate


I Can Munsell That

By: Genevieve Everett


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.


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