By: Cheryl Frankum
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.
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!
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 presenters 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.