Celebrating National Native American Heritage Month

During the month of November, we celebrate National Native American Heritage Month, or American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. This celebration is in honor of the original inhabitants of America. Organizations across the States come together to learn about and commemorate the traditions, languages, contributions, and heritage of Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and other Island communities during November.

Honoring the history of the Indigenous people of this land began in 1900 when Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian and director of the Museum of Arts and Science in New York, convinced the Boy Scouts of America to observe a day for Native Americans. After this, an American Indian Day was declared in 1916. In 1976, a Native American Awareness Week was declared by Congress, and in 1990 former President George H.W. Bush signed a joint congressional resolution to designate November as National American Indian Heritage Month. Since 1994, other proclamations have been made with variations to the name; Native American Heritage Month and National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month are two. It was former President Barack Obama who named November as National Native American Month, which is how we continue to refer to it as of today.

Arthur C. Parker, 1918 (Buffalo Historical Society)

To honor this month, let’s reflect on some Native American archaeologists who have made incredible contributions to the preservation of this county’s heritage and past. Arthur C. Parker was born in 1881 on the Seneca tribe’s Cattaraugus Reservation in New York. He was descended from a long line of Seneca leaders on his father’s side, however, because Seneca clan member ship is matrilineal and both his grandfather and father married women of European descent, neither his father nor him were considered to be Seneca. His family moved to White Plains, NY in 1892 and graduated from high school in 1897. Although he attended Centenary Collegiate institute in New Jersey and Dickinson Seminary in Pennsylvania, he did not graduate from either. However, he continued to do archaeological work while in college and became an apprentice to archaeologist Mark Harrington. His reputation grew and he became known as an authority on the Seneca culture; becoming officially recognized as Seneca in 1903 during a ceremony which gave him the name Gáwasowaneh or Big Snow Snake. After working as an ethnologist for the New York State Library in 1904, Arthur became the first full-time archaeologist at the New York State Museum in 1906, serving until 1925. In 1911 Parker notably aided in the founding of the Society for American Indians (SAI). He married Beulah Tahamont, an Abenaki of the Eastern Algonquian, in 1904, whom he had two children with and later divorced, then married Anna Theresa Cooke in 1914, whom he had one child with. Throughout his career he wrote many books and did scholarly research and published Museum Bulletins and articles on the history and culture of Native Americans, with a focus on the Seneca and Iroquois. He was also a consultant on Indian affairs to several Presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson, and Coolidge. After working at the New York State Museum, he became director of the Rochester Museum in 1925. He also served from 1935 to 1936 as the Society for American Archaeology’s (SAA) first president. Throughout the remainder of his career, he received many honors and awards, before he passed away in 1955.

Bertha Parker Pallan [Cody] (Smithsonian Institution Archives)

Bertha “Birdie” Parker Cody, also called Yewas, her Seneca name, is considered to be the first female Native American archaeologist and ethnologist in the United States. She was born in 1907 in Chautauqua County, New York, and is of Abenaki and Seneca descent, as Arthur C. Parker and Beulah Tahamont were her parents. Bertha grew up with her mother who was an actor, even acting in some shows herself, after her parents divorced. She married Joseph Pallan in the 1920s and gave birth their daughter Wilma Mae in 1925. She never had formal archaeological training or a university education, but she did go on excavations with her father as a child and, after her split from her abusive husband in 1927, she began to work as a cook and expedition secretary for her uncle Mark Raymond Harrington on archaeological projects. She made an amazing discovery at the Mesa House site in 1929. She excavated, recorded, and photographed a pueblo she named Scorpion Hill, and later published her work and had the recovered artifacts exhibited in the Southwest Museum. In 1930 she made a discovery in Nevada’s Gypsum Cave using her slim hands to reach into crevices. Her method allowed her to recover a skull from an extinct species of giant ground sloth known as Nothrotherium shastense. It not only aided in getting more funding for the expedition, but the discovery also challenged prevailing theories about the occupation of ancient Native Americans in the Americas as the sloth skull was found next to ancient human tools.

Cody at Gypsum Cave, Nevada (Southwest Museum)

Bertha ended up marring James Thurston, a Canadian paleontologist who was brought in to further aid the work at the cave, in 1931, but he passed from a heart attack only a year later. In 1933 she was hired to work as secretary for the Southwest Museum, and she eventually became assistant archaeologist and ethnologist. Bertha began to conduct more ethnographical work into the mid-1930s. She wrote and published many archaeological and ethnological papers throughout her career in the Southwest Museum’s journal, Masterkey, on many topics from Kachina Dolls to her work with Californian Indian Tribes including the Maidu, Yurok, Pomo, and Paiute. She married again in 1936 to actor Espera Oscar de Corti, Iron Eyes Cody. Her daughter passed accidentally in 1942, so Cody left the Southwest Museum where she had been working for many years and shifted towards activism and Hollywood. Along with her husband, she advised Native American programs and films as part of “Ironeyes Enterprise”, worked with him to host a 1950s television program about Native American Folklore, supported the Los Angeles Indian Centre, and they also adopted two sons of Maricopa-Dakota heritage, Robert and Arthur. She died at the age of 71 in 1978, but her work in the archaeological field lives on. Not only has she conducted work and made discoveries that have greatly added to our knowledge of the past, but her efforts towards influence in the media and spreading awareness and understanding of Native American culture and history, will forever be remembered and appreciated.

Margaret Spivey (Kristen Grace Photography, University of Florida)

Young archaeologist Margaret Spivey is a member of the Pee Dee Indian Nation of Beaver Creek, an assistant chief of the nation’s Upper Georgia Trail Town, and was a Ph.D. Candidate of archaeology at Washington University in St. Louis in 2015. She has stated, “The reason I’m an archaeologist is because I believe we need more research that shows the complexity of Southeastern Native American groups.” Her dissertation focuses on understanding how Southeastern Native Americans interact with animals, identifying and deciphering carvings of animals, and using both archaeology and ethnology to gather information. Her work could provide new insight into early Native American cultures and social movements in the Southwest. Spivey switched from law to archaeology while attending Harvard University in 2004, seeking to improve public understanding and misconceptions, and influence social and political spheres when it came to the cultural past of Native Americans. She was quoted saying, “I don’t think there is a reason to ignore a Native perspective in favor of an outside perspective when looking at materials deposited by Native Americans. This isn’t me looking at it wrong, this is me looking at it differently.” She hopes that her “long-term research will help us enrich and reclaim some of our cultural practices that were unfortunately lost, we just didn’t catch them in time.” As someone of Native American descent, Spivey’s work and perspectives are crucial, as she contributes new interpretations to research being done and artifacts collected as data is being collected. Rather than having to seek out interpretations from Tribes, she can use connections and her life experiences to contribute greatly to the understanding of past Native American cultures.

Morino Baca (photo by Danny Sosa Aguilar)

Dr. Peter Nelson, a Coast Miwok and a citizen of the Federate Indians of Graton Rancheria in the North Bay, became a tenured assistant professor of environmental science, policy and management, and of ethics studies and UC Berkely, after receiving his Ph.D. in anthropology from the same university in 2017. He believes that more native Americans are being drawn into the field of archaeology as new Indigenous know-how and technology, along with Western science, is “speaking to our preservationist values as Indigenous archaeologists and to the values of tribal communities.” Morino Baca, a current UC Berkely graduate student in public health who has ancestral ties to the Genízaro Indigenous community has stated, “There’s a lot of pain associated with that colonization history, so it’s important for younger people in the community to connect to their roots in a positive way, and to engage with their elders because they’re our libraries, and when they’re gone, that knowledge goes with them.” He has worked in New Mexico at Pueblo de Abiquiú to partner with the Genízaro Indigenous community on a cultural revitalization and infrastructure project. Native scholars like Peter Nelson and Morino Baca are just a few who are leading the charge towards better collaboration with Indigenous tribes to find ways to connect western science to Indigenous science during archaeology programs and excavations.

This National Native American Heritage Month, take time to respectfully visit a reservation or Native American heritage site, attend an educational event at a library or museum, attempt to make traditional Native American dishes for Thanksgiving dinner, read the writings or explore the art of Native American authors and artists, or support Native-owned businesses. At the very least take a moment to reflect on and learn about the history of the Indigenous people of this country and the archaeological efforts that are being undertaken around the states today to expand our knowledge of their culture and heritage.

 

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Resources:

https://nationaltoday.com/american-heritage-month/

https://www.nps.gov/subjects/npscelebrates/native-american-heritage-month.htm

https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/parker-arthur-caswell

www.nysm.nysed.gov/research-collections/ethnography/collections/research-and-collections-arthur-c-parker

www.theheroinecollective.com/bertha-cody/

untoldstories.net/1927/08/bertha-birdie-parker-cody-first-female-native-american-archeologist/

https://www.saa.org/career-practice/scholarships-and-grants/native-american-scholarships-fund/arthur-c.-parker-and-bertha-parker-cody

https://www.saa.org/quick-nav/saa-media-room/saa-news/2020/11/16/bertha-parker-cody-award

https://news.ufl.edu/articles/2015/07/native-american-archaeologist-unearths-a-complex-cultural-history-.html

news.berkeley.edu/2021/02/04/indigenous-archaeology-plows-forward-despite-anthropologys-checkered-past/

“Dating, Dumping, and Destruction: Reconstructing Life Histories of Farmers and Farmhouses in Central Pennsylvania”

On November 2nd, Dr. Claire Milner, Emeritus Curator and Director of Exhibits at Penn State’s Matson Museum of Anthropology, joined us for her presentation, “Dating, Dumping, and Destruction: Reconstructing Life Histories of Farmers and Farmhouses in Central Pennsylvania.” She described three Penn State archaeological field schools she ran as project director at farmsteads in Central Pennsylvania. Two sites were excavated in Huntingdon County, the Massey site from 2006-2007 and the Scare Pond Farm from 2008-2009. She led excavations at the Foster site in Centre County from 2015-2016, as well.

Dr. Milner began by discussing why we should study farmhouses. Farmhouses are studied in historical archaeology as they can provide valuable informational contribution for the historical record and also address anthropological questions about human behavior. Farming has been and still is an extremely common way of life in the United States, and farmhouses are actually the most common type of archaeological site in the U.S. The 19th to early 20th centuries were a time of huge social and economic change, from industrialization and urban migration to innovations in agriculture and household technology. In Central Pennsylvania, lumbering and iron ore extraction, along with expansion of transportation and marketing networks were growing. However, today, the sites Dr. Milner studied are covered in trees and pastureland.

The Massey site was owned by the Massey family who were also owners of the Scare Pond Farm site. Thomas Massey emigrated from England to Chester County PA in 1683. He had children, and grandchildren, including Mordecai Massey (1747-1837). Mordecai had several children, including Daniel, who established agricultural societies at the state and local levels, and whose daughter Elizabeth would come to inherit the site in 1875 according to his will. In addition to documentary evidence of the family’s wealth and Daniels, from ventures such as co-owning a steel and whisky house, there was also a ‘fancy’ cemetery where Daniel and other family members were buried, with an iron railing around it that adds to the fact that this family had a good amount of money during their time. It is not clear when Daniel established his independent household, but it was most likely after his father’s death, sometime in the early 1840s. The main excavated house was built before 1875, most likely when Daniel started to pay taxes separately from his family, however, later ownership and occupancy is uncertain between the 1870s and 1930s when the state took over the property.

Dr. Milner then went over discovered features and parts of the site that were excavated during her field schools at the Daniel Massey site. The site included a house, privy, garden, porch and patio. They located the north and east rooms of the house, along with a basement. A feature outside of the house was a garden with a barbed wire fence. The archaeologists noted the house layout based on a foundation collapsing into the basement. Trash would have been dumped out of the window area during the sites period of occupation, so based on a perimeter created by a midden, the location of a potential window was discovered. The entrance area of the house was determined to have a porch and patio; the front door was located based on piers of wood platforms into the door, and there was an indication of a brick patio, along with parts of porch pads and other remnants. Both a brick chimney and paved stone floor were also noted. A mystery wall Milner uncovered was eventually determined to be evidence of a rebuilding episode, as the house was T-shaped, buried above an L-shaped structure. There were also coins found inside and outside of this rebuilding, that gives great dates for when the rebuilding took place. Evidence of burnt wood in the basement suggests that a fire could have been the reason for the rebuilding. While a stone pad could have been interpreted as a pad for a staircase, it is unknown whether or not his house had a second floor. Other notable features include the Massey middens, and the Massey privy, a two-hole privy. There were a variety of dumping contexts and stratified deposits that may indicate a shift in dumping behavior and/or occupancy around the house perimeter, the privy, and the area around and downslope from the privy (a possible upslope shift). After occupancy, there was some scavenging of construction materials such as the wood floor, and eventually the exterior of the house collapsed into the interior, as marked by unit profiles and materials in the basement. There was also some garbage dumping within the house after its collapse; found at shallow depths were artifacts such as broken medicine bottles and a scythe blade stuck in the corner of the house at an angle, not contemporaneous with the occupation.

The Scare Pond Farm site was located on an extremely steep sloping ledge, an unusual place. This site included a house, barn, small outbuilding, and unknown building along the sharp sloping hill. It was also uncertain if any Massey’s had actually lived there. There was a spring nearby, but no evidence of a spring house, although a creek was further down slope from the house.

The previous occupants of the house had created lined pathways of stones and the archaeologists tested the barn on the bank, where they recovered a crock pot, and evidence of animals tamping down on the clay floor. They also tested an outbuilding foundation with a horseshoe in it, the foundation of the house itself, and the basement area. There was little found inside the basement; it was surmised that some bricks were from a collapsed chimney. Construction materials such as, a piece of cut wood from the floor and an upper stone tier, had been removed from the site, scavenged by someone. There were dumping features west of the house, one with a feature and one with a concentration of artifacts (stoneware). The recovered stoneware indicated garbage being dumped away from the house upslope. There were scattered stones next to the southeast house foundation wall that were full of mixed materials, which led to the discovery of two more rooms of the house. The walls of the rooms were constructed from whatever materials they could find, including brick and stone, and they could post-date the original foundation. A porch was evident from remnants of three stone pads in a line used as a base for the porch to hold it upright; the front of the porch was lined with stone. Marbles children would have played with were also recovered, most likely they had fallen off the porch. There were some confusing walls, and a mystery building with partly stratified deposits, that included a strangely angled wall, and sat on a slope. There was also a buried brick feature where the angled wall was, perhaps a buried patio. Stratigraphy indicated that there were multiple dumping episodes inside the building, leading to the supposition that animals were kept in one of the buildings on the site. Some features located included stoneware piping that suggested perhaps some type of plumbing was put in for the house during an expansion period. A surprise outside wall and a hitching post on one side of the house were also recovered. A clay layer inside and hitching post outside suggests the presence of animals. The fact that there were no level areas for cultivated fields also supports the idea that this site was perhaps occupied by a tenant of the Massey family who took care of animals.

The Foster Farm was also excavated by Dr. Milner. This site was located on land owned by Penn State University, and by studying it, the researchers can provide information on the Arboretum history, explore 19th-20th century farm life, and compare with the Massey and Scare Pond Farm sites.  Prior to Penn State’s ownership, records show that in 1791 an iron furnace was established by Miles & Patton, with timberland being converted into farms by the furnace owners, as well. The site went through a variety of owners throughout the centuries, records suggest that a tenant farmer was an occupant at the site for at least part of the time. The last owner was Charles Foster (1859-1934) who owned 120 acres, before the land became PSU pastureland in 1935. The Foster Farm landscape is made up of karstic limestone with well-drained fertile soil. However, there is no standing water nearby.

The site included a house, garden, possible cistern, porch, and standing outbuilding, and it had been heavily impacted by mowing. It was assumed that those who used to occupy the site were dependent on cistern water collection, as no other nearby water sources were present. A metal water pipe was found in the basement debris, but it could have possibly been deposited later. A basement foundation was also located, along with a rail line close to the site. Dr. Milner went on to discuss many features and describe parts of the site. There was a pit feature along the exterior of the west foundation wall that was perhaps a cistern. They found the house’s foundation interior, part of a chimney, evidence of a garden, the basement entrance, a west sloping dumping area, and on another side of the house an area of very mixed deposits, along with evidence of dumping around the house perimeter and the indication of a porch based on stacked stones, as well. There was little debris dumped inside the house, but a concentration of debris was along the perimeter, but this was not able to be excavated as it was close to the crumbling foundation wall. There were also areas of activity away from the house, but no discernable structures.

Data from the collection created from all three sites was then presented; artifact types and total counts found were discussed, which included a range of ceramics with a variety of decorative types, glass, metal, animal bones, nails, and other construction materials and debris. Less common artifacts present included smoking pipes, clothing like buttons and buckles, ammunition, pencil leads, coins, combs, musical instruments like a harmonica, toys, part of a pocket watch, and at Foster, a mantle clock part. Rarer but interesting finds included a backpin with the quote, “I’m a devil, give me a soda” found at the Massey site, an Irish pipe with a Home Rule harp design found at the Foster site, and also found at the Massey site were parts of an Admiral Dewy pitcher commemorating the 1898 Battle of Manila.

Dr. Milner then mentioned that by excavating these sites, there are many research opportunities provided. Researchers could delve into site occupation by trying to distinguish tenant versus owner occupancy, or research more on what activities occurred at each site over time. Interested parties could investigate what the objects and houses tell us about variation in human behavior, by measuring differences in wealth and status between occupations within or between sites or by studying differential access to markets and transportation in the Centre region. Researchers could also do intrasite and intersite chronology; determine the age of different occupations based primarily on historic records, and compare them to the archaeological record, or determine the relative chronology of buildings, strata, and rebuilding episodes within a site. Although, there are technical issues with it comes to making the artifact category counts comparable, given that they were excavated at different depths and to different extents. However, she is very interested and willing to work with students, and even have the collection brought to IUP if necessary. In the next few years, she has to finish with the projects and determine the collections fate. From dating projects based on the artifacts and documentary evidence, to research on the garbage dumping contexts and how these episodes relate to the occupations and destruction of the site, there are many opportunities for further research into these three sites.

Dr. Claire Milner’s presentation was extremely informative and educational! We cannot thank her enough for coming and speaking to us!

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Highlights from the Archaeology Day Open House

After not being able to host it last year due to covid, the Department of Anthropology was finally able to have our annual Archaeology Day Open House here at IUP! We had over 50 visitors who came to learn about and explore the field of archaeology and what it means to be an archaeologist!

We had many stations and activities set up inside and outside of McElhaney Hall. Beginning at the Entrance Table, we had undergraduate students, Kaylee and Callie, along with second-year graduate students Pat and Sonja, welcoming visitors into our Open House. There were posters and pamphlets, candy and snacks, and a place to sign up for anthropology club. This is also where the Archaeology Day passport could be picked up. This passport was used to guide people around to each set-up, so that they could get a stamp for each exhibit and table they visited.

Another station outside was led by first-year graduate student Emma, who presented on the importance of mapping in archaeology. Using a poster, worksheet, and mini grid, children and adults alike could practice mapping. She instructed people on why we do mapping, what we map, why we prefer mapping over taking photographs, what we need to include on our maps, and why we use a grid system when mapping. She stated that it is our goal as archaeologists to record as much information as possible, and that because digging is destructive, we need an accurate mapping of our excavation units before we continue to dig artifacts up, as mapping provides context for the location of the recovered cultural resources, as well as a record of any features and stratigraphy in the unit.

First-year graduate student Liz also had a set-up outside, where she was teaching people about stratigraphy. She used different colored, kinetic sand and small rocks and pottery sherds in a clear box to mimic the stratigraphic layers archaeologist encounter as they dig down into the soils. She also had a bright and colorful poster, along with a matching worksheet that allowed visitors to learn more about stratigraphy, and what various layers can look like.

Also outside was Susanne Haney from PennDOT (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) and the Westmoreland Archaeological Society Chapter #23 of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology. She was doing flint knapping and instructing others on how to do it as well. She also had brought many examples of prehistoric artifacts, many of which she had made herself. A few things she showcased were an atlatl, stone tools and pendants, a nutting stone, flint ridge chert, obsidian, red catlinite from Wisconsin that can be used to make pipes, bifaces and scrapers, a tiny, dried gourd to represent the ones used by ancient Native American to hold up fishing nets in the water, and cordage made from plant materials such as basswood bark and dogbane, and also deer sinew fibers.

When you entered McElhaney Hall, on one side you could enter the Children’s room. This room contained many activities to keep kids entertained, but also to introduce them to the world or archaeology. From ceramic analysis to coloring worksheets, paleolithic “cave” paintings, making wampum bead bracelets, and more, kids were guided by volunteer Heather and first-year graduate student Kahlan through a range of archaeological topics. This will hopefully serve as a foundational step for the younger generation in their archaeological journey.

The next room over held our section on Zooarchaeology, led by first-year graduate student Emily and second-year graduate student Zach. Emily discussed hominins and showcased how skulls changed over the course of millions of years to bring us to the skulls of the modern-day humans. She also laid out stone tools that correlate to each skull and displayed a replica of footprints made by the primitive species Australopithecus afarensis, or “Lucy,” from 3.6 million years ago. There was even a worksheet for students to match the pictures of the skull replicas to their corresponding names and date ranges. Zach was in charge of animal bones and skeletons and used a display that had visitors match the animal to an individual bone, which included a bear skull amongst others. He also displayed whole turtle shells, cat, fish, and frog skeletons, shells, and a pig head that had many visitors intrigued and curious to know what it was!

In the same room, third-year graduate student Ashley was displaying her ongoing master’s thesis on Modoc City. She exhibited many of the historic artifacts that she has excavated from the site, which dates from 1873 to around 1890, although these were just a few from the 9+ whole boxes Ashely has filled. She also laid out several newspaper articles describing life in the city during its time of occupation. Some of the historical artifacts presented include a broken frozen charlotte, makeup containers or compacts, utensils, suspender clasps, bells, an original Dr. Scholl’s foot-eazer, glass and ceramic pieces, pocket watch components, dresser handles, boot heels, and even a mint container!

  Second-year graduate students Amanda and Emma, along with Dr. Chadwick, a professor here at IUP, were also in this room, discussing the PHAST (PennDOT Highway Archaeological Survey Team) program, what goes inside a dig kit, and what some of the geophysical tools used in archaeology are and how they operation. These such geophysical instruments included metal detectors and ground-penetrating radar.

Back in the hallway second-year graduate student Luke was displaying a historic artifacts collection. He explained that historic sites are those that date between European contact in America to our modern day. As part of his graduate assistantship, he takes care of the legacy collections here at IUP. Some of the artifacts he works with are from excavations done 50 years ago at Hanna’s Town, a 1700s site, so he has been going through them, organizing them, and putting them in archival bags for storage, to keep up to new standards of preservation and to prevent deterioration and disorganization. He also displayed a historic artifact learning collection of things we see often at historic sites for visitors to observe and interact with.

 There was also a prehistoric artifact collection, hosted by Westmoreland Archaeological Society Chapter #23 of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology. Many of the artifacts on display were recovered by Sidney Guest, a member of the chapter, as well as from the group themselves. Their exhibited collection included, petrified wood, a wide assortment of bifaces and projectile points, a large nutting stone, and even some tools archaeologists use in the field, to name a few. Mr. Guest explained that some of the artifacts were from excavations at a rock shelter near Derry, PA. He also stated that their chapter had just sent many boxes of artifacts to the State Museum after finishing up a dig they had been conducting over the past 16 years at a Monongahela village site with two overlapping village components. The Consul site (36WM100) included 49 houses and produced over 19 radiocarbon/AMS dates, with one of the villages dating to the Early Monongahela period around A.D. 1350, and the other to the Middle Monongahela period around A.D. 1450. We are so grateful that the Westmoreland Archaeological Society were able to come out and join us!

First-year graduate student Laura was next to the prehistoric artifacts set-up, and her station was about garbology, the study of modern humans through analyzing modern-day waste, and its connection to archaeology. She noted that archaeologists excavate landfills and utilize ethnographic interview methods to understand how humans create and dispose of waste, to answer questions about waste disposal, and to help apply these interpretations in other settings and studies. Laura also included a QR code on her handout that links students to “A Tale of Garbage” by Ian McTaggart for more information, and she provided a take home activity worksheet that had visitors keep track of their trash disposal habits to see what this can tell them about their trash practices. She also engaged with visitors by having them participate in an activity where they had to determine which bag of trash came from which room in the house, which simulated how trash can lead to inferences about people.

In the final room inside, we had second-year graduate student Jacob in the floatation lab teaching and instructing people about how and why we use the laboratory technique of archaeological flotation. The floatation machine is used to recover tiny artifacts and plant remains from soil samples, which visitors got to experience up close.

And finally, as people exited our Archaeology Day event, they passed by our Exit table, manned by first-year graduate student Wesley. He was passing out free posters and information on stewardship through fliers. He was also having those who left voluntarily fill out a paper with questions about their experience. We had great feedback, one visitor commented, “It was fun and interesting😊,” and many people noted their favorite activities.

A huge thank you to everyone who came out and supported this open house, and to those who put everything together, Dr. Andrea Palmiotto and second-year graduate student Mikala Hardie! We will most definitely be hosting this event next year, so please join us again, or for the first time, in 2023!

 

Homecoming and The Crowning of Royalty

Homecoming was this past Saturday, and it was packed with fun events and activities, celebrations, a parade, a football game, and the crowning of the Crimson Homecoming Court. In America, the idea of selecting a Homecoming court and having a King and Queen arose in the 1930s. Originally, Kings and Queens were chosen based on the float the came in on during the Homecoming parade. The crowning of royalty is something other parts of the world are exposed to as well. With the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II, sometime in 2023 King Charles III will be crowned during a coronation ceremony. In August of this year Misuzulu Zulu was crowned as the new Zulu king in South Africa, wearing a headdress of traditional leopard skin and black feathers.

Princess Blanche’s crown, ca.1399

Although receiving a cheap, bedazzled crown after being voted as the most popular by classmates does not really compare to the coronation of British or Africa royalty, the ceremonies do have something in common; something worn on the head as a symbol of royalty, leadership, and power. Typically called a crown or headdress, these physical symbols are usually made out of rare or symbolic materials, and they legitimize who is in charge and who has the authority to sometimes do whatever they want.

The oldest known crown belonging to the British royal family is the Princess Blanche’s crown, that dates to around 1399; it is set with pearls, diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds. Although the origins of the royal crowns we recognize today reach back to the emperors of the Roman Empire, crowns, headdresses, and other forms of adornment that showcase the leader of the group have been used by other civilizations across the world in many different periods of time.

Empress Xiao’s crown before it was cleaned,  CNS/Tian Jin

Empress Xiao’s crown after it was cleaned,  CNS/Tian Jin

In 2012, archaeologists in China uncovered a 6th century crown that originally belonged to Empress Xiao from the Sui dynasty (AD 581-618). It is the oldest imperial crown ever discovered in China, found in a tomb in Yangzhou, in the modern-day Jiangsu Province. The crown had been resting in a rotten wooden box and was restored at the Cultural Relic Protection Institute in Shaanxi Province. It was decorated with pearls, cotton, silk, fragile copper wires, and thirteen flower decorations, each composed of gilded bronze wires with delicate representations of stalks, stamens, and petals.

Silla Gold Crown, National Museum of Korea

In Korea, five gold crowns excavated from five royal tombs, helped the ancient capital of Guemseong, modern day Gyeongju, justify the meaning of its name, ‘city of gold.’ The five crowns are from the Silla Kingdom that extended their rule from southeast Korea during the Three Kingdoms period (57 BC-AD 668) all the way to the Unified Silla Kingdom period (AD 668-935). The crowns belonged to Silla kings and queens who were buried in large, stone-lined tombs within earth mounds, when they passed. The crowns were preserved and survived because of the clay placed between the layers of stone, the lack of horizontal entrances to the tombs, and the fact that the tombs were never looted. The first of the National Treasures of Korea were found in 1921 in a tomb known as the Gold Crown tomb that dated to the second half of the 5th century. The other four tombs with their crowns were found nearby and are called the Great Tomb at Hwangnam, Cheonmachong (the ‘Heavenly Horse Tomb’), the Gold Bell Tomb, and the Auspicious Phoenix Tomb. The Silla crowns are made up of three parts, an openwork tall conical cap, a piece resembling a wing or butterfly which fits into the cap, and a diadem; chains with pendants also hang from the sides of the crowns. In addition to the embellished, sheet-cut gold pieces that form the crowns, they are adorned with jade pendants.

Baekje Gold Crown Ornaments

Researchers note similarities to gold crowns from the Black Sea area, Bactria, Japan, and China. Baekje and Goguryeo, the other two kingdoms from the Three Kingdoms period besides Silla, also had crowns. Recognized Goguryeo crowns were made of guilt-bronze, but Baekje has famous crown ornaments, in addition to crowns, known as Geumjegwansik attributed to their kingdom, that were excavated from a tomb in Gongju, South Korea in 1971. The two gold diadems are shaped like flames with flower and vine-like patterns and were worn by the king of Baekje. They were found in the tomb of King Muryeon who was in power from AD 501-523.

Gold Greek wreath

Box the crown was found in

In 2016 a man found a 2,300-year-old Greek myrtle wreath dating to around 300 BC underneath his bed. The crown, valued at over 100,000 English pounds, was in a cardboard box in Somerset, England. Usually worn for religious ceremonies or given as prizes at athletic and artistic contests, the crown from Ancient Greece is pure gold, handmade, and weighs about 100 grams.

Assyrian crown

Tombs dating to around 750-700 BC were found by Iraqi archaeologists in 1990. One contained a gold crown with trellis vines, lapis-lazuli grapes, four-winged robed figures, and rows of pomegranates and rosettes. The crown was from the ancient Assyrian empire of Mesopotamia and the tombs were found under the floors of rooms in Ashurnasirpal II’s (883-859 BC) harem.

Late Indus Valley civilization copper crown remnants, A.K. Pandey/Archaeological Survey of India

Archaeologists uncovered a 4,000-year-old copper crown in modern day India in 2015 that belonged to the late Indus Valley civilization. It is one of two crowns from an Indus Valley site ever recovered, was found resting on a skull, and is decorated with a carnelian and a fiance stone. Along with the skeleton and crown, pottery and animal bones were also found nearby. Researchers suggest that this person could have been someone important, like a local leader of some kind, based on the crown. However, the crude, simple, local decorations on the pottery, suggest that this person might have not been all that powerful, that they were more likely to have been someone who was rich or had good taste, rather than a political figure.

6,000-year-old Dead Sea Cave crown

One crown that has claimed to be the oldest in the world is a 6,000-year-old crown found in 1961 in a Dead Sea Cave. The cave was in the Galilean highlands of the Judean Desert of Israel and recovered by archaeologists Pessah Bar-Adon. The crown dates to the Copper Age between 4000-3500 BC, more specifically the Chalcolithic period (4500-3600 BC), and was amongst 400 other artifacts in the cave, a finding that has become known as the Nahal Mishmar Hoard. The thick copper ring with vultures and doors jutting from the top was one of five crowns from the hoard. The objects are thought to have been placed in the cave for safe keeping, and from the Chalcolithic Temple of Ein Gedi, which is around 12 kilometers away. Some question if the “world’s oldest crown” was even used as a crown at all; perhaps it was a stand for an urn, or something else, but the seven-inch tall with about equal diameter band of blackened copper, is eye-catching, with its rim of pointed figures, hilt-shaped cross, long-necked birds, and gates or grilles with horns.

The largest fragment of the ivory tiara found in the Denisova Cave, depicted from three separate angles, Institute of Archeology and Ethnography

The claim to the “world’s oldest crown” is challenged by what some believe is a 35,000-50,000-year-old crown or headband made of woolly mammoth tusk ivory and broken into three pieces. Rediscovered by archaeologists in a Denisova Cave in the Altai mountains of Siberia, the head piece was worn by a man, but it is up for speculation if it was used to designate royalty or leadership, a mark of a family or tribe, or if it was just used to hold his hair back. Diadems such as these are rare, and there would have been several steps taken to create this item. The tusks would have to have been separated from the animal, cut into pieces, soaked in water to be shaped, then physically shaped, scraped, cut, grinded, drilled, and finally polished. This crown was too long to be a bracelet, had microscopic wear that showed it had contact with organic material like skin, was bent to fit to an adult male’s temple, and the longest piece had half a hole on one side drilled into it that was most likely used with cords or straps to affix to the head; all reasons that contributed to the belief that these pieces of ivory potentially had a crown-like function.

Crowns and other head-adorning symbols of leadership are prevalent in many other societies and civilizations; some have survived, while others are recognized through art, written records, oral histories, carvings, and sculptures. Native Americans in Pre-Columbian times wore headdresses, headbands, and war bonnets, in various styles and sizes depending on the tribe and location in the country. They could be made from the hairs of animals such as porcupines, moose, and deer’s tails, from feathers, buffalo fur and horns, and otter fur and tails, in addition to beads, quillwork, and decorative patterns. Ancient Maya headdresses were worn by the elite, with the King’s being the largest, the larger the headdress the more important the person. Wood, cloth, jade, shells, and colorful feathers were used to carefully craft these headdresses that were made to look like animals that were important to the culture, such as the jaguar, snake, or falcon. The quetzal bird was coveted by the Mayan culture and its feathers were used solely for royalty.

Ancient Egyptian pharaohs also had recognizable crowns and headdresses, each with a certain meaning indicated by their shape. The Deshret or Red Crown, established the king as the ruler of Lower Egypt. No physical examples of this crown survive today. Hedjet, the White Crown, establishes the king’s rule over southern Egypt; it too has no surviving example. The Pschent, the Double Crown, also known as Sekhemti or the “Two Powerful Ones”, symbolizes the king’s rule over both Upper and Lower Egypt. This crown is the merging of the Red and White Crowns, a move done under King Narmer during the Pharaonic period (3000 BC-332 BC). Nemes, was a striped head cloth that is easily recognized as being worn by King Tutankhamun on his coffin. The earliest depiction of this headdress was found on an ivory label of King Den from the 1st dynasty. It was typically worn to cover a crown and the backside of the head. The Khepresh, or Blue Crown, made from stained leather, became popular by the 18th dynasty, but is known as a war crown, as it was depicted often as being worn by Ramesses II in the Battle of Kadesh. The Atef Crown was the crown of the first mythical king Osiris but was worn by other deities. Its earliest depiction is of being worn by the Pharaoh Sahure in the 5th dynasty of the Old Kingdom. The Hemhem or Triple Atef became popular during the reign of Akhenaten (1353-1336 or 1351-1334 BC) and the Ptolemaic period or dynasty (323/305-30 BC). It was a variation of the Atef Crown, was also called the “Roaring One”, and was worn by Heka, the god of magic.

The craftsmanship that has gone into making crowns of all shapes, sizes, and materials throughout the centuries is astounding. But archaeologists have to be careful when determining what should be labeled as a crown, or whether the artifact they are studying just resembles the familiar shape. From fakes to mistakes, like when researchers initially concluded that a 6th century bucket fitting was a crown, archaeologists and scholars need to be vigilant when examining and labeling artifacts.

Crowns will always fascinate people because of what they stand for; power, authority, and even popularity. They are still used by royal families, in Halloween costumes, and to adorn the heads of Homecoming Queens and Kings today. As you celebrate occasions such as Homecoming, take some time to recognize that so many of the mundane parts of customs we celebrate today, are reflections of objects used in ancient traditions for many, many years.

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Further Reading and Sources:

https://visual.ly/community/Infographics/history/history-homecoming
https://www.dw.com/en/south-africa-thousands-witness-crowning-of-new-zulu-king/a-62877697
https://www.grunge.com/865856/this-is-the-oldest-known-british-royal-family-crown/
https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/6th-century-crown-chinese-empress-revealed-first-time-its-full-glory-006631
https://www.worldhistory.org/article/957/the-gold-crowns-of-silla/
https://www.worldhistory.org/image/5961/baekje-gold-crown-ornaments/
https://www.primidi.com/crown_of_baekje/national_treasure_of_korea_no154
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3610916/Incredibly-rare-2-300-year-old-Ancient-Greek-gold-crown-worth-100-000-kept-decades-tatty-box-old-newspapers-bed-owner-no-idea-was.html
https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/cultures/mesopotamia_gallery_08.shtml
https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/4000-year-old-copper-crown-found-india-002558
https://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/34290
https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/6000-year-old-crown-found-dead-sea-cave-revealed-001436
https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-worlds-oldest-crown
https://www.livescience.com/64297-ancient-woolly-mammoth-tiara-denisova-cave.html
https://theamericanhistory.org/important-facts-native-american-headdresses.html#:~:text=The%20roach%20headdresses%2C%20also%20known%20as%20porcupine%20roaches%2C,headdresses%20were%20often%20worn%20by%20dancers%20and%20warriors.
https://mayansandtikal.com/mayan-clothing/mayan-headdresses-clothes/
https://ancientegyptonline.co.uk/crowns/
https://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-africa-news-general-opinion/crowns-pharaohs-00579
https://quickjewelryrepairs.com/articles/what-is-the-history-of-the-royal-crowns/#:~:text=The%20oldest%20crown%20in%20the%20world%20was%20discovered,of%20this%20culture%20is%20their%20mastery%20of%20coppersmithing.
https://www.dw.com/en/a-crown-or-a-bucket-when-archaeologists-make-mistakes/a-46807172

 

Flower Power

The first day of Fall for 2022 was officially on September 22nd. As the season change, flowers of summer will begin to fade. Flowers die out every season, every year, and some species are known to have even gone extinct. Flowers are fragile and rarely preserved in the archaeological record. However, biologists, archaeologists, and other researchers have been able to recover evidence of flowers, such as fossilized flowers, in the archaeological record. Researchers can also gather information from studying the iconography on ceramics and jewelry, in paintings, texts, sculptures, and other forms of artistic expression, to learn more about the flowers that were popular in the past.

Nazca Lines Flower

Flowers permeate many aspects of the ancient world. Ancient Egyptians worshiped, Nefertum, the god of perfumes who was also the god of the lotus blossom. In the Egyptian creation story, Ra, the sun god, emerged from a blue lotus. Statuettes and amulets often portrayed Nefertum with a lotus on his head or as a lotus flower with two feathers. During the Tang dynasty in ancient China, around 8-12th centuries CE, tree peonies were seen as symbols of feminine beauty, love, wealth, and status. They became common and popular in paintings during the Song dynasty. Even one of the famous Nazaca Lines, 2,000-year-old giant geoglyphs etched into the ground in Lima, Peru, includes a shape that resembles a flower.

Ancient Bouquet Found in Teotihuacán

In 2021 bouquets of flowers were discovered in the ancient city of Teotihuacán in Mexico by archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico. The four bouquets date to 1,800 years ago and were found in a tunnel under a pyramid, 18 meters down. They were well-preserved and likely a gift for the deity Quetzalcoatl.

Plant Impressions In Israel

Archaeologists in Israel from the University of Haifa have also found plant impressions, including flowers, in graves. The plants appear to have been buried underneath the dead and date to around 12,000 years ago. This is one of the earliest uses of flowers in ceremonial burials.

Strychnos electri

In terms of preserving ancient flowers, amber is a fantastic means as it is essentially fossilized resin. In 1986 a cave in the Dominican Republic was discovered. It was home to hundreds of fossilized plants and insects. However, it wasn’t until 2016 when a preserved fossil flower was announced. The flowers were a new species, Strychnos electri, and are around 45-15 million years old. They were part of the asterid plant clade, which are one of the largest lineages of flowering plants, and are antecedents to over 80,000 species, such as potatoes, coffee, and even the poisonous strychnine tree.

Lijinganthus revoluta

Valviloculus pleristaminis

A flower dating to the mid-Creataceous, Lijinganthus revoluta, was discovered by a team from Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2018, in Myanmar amber. A new genus and species of fossil angiosperm was also found by paleontologists in 2020 from Oregon State University and the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Myanmar in their mid-Cretaceous amber deposits. This fossil flower is almost 100 million years old and is named Valviloculus pleristaminis.

Notiantha grandensis

In the Salamonca Shale Formation in Chubut Province, Patagonia, Argentina, fossilized flowers dating to around 66 million years ago, the early Paleocene epoch, were found in 2017. The compressions and impressions on flat-laminated gray shale are part of the Rhamnaceae, buckthorn, family, and are called Notiantha grandensis.

Montsechia vidalii

Fossilized remains of an aquatic plant from the beginning of the Cretaceous period were discovered in Spain in 2015. Montsechia vidalii dates to around 130 million years ago and looks similar to the modern-day coontail. Prior to this discovery, Archaefructus sinensis, a 125-million-year-old fossil from Liaoning Province in China, was thought to be the world’s oldest flower.

Nanjinganthus dendrostyla

However, in 2018, scientists at the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology found fossilized flowers that date to 175 million years ago, the early Jurassic in the South Xiangshan Formation in China’s Nanjing Region. There were over 200 specimens of the fossilized flowers, named Nanjinganthus dendrostyla, which allowed the researchers to combine information and reconstruct a single flower, now recognized as the oldest evidence of a flower plant, an angiosperm.

Florigerminis jurassica

It was debated whether N. dendrostyla represented a true angiosperm, for it was too “primitive” to be considered a flower and too “complex” to be a gymnosperm (a plant that does not have a flower but does have unenclosed seeds). Then, Florigerminis jurassica, a fossilized flower bud dating to 164 million years ago that included a stem, flower bud, fruit, and a leafy branch, was found in China earlier this year! F. jurassica appears to be more of an angiosperm and will shift how researchers organize angiosperm evolution.

What is clear today is that as work continues and new discoveries are made, researchers will be able to continue to piece together the evolution of flowers on this planet. Flowers are small, but each uniquely made with the tiniest of beautiful details. They have and will continue to fascinate humans, as we incorporate them into ceremonies and art, at weddings and funerals, in paintings and as decorations in our homes. When we pass, how will archaeologists and anthropologists view our practices with flowers?

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Sources and Further Reading:

https://www.ancientpages.com/2021/04/17/nefertum-god-of-lotus-blossom-perfumes-aromatherapy-beauty-in-egyptian-mythology/
https://www.treepeony.com/pages/peonies-in-chinese-art
https://www.history.com/topics/south-america/nazca-lines
https://www.txtreport.com/life/2021-08-16-archaeologists-have-discovered-in-mexico-bouquets-of-flowers-of-1800-years—curious.SyPdZkdet.html
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/1800-year-old-flower-bouquets-found-below-temple-teotihuacan-180978518/
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/archaeologists-find-evidence-of-flowers-buried-in-a-12000-year-old-cemetery-4280031/#:~:text=SCIENCE%20Archaeologists%20Find%20Evidence%20of%20Flowers%20Buried%20in,were%20buried%20ceremonially%2C%20atop%20a%20bed%20of%20flowers
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/new-species-prehistoric-flower-discovered-preserved-amber-180958156/
https://www.nature.com/articles/nplants20165
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-35100-4
https://phys.org/news/2018-11-ancient-fossil-core-eudicot-boom.html
https://www.sci.news/paleontology/valviloculus-pleristaminis-09184.html
https://journals.brit.org/jbrit/article/view/1014
https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0176164
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/aug/17/fossilised-remains-worlds-oldest-flower-discovered-cretaceous
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/aug/17/fossilised-remains-worlds-oldest-flower-discovered-cretaceous
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/oldest-known-flowers-world-180956962/#:~:text=Excavated%20in%20Virginia%20by%20a%20former%20Smithsonian%20curator%2C,oldest%20known%20flowers%20in%20North%20America.%20Nathan%20Jud
https://www.thenakedscientists.com/articles/science-news/earliest-fossil-flowers-found-china
https://www.livescience.com/64354-oldest-fossil-flower.html
https://www.lyellcollection.org/doi/10.1144/SP521-2021-122
https://ancient-archeology.com/charles-darwin-mystery-solved-after-140-years-as-scientists-make-stunning-ancient-find/

Symbolizing Friendship

Welcome back students, the new semester and school year has begun. You’ve reconnected with friends here at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, but also some of you might have said goodbye to friends in your hometown. Friends play powerful roles in our lives, and sometimes, we wish to show that bond by giving and wearing tokens of our friendship for the world to see. As children, some of us might have even purchased beads and string to create friendship bracelets! These tiny and simple circlets showcased to whomever saw them that those wearing the matching ones were connected, firm, friends.

Modern friendship bracelets.

The origin of friendship bracelets is difficult to track down. Some credit influence to ancient China as decorative knots on bracelets trace back to 481-221 B.C., but these knots were used not solely on bracelets. Macrame is also seen as an influence and was popular in 13th century Arabia, spreading to France and Italy, and was also used by sailors at sea. It became popular in 19th-century Britain and found its way to the United States in the 1960s.

Band of lace made from human (head) hair, likely worn as a bracelet, ca. 1640-1680, in the collection of the V&A.

In the Victorian era, giving mourning jewelry with strands of a loved one’s hair incorporated into the piece was common, and leads some to believe that this also contributes to the trend of exchanging meaningful pieces of jewelry between friends. Others claim that the popular trend youngsters across world take part in today actually dates to ancient Central American times. Many friendships bracelet designs we see today mirror Native American patterns, as well. In the United States, the art of making friendship bracelets became popularized again in the 1980s when they were seen during rallies and protests about the disappearances of Mayan Indians and laborers in Guatemala.

Ringed ornaments and ornament fragments from the Finnish region.

Earlier this year though, archaeologists in modern-day Finland made an incredible discovery. They found both intact and fragmented ‘slate rings’ that date back to around the 4th millennium B.C. at several Stone Age sites. The ring-shaped artifacts were made of different slates and tuffites. After studying geochemical composition, micro details, and use-wear, and piecing fragments back together, it was suggested that many of the rings were actually broken up on purpose and as part of the prominent gift-giving system in that region. Many of the fragments appear to have been fashioned into pendants and some from the same ring were even found in two different locations with different finishes, thus showing that the fragments were used as ‘friendship ornaments’ or “tokens of social relationships.”  The few that were intact, were “likely worn as personal ornaments.”

Ringed ornaments in situ in an early 4th millennium BC hunter-gatherer burial, positioned together with amber pendants. Photo. M. Torvinen 1978/Finnish Heritage Agency

Some of the slate traces back to a region in northwest Russia near Lake Onega, supporting theories of widespread trade networks in northeastern Europe and social relationships with people hundreds of kilometers away. Some fragments were also found at settlement sites, with the matching fragment from the same ring, stone, and manufacturing process being found at a nearby burial site. This practice suggests there was a belief in a connection between the living and the dead through the use of these objects prevalent during this time period in this region.

It’s fascinating to think that by wearing a broken heart trinket around your neck or tying a woven or beaded string around your wrist, you have something in common with the person that around 5,000 years ago wore a whole or fragmented slate circle to also represent their social bonds and relationships with others.

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Sources and Further Reading

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10816-022-09556-8
https://ancient-archeology.com/these-5000-year-old-stone-age-rings-may-have-been-the-original-friendship-bracelets/
https://www.keyssoulcare.com/connection/the-history-of-friendship-bracelets.html#:~:text=The%20exact%20origin%20of%20the%20friendship%20bracelet%20is,recognizes%20the%20Native%20American%20tradition%20of%20exchanging%20bracelets.
https://www.braceletbook.com/history/#:~:text=A%20friendship%20bracelet%20is%20a%20handmade%20bracelet%20intended%20for%20a%20special%20person.&text=Macrame%2C%20a%20craft%20of%20tying,items%20made%20on%20a%20loom.
https://www.wristband.com/content/all_about_friendship_bracelets/
https://www.jewelslane.com/blog/the-origin-meaning-and-importance-of-friendship-bracelets
https://www.novica.com/blog/friendship-bracelets-their-origin-meaning-and-importance/
https://www.harbourukbracelets.com/blog/friendship-bracelets-their-history-and-significance-explained
https://ericaweiner.com/history-lessons/hair%20jewelry

 

 

 

An Introduction to Your Bloggers

Time for a new introduction and a reintroduction! This year the blog will be managed by Bridget Roddy and Mikala Hardie! We are both second-year graduate students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania studying Applied Archaeology, and are this year’s Public Archaeology Graduate Assistants!

Hello everyone! My name is Mikala Hardie and I will be sharing the public archaeology duties with Bridget this year which includes writing for this blog! I am a second-year grad student with interests in public/community archaeology, historical archaeology, and hidden narratives. My alma mater is Kutztown University where I received a B.A. in anthropology and minored in history, music, and Spanish. My other hobbies include taking nature walks, crocheting, and reading. This past summer I interned with the National Park Service’s Northeast Archeological Resources Program where I ran their social media, revitalized their website, and developed lesson plans for children ages 4-12. I am excited to use the writing and public outreach skills I have learned over the summer to create interesting and engaging blog posts!

Hello readers, my name is Bridget Roddy! I graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with bachelor’s degrees in both psychology and sociology/anthropology, and I minored in international studies. I also studied abroad in Ireland for a semester in undergrad at the University of College Cork. My favorite dig was at the Roman Fort of Halmyris in Romania where I volunteered for a month! Outside of archaeology, I have a passion for running, making resin earring (check out my Etsy shop at SpringDazeByBridget), reading, painting, drawing, and traveling! But the most important thing to me is my family! I love exploring other cultures and ancient traditions, so check out future blog posts to explore some fascinating topics and reflections!

The Archaeological Conservancy

The rainy morning of April 21st was met with a sunny visitor to IUP, with the arrival of Kelley Berliner, the Eastern Regional Director of the non-profit organization known as The Archaeological Conservancy, for our final Graduate Colloquium of the semester. We had a great turnout for her fascinating presentation on the Conservancy’s preservation efforts from Paleoindian to Historic sites.

The Conservancy is the only non-profit dedicated to the acquisition and preservation of archaeological sites in the United States. Founded in 1980 from the realization that most legislation focused on preserving sites on public land, the Conservancy sought to purchase and protect sites on private property, and now they have over 20,000 members! They also publish the American Archaeology magazine, provide archaeological tours out of their offices, and of course, preserve and manage archaeological sites. The sites are now all open-space research preserves open to professional archaeologists, but they do keep parts unexcavated for future researchers with improved technologies.

The Archaeological Conservancy is made up of five regional offices, with Pennsylvania in the Eastern Region. In the history of the Eastern Regional Office, the Conservancy has up to around 70 preserves. Kelley does a bit of everything as being the only person in the Eastern Office, such as acquiring and researching sites, handling real estate closings, managing properties, reviewing proposals, attending descendent community events. She gets together two times a year with the other offices, which is their general board meeting as they are run by a board that approves their acquisitions.

So how do they start their process? They first identify what sites would be good for preservation, using the disciplines network of archaeologists, university professors, CRM professionals, avocational archaeologists, state societies, travel and state offices, and more, in order to locate sites that could need the Conservancy’s efforts. This might even include reviewing museum and library archives or old site records that have not been looked at in a long time.

When determining whether a site is important for preservation, a main consideration is whether it is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The Conservancy does nominate their preserves for the National Register, and many are already on it. There are of course other considerations, such as, budgetary issues, how it will be managed, its research potential, and accessibility, to name a few. Threats sites are facing, such as development, fracking, coastal erosion, and looting, are also factors.

The next step is to contact the property owners and get acquisition options. Berliner noted that it takes quite a bit of work to get to the point of sending out letters, and for about every 25 letters she sends, they might get about one response back. If they get someone willing to work with them, they try to acquire the land through outright purchase, ideally a donation, or a bargain sale, so that people can sell slightly below the appraised value and receive tax benefits! She also mentioned that depending on the site, she does work with descendent communities often, and in various ways, from contacting them to having site dedications.

They then of course must manage the sites. All sites are unique, some require surface collection and some don’t, some need to be kept mowed and some are woods lots, and some are going to have different management needs, and therefore management plans will be developed with the site’s differences and best interests in mind. Berliner stated that when the Conservancy monitors sites after they have been acquired, it depends on the sites and their needs, so for example, some sites are fenced. Their main deterrent is working with a national system of site stewards, such as former property owners, a neighbor, a farmer, a hunter, a local archaeological society or local archaeologist. In the east, the biggest issue is metal detecting on military sites. The Conservancy is careful when posting or writing about their properties, and they follow purple paint laws (marking purple blazes for property lines). In terms of public access to their preserves, they want to keep their locations secret in order to prevent looting, and some sites are just challenging to get to. However, they do post videos on YouTube, and they are open for educational purposes, such as a school field trip.

The sites they preserve include a range of Prehistoric and Historic sites. Prehistoric sites include Paleoindian sites like the Nevers Preserve in New Hampshire, Archaic sites like the Dresden Preserve in Maine, Woodland sites like Koon’s Landing in North Carolina, Contact period sites like the Oscar Leibhart Preserve in Pennsylvania, and quarry sites likes the Prince Edward Soapstone Quarry Preserve in Virginia. Historic sites include colonial sites like Kippax Plantation Preserve in Virginia, which is also a multicomponent site, African American sites like the 18th century Arbuckle’s Fort Preserve in West Virginia, industrial sites like the 19th-20th century Pamplin Pipe Factory Preserve in Virginia and the Big Pond Furnace Preserve in Pennsylvania, religious sites like the Upper Lunenburg Episcopal Church in Virginia and the Synagogue parcel of the NEHFES Synagogue and Creamery site in Connecticut which is the site of a 19th century Russian-Jewish immigrant community, and military sites like forts, battlefields, and the Royal Blockhouse of Fort Edward in New York.

In Pennsylvania, the Conservancy has 17 preserves. These include sites like Prehistoric Earthworks like the Dingfelder Circle in Erie County, Monongahela village sites, Woodland village sites which include the largest preserve they have in the Region, the Queen Esther’s Town in Bedford County that is almost 100 acres in size, quarry sites like King’s Quarry in Lehigh County that was used for a long period of time as people returned to it, and of course Historic sites like the Fort Littleton (Lyttleton) Preserve in Fulton County.

A vessel from the Ebbert Spring Preserve.

They also have the Ebbert Spring Archaeological Preserve and Heritage Park in Franklin County which is open to the public. This site has a dense Prehistoric component, dating back 10,000 years, and a Historic component, and yet it is not near any major waterway. However, it has a karste, limestone landscape that creates many high-output freshwater springs! Ebbert Spring in particular puts out over 600 gallons of water a minute! The area was also highly desirable for industrial development and the property was owned by a man named Al Bonnell. The Archaeological Conservancy was able to purchase the site from his son after Bonnell passed, knowing that his goal was to have it preserved ultimately. And today, after 15 years of work, it is a site that is now a park that is accessible to the public through a partnership with the local museum and the town, and by working with the nearby developers.

We thank Kelley Berliner for her presentation and for all of the incredible work she has done and will continue to do at the Conservancy!

Visit their website at https://www.archaeologicalconservancy.org/msclkid=1734ee7dc7dc11ec80df9ec684a2c46b for more information! And check out their YouTube videos here: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheArchaeologicalConservancy

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“Heaven Exists Along the Indian Run”

By Samantha Taylor (M’ 18) and Angela Jaillet-Wentling (M’ 11)

Nestled along a rural road in Mercer County exists a partially wooded property intersected by a small creek known as the Indian Run. If you drove past this property, it would likely not catch your eye. The site’s location blends in with the larger agricultural landscape of Mercer County. It and its story might be easy to miss save for a blue historical marker that has adorned the edge of Route 19, one of the more-frequented roads in the region since November 2019. The pristine marker reads:

“PANDENARIUM. Arriving in November 1854, 63 African Americans Settled an agricultural community north of Indian Run. Freed through manumission by Va. Plantation owner Dr. Charles Everett, many of these formerly enslaved men and women worked to purchase the freedom of others. Abolitionist-built houses on land provided by Everrett awaited them. Archaeological investigations have uncovered their stories of hard-fought freedom, collaboration, and perseverance.”

Though historical markers play a significant role in validating and commemorating historical spaces, in the case of Pandenarium, it serves as a brief introduction to a complex cultural and social landscape that still resonates with descendants and the broader African American community in northwestern Pennsylvania.

Working at Pandenarium.

Since 2011, archaeology has been a driving force in the interpretation and dissemination of the story of Pandenarium. Early work at the site was focused on exploring the settlement’s location and layout, in many ways disproving local narratives steeped in racial bias. Such narratives suggested that the people of Pandenarium were unable to contend with seasonal flooding and harsh Pennsylvania winters and that the settlement was a short-lived failure.

In 2011, Angela Jaillet-Wentling (M’11) published her thesis detailing the results of extensive background research, landscape analysis of the site involving Ground Penetrating Radar, Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), and excavation. Her analysis determined that the settlement persisted into the first couple decades of the twentieth century. During their time along the Indian Run, the settlers began to expand outward from the homes built by local abolitionists in the center of the property. Succeeding generations built their homes along the Indian Run and nearer to the main road, giving them access to the broader community while altering the landscape to suit their needs.

Allen Descendants.

In 2017, Pandenarium was revisited as the subject of a comparative ceramic analysis conducted by Samantha Taylor (M’18). This analysis sought to compare Pandenarium to similar African Diaspora sites, such as Mulberry Row in Virginia and Timbuctoo in New Jersey. The work focused on the residence of John and Rosie Allen, first generation settlers at Pandenarium. The comparative analysis determined that the ceramics recovered from the Allen Residence most resembled those recovered from contemporaneous freedman and fugitive sites, particularly Timbuctoo, suggesting socioeconomic similarity amongst freedman and fugitives from enslavement.

While both theses were completed nearly seven years apart, we have since partnered to pursue opportunities to spread the story and its implications on how we understand the legacies of slavery and freedom for African Americans in the antebellum North. In addition to presentations at local, regional, and national conferences and workshops, we worked with the local historical society to nominate the site for a Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission historical marker. In 2020, the marker was installed at its current location. Last year, we published an article entitled, “Finding Freedom: Exploratory Archaeological Investigations at the Free African American Site of Pandenarium (36ME253), 1854–1930s” in Historical Archaeology.

Most importantly, the public outreach and publications helped spread the story to others who spread the word to descendants of the community. In 2019, Bill Davison and his daughter, Amanda, reached out in regard to their ancestors, Lucy Myers and William Reeves, two of Pandenarium’s original inhabitants. Bill’s genealogical research piqued the interest of another researcher who then put him in contact with Angie. In 2021, local history buff and bike enthusiast, Frank Bell, identified and coordinated a meeting with descendants of John and Rosie Allen to include Rev. Dr. Bryan CrawlCharlene, Jeffrey, and Sarita Rankin, as well as, Darrell and Jodie Warden. Identifying the descendant population has been a boon and it is our hope that we can continue to support the research and ever-expanding narratives coming out of the site of Indian Run/Pandenarium as new voices join our own.

The Earth’s Power of Preservation

When someone thinks of Earth Day, their first thought is usually not of archaeology! However, as many of us know, archaeology is intrinsically tied to the natural world in more ways than one! While celebrating Earth Day today, remember to think about its connection to archaeology and what we can do for the environment! An obvious connection is of course the fact that archaeologists dig into the earth itself, in search of contributions to the archaeological record. The earth covers pieces of history and holds onto them until we come and find them. Certain environments can preserve artifacts and remains better than others and provide us with unique glimpses into the past.

Cashel Man.

Places like peat bogs preserve ancient bodies quite well, especially in Ireland, Great Britain, Denmark, northern Germany, and the Netherlands. Generally referred to as “bog bodies,” these bodies can date from 8000 B.C. to the early medieval period. Some have even been found dating to the early 20th century, such as the remains of Boris Lazarev, a Soviet fighter pilot shot down over northern Russian in 1943. The oldest bog body belongs to Koelbjerg Man, a skeleton found in Denmark that dates to 8000 B.C. The oldest fleshed bog body is called Cashel Man and dates to 2000 B.C. He was found in Ireland’s Cashel Bog and died a violent death connected to an ancient ritual of sacrificing young men. His arm was broken, his spine shattered in two places, and his back had been hit several times with an ax.

Oldcroghan Man [hand] (362-175 BC).

While studying abroad in Cork, Ireland, in 2018, I had the pleasure of visiting the National Museum of Ireland. There, I stumbled upon their Kingship and Sacrifice exhibition that includes several bog bodies all from the Early Iron Age, including Clonycavan Man (392-201 BC), Oldcroghan Man (362-175 BC), Gallagher Man (400-200 BC) and Baronstown West Man (200-400 AD). Two of them were found by the National Museum of Ireland’s Bog Bodies Research Project in 2003 and all were named after the counties they were found in. It was such an incredible and humbling experience to be able to view bodies that were so old and yet so well preserved.

Bog bodies have also discovered in American peat bogs, including the Windover burials that were found in a peat-bottomed pond located between Cape Canaveral and Disney World in Florida, and are now a National Historic Landmark. Dating to 6280 B.C., 168 burials have been found along with artifacts such as bone tools, a bottle gourd, and even woven fabric shrouds that belonged to the early Floridians. 91 skeletons had intact brain masses, indicating many were buried within 48 hours of their deaths. Many were also buried in late summer and fall (July and October) based on the plant material associated with the bodies’ last meal. DNA analysis on bones has revealed that the people at Windover were not related to any living Native American tribe or known prehistoric group, rather they had migrated to North America from Asia.

A Windover burial.

Other environments that preserve artifacts and bodies well are colder or frozen environments that tend to refrigerate materials. However, as discussed in previous blogs, climate change is affecting the earth as frozen environments tend to melt away, exposing artifacts and remains to natural elements, such as the sun and warmer temperatures, that could be detrimental to their preservation. Sea levels continue to rise, thus putting many known and unknown archaeological sites along water in danger as well.

An example of the preservation power of cold environments and threats from rising sea levels, is Nunalleq, a site located in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of Alaska, situated in a waterlogged, frozen tundra. Dating back to around 700 years ago, this site is a multi-period, prehistoric Yup’ik winter village. Permafrost had preserved tens of thousands of artifacts, including many made of wood and organic materials, such as wooden dolls and masks. However, located just inland from the Bearing Sea the site is at risk from larger waves and storm surges. The melting permafrost is also releasing anything once embedded.

Other dry environmental conditions that favor preservation are those of hot, arid climates, such as deserts. Dry environments (both hot and cold) preserve artifacts through the process of desiccation, the removal of moisture from something. Just recently in February, an American tourist accidentally found an Early Bronze Age pottery vessel in the area known as Qumran, located in the Judean Desert. The vessel is around 5,000 years old and may be the first complete jug discovered in the area from its time-period. The Judean Desert Cave, Cave 53, where the vessel was found is located in an area filled with caves, with dry air perfect for preservation.

I hope you all have a very Happy Earth Day!

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Further Reading:

https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/envarch/what/#:~:text=Environmental%20archaeology%20is%20the,plants%2C%20animals%2C%20and%20landscapes.
https://archive.archaeology.org/bog/
https://archive.archaeology.org/online/features/bog/
https://www.archaeology.org/issues/116-1401/features/1580-peat-bog-body-cashel-ireland
https://www.museum.ie/en-IE/Museums/Archaeology/Exhibitions/Kingship-and-Sacrifice
https://michaelwtravels.boardingarea.com/2017/07/visiting-the-bog-bodies-at-the-national-museum-of-ireland/
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/americas-bog-people/
https://everhart-museum.org/preserving-the-past-examples-of-preservation-science-within-the-everharts-collection/
https://nunalleq.wordpress.com/about/
https://www.archaeology.org/issues/187-1509/features/3558-alaska-yupik-cultural-revival
https://www.jpost.com/christianworld/article-700842