Flotation Therapy (Archaeology Edition)

Something I’ve found myself thinking more and more often is that working in the wet lab, processing flotation samples, is relaxing.  Now, this could just be the tired mind of a grad student enjoying a few moments of peace and there’s some truth to that.  However, there’s more to it.  It’s been feeling like a productive therapy session.  There’s something fulfilling about taking liters worth of samples and revealing what the soil has hidden, particularly of the legacy collections that have been keeping their secrets for thirty or forty years.  Although, I don’t know what will happen with the materials retrieved once they have been bagged and labeled.  Sure, some materials will be examined sooner or later for research questions that might not have been asked yet.  However, I have a suspicion that those of the legacy collections, which sometimes are more plastic (from the degrading trash and/or sandwich bags originally used to store them) than anything else, may just be stored away indefinitely.  It seems like a shame, but I hope this material will be examined at some point.  It may seem sad, but it’s fun to wonder what this material could contribute to archaeology.  Perhaps this will inspire me to pursue researching micro-artifacts, including those of these abandoned collections   That’s enough of my rambling for now.

For anyone unfamiliar with flotation or what exactly I’m talking about, keep reading and I’ll try to make it short.  If I didn’t make this clear earlier, flotation is a process that separates tiny artifacts, plant materials, and the like from soil through water.  These artifacts separate into two groups called the light and heavy fractions.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, the light fraction floats in the water while the heavy does not.  We at IUP are fortunate enough to have a flotation machine which cuts the amount of time and effort put into collecting these microartifacts.  You do not need a flotation machine to do flotation, a bucket of water and a sieve will suffice, but it makes the process far easier.  In the case of a flotation machine, you have a pump that keeps the water flowing and helps to agitate the sample and separate the soil and microartifacts.  You pour a sample into the main compartment, gently.  The water flows through an opening, carrying the light fraction, and then through a screen that collects the light fraction.  The heavy fraction remains in a removable screen in the main compartment and gets collected once the light fraction has finished collecting.  The machine gets cleaned out when changing sites, and just every so often, to avoid accidental contamination and to keep the machine functioning properly.  If I left you with more questions than answers, leave a comment and I’ll try to answer you ASAP.

Light fraction

 

IUP Anthropology Department

I Can Munsell That? (Part 3)

Today we bring you the latest installment of “I Can Munsell That.”  The series where I get to Munsell something unusual for my own enjoyment and curiosity and share the results with you.  In this edition we will be using the Munsell Soil Color Chart on a delicious snack that someone was so kind to make and contribute to the collective grad lounge snacks.  What is it you ask?  Maple, peanut, and bacon popcorn!  You heard me right, that’s a sweet and salty popcorn mix.

This lovely snack has four main parts to examine: plain popcorn, glazed popcorn, glazed peanuts, and bacon.  Due to different amounts of the maple glaze, there are an array of hues on the glazed items, so I will focus on what shade seems the most prominent.  Let’s begin with the base of this, plain ol’ popcorn.  It fits quite well with 9.5/N (white) on the white page.  The glazed popcorn is where the issues of hues begin.  To me, it looks around 10YR 4/6 (dark yellowish brown), side note the color depicted in the image is slightly different due to lighting but I note it like I see it.  Then we have the peanuts which get fairly close to 10YR 6/8 (brownish yellow), almost a perfect match.  Finally, we have the bacon which doesn’t have the best color match in a Munsell color chart (surprise!) but there’s a decent match.  This specific bacon bit was around 10R 3/4 (dusky red).

 

plain popcorn

glazed popcorn

glazed peanuts

bacon

That’s all for today folks.  Thank you for indulging me in my nonsense.  Need more silliness?  Want to know more about the Munsell color system?  Click here or here to be redirected to my older posts on the subject.  Or you can click here and see where the inspiration for this series came from.

IUP Anthropology Department

Thinking About Archaeology in Media

Sitting in my office, coffee in hand, I scroll through various websites.  In truth, I’m just looking for new or interesting articles that I’ve yet to see.  However, I’ve been noticing a pattern and it’s not quite positive.  There is a degree of pseudo-archaeology that sticks its ugly nose in.  Now, the positive thing here is that this degree of disinformation and inaccurate representation does not apply to most articles that I have been seeing but it fluctuates depending on the website.  Particularly on social media (mainly Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit) is where I see the highest degree of false or self-serving archaeology. I guess this shouldn’t be surprising as most of the articles I’ve seen like this come from those sites that post anything for sensationalism and reap that sweet, sweet ad revenue.

The point I’m trying to reach is that I’m seeing archaeology inaccurately represented and used for self-serving purposes more than I should.  By no means am I the only person to notice or feel the need to write, perhaps vent, about this.  Archaeology is not accurately represented in media, and this is the basis of my complaints.  For media to pass along a message, it needs to be digestible for the average reader.  Archaeologists, whether budding or professional, are not the average reader.  It is not designed for us, but for the public audience.  Where we want to know everything from methodology to data interpretation, this would make the average public audience glassy-eyed between the minute details, terminology, and the typical length of an article.  It needs to get to the point while glamorizing various portions of the work to draw in the audience and keep their attention.  Or, it needs to be done in a manner that serves a purpose beyond upping ad revenue.

You know, my most notable grievance come from media outlets that I have enjoyed for years, like the Travel and History channels.  These outlets give archaeology a home in mainstream media outlets, but it becomes twisted and warped.  Legitimate archaeology becomes intermixed with conspiracy theories, like the idea of ancient aliens.  I think Dr. David S. Anderson spells this out clearly in his Washington Post article about “Legends of the Lost” stating:

“Legends of the Lost” often ends up in just such a place. (Megan) Fox, a Hollywood actress, is clear throughout the episodes that she wants to find evidence of myth and magic — and to show up the devotees of “hidebound academia.” To come to these conclusions, she is perfectly happy to make use of scholarly research that can fit into her narrative, but sadly most everything else is left out of the show.

Essentially, this is an example of media cherry-picking information to best suit their needs, and in this case the needs are sensationalism and viewership.  Yes, this is far more entertaining for a typical audience but that doesn’t make this information correct by any means.  I could complain about more shows like American Pickers (antique dealers with shop called Antique Archaeology), The Curse of Oak Island (glorified treasure hunting), Pawn Stars (with their history of dealing historical artifacts), Ancient Aliens (duh), and a fair few others.  Frankly, these shows like to take the information that fits their story and make leaps that Evel Knievel couldn’t.  Not all of them do, Pawn Stars and American Pickers try to give a brief history of material possessions, but that is how I see them.

I’d like to say that I’m upset by the way that archaeology is portrayed in the media, and to a degree I am, but it is not all bad.  There are outlets that show archaeology for what it really is.  There are hundreds of archaeology blogs, numerous documentaries, and even a few TV shows that do this.  While I can’t vouch for the quality of every blog, documentary, show, book, magazine, publication, and whatever else but they do exist, and I hope those sources get picked up more by the general public.  Will they? Maybe a few, but if it’s not made to entertain then the interest in it will probably be limited.

IUP Department of Anthropology

Lessons From the First Semester of a Grad Student

Somehow, it has already been a full semester since I started as a grad student here at IUP.  I have no idea where the time has gone or why it seems like there won’t be enough time within the next week to get everything done.  Since finals begin next week, I figure now would be a good time for a little reflection.

I won’t lie, this first semester has been challenging, but I’m not in this alone.  After all, as Dr. Ford has been saying all semester, Archaeology is a social science that requires you to be social and I feel so lucky to have such an amazing cohort/class that helps one another.

In the spirit of helping others, I hope I can impart a few things I’ve learned from this semester onto future students.

  1. Grad school is a serious commitment and not just financially. I didn’t realize how little of my life would exist besides classwork.  Make sure you can keep the basics of life in order.
  2. Time management is key if you want to minimize the number of all-nighters. It doesn’t look like much on the syllabus, but it will probably take longer than you expect.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you don’t understand something or you need more time on an assignment, just ask.  The worst that will happen is someone can’t help you.  Then remember, you have a whole department, professors and peers, that could probably help you out.
  4. If you’re as socially awkward as I am, this is going to hurt, but get used to talking in front of others. Between class discussions and presentations, you need to know how to talk to people.  I’m one of those people who hates public speaking, even after reading at open mic poetry nights for a couple years.  What I can tell you though, is that once you know people in the room, it gets easier.  I know this is lame advice but stare at someone you know.  Talking to a friend, teaching them something, is far easier than talking to people you’ve never seen.
  5. You’re not in this alone, no matter the program or department.  All your professors went through grad school and your peers are going through it at the same time as you are.
  6. Remind yourself that this will not last forever. The grass is greener on the other side and all that jazz.

IUP Anthropology Department

Musings of a Recent IUP Graduate

By Samantha Taylor

Let’s face it…grad school feels like an eternity. My two years at IUP felt almost as long if not longer than my four years in undergrad. It’s only been six months since I received my M.A. from IUP and time is flying by. So much has happened and I’m proud to say that IUP has adequately prepared me for life as a professional archaeologist.

A brick pathway found beneath a potential robber’s trench in front of Spotswood’s Enchanted Castle.

This past summer I accepted a job as the assistant site director for Virginia Commonwealth University’s field school at the Fort Germanna/Enchanted Castle Site in Orange County, Virginia. The position was 15 weeks long and my first foray into supervising. I was nervous to teach students how to dig and to serve as a role model for future archaeologists. My job description included assisting the site director (the amazing Dr. Eric Larsen), supervising our four interns, and teaching field school students. Our goal was to locate the Fort Germanna, an early 18th century fort built by Lt. Governor Alexander Spotswood for German colonists. The fort supposedly intersected the west hyphen of the Enchanted Castle, Spotswood’s house which postdated the abandonment of the fort. This summer we excavated the area to the north of the structure which hugged the façade of the house. While we did not find the fort, we were able to better understand the function of the front lawn of the Enchanted Castle. Meanwhile, students and interns were able to gain valuable experience. I was incredibly fortunate that my boss, interns, and students were all wonderful and talented. During my time at Germanna, I took a particular interest in helping design the four public access days that Germanna hosted this past summer. In fact, I will be chairing a session the first ever paper session on Germanna Archaeology and presenting on Germanna public archaeology at MAAC next spring (be there or be square). I doubt I’ve enjoyed a job as much as I’ve enjoyed my time at Germanna. Not only was my position fulfilling, but I made lifelong friends with my crew and was able to inspire some of them to continue pursuing archaeology as a career.

An overview of all of the Test Units opened at Germanna during the 2018 season.

My job at Germanna came to an end on August 30th, but fortunately my next job was already lined up. I started my current position at New South Associates, Inc. on September 4th. I am an archaeologist/field director at the Greensboro office in North Carolina. My job description includes directing field work and writing reports for various projects across the southeast. I spend about 50% of my job working in the field with a variety of archaeologists who come from all over. The other 50% of my time is spent synthesizing data and writing reports.

The Field School on our last day! We were small but mighty!

While it’s only been six months since I graduated from IUP, I feel as though my post-grad school career has been successful and fulfilling thus far. It’s definitely not always easy, and takes just as much dedication and time-management as school did. I know I have a long road ahead of me still, but wherever archaeology takes me I’ll be happy to go. So, to all the current graduate students and prospective graduate students here’s my advice: grad school is an emotional and physical commitment. It isn’t easy but it is worth it. Your two years in classes will feel like an eternity. Your time spent working on your thesis will feel never-ending. But the good news is that the grass is greener on the other side, and that these challenges will ultimately prepare you for what is ahead. Don’t give up, keep going! Your M.A. is on the horizon!

Learning how to 3D Scan artifacts, courtesy of Dr. Bernard Means from VCU’s Virtual Curation Lab (VCL)

IUP Anthropology Department

Public Outreach In Archaeology, Are We Doing Enough?

Something that I have been thinking about recently is public outreach in archaeology.  It may in part be because we’re about two weeks past International Archaeology Day and our open house (which you can read more about by scrolling to the previous blog) or that I’ve recently read some articles on the subject for class.  Not that this is only reason I’ve been thinking about public outreach, but it may just be what has brought it to the forefront.  I wanted to share a few thoughts and I apologize now if this turns more into a flow of consciousness than an informative piece.

Public outreach seems like such a simple idea, you find a way to share your fieldwork, research, and findings with non-archaeologists.  You share what hopefully makes you enthusiastic and get people engaged.  We tend to make this far more difficult than it needs to be, and sometimes for good reasons.  To paraphrase Joe Baker of PennDOT in his 2017 PAC Symposium Presentation, we are not all experts in public communication and that’s perfectly fine.  It may be that only a small percentage of archaeologists are comfortable with and can effectively engage the public, again this is perfectly fine.  In my time with the IUP Anthropology Department, both as an undergrad and a graduate student, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting peers and professionals that are brilliant in their own right but I could not imagine them working in public outreach.  Sure, anyone can post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Reddit, Snapchat, YouTube, or any of the other dozens of social media platforms or hundreds of blog sites and I encourage it.  There’s significance in spreading information and this is something most of us can do with ease and spread to non-archaeologist audiences.  However, not everyone that’s posting about archaeology should be a communication professional.  We do not all have the necessary interpersonal skills and that’s just how things are.

Public outreach is an important issue for many of us.  The Society for American Archaeology has a set of principles and ethics that they would urge all professional archaeologists to follow.  The very first principle is stewardship and can be broken into two portions.  Stewards are both caretakers and advocates of the archaeological record for the benefit of all people.  The first portion is not much of an issue, though I could argue that we have fallen behind since the increase of archaeology for the sake of salvaging sites, but that’s a blog for another day.  The point on advocating for archaeology is where I think that we have fallen behind.  There are devout advocates who I applaud for what they do even if I take issue with a method or two.  What about the average archaeologist though?  What can they do to fulfill this principle and how can they aid public outreach?  There’s not a true answer, but I think the best way would be by getting people involved from the beginning.  If there are groups already invested, talk to them, see what they would want to know.  I don’t mean to say we should do everything they ask, there’s only so much time and money to go around, but this would be a potential way to get more people interested.  Their questions may even become the basis of new research questions.  Another option could be to open sites to the public for more than just one day a field season or an archaeology day style event at the end.  I wouldn’t call it uncommon to open a site up to visitors and interested peoples, but it’s limited.  During my field school at Squirrel Hill, we never advertised a day when people could come in and learn along with us.  That didn’t stop people from finding us and we, I should just say Dr. Messer, would be more than happy to talk to the few that showed up.  Careful of what we would say, particularly around a couple of older gentlemen who were openly pothunters.  These are the kind of people we both want and don’t want to talk to and they are the kind of folks that I believe add to our cautiousness when involving a site.  I think we are afraid of letting people into sites because of the potential damage immediately or future through additional looting.  But if we can teach people the importance of archaeology and why they shouldn’t loot, do we really have to worry so much?  I honestly don’t know, but I’d like to believe that we wouldn’t have to worry as much.

Again, I feel that we as archaeologists have fallen behind on that second portion of stewardship.  It seems to me that instances of public outreach aren’t necessarily planned that well, more like they are hastily tacked onto the end of a field season.  Something that we can still pat ourselves on the back for and say we did something.  The fact is, we could do more, and I believe we should.  What exactly?  That’s up for debate, the possibilities are only limited by our imaginations.  An archaeology day open house is great, so is opening a site to the public, sharing appropriate posts online with non-archaeologist audiences, and taking the time to work with school programs.  How about sponsoring a TEDx Talk?  How about aiding your local Boy Scouts Troop and helping them get their archaeology merit badge or writing to whoever heads the Girl Scouts and suggesting an archaeology badge?  How about creating a display for public spaces or schools to talk about archaeology?  I’m sure that time and funding will be cited as the main issues with wanting to do more, but should that deter us from even trying to be stewards of archaeology?  No.

I hope this made as much sense on paper, or in cyberspace, as it did in my head.  Please, leave your thoughts in the comment below, lets keep this thought process open and get to some discussion.

IUP Anthropology Department

Archaeology Day 2018

This past Saturday, in the middle of midterms, we hosted our annual International Archaeology Day Open House.  For once in Indiana, PA the weather decided to surprise us in a kind manner.  For what was supposed to be a day of rain turned into a rather nice day even if it was a little chilly.    It made for a spectacular Archaeology Day.  The weather was good enough for our largest attraction to be set up, the atlatl range!  You don’t even need to know the word atlatl to know that throwing spears is incredibly fun.  Though I will clarify, an atlatl is a tool that extends your reach and lets you throw a spear harder and farther than you could without.

Andy the atlatl guy talking a guest through how to use an atlatl.

She hit the target.

After being drawn in by the tempting offer of spear throwing, there was a whole floor of McElhaney dedicated to archaeology in various forms.  From historic and pre-contact artifacts to flotation, zooarchaeology, archaeology in the media and more.  Frankly it would be more fun to just show you so take a little look below.

Chris showing off a bow he made.

Tyler shows folks the ropes (and how they are made)

Chris showing off his knowledge of pre-contact tech.

Jessie handling the pre-contact table.

Janee running the zooarchaeology table.

A nice gathering of folks around the atlatls and pre-contact technologies.

Mace shows what a real archaeologist looks like. *SPOILER: There’s a mirror in the center*

Is it trash or treasure? Well, Angela’s reluctance to be in a photo definitely created a treasure.

Carlos and Heather bustin’ myths about archaeology.

Jared does his thing with the 3D printer.

Brianna talks shop about hominin and hominid skulls

I would like to share a few final thoughts and I encourage replies in the comment section below. We had a smaller turnout this year than years past.  That was partly advertising, partly weather, and partly timing as this year’s Archaeology Day did not fall along homecoming.  I’m nowhere near disappointed though.  Actually, it’s the opposite, I’m ecstatic because those who showed up took interest in what we had to offer.  Quite a few people hung around for a good hour or so (a third of the events length) and asked questions.  There’s a part of me that wants to reach out to as many people as possible but if overall numbers drop while engagement is increased, I’m fine with that.  I wonder if people were more willing and eager to engage because the turnout was smaller, there wasn’t a feeling that you needed to rush along.

I would like to give a special thanks to Andy and Lori Majorsky for giving their awesome atlatl demonstrations, Susanna Haney for the flint knapping demo, and last, but certainly not least, everyone that came together to make Archaeology Day a success!

IUP Anthropology Department

I Can Munsell That (Part 2)

Welcome everyone, it’s time for another edition of my personal favorite posting series, “I Can Munsell That.”  Today we have a special guest, Mr. Bonejangles!  Mr. Bonejangles, do you have anything to say to our wonderful audience?  Oh, I guess you can’t really talk without lips or a tongue or lungs or some form of Re-Animator fluid…  You know what Mr. Bonejangles, we’ll get to work on that as soon as this post is finished.

I don’t know if that’s what it’s called.  It’s a nutcracker that’s been sitting in this office for I don’t know how long.  It looks a little spooky, so I’m just going to assume he’d be a spooky bloke with some wise guy sense of humor, chattering his teeth at jokes or in between some skeletal pun.

As I’m sure you can see, Mr. Bonejangles is a very photogenic skeleton/nutcracker.  However, he does not fit well with a Munsell Soil Color Book.  His colors are a little too glossy to truly match so a few are as close as I could reasonably match.  Bonejangles has five main colors that seem relatively consistent throughout, though there may be some variance in shading, lighting, thickness of paint, or my eyes playing tricks on me.  Mr. B. has two shades of white that I matched closely with colors on the White Page (who would’ve guessed).  The white used for his skeleton minus the skull looked to be 9.5/N (white) and the white of his skull 8/N (white).  Then there is the shiny black which I matched closest on Gley 1 with 2.5/N (black).  I do think his color could be better matched, however I did not have access to a page devoted to the differences between dark black and slightly darker black.  Bonejangles also has these brilliant green highlights along his skull which matched almost perfectly (in my eye) with 10Y 6/4 (pale olive).  Finally, the final color that makes his spookiness pop, bright red eyes, which look like 10R 3/6 (dark red) or at least that’s the closest color I could find.  I admit his eyes are a bit too bright but I must work with what I have.

I would like to leave you on a side note, IUP Anthropology Department is hosting an Open House for International Archaeology Day on Oct. 20th from 12:00-3:00pm on the ground floor of McElhaney Hall.  We are displaying artifacts, faunal specimens, student research, flintknapping and atlatl demonstrations outside (weather permitting).  We hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

IUP Anthropology Department

I Can Munsell That?

By Zachary Fischer

Today I wanted to bring back an old favorite of the blog, the old field school game, Can You Munsell That?  At the beginning of the week, our cohort Janee brought in a few loaves of pumpkin bread that were just lovely.  As the week went on hungry grad students nibbled on the bread.  This left us with the final slice of a slightly crumbly, but still delicious, pumpkin bread.  So, as I was deciding on what to write, bringing up the Munsell idea, Janee joked that I could Munsell the bread.  I thought to myself, “You know what? I will.”

A chunk of pumpkin bread.

 

A well loved copy that has served its time in the department.

So what is this Munsell thing that I keep jabbering about?  I’ll give you a quick background.  The Munsell color system was produced by Dr. Albert H. Munsell (1858-1918) who was known as an artist and inventor. He created this system to provide a descriptive and systematic form to communicate color.  We as archaeologists, and archaeologists in training, use this system to describe the color of soil layers in a profile.  Normally, you take a sample, pack it down, and place it under the color chip on the chart.  Be careful to avoid touching the color chips as colors can fade and these books aren’t known to be cheap.  I would love to talk more about the Munsell system itself but I honestly don’t know all that much about it.  This was something of a refresher for me and a learning experience for myself and a few cohorts.

I attempted to do this alone, going from page to page, comparing the color of the bread and those in the charts.  Frankly, I couldn’t get a perfect match but had a thought on the closest color.  I was thinking something along the lines of 10YR 4/6 (dark yellowish brown), truthfully it is a bit more yellow than any of my pages show. Unsure, I did what all good social scientists should do and found new perspectives.  By found I mean left my office to see Janee and Heather who were nibbling away at their own lunches.  Both could see where I was coming from and partially agreed.  There was the suggestion of 7.5YR 5/8 and this interests me.  We may have this standard system but we do not all see the exact same shade or hue.  What I think belongs on 10YR, someone else might think goes on 7.5YR.  However, there is one piece I overlooked and that was the crust.  After consulting the physically closest cohorts, a few of us agree that it’s 10YR 3/6 (dark yellowish brown).  Again, I find it interesting that some colors we see may look the same or completely different.  This makes me wonder how effective the Munsell system will be in the future of archaeology but that’s a thought for another day.  Maybe if I get to do a Part 2 I’ll ramble on the topic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can learn more about the Munsell Color System at Munsell.com.

IUP Department of Anthropology

IUP at the 83rd Annual Society for American Archaeology Meeeting

By: Genevieve Everett

Cherry Blossoms around the Tidal Basin

Employers should allow attendees/participants the Monday after the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) conference off. Let me tell you, I’m exhausted, but I’m feeling energized by all the amazing papers that I had the chance to hear, and the poster’s that were exhibited throughout the week.

Wednesday morning, myself, and 6 of my classmates (and luggage) crammed into the Arch Services van, and headed to the 83rd Annual SAA conference held in Washington, DC, in the lovely Woodley Park neighborhood. This was my first ever SAA conference. We arrive mid-afternoon at our small, but cozy Air Bnb that was located about a half hour (walk) from the conference center. After settling in a bit, we all walked to the conference center to register. We walked past yellow daffodils and purple flowers’ cascading down stonewalls, the first real sign of spring. One route we could take to and from the conference was through the National Zoo! After a delicious Lebanese meal (and cocktail), we all headed back to the Air Bnb to prepare for the first day of presentations, posters, and seeing old friends/colleagues.

IUP Ethics Bowl team

Thursday morning was a BUSY day. I was up bright and early to go to Sami’s presentation on her thesis research at Pandenarium, a 19th century Freedman site in Mercer County, PA. This was one of her last presentations before she graduates in May! She did really great! Shortly after I wandered around the poster session, and was particularly interested in the Caves and Rockshelter posters. From there, I headed to watch our Ethics Bowl team debate Cornell University. The point of the Ethics Bowl is to put two teams from different universities in front of a panel of judges, and debate about hypothetical (and in some cases based on real events) ethical issues within archaeology. Our team did amazing, however, they did not make it to the final round. Later I walked around the Expo room browsing books and picking up free “swag”, and from there I stopped by to see Sami and Angie Jaillet-Wentling’s poster. They were presenting the results of the public archaeology days they held this past fall at Pandenarium, which contributed to the assemblage Sami was examining for her thesis.

Sami and Angie at their poster session

The remainder of Thursday I spent alone, going from session to session. This past fall I helped excavate a quarry site in Northern Maine (if you go back to the September blog posts, you can read about it) under the supervision of Nathaniel Kitchel and Heather Rockwell. In the afternoon, Nathaniel presented a paper that the two co-authored on the results of this excavation. Next, I stopped by a talk in honor of Dennis Stanford. I especially enjoyed Ciprian Ardelean’s talk that was partially about working with Dennis Stanford, but also the Chiquihuite Cave in Zacatecas Mexico. Mr. Ardelean talked about being an “outsider” from Romania working in the Americas. He also talked about the importance of working with students. More specifically, the merit and value of getting dirty, working in isolation for so many days, being in nature and cooking and enjoying meals together. I really connect with this notion.

Friday I decided to head toward the Washington monument to see the Cherry Blossoms in full bloom. I did a loop around the Tidal Basin, dodging hordes of school groups. Despite the tourist traffic along the way, it was such a pleasant walk. I wanted to hit up the Natural History Museum, but again, it was swamped with school groups, so I turned around and headed back to the conference. I hit up a few more talks, had a drink with my mentor, and went out to Haikan, an amazing ramen place with some friends. The rest of the night was spent celebrating the fact that our classmate/friend Zaakiyah won the Paul Goldberg Award, a national award, awarded to a single MA student in either the geosciences or archaeology!

Zaakiyah with the Paul Goldberg Award!

On Saturday, my main objective was to attend the symposium, “Wicked Awesome” Archaeology: New Data and Directions In The Archaeological Northeast”. A few friends/acquaintances were presenting during this session, including Dick Boisvert and Zachary Singer. Dick Boisvert is my mentor and is on my thesis committee. He talked about the legacy of the State Conservation and Rescue Archaeology Program (SCRAP). Following Dick, Zach discussed “New Investigations of the Paleoindian Component at the Templeton Site in Western Connecticut”. Much like SCRAP, students and volunteers help excavate the Templeton Site, which to me, is always a wonderful collaboration. After their talk I met up with my family, and we walked through the National Zoo. Later, we met up with my boyfriend, and grabbed dinner at a Mexican restaurant where delicious food and margarita’s were consumed.

The Government, University, and Heritage Stewardship crew!

Sunday, the final day of the conference, and the day of my presentation (at 8 am) in the “Government, Universities, and Heritage Stewardship: A Student and Young Professional Symposium”. I was in this symposium with several IUP classmates, some fellow PennDOT interns, and two graduate students from the University of Montana. My paper was titled, “From Field School to Graduate School: How One Public Archaeology Program Has Made It All Possible”. I discussed the benefits/legacy of SCRAP, and how I am using SCRAP data to complete my Master’s thesis. I also provided some preliminary results/conclusions to my thesis research. As my first time presenting at a conference, I have to say, I don’t think I bombed! I felt pretty confident up there, but that took A LOT of practicing over and over again. Everyone that participated in the symposium did great, and each person had a really interesting topic that related to their collaboration with state or federal government agencies. After our symposium, we jumped in the van, and headed back to Indiana.

Personally, the SAA’s were an amazing experience for me. Roughly 20 plus IUP students, past and present, attended the conference. In addition, three professors in the graduate and undergraduate Anthro department presented papers.  It felt really good knowing that IUP had a strong presence, one that shows that we are a tight knit group, and that we are able to successfully transition from our undergraduate or graduate studies into viable careers in archaeology. Most IUP graduates are working in CRM, while some are getting their PhD’s. I hope that we can continue to show the archaeological community that we have a strong program for years to come. See you all next year in Albuquerque!!!

IUP ANTHROPOLOGY DEPARTMENT