Uncategorized DeSoto Winter Encampment, Florida, Florida Public Archaeology Network, History, Lures and Legends, Mission San Luis, Old City Cemetery, Pokemon Go, Tallahassee, The Edison
So I know that we have a bunch of Pokemon Go fans out there, so we have decided to have some fun with it to help promote heritage tourism and hopefully make our followers aware of some places they may not have
Follow us on Facebook to see where we will be dropping the next lure!
visited before. According to a study published in 2010 by the State of Florida, Department of State, heritage tourism is the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry. Here in Tallahassee we have a wealth of heritage sites. So get out your phone, open up your Pokemon Go app and get ready to explore some of them! Many sites in the area have poke stops and gyms! Mission San Luis, for example, has 17 stops and two gyms! If you haven’t been to Mission San Luis yet, then what are you waiting for?! It is an amazing living history museum and now you have one more reason to visit.
Saturday, July 23 2016, from 9am-1pm we will be dropping lures near The Edison in Cascades Park. Stop by our table to learn about all the various historic sites in Tallahassee that have stops and gyms. While there you can explore Cascades Park, which has a very rich history, and perhaps stop in at The Edison for a delicious brunch! You can follow us on our facebook page to learn of other places we will be dropping lures in the coming weeks. There is a good chance that you will learn of places you didn’t know existed!
The DeSoto Winter Encampment Site is the location of a Pokemon Go gym.
With that being said, we need to caution you. All historic sites are non-renewable resources. While searching for stops and gyms is harmless, we urge you to be aware of your surroundings and to be respectful of the sites you are visiting. The Old City Cemetery in downtown Tallahassee has six stops and we encourage you to go check out this amazing historic cemetery, but keep in mind that it is a place of rest for some of our most notable residents from history and is deserving of respect. Likewise, some places are only open at certain hours or require a minimal entrance fee. Please be respectful of that. In the case of entrance fees, those fees are used to help support that site. As for hours of operation, they are in place not only for the safety and security of the site, but also for your safety as well. So go out and enjoy, but please be respectful of our communities wonderful (and non-renewable) historic resources!
As a side note, our office at the DeSoto Winter Encampment is the site of a gym. If you stop by, come on into our office and say hi! If you are visiting during office hours, M-F 8-5 there is more information about the site inside the Governor Martin House/Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research.
Uncategorized Archaeology, Dig It!, Dig-It Games, Educational Video Games, Florida Public Archaeology Network, FPAN, Game Mechanics, Gaming, Interpretation, Video Games
Video games are a medium that can express some difficult or complicated subjects, yet archaeology is poorly represented. In this post I will briefly discuss new trends in educational games, followed by a breakdown of a particularly promising archaeology game with a responsible message.
Video games are a creative medium that are here to stay. In just a few decades we have seen this relatively new art form develop from being little more than a toy into a medium that communicates whole ideas and perspectives. From jumping on little mushroom men 30 years ago to tackling difficult subjects in a dystopic paperwork simulator (Papers, Please) developers and consumers have begun to recognice the interpretive idea that enjoyable is not necessarily the same as fun.
Apoapsis? Delta V? Real life concepts that only mean anything to me because of this game. (Image by Tyler Raiz, accessed March 2016)
Even our understanding of what makes an educational game is changing. We are no longer restricted to educational games that simply try to disguise learning as a video game such as Math Blaster or Mario Teaches Typing. One of the most successful games of 2015 was Kerbal Space Program, a game that teaches orbital mechanics by letting you build a rocket and launching little green men into space (usually to return as debris).
WARNING! Does not represent real archaeology.
This ability to be a game while teaching is impressive. If a game about orbital mechanics can be successful, why not archaeology? When people think of archaeology in video games they are usually thinking of relic hunters like Lara Croft (Indiana Jones in short shorts) or blatant site looting for profit in rpgs (role playing games). Of course, one of the main problems is not with video games, but with popular culture itself. When we tell people that we are interested in archaeology and they immediately think of Indiana Jones or Ric Savage in American Digger we should not fault a new medium for failing to buck the trend.
Fortunately, I have found an example that I feel particularly represents the potential to teach archaeology through video games. Can U Dig It! (by Dig-It Games) is an excellent, if flawed, example of how games can teach archaeology through its mechanics, represent archaeology ethically, and still be enjoyable.
When you fire up Can U Dig It! you get a little introductory cutscene for the game. A brother and sister are headed to an archaeological site and the sister can’t wait to start digging, but the brother wants to plan things carefully. This sets up the premise nicely and makes the theme very clear: Careful planning is a vital part of archaeology.
The game itself works a little like a reverse Minesweeper. I won’t try to describe the mechanics here, but essentially you have to use number clues to select where you want to dig around
One of the more advanced maps in Can U Dig It! Note the orange box. Image by Dig-It Games, accessed March 2016.
the artifacts. Select the brother on the left and you are in planning mode. Select the sister on the right and you are in digging mode where the boxes are dug as you select them. Here’s the bit that I particularly like: make a mistake and you’ll break the artifact! These mechanics teach the need for careful planning in archaeology, the fragility of many artifacts, and the permanency of our decisions. Almost.
While these lessons are certainly present, the execution of these mechanics unfortunately weakens the message. The biggest problem is that once you have solved the game in the planning mode, the site is automatically dug for you, so there is no real chance of breaking an artifact. A related issue is that the highlighted box is in orange if you have the incorrect number of squares. Again, making it impossible to make an error.
Crush this in real life and there are no do-overs. Image by Wessex Archaeology, accessed March, 2016.
The final issue is that a broken artifact, and the excavation, is not actually permanent. Make too many mistakes and you have to try again. Also, you have the option to go back to any of the completed levels. There might be no way around this for video games, being able to fail and learn from your mistakes is a fundamental element, but I would like to see later levels or an advanced mode that makes a mistake permanent for that game.
In a nutshell, this is a wonderful example of the potential for video games to let players experience archaeological principles in a fun way, instead of just being told about them. Despite some flaws in the execution, the potential for a truly excellent game is there. To be completely fair, I only played the first 18 free levels and it is entirely possible that my criticisms are addressed later on, but I can only talk about what I have experienced. I have been in contact with Dig-It Games and apparently they are currently reworking some of Can U Dig It!, here’s hoping the result are an even stronger game about archaeology.
Uncategorized Archaeology, Commonly Used Words, Florida Archaeology, Florida Public Archaeology Network, FPAN, Randall Munroe, Ten Hundred Most Commonly Used Words
In this post I will explain what archaeology is, and the importance of context, using only the ten hundred most commonly used words in the English language. This is inspired by Randall Munroe’s comic and book doing the same thing with other complex ideas. As he so aptly puts it (following the ten hundred rule which you will note I am not using in this introductory paragraph):
“Sometimes I would use those big words because they were different from the small words in an important way. But a lot of the time, I was really worried that if I used the small words, someone might think I didn’t know the big ones.”
Though I would add that sometimes we use jargon because we understand it so thoroughly that we forget others may not know what we are saying. I decided to write this post partly for fun, partly to practice avoiding jargon, and partly to force myself to really think about what these words mean.
Past people learners look for places people lived and learn about them from what they left behind. Sometimes these people lived a long time ago, sometimes they are still living today. Many think past people learners study loud rain animals. However, loud rain animals never stepped on people, they are too old (and possibly made up).
When we think about the past we often think of the most important people. People who wrote things down or who had others write about them. Past people learning tells us about those who did not write things down because they did not know how, did not have time, or were not allowed to. This is very important for the new people who came from these old people.
To learn about people in the past we need to find their things next to their other things. Look at your living room. If you have a TV then your chairs and couches tell us that you like to sit while you watch. Are all your TV changers next to one chair? This tells us what your favorite chair probably is. This still works for people who lived long ago, but it gets very hard.
Imagine if someone, after you were gone, cleaned your house and moved your TV changers. Now we will never know what your favorite chair is. Every time old things are taken or killed, by people or the wind and the rain, we have lost part of the story of these old people’s lives for all time. If you find old things the best thing you can do is take a picture (or make a drawing), tell past people learners, and leave it in place!
How did I do? I hope you enjoyed reading that as much as I did writing it! If you have any archaeological concepts you would like me to explain, leave a comment or email me at email@example.com.
A special thanks to Randal Munroe for the inspiration and to Splasho’s excellent web tool (http://splasho.com/upgoer5/) for making this far easier than it would have been otherwise.
Uncategorized Comprehensive Plan, Florida Department of State, Florida Division of Historic Resources, Florida's Comprehensive Statewide Historic Preservation Plan, Historic Preservation, National Historic Preservation Act, Preservation50, State Historic Preservation Officer
Many folks are familiar with comprehensive plans. Most communities guide their development and infrastructure planning based on information provided in these documents. But are you aware that the State of Florida has a comprehensive plan dedicated to the planning for historic preservation of our state’s cultural resources? As you can imagine, any comprehensive plan requires updating on a regular basis in order to reflect the most recent concerns and planning issues. The Florida Division of Historical Resources, within the Florida Department of State, is seeking public input for the latest update to the Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan. The Division Director, otherwise known as the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) directs the Division of Historical Resources to cooperate with state, federal and local agencies and governments, as well as private organizations and individuals to conduct a comprehensive statewide survey of Florida’s historic resources, to maintain an inventory of these resources and to develop a statewide historic preservation plan.
The comprehensive plan provides guidance for the implementation of sound planning procedures for the location, identification, and protection of the state’s cultural resources. As part of this process, the state is requesting your input. You may attend one of the meetings that will be held around the state and you can also provide feedback by completing an online survey. The survey only takes approximately ten minutes and your input will contribute greatly towards preservation planning and protection of our state’s resources. This also ties in with the year-long Preservation 50 celebration, which recognizes the 50th anniversary of the signing of the National Historic Preservation Act on October 15, 1966.
Uncategorized Archaeology Code of Ethics, Artifact Collecting, Avocational Archaeology, Chapter 267, Citizen Archaeology Permit, Florida Anthropological Society, Florida Archaeology, Florida Archaeology Law, Florida Public Archaeology Network, FPAN, Isolated Finds, Oppose HB803, Oppose SB1054, Public Archaeology, SB1054, SB803
According to the Florida Historical Resources Act (Ch. 267 of the Florida Statutes), historical and archaeological sites and artifacts located on State-owned lands, including submerged lands, belong to the people of Florida. Excavating, disturbing, or collecting is prohibited in order to protect information about our State’s past. Recently a bill has been filed with the Florida House (HB803) and it’s companion bill was filed with the Florida Senate (SB1054) that would allow for collectors to obtain a $100 permit that would then entitle them to collect on state submerged lands. This bill allows for the excavation of “isolated finds” with hand tools. There are many issues concerning this bill. First and foremost, these lands are protected because of their sensitive nature and that is why they have been protected under Ch. 267. They are held in the public trust for all Florida citizens and the cultural and natural resources on these lands (both submerged and terrestrial) are protected for everyone to enjoy. Additionally, the use of excavation tools by non-professionals (or untrained/unsupervised avocationals) could lead to the permanent destruction of significant archaeological sites through non-scientific methodological excavation. These sites, unlike most natural resources, do not grow back over time. Once they are lost, they are gone forever, along with the potentially significant information about the past which they contain. Even isolated finds, those that are no longer in their original context, have the potential to provide us with information and one cannot confirm that an artifact is indeed isolated unless they excavate (thus risk destroying the site in the process).
Many of us grow up finding arrowheads on family farms or other places, and that is how many of us initially become interested in archaeology. The problem here isn’t little kids picking up arrowheads on grandpa’s farm. The problem is that these objects are a part of our common past and belong to everyone, not just to people who want to take them. Just like sea oats belong to everyone and provide a vital role for our beaches and so are protected by law, artifacts belong to everyone and provide vital information about our heritage and so are protected by law. It is currently legal to collect on private lands with permission of the landowner. There are also organizations like FPAN and the Florida Anthropological Society that invite and encourage those that are interested in archaeology to get involved by volunteering. Legitimate avocational organizations will have a strict code of ethics that they expect their members and volunteers to abide by and will encourage also the participation of professionals that are interested in working and teaching the public about archaeology. Archaeology is not about collecting things – it’s about what those “things” can tell us about the people who made and used them. Archaeologists care about past human behaviors and activities, and we learn about that through the objects people left behind. When those objects are collected willy-nilly and are removed from the surrounding landscape and other artifacts, we lose information. Organizations and academic programs like the Florida Anthropological Society and FPAN provide many ways for citizens to assist and become involved in meaningful archaeological research that provides information about our past, not simply picking up random objects.
If you take the time to read the bills, which I encourage you to do, you will notice that it requires that permit holders report on their findings. That seems like a good idea, right? The problem is that it’s been tried before in Florida and failed – the Isolated Finds program was implemented so that people could certain keep artifacts they found in Florida rivers and all they had to do was turn in information, and it was free! Very few IF reports were sent in, however, and the state discontinued IF due to wide-spread non-compliance among the river diver collecting community. Issuing permits would make tracking collectors easier for the state, but also would require additional staffing as well as additional law enforcement time, a cost which will ultimately be paid by tax payers. In order to pay for the program by charging for permits, each permit would cost hundreds of dollars, making them out of range for most citizens, which would defeat the purpose of a “citizen’s” permit.
On our website we have compiled various resources and answers to common questions about these bills and other previously proposed legislation regarding the collection of artifacts on public lands. I hope that you will take the time to read the bills and read what we have compiled. Ultimately the responsibility of protecting our state’s cultural resources falls to the citizens and we encourage your participation. Included in our list of resources is a link where you can find your local representatives. We hope that you will educate yourself and be encouraged to write, call or email them to express your concerns.
Uncategorized 123DCatch, 3D printing, 3D scanner, Agisoft PhotoScan, Archaeology, Florida Public Archaeology Network, FPAN, mapping, photogrammetry, Preservation, Underwater Archaeology
In recent years, 3D modeling has become easier than it ever has been before. In the past, we had to use an expensive 3D scanner, though these still have their uses. Now, however, anybody with a smartphone can make a reasonable 3D model using a program called 123D Catch. With a little more time and financial investment, we can make a model that is accurate enough to draw data from (https://sketchfab.com/models/22623871f783442a8f1779f5e52841fe).
This magical process is called “photogrammetry.” Essentially, this uses a collection of photographs from a variety of angles to create a three dimensional model of an object. What has really changed in recent years is the ease of use. Even with the professional version of Agisoft PhotoScan (a more robust, paid version of 123D Catch) the process of going from photos to a three dimensional model takes only a few steps.
There are a few limitations to this technique, however. Tall objects (such as buildings) are difficult to fully cover due to their height and size (without some creativity or a drone anyways) and the program has difficulty dealing with patterns such as plaid or other subjects that are not distinct enough, like grass. The biggest restriction is in the program’s inability to deal with movement, so live subjects are nearly impossible to record without a large and expensive rig of cameras to take all the pictures in a single instant. Fortunately, most of our subjects in archaeology are not very lively, so this is a fairly minor restriction.
The uses for such a program in archaeology are incredibly exciting, especially for underwater archaeology. Due to limitations on dives caused by weather and human endurance, it can easily take a decade to fully map a complex shipwreck. However, with five days of photographing and a few hours of processing time archaeologists can now have a highly detailed and accurate three dimensional map (https://sketchfab.com/models/6d22d91ea0f24967831e395f321477d0 https://sketchfab.com/models/3b40e2c6d8ce40a19e07f43a5ee5a2f1).
Preservation is another excellent use for photogrammetry. If an historic building is about to be demolished, a day or two photographing every possible inch inside and out can result in detailed models for the building. Alternatively, if the current political climate (hypothetically) expanded from the removal of a statue in D.C. (link) to the removal of other Civil War monuments, we have a method of preserving these monuments in a more detailed form than photographs (https://sketchfab.com/models/f9901b07e8e44207a51fc7df6d622702).
While the effect this method will have on archaeological research is impressive, imagining how it will contribute to public outreach is what I find particularly exciting. So often a site or artifact cannot be used in public outreach beyond a photograph and our enthusiastic descriptions. Three dimensional models (like this one) does more than allow someone to see it from all sides, it adds depth and texture to the image, immediately making it feel more real. Alternatively, digital site tours (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcQfzuQXcq8) become relatively simple to make, and accessible to anyone in the world. If we pair these models with 3D printers, then there is almost no limit to what we could do.
A special thanks to Kotaro Yamafune for getting everybody I know excited about the potential uses for photogrammetry in archaeology.
Uncategorized Daughters of the American Revolution, Education, Historic Preservation, Patriotism, Speical Project Grants
FPAN North Central has just been made aware of a grant available through the Daughters of the American Revolution. This grant supports community projects relating to historic preservation, education and patriotism. The Special Grants Program is open to organizations determined by the IRS to be public charities under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. They encourage grants of $1,000 to $2,000 but the maximum amount available to an organization is $10,000. Applicants are required to match the amount 1:1 to maximize the funds distribution. However, you are allowed to use other grant funds as match. Projects funded through this grant must be completed within a year of initial funding. In order to be considered, the qualifying organization must submit a letter of intent to the Fort San Luis Chapter of the DAR, which is the local chapter in Tallahassee. This letter of intent is due on October 15 and should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The letter must include the entity’s name, lead person in charge of grant, contact information, intent to apply for the grand and affirmation that the applicant is a 501(c)(3) public charity organization.
The grant application and requirements are available at www.dar.org/grants. Projects that are eligible for funding through this grant include historic building restoration, cemetery headstone conservation, historic marker erection, document preservation, veteran rehabilitation programs, support projects for veterans and their families, veteran’s memorials or monuments, military museum exhibits, literacy programs, historical books or displays, children’s mentoring programs and interactive exhibits. Please visit the DAR website for further information and to apply.
Uncategorized Apalachicola National Forest, Every Kid in a Park, Federal Lands, Federal Waters, Fort Gadsden, Fourth Grade, Lighthouse, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, War of 1812
If you are or know a 4th grader, then this is for you! Beginning September 1, 2015, all U.S. 4th graders, including home-schooled and free-choice learners 10 years old, can download their own pass to gain unlimited free access to any federal lands or waters.This initiative is called “Every Kid in a Park” and it is such a wonderful opportunity for kids and their guests to experience both the cultural and natural wonders these sites offer. At sites where visitors are charged per vehicle, anybody in the vehicle with the 4th grader gets in for free. For locations that charge per person, up to three accompanying adults are admitted for free with the 4th grader. To download a pass, go to www.everykidinapark.gov. Here the 4th grader will complete an online game and can download a personalized voucher and print it out. The paper voucher can be exchanged for a more durable pass at certain federal lands or water sites. This pass is good for one year! That is free entry into all public lands or waters for an entire year! How awesome is that?
The tower of the St. Marks Lighthouse at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.
Many of our federal lands are protected not just for their natural resources, but also because they contain unique historic or prehistoric resources as well. They also offer opportunities for hiking, camping, fishing, paddling and more! Here in the North Central region we are lucky to have access to a ton of federal land and water. Two great examples are the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and the Apalachicola Nation Forest. The St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge is not only home to a variety of wildlife but also to the historic St. Marks Lighthouse, which has been an important icon in maritime history in St. Marks since the early 1800s. The currently lighthouse tower was constructed in the 1840s and is 82 feet tall. It is still an active beacon and the Fresnel lens is still intact, however is no longer lit. Instead a modern solar powered beacon is used as the light. There are also numerous prehistoric Native American sites at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge as well!
Fort Gadsden in the Apalachicola National Forest is another site that is well worth a visit! It was first constructed by the British during the War of 1812 and was the site of a devastating massacre of about 300 African-Americans that had taken refuge at the fort under the British flag. On July 27, 1816 a heated shot was fired from a gunboat on the Apalachicola River and landed in the power magazine of the fort causing a massive explosion. Only 33 people survived the blast. At the site there are detailed interpretive signage, the remains of the fort and a cemetery with the burials of those killed in 1816.
These are just two of the many places that 4th graders and their accompanying adults can visit for free. To print up a pass and plan a trip, or for more information go to www.everykidinapark.gov. Let us know what you do, where you go and what you see. We would enjoy nothing more than hearing about your experience and hearing about what you learned during your visit!
Uncategorized Florida Division of Historical Resources, Florida Heritage Trails, Florida Tourism, historic preservation grants, Inc., Seminole Tribe of Florida, Seminole Wars, Seminole Wars Foundation
The cover of the Florida Seminole War Heritage Trail booklet.
We are so excited about the most recently published Heritage Trail booklet, Florida Seminole Wars Heritage Trail. This booklet is the most recent one in a long line of booklets. The Florida Department of State began publishing this series of booklets in 1991, and has since continued to add to the collection of titles. I have always liked the way these booklets are designed. They lend themselves well to heritage tourism. I actually keep a copy of a few in my car so that as I am traveling around the state I can look to see what is in the area. This has led me on quite a few impromptu little road trips and detours. Each volume lists historical sites throughout Florida, arranged by region, that are open to the public. The illustrations are always beautiful as well. They are great educational and travel resources! One thing that I have always enjoyed about the heritage trail booklets is the way they are organized because it makes for easy referencing when looking for a specific site or specific information.
For decades the Seminoles have shaped the history of Florida. The Seminole Wars are a very significant period in history, not just in Florida, but for the entire nation. Most historians agree that there were three Seminole Wars, but for the Seminoles it was seen as a 40 year continual struggle to fight for the right to stay in their homeland. This heritage trail booklet provides a well-balanced perspective on this time in Florida’s history. Not only does it have a comprehensive listing of locations that are associated with The Seminole Wars, but it also provides the reader with a background essay on the history of the Seminole Wars in Florida, information on who the Seminoles are, a timeline, and some great sidebars on related topics and significant individuals. The sites listed include battlefields, monuments, museum exhibits, historic markers and sites.
This booklet was produced by the Seminole Wars Foundation, Inc., withe the support of a historic preservation grant provided by the Florida Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources. To view or download your copy of this booklet you can visit the website. Next time you are at a festival or FPAN event look for our booth to pick up a hard copy of this and other heritage trail booklets (when available). Don’t forget to use your heritage trail booklets to learn about new places you can visit to learn more about Florida’s history!
Often when I give a lecture on historic cemeteries I ask if anybody in the audience has ever visited a cemetery for fun or enjoyment. The usual response from the audience is a bunch of blank and bewildered stares, but occasionally I come across somebody that raises their hand in excitement. We don’t often think of cemeteries as a place of enjoyment, but I am on a mission to change people’s attitudes towards cemeteries. In reality they are wonderful historic resources that can be seen as outdoor museums. There is a lot of information tucked away in those cemeteries, more than many people realize. As a little girl I can remember being fascinated by the art and motifs on the headstones in England, where my mother’s family lives. Now as an adult living in Florida I still harbor that same fascination and often visit local historic cemeteries or insist on stopping to look at cemeteries on road trips with my friends. I challenge anybody reading this to take the opportunity to visit a local historic cemetery and walk through it with an open mind and you may be surprised at what you can learn about the history of your community.
Lambs are often used as symbols on the graves of young children.
So now you are curious perhaps? Asking yourself what you can possibly learn from a bunch of headstones and monuments. Well, think about all the different decorations and motifs you see on the headstones. Perhaps there are different types of stones that are imported, maybe there are some stones that appear to be handmade locally, or perhaps you notice that there seem to be different sections of the cemetery that are dedicated to different religions. How would you know the religion of a person in a particular burial? Look at the iconography on the headstone. Does it have a Star of David, a cross or some other religious symbol? Even the various flowers that are carved into a stone can have particular meaning. There was an entire Language of Flowers that was used during the Victorian time period. Sometimes you may come across a flower carved into a stone that appears to have a broken stem. This symbolizes a life that was cut short, meaning the person interred there may have died at a young age. A lamb usually symbolizes a child. Certain symbols were popular during different time periods as well and can be used to gather information on the time period that the cemetery was utilized. These various styles, features, stones and manufacturing techniques provides us with valuable information about a community’s past and can provide information that may not otherwise be available in the historical record.
Florida has some of the oldest prehistoric and historic cemeteries in the New World. At the Windover site near Titusville, burials that were 8,000 years old were discovered! The oldest above ground historic cemetery in Florida is Tolomato Cemetery located in St. Augustine (which by the way, is the oldest continually occupied European settlement in the New World!). Tolomato has burials that dates to 1737! St Michael’s Cemetery in Pensacola was established in 1810 but may have been used as early as 1786. Florida’s cemeteries also represent a wide array of cultures and religions, including Southeast Native American, Greek, Jewish, Minorcan, Cuban, and Bahamian…just to name a few! This provides historians, archaeologists and cemetery enthusiasts (yes, they do exist!) with valuable information on early ethnic populations throughout Florida’s history.
Extensive vandalism at the Old City Cemetery in Tallahassee.
Unfortunately, the sad fact is that cemeteries, just like any other archaeological site, are subject to vandalism and other harmful activities. In some cases above ground features of a cemetery are damaged or even stolen. When this occurs the context of the burial is lost along with potentially significant information. Not to mention the fact that a person’s final resting place has been disturbed. Cemeteries are one of the few sites in archaeology where cultural remains and information can be linked to a single known individual. When the headstone or other associated grave goods are stolen or damaged, gathering that type of unique information may no longer be possible. There is also the issue of cost. Repairing damage to a cemetery can be costly and often must be done by specialists to ensure that it is done properly so that further damage is not done.
But there is hope! Visitors and stewards of cemeteries can do a lot to ensure that these wonderful resources last and are protected. Many times the best security for a cemetery is for people to visit the cemetery or to be seen maintaining the cemetery. People are less likely to do harm when there are others watching them. It is important to note that there are laws that protect human burials, including unmarked burials. There are simple rules or “cemetery etiquette” that can help to ensure the cemetery is not damaged as well, which include:
-Taking only photos. Rubbings cause damage over time and eventually will make the inscription illegible. Many cemeteries no longer allow rubbings because of this fact.
-Clean only with water or a conservation cleaning agent (we use one called D-2). DO NOT USE BLEACH. Although bleach may make the stone look pretty right now, the salts found in bleach can damage the stone and eventually cause the stone to appear to have rust stains.
-Don’t lean on the stones. This not only can damage the stone but is a safety hazard as well.
-Do not dig and be cautious when removing vines, and other small plant growth. If large roots or trees are damaging a stone or monument it is best to consult a professional.
-Do not remove or move monuments.
-Record your local cemetery. Protection begins with identification. Call the Florida Master Site File to see if it has been recorded. If not, you can record it. The folks at the Florida Master Site File or your local FPAN office will be happy to assist you with this simple process.
CRPT Workshop attendees hard at work using D-2 to clean a headstone.
Education is probably the most important step in cemetery preservation. The Florida Public Archaeology Network offers a one day training to the public and those tasked with maintaining historic cemeteries. This training, Cemetery Resource Protection Training (CRPT) will give you the information you need to proactively protect historic cemeteries, memorials and unmarked burial sites. Attendees spend one portion of the training learning about the laws that protect cemeteries, management and maintenance techniques and much more. The second part of the workshop consists of hands-on instruction where you will have the opportunity to record a cemetery and clean headstones using D-2. If you are interested in having FPAN host a CRPT Workshop in your area, please contact your local regional office or check the calendar of events on our website to see if any are scheduled near you. Once a year we also organize a CRPT Conference. This conference is designed to further the education of those that have attended our CRPT Workshops.