Uncategorized Archaeology, Big Bend Maritime Center, Canoes, conservation, Dugouts, Florida, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Gainesville, Lake Munson, Native American, Newnan Lake, Panacea, Preservation, Tallahassee
Have you ever seen an ancient wooden artifact on display at a museum and wondered how it was preserved in such great condition? I sure have! I have a compost pile at home and it doesn’t take long for wooden or other organic
Archaeologists carefully remove a dugout canoe from the exposed lake bottom of Lake Munson in Tallahassee
material, to rot and turn into soil. It may seem strange that a wooden or organic object can last long enough in the ground for it to be uncovered by archaeologists hundreds or thousands of years later. Well, it turns out that it takes a very specific set of environmental circumstances for organic material to be preserved in the ground, and many times those conditions do not exist. And it may seem strange, but it is actually a wet environment that leads to good preservation! Organic materials, such as wood, are far more likely to survive the test of time if they are quickly buried in mud and muck. This creates an anaerobic environment, where a lack of oxygen prevents organisms that degrade wood (bacteria, worms, etc) from living and subsiding. As a result, the organic material is preserved until it is again exposed to oxygen. Within the last couple of years I have had the opportunity to see, first hand, how environmental conditions affect preservation of dugout canoes found in here in Florida.
Look closely and you can see tool marks from where the Native Americans constructed this dugout canoe.
You may recall a few years ago that a dugout canoe was recovered from Lake Munson in Tallahassee. The city had drawn down the water and a dugout was discovered lying at the bottom of the lake bed, only partially exposed. Archaeologists from various state organizations delicately recovered the dugout and brought it to the state conservation facility where it was properly cared for and conserved. After over a year of conservation it is now on display in the lobby of the R.A. Gray Building in downtown Tallahassee. This dugout is believed to be between 800 to 500 years old and was found in an excellent state of preservation. You can even see the tool marks were Native Americans carved out the wood to create the dugout! The state of preservation varied at different portions of this dugout, probably because different portions were exposed to differing amounts of oxygen throughout time. The higher edges are far more degraded than the lower sections and the hull because these would have been exposed to aerobic (oxygenated) conditions for longer periods of time. Overall though, the dugout was found in excellent condition. When the Lake Munson canoe was removed from the lake bottom care had to be taken by professional archaeologists and conservators to ensure that the wood did not dry out too quickly. After hundreds of years underwater, the material has reached equilibrium with its surrounding environment, and removing it from that environment can cause it to deteriorate to a point that it is destroyed if it is not done so carefully and correctly. If the wood were to dry out too rapidly it would cause it to shrink and crack. Wood is anisotropic, which means that it doesn’t expand or contract equally along its three dimensions. Evidence of this can be seen in many wooden objects that have been removed and stored incorrectly in what is called check cracking (it looks like lots of tic-tac-toes) and splitting.
During periods of drought many times partially exposed dugouts are found in lakes around the state. The most notable of this instance is of course, Newnan’s Lake near Gainesville. Here the largest concentration of wooden (both pine and cypress) dugout canoes in North America were recovered in 2000. They had become exposed due to extreme drought conditions. Frequent burial and reburial due to environmental conditions in a lake or other water body, can have a huge impact on the condition of the wooden object. In the event that a canoe is not entirely buried and lake levels fall due to drought, one can expect rapid deterioration of the wood as a result of it drying out too fast and exposure to the bleaching effects of ultra violet light from the sun.
Another concern with organic objects is storage. A dugout canoe was recently donated by the state to the Big Bend Maritime Museum in Panacea. Prior to its time at the state collections facility, this dugout had been found by a
This dugout is on display at the Big Bend Maritime Center in Panacea, FL. Without these wooden braces the dugout would fall apart.
private individual and was stored inappropriately on the ground outdoors for a number of years. As a result, it made the perfect home (and meal) for many different insects, including ants and termites. Pests are very problematic for organic archaeological collections, and care must be taken to ensure a collection is free from bugs. In many institutions, when an organic object is acquired –be it paper, ethnographic, wooden, etc – it is quarantined for at least 30 days. Proper storage and care of this particular dugout would have prevented the structural and surface issues that it has. Again, it goes back to the age old concept of context. If you do find a dugout, or any other artifact for that matter, it is best to leave it where it is and notify a professional archaeologist who will know how to best care for that particular object. The Big Bend Maritime Museum plans to have this dugout on exhibit and plans to include a panel discussing such preservation issues.
Typically a water-soluble wax is used to preserve extremely waterlogged wooden material. The idea is that through soaking the wax impregnates the cell walls that have been destroyed by water and degraded by bacteria, so that when the object is eventually dried out it retains its original shape. The Lake Munson canoe was not waterlogged to the extent that rendered this time-consuming procedure necessary. Instead, it was wrapped in plastic and allowed to dry very slowly in controlled conditions over the course of a year. The plastic functioned as a very basic humidity chamber that prevented any drastic change along any one of the three dimensions of the wood. As a result of this there are very little visible signs of checking on the surface of the wood. In order to achieve such wonderful preservation results it took over a year’s work by very knowledgeable professional conservators to monitor the progress of the Lake Munson canoe. Thanks to the work of professional conservators, who work behind the scenes the majority of the time, we have a great wealth of knowledge of our state’s history. If it was not for their careful efforts we would have only part of the story and only part of the artifact assemblage would have survived the test of time.
Uncategorized Archaeology, FAS, Florida, Florida Anthropological Society, Florida Archaeology Month, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Mission San Luis, Panhandle Archaeological Society, PAST, Tallahassee
This month I have been to so many festivals, and many people come to my booth wanting to know how they can become involved in local archaeology. So I thought it would be great to blog about this topic! I always recommend getting involved with your local Florida Anthropological Society (FAS) chapter. FAS provides those interested in archaeology and professional archaeologists a formal means to come together in a way that is mutually beneficial. FAS is open to anybody that is willing to abide by the FAS statement of ethics. The organization promotes the study of Florida’s past and brings attention to the general public and the appropriate governmental agencies the need for preservation of archaeological and historical sites within Florida. Members of FAS also receive the quarterly publication, The Florida Anthropologist, which provides readers with a great variety of articles detailing various aspects of Florida archaeology. It is always a great read!
The 2011 PAST Kick Off Meeting and Potluck!
There are sixteen FAS Chapters currently operating in the state. The Panhandle Archaeological Society at Tallahassee (PAST) is probably the closest chapter for many of the people that live within the North Central region. This FAS Chapter was first established in 1999 and holds a variety of activities and events throughout the year. By joining PAST you will have the opportunity to work alongside professional and avocational archaeologists on a variety of projects. Currently they are working on two field projects, where members may have the opportunity to assist with excavation, artifact curation and much more! Additionally, the Society hosts guest speakers from around the region to speak at their monthly meeting. PAST meetings are held on the first Tuesday of each month at 7pm at the B. Calvin Jones Center for Archaeology at the Governor Martin House (1001 De Soto Park Drive).
PAST has the unique honor of hosting the 2012 Florida Anthropological Society’s Annual Meeting. The meeting will be held at Mission San Luis in Tallahassee from May 11th to May 13th. There will be paper and poster sessions, various workshops, behind-the-scenes tours and fieldtrips. It is sure to be a great meeting and a wonderful opportunity to learn about Florida’s archaeology! To fit with the meeting’s setting, there will be Spanish food at the reception and banquet as well! Yummy! FPAN, PAST and FAS will provide more information about the meeting and how to register as it becomes available, so be on the look out!
Each March is Florida Archaeology Month (FAM). Every year has a different theme. Many of you may remember last year’s theme, “Native Plants, Native People”. Each year a poster with information about the theme is printed and given out at various FAM events. Additionally, book marks with similar information are made available to the public. The 2012 theme will relate to Florida’s involvement in the Civil War. This is to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. It is a great time to get out and learn about Florida’s history and archaeology as there are always many events that are taking place to celebrate FAM! FAM has become an important program for school children in Florida and many educators take advantage of FAM information to teach about the history and prehistory of Florida. Some FAM events are specifically designed for school children or field trip groups. The Florida Park Service is a great supporter of FAM, displaying the posters in park entrance stations and other high traffic areas. State Parks throughout Florida are also host to a wide variety of events during FAM. Various private museums and public libraries display the posters and make bookmarks available for students of all ages to promote stewardship. An interactive FAM website
PAST members pose for a photo after maintaining an archaeological site they have adopted.
is also in the works and will provide the public with even more information about Florida archaeology!
So there you have it, a rundown of some of the more common archaeology acronyms in Florida (in addition to FPAN of course)! Many professions are full of acronyms, and unless you are in that field it can be somewhat confusing! But as a member of the public with an interest in Florida archaeology, these acronyms, or what they represent, may be of great importance to you! So if you are interested in becoming more involved and taking advantage of the archaeological opportunities in your community FAS might be the answer you have been looking for!
Uncategorized Archaeology, Blountstown, Florida Archaeology, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Living History Museum, Panhandle Pioneer Settlement, Public Archaeology Day
One of the many historic buildings on display for visitors at the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement.
What is the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement you ask? Well, it is a great place to experience Florida history first hand! It is located in Blountstown, Florida in Sam Atkins Park.
Vendors were at the event selling replica artifacts.
The Panhandle Pioneer Settlement was established in 1989. It is a living history museum that brings to life the time period between 1840 to the beginning of World War II. Their mission is to acquire, document, research and restore buildings, tools and other artifacts that were used throughout Florida’s history. This awesome place was developed by a small group of citizens that donated time and energy to soliciting memberships, and writing grants to acquire funds for the historical preservation and reconstruction of the over 20 structures now located on this 42 acre piece of property. Each building provides a unique experience and is a testament to the great history of the area. The buildings are situated in a way that is reminiscent of an old agricultural community in rural North Florida. For a virtual tour or for more information about the living history museum you can visit their website.
Throughout the year the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement is host to a wide variety of events that will take you back in time. For example, in February there is a Sacred Harp
FPAN Intern, Tristan, takes time to interact with guests at the Public Archaeology Day.
Singing and in November there is a Sugar Cane Syrup-Making Day! In September you can enjoy a free Peanut Boil. This past September the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement added another event to their calendar as well. They partnered up with the Northwest
There were also flint knapping deomonstrations!
and North Central FPAN regional offices to offer a Public Archaeology Day. Visitors could bring their artifacts to have them identified by professional archaeologists. They could also enjoy the many historical and archaeological exhibits that were set up around the living history museum. And of course, while there they were encouraged to walk about and learn what life in Florida used to be like by interacting with living history interpreters that were in period dress! I think it is safe to say that the event was a huge success and fun was had by all! In fact, it was such a success that we have already set the date for next year’s Public Archaeology Day at the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement. So get out your 2012 calendars and be sure to mark September 8, 2012 so you don’t miss next year’s Public Archaeology Day! However, don’t wait until next year to visit the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement! They are open on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10am to 2pm. Tours and other hours are available by appointment as well, so give them a call at 850-674-2777.
Uncategorized Archaeologist, Archaeology, Day of Archaeology 2011, Florida Public Archaeology Network
Hi all! Well today is the Day of Archaeology 2011 and I am very excited. For those of you who may not be aware of what this means, well, the Day of Archaeology 2011 was created to give people a glimpse into the daily lives of archaeologists. Written by over 400 contributors, it documents what they do on one day, July 29th 2011
, from those in the field to specialists working in laboratories and behind computers. This date coincides with the Festival of British Archaeology
, which runs from 16th – 31st July 2011. Archaeologists will continue to post to this Day of Archaeology blog for an entire week after the Day of Archaeology.
The Day of Archaeology was born after a Twitter conversation. Some folks thought it would be interesting and fun to organize something for those working or volunteering in (or studying) archaeology around the world. Thanks to some very talented and hard working, tech savy people, the Day of Archaeology became a reality. So I hope that you all will check it out at http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/
. There are approximately 400 archaeologists from around the world contributing to this project. So take some time and get to know what it is that archaeologists that work in various aspects of the field do on a daily basis! It really is a cool project!
Now, below is my post from The Day of Archaeology 2011 blog. There are so many individuals contributing, that you might have a hard time finding my post. So read on below, but don’t forget to visit the Day of Archaeology web site to see what other archaeologists are doing around the world. Enjoy!
Hello! First let me introduce myself! I am Barbara Hines, the Outreach Coordinator for the Florida Public Archaeology Network’s North Central Region (www.flpublicarchaeology.org). I have been working with FPAN for just over a year now, and have loved every second of it so far. Prior to Public Archaeology I worked in Cultural Resource Management. Because of that experience I have a wide range of interests as far as archaeology goes, but I tend to get a bit more excited about historical archaeology (especially the antebellum stuff). At FPAN our mission is to promote and facilitate the conservation, study and public understanding of Florida’s archaeological heritage through regional centers, each of which has its own website. We have a total of eight regions throughout the state of Florida.
Today I don’t have any field work going on, but there is still a ton of stuff I am trying to get done by the end of the day today. First thing I do everyday is update our facebook and twitter status. You can follow FPAN North Central on twitter at @FPANNrthCentral. I try to post upcoming outreach events and sometimes interesting articles about local archaeological finds. After that it is on to the rest of the day’s tasks.
Today I am trying to finalize plans for an upcoming event I have going on in Blountstown, Florida. I have teamed up with the FPAN Northwest Region, the Panhandle Archaeological Society at Tallahassee and the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement for a Public Archaeology Day. It will be located at the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement on September 10th. This is going to be a great event where the public can bring their own private artifact collections so that they can have them identified by Professional Archaeologists. This is a great way to create a working dialog between the private collector and archaeologists. I think this is very important and allows archaeologists to get a more holistic view of the archaeological record. I have been trying to line up volunteers and work on other logistical matters.
The Thank You Wall!
This morning I went to the P.O. Box to check our mail. I love checking our mail because it is always filled with thank you letters from children. I visit a lot of classrooms and present on archaeology. FPAN also has a ton of hands on activities we do with the kids to teach them about different concepts relating to archaeology. It is probably my favorite part of the job! I have a bulletin board in the office where I display some of my favorite thank you notes and newspaper clippings about some of our events. It is a constant reminder of the impact we are making, and I hope it is a lasting impact. I am a true believer that education will lead to the conservation of our important archaeological sites. In fact, another one of my goals today is to email my education contacts to let them know that I am ready for the upcoming school year. I have a listing of emails for teachers and educators that I email on a regular basis to keep them updated about FPAN outreach events. Some of the teachers even give the students extra credit if they attend! We also conduct teacher trainings to equip the teachers with the necessary skills to incorporate archaeology into their existing curricula.
We also do a lot of things with adults as well. Today one of my main goals is to finish a presentation that I will be giving in early August to a group of adults in Columbia County. I will be talking about the turpentine industry in North Florida. From the 1700s to the early 1900s it was an important industry in this region and I have had the opportunity to work on several sites that contained the remains of turpentine camps. It has been a long time interest of mine. And to think, I had no idea what the turpentine (sometimes called Naval Stores) industry was until I moved up here to Tallahassee! Turpentine was used to seal ships and was also an ingredient in many other products, such as paint thinner, beauty products and medical products as well. I have been compiling information for this presentation for months, now it is time to create the power point and get down to business. I have some really cool pictures that I am very excited to show the public. I found them at the state archives.
This whole summer I have been busy going to summer camps and doing archaeology activities with the campers. Last week I attended a Girl Scout camp and did a whole bunch of lessons with them. Their favorite activity though, was learning to use the atlatl. The atlatl, or spear thrower, is a prehistoric hunting tool. It even predates the bow and arrow! We all spent some time outside learning how to use it. With the use of the atlatl you can learn to throw a spear three times farther and faster! That would come in pretty handy if you had to hunt large game for dinner. The kids always get a kick out of it and so do the adults! Today I want to unpack all my summer camp supplies and send an email to the Camp Director to thank her for inviting me to come and teach the campers about archaeology. I hope that the campers all enjoyed it as much as I did!
Well, I believe that is my day in a nutshell. It is probably pretty different than what most people would expect. No digging in the dirt for me today! As much as I do love excavating, I am pretty glad to be in the air conditioning today, as it is almost 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside today. However, when I was doing Cultural Resource Management I was regularly out there in the heat, so I know I could do it if I had to! I hope you enjoyed this entry and I really hope I gave some good insight into the typical day of a Public Archaeologist!
Uncategorized Archaeology, Florida, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Girl Scouts, Summer Camp
Around this time of year many FPAN offices are busy working summer camps around the state. When I tell people this, they always ask, “What do kids do at archaeology summer camp?” Well, I decided that would be a wonderful blog topic. Most seem to think that we put the kids in a big pit and make them dig in the dirt all week long. Well, I don’t know about you, but in this heat, that does not sound too appealing. Thank goodness archaeology summer camp involves a variety of activities – some indoors and some outdoors!
This summer I worked with three different summer camps, and all three ran very differently. At one summer day camp I spent one hour with a different group of children each day. So each day I did the same activity, just adapting it to make it age appropriate for each individual group. I spent that week doing an activity called “Ancient Graffiti”. In this activity the children create a graffiti panel to show how people expressed themselves in the past. The campers learned that wall paintings, rock art, and even graffiti are found at archaeological sites throughout the world. They learned that pictographs created by prehistoric Native Americans are studied by archaeologists to interpret their meaning and use. Archaeologists use this type of rock art to understand the beliefs, religion, experiences, or stories of the people who created them. We even took it one step further and discussed how graffiti created during historic times can be studied the same way. The children even had the chance to learn about some ancient rock art found within a cave in Florida! The campers worked on their ancient graffiti in groups and had to tell a story without using any written words. They then had the chance to share their story with the rest of the campers. It is a great activity, and the stories were very entertaining. There were hunting parties telling about their latest catch, stories of adventures around the world and even stories of aliens landing on earth!
The second day camp I had the same group every day. Therefore I was able to do a different activity each day. This allowed for a more in depth look at Florida archaeology. We did a variety of activities, but the camper’s favorite one seemed to be the Chocolate Chip Cookie Excavation. This gave the children a chance to learn that excavation is a very scientific process and takes time. They also learned the importance of documentation by mapping their cookie prior to excavation. We took this lesson a step further by discussing the Law of Superposition, which states simply that in an undisturbed environment, the artifacts that are closer to the surface were deposited more recently than those that are found deeper within the ground. This, in turn, led to a productive discussion on the importance of not disturbing archaeological sites. It never ceases to amaze me at how intelligent and observant children can be! They latched on to this concept and ran with it.
The third camp was a Girl Scout sleep away camp. I was probably busiest at this camp. It was a week long and there were multiple archaeology activities scheduled each day. We had a chance to do both indoor and outdoor activities. Many activities I did with the campers came from either Project Archaeology or Beyond Artifacts. Beyond Artifacts is available for free on the FPAN website, and FPAN offers Project Archaeology workshops on a regular basis (www.flpublicarchaeology.org). I would have to say though; Atlatl Antics was probably the favorite activity for these campers! What could be more fun than learning about Native American technology and then having the chance to learn how to throw with an ancient hunting tool, the atlatl (also sometimes called a spear thrower)! The campers had a blast and learned that although prehistoric cultures did not have tv’s or computers, their technology was anything but primitive!
So there you have it, archaeology summer camp in a nutshell! Of course I could not go over each individual activity that the campers did throughout their stay at summer camp, but as you can see, it so much better than being stuck in a pit for a week! So, while this summer is coming to an end, remember, there is always next summer!
Uncategorized Archaeology, Beyond Artifacts, Education, Educational Resources, Florida, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Public Outreach
Shipwreck on a Tarp, from "Beyond Artifacts". Avaliable on FPAN website.
When I first tell people that as part of my job I sometimes meet with school groups, they automatically assume that I simply show slides from excavations that I have worked on. However, what I do is something that I feel is much more meaningful and has a greater impact than just simply showing pictures. Instead of showing children what I do, I use hands-on lessons that allow them to become the archaeologist and learn about the past. Archaeology is a multidisciplinary science and can be used in the classroom to teach a variety of skills. Not only can children learn about the past, but they can learn about the scientific method, classification, geography, observation, inference and evidence, as well as other valuable skills. Most educators do not know about the many resources available to them that t hey can use to incorporate archaeology lessons into the curricula that they already use throughout the school year. You can find some of these avaliable resources on FPAN’s website, http://www.flpublicarchaeology.org/resources/. Additionally, FPAN regularly conducts Teacher Workshops in order to help familiarize teachers with these lessons so that they will feel more comfortable using them in their classrooms (check with your local FPAN office for details and scheduled workshops).
Now, once they realize that I do more than just show pictures of sites, they then automatically assume that I do “mock excavations” with the children. However, that is not
Mystery Cemetery, from "Beyond Artifacts". Avaliable on FPAN website.
the case either. The children do not have to get down on their hands and knees in an excavation unit to learn about archaeology. In fact, I have found that children prefer food over dirt any day! And what better way to learn about excavation techniques than excavating a chocolate chip cookie. Or what about learning about stratigraphy and the Law of Superposition with peanut butter and jelly? This also allows the students to expand their horizons and look at every day and familiar objects in a very different way. What about using the contents of the classroom trash can (the clean trash, of course!) to teach them how archaeologists use items to learn about past activities at a site. There are a variety of ways to create a unique archaeological experiment in the classroom without every getting dirty.
Atlatl Antics avaliable on the FPAN website in "Beyond Artifacts".
These lessons can be used throughout the year and are great for summer camps as well! Not only does it expose children to the reality of archaeology, not the Hollywood idea of what an archaeologist does. No offense to Laura Croft and Indian Jones of course. I have fond memories of going to the movie theater to see these action packed movies. However, it is important that children learn the science of archaeology. These lessons not only teach about scientific inquiry, they also have the potential to teach the enduring lesson of stewardship. After all, archaeological sites are the only glimpse we have into our shared past and if these sites are destroyed they are gone forever. In the future it will be up to our children to ensure that these sites are preserved for their children and so on.
So, take a moment and look over the many lessons available on our website! We are always available to answer questions that educators might have regarding incorporating archaeology in the classroom.
Uncategorized Archaeology, Archaeotourism, Civil War, DeSoto Encampment, Florida, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Heritage Tourism, Hike, Kayak, Lack Jackson Mound State Park, Mission San Luis, Old Fort Park, Olustee Battlefield State Park, Outdoors, Tallahassee, Travel
he North Central Region of Florida is a beautiful and unique area. The area has been a tourist destination for a long time now, and many people come here to view wildlife, visit the beaches and springs, and enjoy the outdoors.
Mission San Luis in Tallahassee
Well, the very things that attract people to this area today were responsible for attracting people to this area throughout history and prehistory. It is amazing how many archaeological and heritage sites around here are open to the public. The great thing about it is that there is a site available to suit almost any interest! You can visit prehistoric mounds built by early Native American cultures, or check out a Civil War or Seminole War era fort, and of course, don’t forget that we have a recreated Spanish Mission-period sites with living history programs (all of which is based on archaeological and historical information, and reconstructed on the actual archaeological site)! There is much more here as well, and more is becoming available as time goes on.
Lake Jackson Mound and picnic area.
The great thing about archaeotourism and eco-tourism is that they easily go hand-in-hand. One example of the many that I could choose from is Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park. At Lake Jackson you can climb an ancient Indian mound that looks out over beautiful Lake Jackson, and then you can go for a hike along one of their nature trails. The wildlife and history are abundant at this park, like so many others in the North Central Region. Is the Civil War more you cup of tea? Well then, take a day trip to Olustee Battlefield State Park or San Marco de Apalache, or how about Natural Bridge? Again, you can learn about history and experience Florida’s beautiful natural landscape.
The great thing about archaeotourism in the North Central Region, and throughout Florida as well, you never have to travel far to find something new to learn about or to create lasting memories. These archaeological and heritage sites are everywhere! For example, just around the corner from the FPAN North Central Office, and in the middle of a suburban neighborhood, there is a Civil War fort. For that matter, my office is sitting on top of the DeSoto Encampment Site and the office building is part of the Governor Martin Property, which is
Hiking trail at Olustee Battlefield State Park
listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
You might just find yourself amazed at the history and prehistory that surrounds you! So the next time you have a few moments check out our website, www.flpublicarchaeology.org, and use the tools on the website to find some true and unique Florida history near you. Each region has a
Old Fort Park, Tallahassee
listing of sites located in that region, and you can also check out “Destination: Civil War” to find Civil War related sites in your area. Love the outdoors? Well, then load up the kayaks or the mountain bikes, strap on the hiking boots and visit a heritage site near you!
Uncategorized Archaeological Context, Archaeological Site, Archaeology, Artifacts, Florida, Florida Archaeology, Interpretation, Photographs
Context is a very, very important concept in archaeology. Unfortunately, it is also one that most people are not very familiar with. Context is the place where an artifact is found, Not just the place but the type of soil, the site type, and what the artifact was found with or in relation to. I always emphasize this concept when speaking with adults and children about archaeology. The example I always use is a person’s bedroom. If you were to step into a stranger’s bedroom what would you be able to learn about them? By looking at the items in the room, within their context, you might be able to figure out the gender, age, interests and other unique aspects of that individual. However, if you were to take those objects out of that room, one by one, and look at them separately you may come up with very different answer regarding who that person is.
This is one primary reason that it is considered a bad thing, and in many cases illegal, to take artifacts from an archaeological site. The object itself can give us some information, but most of the information that archaeologists gather from a site comes from the context of those objects. If everybody were to visit a site and take one artifact each, soon there would be nothing left for us to study. Additionally, because archaeology is a destructive science, and we can never put things back the same after they have been excavated or taken, the context is destroyed and vast amounts of information have potentially been lost. This is the main reason that archaeologists are so tedious in their efforts to record everything. We take photographs, notes, drawings and various other records to ensure that we can learn everything there is to learn about that site.
Archaeology studies the physical evidence from past cultures that has survived a long time buried in the ground. This physical evidence provides us a direct-although fragmentary- link with the past. The objects, or artifacts, that we recover can’t “speak for themselves”, but instead they must be interpreted by archaeologists. The process of interpreting these objects must be done carefully and can be a painstaking process. As part of that process archaeologists try to make associations between various artifacts in order to better understand a site. An archaeological site is similar to a puzzle. We put the objects and features of the site together to tell the story of the archaeological site. Have you ever gotten to the end of a puzzle only to find that you are missing one or more pieces leaving you with an incomplete picture? When visiting an archaeological site, do your part to leave archaeologists with all the puzzle pieces necessary to gain a complete understanding of that site. Enjoy the site, and remember the old motto, “leave only footprints and take only pictures”, and in doing so you will provide archaeologists with the context needed to understand the past!
Uncategorized Adams Needle, American Indians, Archaeology, Cord, Fish Weirs, Florida, Florida Archaeology, Florida Archaeology Month, Florida Archaeology Month 2011, Florida History, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Native People, Native Plants, Natural Fibers, Nets, Rope, Saponins, Soap, Textiles, Yucca, Yucca filamentosa
Description: Perennial to 9 ft. in flower. Leaves in a rosette, stiff, spine tipped, oblong to lance shaped, with twisting, fraying
Historic ad for Yucca Tonic, used as medicinal remedy.
fibers along margins. Flowers whitish green bells on smooth, branched stalks.
American Indians used roots in a compress for sprains, sores, and skin diseases. A root wash may also have been used for its soaping action. The roots of most yucca species, including filamentosa contain saponins. These compounds produce long lasting soaping action and have been used in the manufacture of soaps and shampoos, both commercially and traditionally. Today you can purchase soap that is made from yucca in stores or online.
The saponins contained in Yucca filamentosa are toxic to lower life forms. Pounded roots may have been applied to fish weirs to stupefy fish allowing for easy harvest.
The leaf of Adams needle has been valued by American Indians as a source of strong fibers for centuries. This fiber is yielded through a process of boiling the leaf until reduced to a pulpy consistency. Excess matter can then be scraped away yielding abundant strong fibers. These fibers can be used to craft textiles, cord, rope, nets, and so on.
Fibers and cordage made from Yucca filamentosa.
Uncategorized acetyl-salicylic acid, Archaeology, aspirin, Black Willow, Florida, Florida Archaeology, Florida Archaeology Month, Florida Archaeology Month 2011, Florida History, Florida Public Archaeology Network, medicine, Native Americans, North Florida, plant, red root, salicin, Salix caroliniana, Salix nigra, semi-synthetic drug, Southeast, Southeastern Indian, Willow
Description: Shrubby or tree to 30ft.(caroliniana).Tree to 100 ft. or more (nigra), trunks often leaning. Leaves finely sharp toothed to 6 inches, pointed. Male and female flowers on separate trees, with drooping catkins about 2 inches long.
Black willow (Salix nigra) in early fall.
All parts of the willow plant contain salicin, a precursor to acetyl-salicylic acid (aspirin). Metabolic action in the liver, kidneys, and intestines converts plant compounds to aspirin after consumption. This metabolic action of the plants compounds actually creates an aspirin tailor fitted to the metabolism and body chemistry of the person ingesting it. The medicine that the Muskogee Indians create using this plant is a liquid called Mikko Hoyvniche, which when translated means, “King Passing Through”. This illustrates the importance of this medicine in the Southeastern Indian spirituality. It is used both as a medicine to cure aches and pains as well as used in ceremonies. Historically important to Native Americans of the southeast, the willow continues to be held in high regard by traditional people of native descent. Old-timers may call it “red root”.
Many types of willow are currently used in the production of aspirin. Aspirin is the most widely available semi-synthetic drug in the world. Black willow (Salix nigra) is the most common type found throughout North Florida.
Early aspirin bottle. Aspirin is still made using compounds from the willow plant.