Port St. Joe to Celebrate Florida Archaeology Month on March 29th and 30th!

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We hope that you will consider joining us for this awesome celebration of Port St. Joe’s rich archaeological and historical heritage! On Friday, March 29th from 6-7pm EST Christopher Hunt, a University of South Florida Graduate Research Assistant, will present ” A Forgotten Community: Archaeological Documentation of Old St. Joe”. This lecture will take place at St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve.  On Saturday we will hold two separate Public Archaeology Day events! From 10am to 12pm EST we will be at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park and from 2pm to 4pm EST we will be at the Constitution Convention Museum State Park.  Public Archaeology Days are a great time to bring your artifacts had have them identified, learn about archaeology in the area and pick up information about archaeology in Florida. Archaeologists will be on site to help identify artifacts and answer any questions. This is also a wonderful time to enjoy these beautiful state parks and nature preserve! We hope you will come out and join in our celebration of Florida Archaeology Month!

Archaeology in the Classroom: A Workshop for Educators

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Are you a teacher, youth coordinator, camp director or otherwise involved  with coordinating youth educational activities? If you would like to see archaeological education become a part of your existing curriculum, then we have a workshop just for you! On Saturday, March 16th from 10am to 4pm the Florida Public Archaeology Network and the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement will be offering a teacher workshop, “Archaeology in the Classroom: A Workshop for Educators”. This workshop will be held at the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement in Blountstown. Teachers associated with traditional and non-traditional education are encouraged to participate. Archaeology is an extremely multidisciplinary social science, providing opportunities for teachers and educators to incorporate archaeological information, methods, and ideas into science, history, language arts, math, social studies, and art curricula.

This workshop will provide educators with non-digging archaeology-based training, lesson plans, activities, and projects to expose students to the excitement of archaeology while teaching the basics. All information and curricula presented directly relate to FCAT requirements and Sunshine State Standards. While there, staff from the Pioneer Settlement will be offering teachers a tour of the museum as part of the training! Participants will receive numerous hands-on archaeological-themed lesson plans. Space is limited,  so please call 850.595.0050  or email nbucchino@.uwf.edu to register. A recommended donation of $20 is requested to help cover the cost of  materials and refreshments.


Viva Florida Archaeology Month 2013!

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The front of the 2013 Florida Archaeology Month poster.

2013 marks the 500 year anniversary of Juan Ponce de Leon’s arrival on Florida shores and first interactions with Florida’s indigenous people. From that point on, Florida has seen the arrival of many people of different nationalities and cultures. The archaeology of Florida’s diverse legacy begins at these distant points and continues into the present day. Archaeologists seek to learn about the more recent past, like the beginnings of tourism and the development of urban centers, because it can also shed light on how our diverse heritage continues to impact and enrich our lives.

Florida’s diverse history and prehistory stretches back over 12,000 years. Every March, statewide programs and events celebrating Florida Archaeology Month are designed to encourage Floridians and visitors to learn more about the archaeology and history of the state, and to preserve these important parts of Florida’s rich cultural heritage. Plan to attend some of the many events throughout Florida during March 2013. You can find events in your area taking place during Florida Archaeology Month by visiting the Florida Archaeology Month website. A full listing  of events taking place throughout the year can also be found on the events webpages of the regional centers of the Florida Public Archaeology Network or the Viva Florida 500 website.

Florida Archaeology Month is coordinated by the Florida Anthropological Society (FAS), the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN), the Florida Archaeological Council, Inc., and the Florida Division of Historical Resources. Additional sponsors include state and local museums, historical commissions, libraries, and public and private school systems. The 2013 Florida Archaeology Month poster is available through your local FAS Chapter, your regional FPAN office or can be acquired at various events sponsored by the participating organizations. You can find out more about Florida Archaeology Month by contacting your local FPAN regional center or your local FAS chapter.

Creeks, Conquistadors, and Confederates: Archaeology of the Big Bend Lecture Series for Florida Archaeology Month 2012

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It is that time again! Florida Archaeology Month is upon us! This year’s theme is “Destination: Civil War! This is very exciting since the start of the 150th Commemoration of the Civil War starts this year. FPAN has a ton of awesome events lined up around the state, as do other organizations as well. To find out what is going on near you visit your local FPAN website AND check out the new Florida Archaeology Month website! This year the North Central Regional Center has teamed up the Tallahassee Community College Wakulla Center to offer a free series of lectures to highlight different archaeological topics for the Big Bend region! All lectures will be held on the dates listed below at the TCC Wakulla Center located at 5 Crescent Way in Crawfordville. All the lectures will start at 6:30 pm and last approximately an hour. They are all free and everyone is welcome! Also, be sure to check out all of our other events this month, including the reenactment at Natural Bridge! So, without further ado, below is the information about the speakers and dates for the “Creeks, Conquistadors, and Confederates: Archaeology of the Big Bend” lecture series. Trust me, you will not want to miss a single one!

The Madison :Scuttled in Troy Spring Run

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The lower ribs of the steamship, Madison, in Troy Spring Run at Troy Spring State Park.

The remains of the steamship, Madison, are located within the boundaries of Troy Spring State Park in Troy Springs, Florida. The Madison was originally constructed sometime between 1844 to 1854 for Captain James M. Tucker. It was named for Tucker’s hometown, Madison, Florida and it originally served as a floating mail service and trading post. In the 1850s, there were few road going into or out of Troy, and those that existed were often in poor condition. Additionally, the railroad had not yet arrived. For transportation, commerce and basic necessities, area residents relied on the service of Captain James M. Tucker and the steamboat Madison.

In 1861, at the beginning of the Civil War the Madison was used by the Confederates as a privateer and jerry-rigged gunboat. Lafayette county was a known refuge for Union sympathizers and Confederate deserters. This put Captain Tucker at odds with many locals. In 1863 it was scuttled and set on fire in the spring run at the request of Captain Tucker in order to prevent the Union from taking it over.  Today some remains of the Madison are still visible in the spring run, mainly metal spikes, the keel and lower ribs.

Troy Spring State Park is a recent addition to the Florida State Park system. The 70-foot deep, first magnitude spring offers opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Troy Spring State Park is located off of County Road 425, 1.3 miles north of U.S. 27. While we are on the subject, this is a great opportunity to remind you that the theme for Florida Archaeology Month in March 2012 is the Civil War. What a perfect excuse to check out Troy Spring and explore the Madison! Please remember the old scouting motto though, “take only pictures, leave only footprints” (or in this case, bubbles!). We want everyone to be able to enjoy their scuba or snorkel adventure on the Madison, now and long into the future!




FAS, PAST, FAM…What Do All These Acronyms Stand for Anyways!?!

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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!




Plant of the Week: Witch hazel (Hamamelis viginiana)

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Well, tomorrow marks the last day of Florida Archaeology Month 2011. I hope you took this opportunity to explore the unique and wonderful past of our amazing state. If you did attend a Florida Archaeology Month event (which I hope you did, of course!) and you would like to fill out a survey but did not receive one, please email me at bhines@uwf.edu. I would be more than happy to send a survey your way! We are always looking for ways to improve Florida Archaeology Month, and this survey is your opportunity to let us know what you are thinking. Now, let us move on and get to the reason you are really reading this post, our last Plant of the Week! I hope you have been enjoying this series to celebrate this years theme, “Native People, Native Plants”!

The Witch Hazel plant, found in Florida woods.

Description: Deciduous shrub or small tree to 15 ft. Leaves obovate, scalloped margins, with uneven, wedge shaped bases. Flowers yellow in axillary clusters, flowers bloom after leaves drop.

Long regarded as a cure-all, witch hazel has been used in a wide variety of applications, both internally and externally. Teas from the plant have been used to treat cold, cough, sore throat, and dysentery to name only a few. A wash made from witch hazel was  a common treatment for sore muscles and bruising. It has also long been used to tone and clean the skin.

Witch hazel is also widely used today (in distilled extracts, ointments, and eyewashes) as an astringent for piles, toning skin and eye ailments. It is used commercially in preparations to treat hemorrhoid symptoms, irritations, minor pain, and itching. Products are FDA approved and available in every pharmacy. Witch hazel is approved in Germany for the treatment of burns, dermatitis, piles, local inflammation of mucous membranes, varicose veins and veinous conditions among others. Tannins in the leaves and bark are thought to be responsible for astringent and hemostatic properties, antioxidant activity.


Plants of the Week: Sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) and Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

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That’s right folks, this week we have two plants of the week!

The leaves of the Sweet Gum tree.

Sweet Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua):

Description: Tree to 125 ft. Outer limbs often corky winged. Leaves shiny, star shaped with 5-7 pointed, finely toothed lobes. Fruits spherical to 1 ½ inches, with projecting points.

The resin or “gum” formed when sweet gum bark is damaged, as well as many other parts of the tree exhibit strong anti-microbial activity. Sweet gum is used commercially as an ingredient in “compound tincture of benzoin”. The essential oil of the leaf contains compounds similar to those found in Australian tee tree, known for it’s anti-microbial properties.The gum was historically used by rural children as a chewing gum substitute. The twig, when chewed,  becomes a good “survival” toothbrush.

Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida):

Description: Deciduous tree 10-30 ft. Leaves ovate. Flowers in clusters, 4 showy, white bracts surround true flower.Fruits bright red to ¼ inch across.

Dogwood was widely used by American Indians as a medicine plant. It contains verbenalin, which reportedly has anti-inflammatory and pain reducing qualities, as well as being a cough suppressant and mild laxative. The red berries from the Flowering Dogwood tree are dry, very bitter and

The leaves and berries of the Dogwood in autumn.

considered inedible. Dogwood root bark tea  was widely used in the south as a quinine substitute, especially during the Civil War. An 1830 herbal study from Virginia commented that the teeth of Indians and captive Africans in the area were extremely white, and attributed this to dogwood chewing sticks. Like sweet gum, dogwood twigs form a soft pliable “brush” when chewed.

Plant of the Week: Adams needle (Yucca filamentosa)

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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.

Plant of the Week: Willow (Salix caroliniana, Salix nigra)

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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.


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