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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 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 Archaeology Education, atlatl antics, Beyond Artifacts, Educational Resources for Archaeology, Florida Archaeology, Free archaeology lesson plans, Hands-on learning, In-Service, Project Archaeology, Teacher workshops, Timucuan Technology
It is that time of the year again! FPAN would like to wish all the students and teachers good luck with the new school year! It is always an exciting and a busy time. Even here at FPAN we feel it. We start to get a lot of requests
from teachers around this time of the year asking us to visit their classes. We love to visit classes, but unfortunately there are very few of us and very many of you. We recognize this, and so we have created and keep adding to our resources section on our website. Here you can find videos, virtual field trips, curriculum guides and so much more that you can use in your classroom. We also offer teacher workshops and are more than happy to work with your school district to ensure that teachers who attend receive in-service credit. We have staff that are Project Archaeology facilitators, and would be willing to share their knowledge of this great educational resource as well and conduct a Project Archaeology In-Service Training for the teachers at your school.
The great thing about archaeology is that it is multidisciplinary! This means that no matter what subject area you teach, you can use archaeology to teach it! Archaeology incorporates math, reading, science, social studies, ethics, history, law/government, art and so much more! And have you ever met a child that was not intrigued by archaeology? If so, I can guarantee that they are the exception! Most kids are fascinated by archaeology and the concept of discovery. It is all about how you present it to them. Archaeology is hands-on and engaging! So if you are an educator, we hope that you will use our FREE online sources to assist you with incorporating archaeology into your curriculum. You will enjoy it as much as your students will! And if you ever have any questions regarding any of our resources please don’t hesitate to contact your local FPAN center. We put a lot of time and effort into developing these resources, so we also welcome feedback.
Uncategorized Coastal Living, Dr. Kenneth Sassaman, FAS, Florida, Florida Anthropological Society, Florida Archaeology, Florida Public Archaeology Network, FPAN, Gulf Coast, Lower Suwannee Archaeological Survey, Panhandle Archaeological Society at Tallahassee, PAST, Sea Level Rise, University of Florida
The Panhandle Archaeological Society at Tallahassee (PAST) is very excited to be welcoming Dr. Kenneth Sassaman, Hyatt and Cici Brown Professor of Florida Archaeology at the University of Florida, on February 3 at 7pm. The meeting will be held at the Governor Martin House (1001 DeSoto Park Drive, off of Lafayette Street between Myers Park Drive and Seminole Drive). You do not have to be a member of PAST to attend, but membership forms are made available during the meeting if you would like to join. PAST is the local chapter of the Florida Anthropological Society (FAS). Dr. Sassaman specializes in Archaic and Woodland periods of the American Southeast, technological change, and community patterning. His lecture is titled, “The Lower Suwannee Archaeological Survey: Results of the First Five years of Documenting a Drowning Record of Coastal Living”. The abstract of his lecture is below:
“An archaeological record of coastal living along the northern Gulf Coast of Florida is disappearing rapidly as the shoreline recedes with rising sea. Encased in this record is the material evidence of how people and ecosystems responded to sea-level rise over millennia. Since 2009, the Lower Suwannee Archaeological Survey of the University of Florida has been working to salvage vulnerable sites while developing information relevant to future challenges with environmental and social change. Among the results is increasing understanding of the integration of coastal communities through ritual practices that had practical value in mitigating the adverse effects of coastal change. Their solutions to uncertain futures are materialized in terraformed landscapes of mounds, ridges, and rings, as well as cemeteries and ritual objects that were relocated landward as communities responded to rising sea.”
We hope you will join us next week for this exciting lecture! Come early and join us for some light appetizers and refreshments!
Uncategorized 2013 Summer Reading Program, Archaeology, atlatl, Dig into Reading, Florida Archaeology, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Florida Summer Youth Activities, Summer Reading List, Volunteer Opportunity
As the kids are finishing up school and the summer heat starts to set in, parents everywhere are trying to find fun and educational summer entertainment for their kids. Well, have no worries and look no further! Every summer the public library system hosts a summer reading program and this year’s theme is “Dig into Reading”. As you can imagine FPAN staff across Florida are very excited and very busy partnering with libraries all over the state to offer public archaeology programs at public libraries in their regions. The North Central Regional Center is no exception. We have been working with libraries all across our region to schedule various youth programs. All of our activities will have a hands-on component and will be geared towards educating the kids on what exactly it is that archaeologists do and why it is so important to protect our state’s cultural and archaeological resources. Some of the activities we have schedules include chocolate chip cookie excavations, ancient graffiti, peanut butter and jelly archaeology, atlatl antics and so much more! For a complete schedule of all our summer programs you can check out our events page. If you are a program coordinator at a library outside of Florida, you can visit our website and check out all of FPAN’s resources available to you at no cost. Now here is the kicker! We are so busy with summer programs that there are ample volunteer opportunities for those wanting to help out and learn all about archaeology in the process. We are looking for a few good folks to help us with these programs. If you enjoy working with children, are a reliable volunteer, don’t mind talking to large groups and are looking for something fun to do this summer, then contact Barbara Hines at email@example.com. We will work with your schedule and will be offering training so that you are comfortable conducting all the fun activities we have planned for this summer. Whether you want to volunteer or you know of some children looking for some summer fun, we hope you will take full advantage of the opportunities that this summer reading program provides. For a reading list, multimedia resources and much more you can visit this website as well. So take a break from the summer heat and visit your local library!
Uncategorized Cadaver Dogs, Florida Archaeology, Ground Penetrating Radar, Historic Cemeteries, Human Remain Detection Dogs, Munree Cemetery, National Park Service, PFAN, SEAC, Tallahassee
You may remember our previous post about the Munree Cemetery. We used Human Remain Detection Dogs (or cadaver dogs) and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to help us located unmarked burials in this cemetery located in East Tallahassee. We wanted to compare the results of the dogs with that of the GPR. Well, or preliminary results are in and we wanted to share them with you. You may remember that this is a joint project with FPAN and the Southeast Archaeological Center (SEAC), which is part of the National Park Service. Well, a big thanks to SEAC for allowing us to use their GPR equipment for this project!
So, here is the skinny on how GPR works! These types of surveys have grown in popularity over the past 30 years. Despite the relatively commonplace use of GPR, imaging of buried features can be somewhat difficult. To detect archaeological features (or anomalies, as we call them) they must contrast electromagnetically with the surrounding soil matrix. Unfortunately, these types of instruments respond to archaeological anomalies and natural disturbances (tree roots, rocks, etc…). Therefore, the interpretation of GPR results depends greatly on the recognition of patterns in the data that correspond to the expected form of an archaeological feature (in this case, a pattern of burials like you would expect to find in a cemetery). GPR units operate by transmitting distinct pulses of radio energy from a surface antenna. This energy is reflected off of buried objects, features or soil structures. A second receiving antenna detects reflected pulses of energy. Using this data, GPR systems are capable of producing reliable images of subsurface anomalies. The survey at Munree Cemetery used a Geophysical Survey Systems SIR-3000 data acquisition system with a 400 MHz antenna, capable of resolving features measuring approximately 50 cm in diameter to a maximum depth of 3 meters. However, in practice, the depth of penetration is sually more limited because of varying electrical properties of the soil. The maximum depth of radar penetration during this survey was about 240 cm.
The GPR image from one of our grids, indicating anomalies identified by the GPR and possible burials as indicated by the canines.
As you may remember, the dogs were allowed to do a loose grid search of their assigned areas. If the dogs exhibited a final response the area was marked with a survey flag. Using dogs to identify human remains old enough to be considered archaeological in nature is a relatively new practice and dog handlers and trainers are still fine tuning their training techniques. As part of this survey, we are providing our data to the handlers so that they can use it in their training. Soil, humidity and air temperature can affect how the dogs perform. Large trees, such as live oak, can actually “drop” scent from their leaves. This is caused by the scent of the human remains running up the trunk from the soil and into the leaves. In the morning these large trees “drop” the scent, which can sometimes cause the dog to exhibit their final response at the drip line of the tree. Rodent holes can also vent scent, sometimes a distance from the actual burial. Dogs are best at indicating if a burial is present, but it can be a challenge for them to identify a single burials exact location.
It is important to note that thus far our findings are preliminary and additional work is necessary to determine the efficacy of using cadaver dogs to identify historic burials. At this stage, it is difficult to ascertain with any degree of certainty if burials are present in the areas that we tested. The discovery of several unique anomalies with geometry similar to burials suggests that unmarked graves are possible and perhaps likely in these areas. In total, the dogs identified sixteen targets that may represent unmarked graves. Four of those targets were within the GPR grids; and of those four, three were found to be associated with burial like anomalies. The dogs also actively targeted areas with known burials as evidenced by headstones and slumping. The dogs missed one possible burial in Area A and a possible cluster of burials in Area B. Future work at Munree Cemetery may include expanding the GPR survey area and ground truthing the anomalies corresponding to the targets identified by the canines. Still, the available data suggests that as a tool to expediently investigate an area for unmarked graves, GPR and cadaver dogs provide an effective means to guide research with comparable results.
Uncategorized Florida Anthropological Society, Florida Archaeological Council, Florida Archaeology, Florida Archaeology Month, Florida Division of Historical Resources, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Juan Ponce de Leon, VIVA Florida 500
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.
Uncategorized Artifacts, Excavation, Florida Archaeology, Florida History, Florida Public Archaeology Network, FPAN, Ft. Walton Culture, Goodwood Museum and Gardens, Goodwood Plantation, Leon County, Leon County School District, Riley House Museum, Tallahassee
Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a program called “Blended Lives”. It took place at Goodwood Museum and Gardens and the Riley House Museum, both located in Tallahassee. Last week all the forth grade
Prehistoric artifacts recovered from the Goodwood property. From left to right, an Archaic stemmed projectile point (arrowhead) and a Ft. Walton period decorated ceramic sherd.
students in Leon County had the opportunity to visit both historic sites and learn about all the different people of various backgrounds who lived at those sites and contributed to the history of these two historic homes in Tallahassee. This year the organizers brought FPAN into the mix to teach the students about an archaeological site that was excavated at Goodwood. When you see an old house or another type of existing structure from long ago it is easy to forget that there were most likely people that were living on that piece of land before that structure existed. The Goodwood plantation house was constructed in the 1830s, but some artifacts from the excavation date as far back as the Ft. Walton period (A.D. 1200 to A.D. 1500). While the archaeologists were excavating at this site they found both historic and prehistoric artifacts. In other words, they found artifacts that came from the people living in the 1830s plantation house and other
Historic artifacts, probably associated with the Goodwood house, recovered at the Goodwood site. Bottom Left: etched glass fragment, Top Left: Whieldon ware ceramic sherd, Right: small clay marble.
artifacts from the people living there during the Ft. Walton culture period all at the same site. Archaeologists sometimes refer to these types of sites as multi-component sites. This, as you can probably imagine, is a fairly common occurrence at archaeological sites. The students learned briefly about Florida’s prehistory – from the Paleoindian time period to when the Spanish arrived in the 1500s. Then I had the opportunity to share with them actual artifacts that were recovered from the Goodwood property during the excavation. All in all, I had a wonderful time, and I think the students, teachers and parent chaperones did as well! My hope is that now when the students look at a site they will think about all the different groups of people that were there before them and will have a new found appreciation for Florida’s rich and diverse cultural history.
To learn more about Goodwood Museum and Gardens please visit their website at GoodwoodMuseum.org. To learn more about the Riley House Museum you can visit their website at rileymuseum.org.
Uncategorized Archaeology Lesson Plans, Beyond Artifacts, Community Cassroom Consortium, Florida Archaeology, Florida Department of Education, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Geology, History, Language Arts, Math, Museum of Florida History, Science, Sunshine State Standards, Teachers
Are you a teacher that is looking to enhance your classroom curriculum? Well you are in luck! On August 30th at the Museum of Florida History many of the local outreach and educational programs in our region will be in one spot! The Museum of Florida History is hosting a Welcome Back, Teachers! event from 4 to 6pm. It will feature educational materials, information about onsite and outreach programs, local field trip options and refreshments. Exhibitors will include the Museum of Florida History, State Archives of Florida, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Florida Department of Education and various members of the Community Classroom Consortium. These organizations cater to a variety of subjects, so no matter what you teach there will be something there for you!
Archaeology is generally associated with social studies…but think about this for a second! Archaeologists need to have an understanding of geology, math, science, history, language arts and many other subject areas. We need to be able to communicate our interpretations and observations of a site so that they can be easily understood by not only other archaeologists, but the public as well. We need to be able to understand what resources were available to the people that were living in a specific area at a given time period. We need to be able to successfully and efficiently navigate through various environments (think of all the additional skills needed by Underwater Archaeologists!). We need to have a working knowledge of social constructs among various cultures during various times in history. Archaeologists need to have a very good understanding of the scientific method and many scientific theories in order to accurately record their findings. We also need to be able to read maps, create maps and accurately take measurements. Today archaeologists use many technological instruments to help record sites, and thus need to be pretty tech and computer savvy these days as well. We even need to be good photographers and have the ability to draw legible maps and illustrations. So, as you can see, archaeology can be an appropriate addition to a variety of subjects that are taught in school at any grade level (and I didn’t even list all the various skills needed to be a good archaeologist!). If you visit www.flpublicarchaeology.org/resources teachers can download a free copy of our lesson plan guide, Beyond Artifacts. There are also many other resources, including virtual field trips, that are available on that site. Beyond Artifacts is aligned with the Sunshine State Standards, updated regularly and includes lessons appropriate for all grade levels and subject areas.
I hope that you will be able to join us on August 30th to see what other organizations there are in this area that are available to teachers and educators in this area! FPAN will be there, along with many other organizations to show you all of the different hands on programs and educational opportunities we have available for your students.
Uncategorized canoe, Florida Archaeology, Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research, Florida Coastal Management Program, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Division of Historical Resources, florida public archaeology netowrk, FPAN, FPAN North Central Region, Gulf Coast Archaeology, Kayak, Northwest Florida, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, TCC Wakulla Center, Wacissa River, Wacissa River Prehistoric Trail for Canoes and Kayaks
All winter I have been cooped up unable to go kayaking. As an avid river rat I am so glad that it is starting to warm up a bit and the sun is poking out from behind all the rain clouds! You may recall an earlier post when I went out
The front of the trail guide brochure.
with a group of boy scouts to a site only accessible by boat. It was a wonderful project, but perhaps a little on the chilly side for paddling. Well, just in time for the warmer weather the Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources has has created at Prehistoric Paddling Trail along the Wacissa River, which is located in Jefferson County, Florida. I don’t know about you, but I am very excited about this! I love it when two of my favorite things – kayaking and archaeology – can be combined into a day long outing!
You can pick up your very own copy of the trail guide brochure at the Bureau of Archaeological Research or at the FPAN North Central Office. They are also available at the TCC Wakulla Center, located in Crawfordville. The brochure was funded in part, through a grant agreement from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Coastal Management Program, and by a grant provided by the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management. This brochure is awesome, it is even printed on water resistant paper, so you can taking it along with you on your paddling trip! It is a 15 mile trail, beginning at the springhead of the Wacissa River. There is also the possibility of making it a 10 mile trip and exiting the river at a place called Goose Pasture. Otherwise, you can take the whole trail to the end at Nutall Rise Landing. To get all the details you will need to pick up a copy of the trail guide.
Barbara Hines, FPAN Outreach Coordinator and Shovel Bytes author, on the Wacissa.
The Wacissa is a beautiful meandering river that will take you through some of the most significant arcdhaeological zones in North Florida. Beginning in about 500 BC, the Wacissa and the Aucilla Rivers mark the boundary between the Northwest Florida and North Peninsular Gulf Coast archaeological culture areas. People have been inhabiting this area for over 12,00 years! That is amazing when you think about it! This area provided them with an abundance of resources that can be found around the river and along the shallow coastal waters and shoreline. Need I say more? Really, if you like to paddle and want to learn more about the archaeology and history of this area, well, you need to pick up your Wacissa River Prehistoric Trail for Canoes and Kayaks brochure today! Then load up your kayak or canoe, grab some friends and get paddling!