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.

 

Battlefield Archaeology Activity to Debut at Olustee!

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We are so excited because it is again time for us to pack up and head to Olustee for the battle reenactment! We have been attending for the past few years, but we are excited to debut our new activity, Battlefield on a Tarp. The

Our new Battlefield on a Tarp activity!

Civil War is an important event in our state’s and nation’s history, and archaeologists  have been hard at work studying our battlefields to create an accurate picture of the events that occurred during the Civil War. Battlefield archaeology has contributed greatly to our knowledge of past battles. Of course, there are many folks out there that collect Civil War memorabilia, including sometimes artifacts from battlefields across the country. As an archaeologist I find this trend somewhat disturbing because with each artifact that is taken off of a battlefield valuable information goes with it which can never again be recovered. Now, I understand that many people feel they have the right to collect, or think that archaeologists just want to keep the good stuff for themselves. However, that is not the case. When you take an item from a battlefield, which are often located on state or federal property, you are taking from every citizen in the state and the nation. An individual may think that they have the right to collect, but what about the rights of those wishing to visit and learn about these sites? The government has taken over the care of these sites so that they can be preserved for everyone to  enjoy  and have an equal opportunity to learn about the events that took place there. Archaeologists study these sites so that they can be better and more accurately interpreted to visitors and for scholars who want to learn about these sites. Artifacts have much more meaning and can contribute more to our understanding of the past when they are left in context. When they get removed from the site and put into a shoe box to be stored in somebody’s attic for nobody to see or learn about the context is lost! It is for these very reasons that taking artifacts from state or federal property is a crime. Our new activity is an effort on our part to show the public what archaeologists can learn from studying battlefields and exactly what damage is done when artifacts lose their context after they are removed from the site. I hope that you will make your way to Olustee this weekend for all the festivities and stop by our booth to check out our new Battlefield on a Tarp activity. We will also have a display on Florida during the Civil War that I am sure many people will find interesting.

As a related note, I often get asked how the public can get involved in archaeology. Archaeology is awesome and who wouldn’t want to have the opportunity to get involved? Well, here in Florida we have an amazing organization called the Florida Anthropological Society,  which is open to anyone with an interest in archaeology. There are chapters located throughout the state and every year in May there is the annual meeting of the organization. As a member of the Florida Anthropologist you receive the quarterly journal, The Florida Anthropologist, the quarterly newsletter and a discount on registration for the annual meeting. The 2013 meeting will be held in St. Augustine. It is also important to note that to become a member you must agree to abide by the organizations code of ethics. Many organizations have opportunities to assist on digs or  in archaeology labs, hold monthly meetings, conduct public outreach and host Florida Archaeology Month events. If you are interested you can visit fasweb.org for more information. This is a great way to get involved in archaeology and learn more about our state’s rich history!

 

“Blended Lives” Pieces Together History in Tallahassee

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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.

Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park

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Over 100 people joined us at Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park for National Archaeology Day!

This past Saturday, as many of you know, was National Archaeology Day. I was lucky enough to join the Southeast Archaeological Center/National Park Service and the Florida Park Service at Lake Jackson MoundsArchaeological State Park to celebrate! Archaeologists around the area came together to educate the public about Florida’s great archaeological heritage. Lake Jackson Mounds was a superb location for such an event! It was then that I realized that some folks may not know of this site, so I decided it was time for a Lake Jackson Mounds blog post!

Before I even get into discussing Lake Jackson Mounds, I just want to briefly give kudos to the Florida Park Service. Within the state of Florida there are over 160 state parks. That is a phenomenal amount of natural land that has been set aside for preservation, conservation and of course, for public enjoyment! Many of these parks contain archaeological or historical sites that have provided archaeologists and historians with important knowledge of the state’s history. Plus, these parks are open to the public, and thus you have access to this knowledge as well! Many of the parks have interpretive programs to provide the public with information about the natural and cultural areas of the park. You can find a park near you by visiting their website, http://www.floridastateparks.org/.

So that being said, one of those really amazing parks located in Tallahassee is Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park. The Lake Jackson Mounds site originally included

Dr. Rochelle Marrinan, Archaeology Professor at FSU, gave a talk on the Lake Jackson Mounds site during the National Archaeology Day celebration.

seven mounds that were constructed by a group of Native Americans belonging to the Fort Walton Culture. The Fort Walton Culture is a southern variant of the Mississippian Culture (also known as the Mound Builders). This group of people inhabited these mounds from about A.D. 1050 to A.D. 1500. The number of mounds and the large size of this site led archaeologists to believe that this site was a religious and political center for those that lived in the region. The mounds were skillfully planned and constructed. Those that built them had to have knowledge of the soils in the area. These mounds are the result of the organization of numerous workers over a period of many years. Not only does the site contain the mounds, but it also contains remains of a village plaza and numerous residences. The plaza would have been a large flat area where ritual games and gatherings took place. The individual residences were found to be located around this central plaza. Surrounding the site would have been communal agricultural fields. One of the major crops that would have probably been cultivated was maize, known today as corn. Agriculture is probably one of the main reasons such a dense and sedentary population was possible. The site could easily be considered one of the more important archaeological sites in Florida and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

You can actually hike up to the top of one of the mounds overlooking Lake Jackson!

Only a few of the mounds have been systematically excavated by archaeologists. While excavating one of the mounds, post holes were found at the summit. This indicates that a building of some sort was at one time constructed atop the mound. Unfortunately, this mound was located on private property and was leveled to the ground at some point. The remains of important individuals have been found at the site in association with burial objects, including elaborate items such as copper breast plates, shell beaded necklaces, bracelets, anklets and cloaks still in place. These types of artifacts indicate religious and trading ties with other pre-historic Indian communities in the southeastern United States. Some of the artifacts recovered from this site link it to the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex. Some of the artifacts, including various copper items, exhibited motifs (decorations) that are usually associated with this complex. The Southeastern Ceremonial Complex is a name given to a stylistic component of the Mississippian culture that coincided with their adoption of maize agriculture and chiefdom social organization. This complex is also known as the “Southern Cult” and flourished around A.D. 1200. Many people assume that this complex has some link to Mesoamerican culture, but there is no evidence of this, instead, they seem to have developed independent of one another.

This is a lot of information to digest, but I hope that I peeked your curiosity about this and other sites located in Florida’s great state parks! This park is located north of Tallahassee, very close to I-10. So even if you are just passing through, pull in for a quick visit. There are picnic tables and a covered pavilion, hiking trails and interpretive signage. For location and hours of operation visit http://www.floridastateparks.org/lakejackson/default.cfm

 

The Munree Cemetery Project: Revitalization of a Historic African American Cemetery

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Drew, an archaeologist with SEAC, gives volunteers a brief introduction to how GPR works.

Since its creation, the North Central Region office has worked hard to assist local organizations that are working on various preservation projects in the region. The most recent

Volunteers take a moment to pose for a photo for the National Trust for Historic Places' "This Place Matters" campaign.

of which involves a historic African American cemetery located in Tallahassee. The Munree Cemetery, as it is known, was established in the late 1800s or early 1900s. It is associated with the Welaunee and Monreif plantations of Tallahassee. The cemetery contains at least 250 burials, the majority of which are unmarked. Since 2009 a group of concerned citizens have been working with county and city officials to protect and preserve this historic site. The citizens established a non-profit organization, The Munree Cemetery Foundation, Inc. as part of this effort. In early 2012 this group contacted the Southeast Archaeological Center asking if there were any archaeologists that would be interested in assisting them. The Southeast Archaeological Center contacted the North Central FPAN office. Since that time the Southeast Archaeological Center and the North Central FPAN office have partnered with the local citizens to work to ensure the cemetery is properly documented and maintained. This opportunity is being used to create awareness within the community of the importance of historic cemeteries and how to properly maintain and protect them.

Earlier this month a team of archaeologists from FPAN North Central, the Southeast Archaeological Center, the Panhandle Archaeological Society and volunteers from the Munree Cemetery Foundation, Inc. and the community took two days to document the cemetery and conduct some much needed maintenance. The Southeast Archaeological Center

The HRD Dogs take a break after working hard helping us identify unmarked burials.

generously provided GPR equipment to assist with this effort. The citizens had the opportunity to get some hands on experience using the GPR. The group also took this opportunity to learn how to safely and properly clean cemetery monuments using D-2 Biological Solution and learned how to document sites using the Florida Master Site File cemetery form. In addition to using these more common methods

Drew assists as a volunteer pushes the GPR cart across the cemetery in an area the dogs detected potential burials.

of cemetery documentation, a unique opportunity was presented to those involved as well. Human Remain Detection (HRD) dogs were brought in by trained handlers who volunteered their time to assist with locating possible unidentified unmarked burials. This allowed us to narrow down the areas that could benefit most from the use of GPR.  This information will be compared with the results of the GPR survey. The public was invited out to the cemetery while the dogs were conducting their survey and the dog handlers did a wonderful job in educating visitors and answering questions. We will continue to work with the Munree Cemetery Foundation to ensure that this cemetery is properly protected and maintained. WFSU-TV came out to film our progress and document our work and it will be airing on “Dimensions”. We do not have the date or time yet, but will keep our facebook and twitter followers updated with that information when we receive it.

A Sticky Situation: The Turpentine Industry in North Florida

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On June 3rd I will be giving a talk on the turpentine industry in North Florida at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to blog about it. It was not until I moved to North Florida that I learned about the naval store industry, and I found it fascinating. It has since become one of my favorite topics to research and talk about! I am not going to give away all my fun facts (for that you have to attend the lecture), but this post will give you a good idea of what was going on at that time and perhaps entice a few of you to come check out my lecture!

The turpentine industry has its roots in North Carolina in the mid-1800s. Workers would scar longleaf pine trees (the scars are often referred to as cat faces) which would cause the gum, or resin, from the tree to run. They would

Turpentiners working a stand of longleaf pine trees to collect the resin.

attach a cup and gutters to the tree to collect the resin. This resin would then be distilled in a large still to create pitch. The reason that this industry is often referred to as “naval stores” has its origins in the fact that the majority of this pitch was used to caulk holes in wooden boats and to coat rigging to help it last longer on ocean-going vessels. Eventually the trees stopped producing any significant amount of resin and the turpentiners  gradually moved south to  new stands of trees. After some time, in the late 1800s, they made their way into Florida’s pine forests.

The Convict Leasing System lasted in Florida from 1875 to 1923.

As you can imagine, this was hard work and dangerous.  Collecting the gum was very labor intensive and working the still was hot and very dirty work. The workers, who in some

A box ax recovered from a turpentine site, now part of the State of Florida Collection.

cases may have been leased convicts, lived in camps situated close to the area they were currently working. The housing was considered temporary and was usually poorly constructed. If they were paid (which would not include the leased convicts), usually they would receive their pay in the form of company script or coin. This could only be used at the company commissary, where they could also purchase items on credit. Many workers found themselves in debt to the company store, and of course, could not leave their employment until they settled their debt. Convict laborers were usually treated very harshly and their living conditions varied, but usually were not very hospitable. The camps were usually very remote and not well regulated by the state government.

There were tools and supplies that were very specific to the naval stores industry. The best known tool of the trade is probably the herty cup, which was developed by Dr.

Herty cups were developed by Dr. Herty, who founded the Herty Turpentine Cup Company in 1909.

Charles Holmes Herty, Sr. in 1909. Dr. Herty’s method for gathering gum was more economical, allowing for a higher yield of resin and extended use of the trees. Other tools specific to the trade include box axes, dippers and pulls. A box ax was used to cut boxes into the base of the tree to collect the resin prior to the use of cups. Dippers were used to collect the resin from these boxes and pulls were used to cut the cat face scars into the tree. Eventually, all the resin collected would go to the still to be processed into various grades of turpentine to be put into barrels and shipped off to be used as ingredients in a variety of products (in addition to being used for ship building, as previously mentioned).

Early example of a container lid for Vicks VapoRub, which once contained turpentine as an ingredient.

Many early products contained turpentine, some of which seem bizarre today. Vicks VapoRub, which you can still find on store shelves today, originally contained turpentine. In fact, at many of the turpentine archaeological sites that I have excavated have contained the fragments of the cobalt blue glass from the small jars of Vicks VapoRub.  Apparently its use was popular at the time and many company commissaries carried it. Many household cleaners contained turpentine as well and many people would mix turpentine with beeswax to make their own furniture polish. It was also used medicinally to treat burns, bites and stings. However, since that time turpentine has been found to be carcinogenic and there are strict guidelines for the proper handling of turpentine (and it is no longer an ingredient in Vicks VapoRub).

In 1923 the convict leasing program was abolished in Florida due, in part, to the death of Martin Talbert. He was a convict that was killed at a turpentine camp as a result of very harsh physical punishment. By the mid-1900s the industry started its decline due, in part, to the advent of steel ships and the development of synthetic chemicals. By the 1970s the industry had pretty much vanished from the Florida landscape. However, the turpentine industry left a lasting legacy on the landscape. This industry was very destructive to the longleaf ecosystem and the many plants and animals that depended on it. Fewer than 3 million acres of old growth longleaf forest survived. Today on many of the trees in Florida’s old growth forests you can still see the old cat face scars. While hiking many of these same forests you might come across pieces of herty cup or similar metal cups that once collected the resin (and as a reminder, it is against the law to remove artifacts, like herty cups, from state and federal land!).

The turpentine industry helped to shape a fascinating time in Florida’s history and has had a lasting effect on our environment and our culture. Much of the land that is part of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge was once part of various turpentine operations. Today wildlife and habitat restoration efforts are being undertaken to restore these stands of forest to their previous state, prior to being worked for turpentine. I hope you can join me on June 3rd to learn more! If you are unable to join us though, there are many wonderful books dedicated to this industry. So be sure to visit your local library and check some of them out!

What is the National Register of Historic Places?

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Many of us have been to a place that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, or maybe we have just heard that phrase before, but do you actually know what the National Register is? The National Register of Historic

Florida State Road No. 1, Old Brick Road, Santa Rosa County, Florida

Places is the official Federal list of districts, sites, structures and objects that are significant in American history, archaeology, engineering, architecture and culture.  The National Park Service oversees the National Register, but almost anybody can nominate a structure or site. Nominations for historic properties controlled by the U.S. Government usually come from State Historic Preservation Officers or another government agency or official. Tribal lands are usually nominated by the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer. However, private individuals, groups, local governments or Native American tribes often start the process and get the proper documentation in order.  Private citizens can also help nominate buildings or sites as well. Each state has a review board that meets to look over the nominations and determine if they are eligible. All eligible nominations are then sent to the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places in Washington D.C.

Keith Cabin, Holmes County, Florida

This process can sound very intimidating and long, and so many people ask about the benefits of being listed. Well, first and foremost, it recognizes a property for its significant contributions to America’s heritage and history, but there is more! It also provides for consideration in planning for federally funded projects (such as road widening, or new road construction, etc…). Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 Federal agencies have to allow the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation an opportunity to comment on all projects affecting historic properties listed or eligible for listing on the National Register. Additionally, some states provide certain tax provisions for properties listed on the National Register. It also opens up additional funding opportunities through federal grants when they are available.

Many people worry that if their property (private residence, business, etc…) is listed on the National Register that they will be restricted in what they can do to the property. However, as long as no Federal money is involved, the owners are free to maintain, manage or dispose of the property however they chose to do so.  However, the National Park Service recommends that owners contact their State Historic Preservation Officer before doing so. There may be state or local preservation laws or ordinances that they need to be aware of before making any changes.

Now, with all this being said, you are probably wondering what qualifications must be met for a property to be eligible for listing on the National Register! Well, generally a property must

Crystal River Archaeological State Park, Citrus County, Florida

be 50 years old or older, although in some cases this does not necessarily apply. The National Park Service has established guidelines for properties that have become significant within the last 50 years. For the majority of properties, they will have to be older than 50 years and meet the National Register Criteria for Evaluation. This process involves looking at the properties age, integrity and significance.  The property should have minimal modifications and look much the same as it did historically. The property also needs to be associated with activities, events or developments that were important to history. It could be associated with important historical figures or be a great example of an architectural style or engineering achievement. Some properties, including many of the archaeological sites listed, are nominated because they have the potential to yield additional information that may be significant to our understanding of the past.

Again, this process may seem intimidating, but there are folks out there that can help you with your nomination. Nominations are a time consuming process, but that should not deter you if you own a property that is significant to our history. Although FPAN staff cannot write the entire nomination for you, we are always available to help you and answer any questions you may have. You may have questions about whether your property meets the criteria or want to know who you need to contact at the state level – we can help with that!

Historic Wakulla County Courthouse, Wakulla County, Florida

The National Park Service also has a website dedicated to the National Register. On this site you can find example nominations, publications, guidelines and other information that can help you with the nomination process as well. You can also look up properties that are already listed on the National Register. There are over 80,000 properties listed on the National Register, and almost every county in the U.S. has at least one property that has been listed. The photographs in this blog post are just a handful of sites and buildings in Florida that are listed on the National Register. During 2012 the National Register of Historic Places has proposed a challenge to all of us. They call it the National Register 2012 Photo Challenge. By the end of the year they want every county with a listed property to be represented on their flickr site, creating a snap shot of our collective history.  This is a great way to learn about the history in your area and have a blast at the same time! You may just be surprised at the number of listed properties in your state or your community.

The Wacissa River Prehistoric Trail for Canoes & Kayaks

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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!

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!

Artifacts Left in Context…Priceless: Why You Can’t Put a Price on the Past

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FPAN regularly hosts what we call “Public Archaeology Days”. This is a day where we have the opportunity  to meet and interact with the local community and educate them about their local cultural resources. Many

Public Archaeology Day at the Wakulla History Museum and Archives.

people will  bring us their personal artifact collection and ask us what their artifacts are worth. My answer is simple, artifacts are priceless!  Archaeologists do not, and should not, appraise artifacts. However, I am always more than happy to help identify their artifacts and educate them on why we do not appraise artifacts. Artifacts are non-renewable resources that provide a window into our understanding of past cultures and lifeways. The information and knowledge that can be gained about our past is priceless. According to the Register of Professional Archaeologists Code of Conduct it is unethical for archaeologists to take part in the commercial exploitation of artifacts, which can be interpreted to include the appraisal of artifacts.

When you purchase an artifact at a show, flea market, online or anywhere else you can never be certain where it came from. There are laws that prohibit the taking of artifacts from burials, state and federal land. If somebody knowingly or even unknowingly purchases artifacts that have been illegally excavated from state or federal land, they may be seized without that person receiving financial compensation. Additionally you could find yourself facing jail time and possibly a hefty fine. It is also important to mention that the enforcement of these laws has been stepped up by law enforcement within the last few years. Additionally, here in Florida many counties and cities have their own preservation ordinances. In some cases, such as in St. Augustine, these ordinances apply even to private property. So you can never be certain what risks you are taking when you are tempted to purchase that arrowhead at the flea market or see a cool artifact for sale online.

Not only are there legal ramifications for purchasing or excavating artifacts from an archaeological site, but there are ethical concerns as well. This is especially true for burial sites, both historic and prehistoric, but can be easily applied to all archaeological and historical sites. With burials especially, by disturbing the site or owning something that was taken from a burial site you are damaging a sacred space and may be interfering with Native American or other religious ceremonial expectations. The Society for American Archaeology has understood for awhile now that the selling and buying of artifacts out of archaeological context is essentially destroying the archaeological record in the U.S. and around the world. This results in the destruction of sites and the information that they potentially can contribute to our understanding of the past.

This brings me to a brief explanation about context.  So let me digress for a moment to help you understand the importance of archaeological context.  Context, archaeological speaking, refers to the relationship artifacts have to each other and the situation in which they are found.  This is just as important, or some may argue even more important, than the actual artifact. The artifact can only tell us so much, but where it was found and what it was found with help to provide archaeologists with the whole story. When you take an artifact out of context we lose part of that story and thus, we lose the potential to fully understand the past.

Okay, with that being said we can now move on. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has also long recognized that the illicit antiquities market is a major problem worldwide. In fact, this organization has found that together, with the trafficking of illegal drugs and arms, the “black market” trade of antiquities and cultural objects constitutes one of the most persistent illegal trades in the world! As part of UNESCO’s efforts, many countries from around the world have assisted them in creating an international legal framework to recover stolen artifacts that have crossed into other countries and prosecute offenders.

You can find modern replicas and traditional crafts at events, such as this pow wow in North Florida.

So with this being said what you can do to help solve this issue? Well, one thing you can do is avoid taking part in the commercial exploitation of artifacts, and instead, understand that these objects are truly priceless and can provide us with a great understanding of our shared past if they are studied (in context) in a scientific manner. Instead of purchasing artifacts, look for replicas or modern crafts made by Native Americans or craftsmen from other cultures. You can legally purchase modern clothing, textiles, pottery and other beautiful and unique traditional crafts from contemporary craftsmen in stores, at festivals, online and in many other venues. In addition to supporting the artist, you will be supporting the local legal economy and ensuring the continuation of a traditional craft.

If you ever do come across an artifact, don’t think of it in terms of its monetary value. Instead contact the proper authorities. The best thing you can do is leave the

In stead of the real C.S.A. buckle, opt for the the replica! You can easily find one at any Civil War reenactment!

artifact in place, record the approximate location on a map, and take a photo with a well-known object (like a coin) in the picture to serve as a scale. Then contact your local FPAN office. They can help ensure that the site is properly recorded and that the proper authorities are notified.

Lastly, become an activist! The FPAN Northeast office in St. Augustine wrote an amazing article on their blog, “The Dirt on Public Archaeology” that discusses how to effectively be an activist for our priceless cultural and historical resources. Make a  choice to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

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