PokemonGo Lures Trainers into Local History

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Are you a fan of PokemonGo? Well, so are we! We took a ride around Tallahassee and discovered that there are quite a few historic sites in town that offer numerous poke stops and gyms. You may have seen us at one of our Lures and Legends events over the summer. We were setting up our booth at some of the various locations around town and dropping lures. We have discovered that PokemonGo gives folks a reason and incentive to go out and explore new places they may have never been before. At our Lures and Legends event at Mission San Luis we  had a few people come up to us and tell us that they have never been there before until we “lured” them there! Maybe you are a parent who’s child is obsessed with PokemonGo, and you are looking for a way to engage you child’s interest in the game in a meaningful way. Well, we hear you and we get it! Perhaps you are a huge PokemonGo fan and you have been wanting to explore your community to get to know it better. Well, we hear you, and again, we get it! One of our goals here at FPAN is to promote heritage tourism. So we figured we would use PokemonGo as a public outreach tool  to get folks out and about exploring some of our local heritage sites. So, with that intention, below is a map we have created with the locations of heritage sites in our community with the number of gyms and stops at each location. We hope you will use this to get out, get moving and to learn about Tallahassee’s rich history. With that in mind, please remember that these sites are not renewable. You can’t grow another historic Spanish mission or another antebellum plantation. So please, be respectful of these sites and mind all the rules. They are there for your safety and to protect the historic resource. Additionally, a few of these sites require a fee to enter. Please do not try to get out of paying this fee. The money they collect goes towards preserving and protecting the site and providing you with a unique and educational experience. So, with that being said, we hope you will get out and explore Tallahassee while catching pokemon! And while you are out there, if you see something cool, learn something new or catch a rare pokemon, we would like to hear from you! Feel free to post about your discoveries in the comments below!


Modeling Archaeology

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In recent years, 3D modeling has become easier than it ever has been before. In the past, we had to use an expensive 3D scanner, though these still have their uses. Now, however, anybody with a smartphone can make a reasonable 3D model using a program called 123D Catch. With a little more time and financial investment, we can make a model that is accurate enough to draw data from (https://sketchfab.com/models/22623871f783442a8f1779f5e52841fe).

This magical process is called “photogrammetry.” Essentially, this uses a collection of photographs from a variety of angles to create a three dimensional model of an object. What has really changed in recent years is the ease of use. Even with the professional version of Agisoft PhotoScan (a more robust, paid version of 123D Catch) the process of going from photos to a three dimensional model takes only a few steps.

There are a few limitations to this technique, however. Tall objects (such as buildings) are difficult to fully cover due to their height and size (without some creativity or a drone anyways) and the program has difficulty dealing with patterns such as plaid or other subjects that are not distinct enough, like grass. The biggest restriction is in the program’s inability to deal with movement, so live subjects are nearly impossible to record without a large and expensive rig of cameras to take all the pictures in a single instant. Fortunately, most of our subjects in archaeology are not very lively, so this is a fairly minor restriction.

The uses for such a program in archaeology are incredibly exciting, especially for underwater archaeology. Due to limitations on dives caused by weather and human endurance, it can easily take a decade to fully map a complex shipwreck. However, with five days of photographing and a few hours of processing time archaeologists can now have a highly detailed and accurate three dimensional map (https://sketchfab.com/models/6d22d91ea0f24967831e395f321477d0 https://sketchfab.com/models/3b40e2c6d8ce40a19e07f43a5ee5a2f1).

CW monumentPreservation is another excellent use for photogrammetry. If an historic building is about to be demolished, a day or two photographing every possible inch inside and out can result in detailed models for the building. Alternatively, if the current political climate (hypothetically) expanded from the removal of a statue in D.C. (link) to the removal of other Civil War monuments, we have a method of preserving these monuments in a more detailed form than photographs (https://sketchfab.com/models/f9901b07e8e44207a51fc7df6d622702).

While the effect this method will have on archaeological research is impressive, imagining how it will contribute to public outreach is what I find particularly exciting. So often a site or artifact cannot be used in public outreach beyond a photograph and our enthusiastic descriptions. Three dimensional models (like this one) does more than allow someone to see it from all sides, it adds depth and texture to the image, immediately making it feel more real. Alternatively, digital site tours (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcQfzuQXcq8) become relatively simple to make, and accessible to anyone in the world. If we pair these models with 3D printers, then there is almost no limit to what we could do.

A special thanks to Kotaro Yamafune for getting everybody I know excited about the potential uses for photogrammetry in archaeology.

A Test of Time: The Preservation and Conservation of Ancient Dugout Canoes

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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.