Working on our Then and Now: Life along the New River exhibit.

As you all know…today is the Day of Archaeology! Check out all the entries from archaeologists around the globe at www.dayofarchaeology.com. Here is what we had to say:

Today in the Southeast region of the Florida Public Archaeology Network offices, we are hard at work creating a new exhibit that focuses on 10,000 years of human history along the New River in Fort Lauderdale. Recently our office was awarded a Florida Humanities Council mini grant to work on the exhibit! Exciting! Our meeting today centered on the various ways we will display different watercrafts for the November 2011 exhibit, called “Then and Now: Life Along the New River.” The plan is to show how different groups of people have used the river at various times to fit very different needs. The exhibit will educate the public about Florida’s rich cultural history and the importance of preserving the past. Central to the exhibit is a prehistoric dugout canoe of the Tequesta Indians. The canoe will be showcased alongside both a historic watercraft and a modern stand up paddle board demonstrating change over time. What’s great about this project is that we are able to work with all sorts of interesting people as we put the exhibit together. The community has been involved from the beginning, including students, history centers, and even our local paddle board shop. To learn more about the Florida Public Archaeology Network visit flpublicarchaeology.org!

The blog is back-hooray! And just in time for me to jump in on the wonderful discussion that’s been taking place among archaeology bloggers around the world.  The discussion is in anticipation of a session happening next month at Society for American Archaeology Conference entitled “Blogging Archaeology,” which I am thrilled to be participating inThe series of questions asked by the session organizer, Colleen Morgan (@clmorgan) and a summary of contributed answers, can be found at the blog, Middle Savagery  

The question posed this week was:

What risks do archaeologists take when they make themselves available to the public via blogging? What (if any) are the unexpected consequences of blogging? How do you choose what to share?

Over the year that I have been working for the Florida Public Archaeology Network, I have witnessed each regional center really grab social media by the horns.  It seems like just yesterday  that I (along with a few of my colleagues) were touting the benefits of regional Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, and now the FPAN twitter feed is dizzying (in a good way), and some of the most hesitant among us are now some of the most prolific on social media (I’m looking at you, @FPANWestCentral). 

 One of the heartiest discussions that took place at our recent state-wide FPAN staff meeting was regarding regional blogs.  A few of the regional centers had created blogs and, especially in the case of the Northwest region (The Dirt On Public Archaeology), had used the blog-medium as an approach to public outreach and education to such an extent that there was a noticeable impact.  In fact, more individual viewers had visited the regions blog, than had visited the organizations website as a whole.  While we, as an organization, applaud increased viewership and interest in public archaeology, the sheer impact of the blog was unexpected and brought up a few questions.  First and foremost, should regional blogs should be allowed? (The answer, as you may have guessed, was a resounding ‘yes’).  The other main concern was that these blogs were started on different platforms and separate from the existing FPAN web presence.  Like any organization, FPAN has a unified identity, and we agreed that these blogs should be an extension of that image while still maintaining their regional personalities.  The first order of business was to include the blogs under FPAN’s main webpage.  Soon, you will be able to find the blogs as a link on the regional pages as well.  So, sorry for the delay in blog posts and we hope you love our restructured blog identity as much as we do.

One of our most frequently asked questions is ‘what’s happening with that Miami Circle!?’

The Miami circle is a significant archaeological site that was discovered in 1998 during construction in downtown Miami. It consists of 24 postholes that were cut into the limestone near the mouth of the Miami River. The postholes, which form a circle 38 feet in diameter, suggest that a permanent and planned architectural structure was built there. Evidence of the prehistoric structure, along with artifacts recovered during the excavation, add to the information we have about how the Tequesta Indians lived. Their settlement period is dated to around 2000 years ago and archaeological evidence suggests the Tequesta were socio-politically complex and that they took advantage of extensive trade networks for materials.

Thanks in large part to community involvement, development of the area was stopped and, in January 2009, the Miami Circle was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The site has been buried to ensure its preservation and plans for a passive public park, which will include interpretive signs, are underway.

More information about the Miami circle can be found at the HistoryMiami website: http://www.historymiami.org/miamicircle/

On October 12th, the Broward County Commission voted to consolidate the Broward County Historical Commission into the Broward County Public Library system.  In doing so, they cut $275,000 out of the Historical Commission budget resulting in the termination of entire staff with the exception of the County Archaeologist.  The county administrator erroneously determined that the Public Library and Historical Commission staff had duplicate skills; therefore Library staff could take over the Commissions duties.   Unfortunately, no one at the Public Library (or other county departments) is a recognized professional in the field of history and preservation, and they lack the Historical Commission staffs’ unique skill sets of relating to the preservation and curation of Broward County’s past.   Please take a moment to write to Broward County Mayor Ken Keechl (kkeechl@broward.org), and let him know your concerns on this issue as a preservation-minded citizen.  I know that many of you may not be residents of Broward County, but this issue deserves a state-wide outcry.

When you think of Archaeology, you may suffer from a brief bout of ‘Indiana Syndrome.’  Not to worry, it happens to the best of ‘em. While we don’t find many reasons to use a leather whip, or even wear a fedora on a daily basis, we still manage to practice archaeology and have some fun doing it! This blog will give you a chance to follow along as we profile Archaeology in south Florida. 

If you need a reason to wear your own fedora, we have volunteer opportunities available.In fact, this Friday, September 24th, you can join us in curating artifacts at the Broward County Historic Commission in Fort Lauderdale.  Contact snohe@fau.edu for information on this and other volunteer opportunities.