I’m Mayor of the FPAN WCRC! -by Zaida Darley

Wow, the GPS on this thing is amazing. I can become mayor of my desk.

As a public archaeologist, I have to know what interests the public and try to use that interest to promote archaeology. Since my focus is archaeotourism, I wanted to see how the latest trend could be used to engage the public with archaeology. The trend for the moment is smart phones with its myriad of apps. I am testing out two apps, Foursquare and SCVNGR, to see how they can increase visits to cultural resources in the West Central Region Center (WCRC) and how effectively they can engage the public with archaeology.

If you are not familiar with these applications, Foursquare and SCVNGR are geographically-centered social media. The way it works is that you use your GPS-enhanced smart phone to “check-in” to your current location. This action rewards you points. You can earn more points by taking pictures, or saying something about the place. SCVNGR includes challenges to earn even more points and unlock rewards, while in Foursquare you can become mayor of your favorite places. So, what’s the point to all this?

These apps encourage people to get creative about exploring new places by sharing their activities with their friends. Checking into a new category gets you more points. For example, if you have never visited a museum because you prefer to frequent pizza joints then you get bonus points for that. So the apps also encourage you to diversify your “exploration portfolio” (copyrights to this term are sole property of Zaida Darley).  Therefore, I thought I could use these apps to assess people’s wanderlust. Since my focus is site-seeing, I decided to test these apps out on FPAN WCRC events and our archaeotourism projects.

I added our office location and created accounts for FPAN WCRC on Foursquare and SCVNGR. I am proud to brag that I am now the mayor of FPAN WCRC, and with my new leadership role I plan to….um, I guess continue going to work and checking in since I have no power. Wait, I think I can get Super Mayor status or something, maybe then I can cause change. In the meantime, I will see how many people will go through the trouble of coming to our office or finding us at events. The first challenge is finding our office because we are tucked away in the “time-out” corner of USF…and yes, we are still on campus property. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

As for engaging the public with these apps, I have some concerns. For example, I used these apps during the USF Botanical Garden Spring Sale event in April. We had a table tucked away in a quiet corner of the garden, so to drum up business I checked-in to the location and encouraged people to visit the FPAN table. During the process of checking-in to Facebook, SCVNGR, and Foursquare, I found myself becoming disengaged from the actual event. During that time, at least five people came and left the table. Rae and I were both at this event so no one was ignored but I noticed how my attention was taken away. This also happens with Twitter, or just plain texting.

So how much time can someone invest in these apps before it sacrifices interaction with people present? Should a person be dedicated to this form of interaction? Should we treat it as a virtual event and have staff present to take care of the virtual public in a similar fashion as any real-world event? In addition, how engaging are these apps? Moreover, how do you assess that engagement?

No one came to our table even though I could see that about a dozen people had checked-in. I can’t be sure if any of those people stopped by our table. If they did come to our table, then they didn’t acknowledge our virtual presence. This happens at other places as well. For example, a friend that owns a café has his place on Foursquare and offers free drinks by just mentioning that you saw the place on the app. Within the last six months, I was the second person to make this acknowledgement even though my friend could see that people were in fact checking in.

These apps may encourage people to visit new places but not exactly encourage social engagement with new people. Which is ironic if this is social media. Answering challenge questions, like on SCVNGR, may be one way to assess if people are learning something about a site or at an event.

So I begin my social media experiment with excitement and concerns. I will keep people updated on the blog as to the progress of my experiment. And hope that I give up my mayor’s crown because of the popularity and effectiveness of this new trend.

Other links:

Tampa leads Foursquare Day

Campus Archaeology is on Foursquare!

Foursquare, Yelp, and Making Archaeology Visible on the Virtual Landscape

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…more than just objects

Two Sundays ago (April 3, 2011) the Bradenton Times published an article featuring the exploits of a couple local guys that go about hunting for artifacts (http://bit.ly/gY6y7l).  

I’m posting the original article (link above) and our response (http://bit.ly/eEX6w1) published Monday, April 11. My intentions are not so much to belabor the point (well, maybe a little). But folks who spend time wondering the ‘sphere and happen to run into our little blog, this submission is for them. The idea that artifacts, things people discard or leave behind, are more than just objects is essential to archaeology. 

Pasted below is what i thought to be one of the more poignant paragraphs of our response. Unfortunately,  we decided to leave it out of our submission for sake of keeping the article at what we thought to be a desirable length. I include it here for the same reason as described above.  Maybe we should have included it… Let us know what you think. Big thanks to Debby Mullins, a fellow Floridian, friend, and co-editor of the Florida Anthropologist for contributing to the response…

“Professional archaeologists do NOT seek artifacts for their monetary value or for the pleasure of private collectors. Professional archaeologists and those who support them are interested in the recovery of artifacts for far more than just what an artifact might sell for; the study of specific artifacts is only one step in the study of human history. Additionally, because specific types of prized (by looters) artifacts are most often located in association with many other less glamorous artifacts as well as natural and cultural features (such as springs, drinking wells, agricultural fields, etc.), understanding the relationship between the different aspects of an archaeological site as a whole is one of the most important goals and objectives for archaeologists to accomplish. This unfortunately cannot be attempted once an artifact is haphazardly plucked from its position. And therein lies a basic difference between what Tim and Jake hunt for and what an archaeologist does. Looters collect for themselves and possibly for monetary gain. Archaeologists and teams of volunteers systematically recover artifacts and other information in order to study humanity and to add to the complex history of our state and our country.”

 

submitted by Jeff Moates

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“Site”-Seeing the WCRC – by Zaida Darley

This mural is located in the corner of Interlake Blvd and S Oak Ave, and depicts the Turpentine Industry that was prevalent in Florida in the turn of the 20th century.

This is my first blog ever so I thought I would start by introducing my blog and myself. I am Zaida Darley, the Outreach Specialist for the West Central Region Center of FPAN. My task in this position is to work with local governments. That might sound boring to some but it is actually quite interesting. I attend historic preservation meetings and become familiar with the wording of local ordinances in order to understand how the local government manages their cultural resources. Okay, so maybe not that exciting but I also get to be creative. To help with local preservation efforts and the local economy, I have assisted in creating archaeotourism maps designed to encourage people to visit the places that are being preserved by different entities, like city parks and recreation departments.  The map project has allowed me to visit many sites that I was not familiar with, even though I have lived in Florida for most of my life. Since these sites are new to me, I thought they may be new to you, or maybe you can share something about the site that I missed. So, that is the theme of my blog and why it is called “Site Seeing.”

But I didn’t know which site should I talk about first? Should I talk about a site I just visited lately or should I go out of my way to find that extra special site. Then it hit me. Since I am introducing myself then I should start with my hometown. As I said, I have lived in Florida for most of my life maybe even long enough to be considered a transplant. I grew up in Lake Placid, Florida, and no – it is not the location of the movie Lake Placid, where Betty White-like characters feed cows to giant gators. Lake Placid is located in Highlands County and is part of the Heartland of Florida. And instead of giant gators, the town is known as the Caladium Capital of the World. Lake Placid got its name from Dr. Melvil Dewey of Dewey Decimal System fame. Originally known as Lake Stearns and even Waco before that, Dewey changed the name of the town to Lake Placid in 1927 in order to be a winter resort location to its sister town of Lake Placid, New York’s summer resort. Unfortunately, the Great Depression that began a couple of years later hurt Dewey’s plans for Lake Placid, Florida.

But this is only a sliver of Lake Placid’s history. I could tell you more but that would take too long. Instead, I encourage you to learn about Lake Placid in a fun way. The buildings are covered with murals that depict the town’s history and prehistory. You can just drive around to see the murals, or better yet go to the Chamber of Commerce on 18 N. Oak Avenue and buy an inexpensively priced guide to start your tour. Most murals are within walking distance and some have sound to add to the experience. My favorite part about the murals is the little things that the artists hide in the paintings. In fact, my name is in one of the murals. I dare you to find it (hint: the mural is a nature setting).

There are so many murals that it was hard to decide which one to share with you. So, I decided to give you a sneak peak of part of the Turpentine Industry mural, which depicts how they collected the pine sap that is processed into turpentine. The guide gives you information about the mural, the artist(s), and clues to how many items are hidden in the mural. Also, the Chamber of Commerce has a display of all the murals and a short film that talks about the project. Of course, there is more to see in Lake Placid, like a tower, beautiful lakes, and caladium fields but this is a good start. And as you can see, my job can be lots of fun.

For more info on the murals, check out these links:

The Mural Society www.htn.net/lplacid/murals/mural_society.htm

The Murals of Lake Placid www.htn.net/lplacid/murals/murals.htm

Greater Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce www.lpfla.com

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The Archaeology of Photographs – By Rebecca O’Sullivan
Re-Photography of the Ferlita Bakery

Lining up the old with the new in Ybor City

So there’s this popular internet trend at the moment of re-creating childhood pictures, and of course there are several great websites like Young Me/Now Me and Back to the Future by Irina Werning that are devoted to showcasing this kind of re-photography. While I can understand the allure of putting on an old 80’s suit and ridiculous glasses to re-create a moment from your childhood, I have to think that the reason people are so interested in re-photography goes a little deeper. I think we are drawn to old photographs, especially ones from our childhood, because of the way they bring us back to a certain point in time and allow us to connect with the past.

As an archaeologist in training, and lover of old photography, I am of course very interested in connecting with and learning about people in the past. So I wondered if there was a group who was interested in the re-photography of historic sites. A quick Google search later and I stumbled upon this fantastic website www.tampachanging.com created by Tampa native and USF alum Bryan Weinstein. Bryan finds old turn of the century (19th-20th century for you young’ins) photos of Tampa, then revisits the historic structures featured in the photos and takes new pictures from the exact same vantage point. The result is pretty striking in some cases (a view of Ybor City and a view of the University of Tampa), but the before-and-afters are really a testament to how much Tampa has changed throughout its history.

Not only is re-photography interesting from a purely historical point of view, it can also be helpful to archaeologists by showing us the locations of buildings that are no longer in existence. The most important thing for an archaeologist is to understand the context artifacts are found in. Just like using context clues to get a better understanding of what a new word means when you are reading a story, archaeologists use context clues like the depth of an artifact below surface, the soil types around it, the layer of soil it is found in, the history of the area it is found in, and other items found in association with that artifact to get a full understanding of what it means. Without context an artifact is just an old piece of garbage! For me, I wanted to see if re-photography could give me a better idea of where houses used to be located in a particular area of Ybor City. That way, when we actually conduct an archaeological survey in that area we can understand what types of buildings (house, store, factory, bakery) any artifacts we find might have been associated with.

So for my own foray into re-photography I decided to use two pictures I had found while researching the history of the block where the Ybor City Museum State Park now sits. The museum is currently located inside the old Ferlita Bakery building, built in 1923. Unfortunately, many of the original houses that also used to be here were bulldozed in the 1960’s as part of “Urban Renewal”, making it difficult to know what the neighborhood was like during the early days of Ybor City. By re-creating these pictures I hoped to not only get a better idea of where old buildings used to be located, but to also put myself in the place of the original photographer and try to experience Ybor City as they saw it way back when.

The first photo I tried to recreate (below) was of the old cigar factory building on the northeast corner of the block (at the corner of 19th Street and Palm Avenue). This building is one of the oldest remaining cigar factories in Ybor City, and based on the historic photos has definitely seen better days. The first thing I noticed when trying to take my new picture is how much the location of the road has changed from the 1920’s. I literally had to stand in the middle of the road (in a turn lane to be exact) to get the same view as the original picture.

Re-Photography of the R. Monne Cigar Factory

The R. Monne Cigar Factory, the historic photo was taken in 1924. (Click on the picture to view larger)

Next was a great picture I found of the Ferlita family standing in front of their bakery from the 1920’s. Thankfully I didn’t need to stand in the way of on-coming traffic for this one, but it was difficult to get everything to match up. My highly scientific method for getting it right involved printing out the picture and holding it up in front of me to get the right perspective (top). I’ll let you be the judge of how well it worked (below)!

Re-Photography of the Ferlita Bakery

The Ferlita Bakery, past and present. (Click on the picture to view larger)

 

The thing that’s really great about the Ferlita picture is that it also includes in the background two of the old houses that used to be located on the block pre-bulldozer. By lining up the two pictures, and using some Photoshop magic, I was able to merge the old and new photos together. The resulting picture showed that the old houses were located where the Museum’s garden is now located. By understanding the history of buildings at the site, we will have a much better understanding of the artifacts we find there in future!

 

Pretty good for an archaeologist, right?

 

If you’d like to learn more about the history of Ybor City, or maybe attempt your own re-photography of the Ferlita Bakery, come out on Saturday, March the 26th from 9am-3pm to the Ybor Museum State Park for FPAN West Central’s Archaeology in the Park event!

Historic photos courtesy of the Florida Park Service, Ybor City Museum State Park and the Tampa-Hillsborough County Library System.

Modern photographs taken by Rebecca O’Sullivan.

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In the Brine – recovery of the Weedon Island Canoe

The importance of the recovery of a 1,100 year old dugout canoe from a Tampa Bay shoreline last week will play on for years to come. Some might say that the challenges we faced during recovery are quintessential to archaeology in Florida. I would agree. But, as a member of the small team of archaeologists, Pinellas County employees, and volunteers who excavated through oyster mud hash to expose and recover the canoe, I observed and was energized by a determined and dedicated effort. The crew outstripped many of those difficulties… muck, bugs, tides, waves, and an out of the way location to name just a few. Here, the lesson I learned is that it takes a team… to recover a nearly 40 foot long dugout canoe.

We met before dawn to take advantage of the last of the seasonal low tides. Those in charge coordinated a few of the remaining details. Geared up and ready, we headed out for a local boat ramp previously selected for launching. The crew dropped two boats in the water (we had three for sand bag deployment the day before but as these things go – mechanical stuff breaks down). The smaller boat that I sat in was first to arrive at the site. The salt, the mud, the air had seen this type of day before. As a weak cold front languished overhead and battered down in spats, the rain helped cool the smear of that recognizable tidal flat smell.

With only one end intact, the dugout canoe measured approximately 38’ (feet) in length overall. Working quickly during a low, low tide that left the shoreline relatively dry, the crew prepared the ancient vessel for recovery. To begin, we uncovered the remains with hand digging, trowel scraping, and shovel shaving. Once exposed, archaeologists sectioned the remains before cradling each in a system of slings and plastic sheeting for transportation across calf deep waters to a quietly waiting deck boat. Experts decided upon a previous visit to the site that sectioning the dugout remains would be the most effective method for recovery.

Many reasons factored into this decision and ultimately led archaeologist Ray McGee and state of Florida conservator James Levy, both responsible for much of the information we know today about Florida dugout canoes, to suggest the idea. This method enabled the crew to transport the canoe in ten foot pieces. With all four canoe sections loaded successfully and the extraction site filled and cleaned up, we headed back to the original point of departure. In archaeology, recovery sets off a number of responsibilities. Especially for waterlogged items, the recovery process becomes stabilized. Its never really finished.

Team members cleaned and placed the canoe remains in a specially and previously-constructed conservation tank. It will be two or more years down the road before the canoe sections are properly consolidated  to expose to fresh air. Most of that time the canoe will be submerged in a waxy-water soup. In the meantime, special tours to the tank are being planned to give the visiting public a firsthand look at the canoe and the processes of its conservation. At a point in time, the vessel will be pieced together and go on display at the Weedon Island Preserve Natural and Cultural History Center. The canoe is an integral component of the state of Florida’s archaeological collections.

As a building block of Florida’s prehistoric and maritime past, the vessel’s significance is apparent. In a state with hundreds of recorded prehistoric dugout canoes, the Weedon Island canoe represents one of only two in Florida that have been documented within a saltwater environment. The Friends of Weedon Island spearheaded the effort. Their fundraising and passion for all things Weedon has secured what it takes to be able to take on such a recovery and to ultimately be able to display the canoe for all the public to see and learn from. Archaeologists Phyllis Kolianos and Dr. Bob Austin led the recovery process. Phyllis is director of the Weedon Island Preserve and Center. Through endeavors such as this, she and Bob along with future projects supported by the Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeology, Research, and Education (AWIARE), as well as the Friends group, will continue to enhance our knowledge of Tampa Bay’s prehistoric peoples and the environment within which they thrived.

…submitted by Jeff Moates

Section of the Weedon Island canoe cleaned and ready for conservation.

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Through the Looking Glass – by Rae Harper

Illustration by Sir John Tenniel.

I never really thought it was a good idea for me to share my thoughts through an electronic medium. Those of you who know me understand what a trainwreck that could be. When I am chatting with friends and colleagues, I can be quite boisterous even bordering on opinionated or judgmental – who wants to read that? Apparently a lot of people.

I was recently at a social media workshop hosted by the lovely women at our Northeast Center, and it seems that popular blogs are ones written in a very blatantly honest tone. It is also OK for people not to agree with you, almost the point really if you are trying to get people to respond.

Coming up with a title was very difficult, as was deciding on a focus. Most of the stuff I do relates to educating the public about archaeology in Florida. This includes developing interepretive material for the public – presentations, lesson plans, brochures, signs. I do a lot of work with teachers at workshops and in the classroom. I work with many like-minded partners to promote awareness of Florida’s cultural resources. None of that sounds like fascinating reading. But then I thought, maybe I should not just talk about the what – talk about the whys and hows too.

So I came up with “Through the Looking Glass” – yes a Lewis Carroll reference that has honestly almost been beat to death, but let me explain. Like Alice, sometimes I feel like I have stepped through the looking glass into a world I no longer recognize. It then becomes my job to communicate with the people that I come across on my journey, in a way that makes sense to them – in a manner that speaks to their needs. Whether I am interpreting events like the Jabberwocky poem, or trying to define terms like Humpty Dumpty, or bringing people to the table to agree on a course of action which very much resembles a chess match – I am not in my world, I am in theirs. Unlike Alice, at the end of the day I am not focused as much on crossing brooks as I am on building bridges. Bridges that span the gap between what I want to impart and what people are willing to hear. Bridges that create a path to mutual respect and support. OK, so still a storybook ending.

All aboard. The train is getting ready to leave the station – next stop blogosphere. Either way the trip will be an interesting one for me, I hope it will be equally interesting for you.

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