Chester Cunanan

One Day of Archaeology for the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum’s Webmaster

Besides my teaching and my public archaeology research, my archaeological life includes serving as webmaster for the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of archaeological resources in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. PAF advises agencies and the general public on archaeological matters and encourages communication about, and support for, the publication of information concerning the archaeology of the city. The group’s webpages are designed to be the ‘go to’ place for information on the area’s archaeology. PAF is open to all and its membership includes, among others, avocational archaeologists, architects, historians, journalists, school teachers, college students, community organizers, university researchers, private sector archaeologists, retired persons, preservation specialists, and museum professionals.

What I did today, July 14th, is coordinate contributions from our area for the Philadelphia Day of Archaeology, which is a local version of the international Day of Archaeology blogging project. The Philadelphia version gathers and collates local project submissions and posts them both at the webpages of the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum and at the international project’s blog posting site. The Philadelphia version of the project also welcomes archaeologists as well as anyone else working with or even visiting archaeology resources locally in the Philadelphia area – be they tour guides, media specialists, volunteers, students, local historians, journalists, teachers, preservation specialists, cultural resource managers, park rangers, museum folks, artists, etc., etc. PAF’s localized objective is to learn about, and share information about, what people in the Philadelphia area do with archaeology on a given day. In past years this has included the writing of archaeological reports and the reading of such reports, presenting a tour featuring archaeological sites and excavating a site. We have heard from volunteers washing artifacts for reconstructing objects and from college students photographing artifacts for 3D computational modeling of artifacts. Others used archaeology in preparing and teaching their lectures and graded papers that used archaeology evidence. Some spent their day writing for the public about archaeology and others were evaluating archaeology evidence for a state agency, supervising volunteers on archaeology projects and some just checked the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum Facebook page on the day in question.

So far this year (today) I have been fielding entries from a forensic archaeologist (Kimberlee Sue Moran) teaching teachers at a Forensic Science Education Conference, an historical archaeologist bringing her insights to family history and genealogy studies (Karen Lind Brauer), and a Ph.D. candidate working with volunteers to process artifacts recovered from the oldest extant residential street in the US (Deirdre Kelleher). I’ve been posting write ups about the busy day of the President of a local CRM firm (Kenneth J. Basalik) and the workday of two university researchers (David G. Orr and Michael Stewart). Three individuals are reporting on activities with local archaeology societies in the area (myself, with the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum, and Ilene Grossman-Bailey and Jesse Walker with the Archaeological Society of New Jersey). Lastly, there are three entries I am creating pages for that deal with a local university research effort using cutting edge digital media to interpret African American archaeology in the Philadelphia area (Glen Muschio, Chester Cunanan and Matt Moldzienski).

Taken together, these entries provide an important look at how archaeology is used in our area. By posting these at the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum webpage we can easily demonstrate that both archaeological research and the use of such research results contributes in multiple ways to the Philadelphia area. Forwarded to the international blogging project, these entries stand shoulder to shoulder with the important and exciting work of our global colleagues profiled as part of the international Day of Archaeology project!

Patrice L. Jeppson, Ph.D.
Philadelphia Archaeological Forum
Philadelphia Pennsylvania USA

Digital Media Technologies

I am a Digital Media student in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA. I am currently interning in a six month Research Co-op under Dr. Glen Muschio. He and I are engaged in multiple projects aimed at preserving Philadelphia’s rich cultural heritage through the use of current and next-gen digital media technologies. This is a unique opportunity for me, as the Co-Op allows me to combine my passion for digital art and animation with my interest in history.

3D models of Dexter House, front and side

On Monday, June 25th, I finalized preparation of a 3D digital model and animated fly through of the James Oronoco Dexter House.  The archaeological remains of the house were discovered during archaeological excavation of the grounds now occupied by the National Constitutional Center in Independence National Historical Park.  Dexter, a manumitted slave, occupied the house in the 1790’s. The house was used as the meeting place for discussions that led to the formation of the African Episcopal Church, one of the first two Black Churches founded in Philadelphia.

Interior hearth of Dexter House

The 3D digital model of the house is based on the archeological record, public tax and insurance records and historical photographs of similar houses. The animation showcases the exterior of the property as well as portions of the unfinished interior. This is the third iteration of the model developed by Drexel Digital Media students including Sean Brown, Chester Cunanan, Jake Nichols, Christian Adams, Rachel Young and Colin Wagner.

Interior stairs at Dexter House


Jason Kir, Digital Media junior Westphal College

Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania