Kimberlee S. Moran – Whispering Woods Phase II with Rutgers-Camden

Over the past 12 months I have had the privilege of introducing a class of Rutgers-Camden undergraduate students to archaeological fieldwork through a CRM project in Salem Co, NJ. Whispering Woods consists of 9 registered site ranging from Middle Woodland through to 20th century. Over the course of two semesters, students were introduced to key concepts in archaeology through a series of fun, hands-on activities. For instance, we learned about stratigraphy by “excavating” dirt cake in which several features and “artifacts” (gummy bones, candy coins and bottles) had been deposited. We constructed a timeline of human history where 1cm equaled 10 years, resulting in over 30 ft of images of artifacts, archaeological sites, and works of art depicting key events and cultures. We practiced mapping, plan drawings, and analyzed each other through the material culture of our personal affects.

The highlight of the class was the 7 weeks each semester that we spent in the field. Most of our work concentrated on high-density shovel tests, though a small number of excavation units were excavated. The students enthusiastically tackled every weekly session and it was clear that they truly enjoyed class, the physical labor, and each other’s company. Their excitement at finding lumps of rusted metal, broken glass, or fragments of brick was equal to that of finding gold! It was a joy to spend time with every one of them. I was especially proud of the class during our “Open Day” – a Saturday afternoon they freely gave up to host the local community at our site, supervise the public as they excavated two of our units, and share with our visitors what doing archaeology meant to them. A blog of our class and the Whispering Woods project can be found at I am indebted to Ani Hatza, Tovah Mitchell, Alex Denning, and Jennifer Falchetta for their help co-supervising the class.

Kimberlee Sue Moran, MSc, RPA
Department of Sociology, Anthropology, & Criminal Justice

Rutgers University
311 N. 5th Street, room 352
Camden, NJ 08102

phone: (+1)856-203-0687

Danielle Fischer — A Day Thinking About Archaeology

I graduated from Rutgers University (in Camden, New Jersey, USA) in May where I had the opportunity to learn archaeology in my last semester in a class taught by Kimberlee Moran. My only wish is that I found the subject sooner. I’ve spent all of my time since graduating trying to figure out how to do more Archaeology and this is what I write about today in my ‘Day of Archaeology’ contribution.

I’ve had a great education, but I spent the majority of it searching for the academic passion that motivated my best professors and most talented peers. Whenever I had the chance for an elective, I took it, hoping that underwater basket weaving or neurobiology would light the fire. I loved Anthropology, but that was really about it. Rutgers-Camden doesn’t really offer a degree in that subject, so I majored in sociology and took all the electives I was allowed. This led me to a quiet corner of the course selection where I found a “special topics” class. It grew to be the most absorbing course I’ve ever taken.

Professor Moran and her colleagues were funny, inviting, and easy to learn from. The time we spent in the classroom was invaluable: the new information about history, stratigraphy, and plan drawing prepared me well for my field experience. I had absolutely no concept of the sheer amount of skill it takes to be an archaeologist before I joined the class. Everyone I worked with was so knowledgeable and even more willing to share. They doubled my excitement! My first find was a small piece of glass, seemingly insignificant, but it felt like holding the Hope Diamond.

Whispering Woods is a gorgeous site. The forest is beautiful and enthralling and made me swear to work outdoors for a career. But the mystery is why I want to stay, why I want to learn more and keep studying. Human history calls to me, culture makes me curious, but archaeology is what I want to pursue for the rest of my life.

Danielle Fischer

Less Glamorous Summer of One College Professor

By now it should be clear that college professors don’t really have summers off. Some of my colleagues have posted about their summer fieldwork, teaching, or writing, but many of us are also preparing for the coming academic year.

Starting this fall, I am entering into a partnership with the local National Park Service to provide them with archaeological expertise and my students with real-world experience in cultural resource management. On the surface that seems like great fun, and it is, but it also a lot of work. I’ve spent weeks upgrading an archaeology lab to handle the influx of projects, artifacts, and student workers. This takes time, money, and a large dose of patience.



How difficult is it to order trays for the archaeology lab?

For example, I ordered 24 trays to hold artifacts for analysis. A week after placing the order I received a large box with one tray in it. Several phone calls later it was clear that if I returned this one tray they would send out a new set of 24. Single tray returned and one week later I received another large box with one tray in it. Phone calls… return single tray again… 24 trays arrive three weeks after placing the order. (If you think that is crazy, you don’t want to know how many emails it takes to get an electrical outlet installed.)



These birds crashed into my office window and now they are part of my comparative collection.

Within archaeology I specialize in bone identification. Preparing to teach forensic anthropology this spring means many hours spent in the lab sorting bones that have become unorganized over the past year. Boxes, bags, labels, and a good music playlist make time fly by as I work to re-associate a femur with a tibia and a clavicle with a sternum. Once the human collection is reorganized it is time to clean off some of the new animal skeletons and get them in color coded and labeled boxes. Until last week I had 15 animals decomposing in my backyard. Now I have two.



A geocache was hidden against the outside wall of this crypt but it looks like people have broken into it.


Because my love of the outdoors goes along with my love for archaeology, I am taking breaks from all this lab and administrative work to go geocaching. This spring I am teaching a new course called Maps, Culture, and Archaeology. I hope to use geocaching to teach students how to navigate with paper maps and with handheld GPS units. That means I need to get better at geocaching and setup the new GPS units. The last cache I found was at this crypt – coordinates are N 40° 49.994 W 083° 07.923


My Day of Archaeology may not have been glamorous but I accomplished a lot of things that will help make the next academic year run more smoothly.

A Nevada CRM Archaeologist

This is my first post for the Day of Archaeology event.  I’d like to begin by thanking the organizers, advisors, and sponsors for conceiving of and making this event happen.  It’s important that we discuss archaeology across the world and get our work out to a broad audience.  All most people know about archaeology is what they see on the Discovery Channel or from Indiana Jones.

The road I took to get to a career in archaeology involved several u-turns and a few speed bumps.  Here is a quick history.  When I was a kid I wanted to be an astronaut, an airline pilot, or an archaeologist.  Since my family didn’t have the money for me to realize any of those goals I did what I thought was the next best thing and joined the Navy right out of high school.  I spent the next four and a half years working on EA-6B Prowlers as an aviation electronics technician.  During that time I went on a cruise on the USS Enterprise for six months in the Mediterranean and in the Persian Gulf.  We saw some great cities with great archaeology and history.  At this time, archaeology was something you saw on TV and included crusty old PhDs working in universities.  I never considered it as a career.

Near the end of my time in the Navy a random phone call landed me in commercial flight training at the Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  While there I received my private pilot’s license and finished the training for a few other licenses.  After a year and a half I transferred to the University of North Dakota to continue my flight training at the nations largest and most advanced collegiate flight training school.  UND Aerospace has an amazing program with state of the art aircraft and flight simulators.  It was a great experience.

While I was taking aviation classes I filled up my general education requirements with anthropology classes.  I still loved the science of archaeology, in particular paleoanthropology, but still didn’t see it as a career option.  I’m not sure why.  I think it was still just one of those fantasy fields that you never think you are capable of performing.

After a couple of years I started to lose my desire to fly commercially.  I just didn’t think I would get any satisfaction from shuttling people around the country for the rest of my life.  Sure the pay is good but there are a lot of things you can do that involve less stress if all you want is money.  I need a job that makes me feel good at the end of the day and that I look forward to going to everyday.  Since I still didn’t see archaeology as an option, even though I had taken most of the classes offered, I spent the next couple of years taking photography and math classes just for fun.  I know, I like math.  I’m probably the only CRM archaeologist that has used SOHCAHTOA to determine the exact angle for a transect.

During my penultimate year in college my professor, Dr. Melinda Leach, told me that I could graduate in one year with a degree in anthropology.  I just had to take all of the upper level classes and that would be it.  With no other direction I decided to go for it.  I had to take 18 credits during the fall and 15 credits during the spring and write, I think, five or six research papers during the year but in the end I graduated.  After graduation I went back to Seattle and worked with my brother’s father in law’s home remodeling company.  I hated it.

In the fall I went back to North Dakota to help with the big event that the department had planned the previous year.  We had Jane Goodall coming to speak to a packed house.  One day, while sitting in the student lounge, a former student, and friend, came up to me and said hi.  He was visiting because hurricane Katrina had destroyed his apartment in New Orleans and his company laid everyone off for a little while.  He asked what I was doing.  At the time I was getting ready to go on an Earthwatch expedition to dig in Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania.  After that I had no plans.  He asked if I had checked Shovelbums.  Shovel what?

I educated myself on, prepared my CV, and started on a job in Minnesota a week after I returned from Africa.  That was in October of 2005 and I’ve been in CRM ever since.  I’ve worked at all times of the year, on all phases of field archaeology and in 13 states.

In August of 2009 I began a one year MS program at the University of Georgia.  The program was intense but I received my Master of Science in Archaeological Recourse Management in July of 2010.  I’m currently working in the Great Basin of Nevada and love every minute of it!

So, I guess that wasn’t too brief.  My fiancé will tell you that brevity is not a trait that I possess.  Hopefully someone will get out of this that it’s never too late and you are never too old to get into the dynamic field of anthropology.   There are many paths that you can take to get to anthropology and there are just as many that you can take along your career.

My Chief in the Navy once told me how he decides whether a job or a position is right for him.  He said to look around at the people that have been doing your job and are at the ends of their careers.  Are they happy?  Are they doing what you would want to do?  My favorite thing about archaeology is that you can’t really tell what the future will bring.  You could be running a company, teaching at a university, or hosting your own show on the Discovery Channel, if they ever get back to science and history shows and away from reality shows.  The possibilities are nearly endless.

In my next post I’ll talk about the project I’m on right now and the wonders of monitoring.


Written northeast of Winnemucca, NV.