Categories

Tag Archives | community

Shelley Dootson (MOLA): Community Dig at Stepney City Farm

This week MOLA archaeologists have been working with members of the public to excavate Stepney City Farm as part of a Crossrail community archaeology project, which goes on until Saturday 27 July.

Briefing our volunteers for the excavation

Briefing our volunteers for the excavation

The sun shines over Stepney City Farm in the East End of London where the atmosphere today was relaxed and eco-conscientious with a shared community spirit. Volunteers, school groups and families visit this working haven situated in the ‘village’ of Stepney, a stone’s throw from St Dunstan’s Anglican Church. We’re looking for the remains of the Tudor palace known as Worcester House, occupied by Henry Somerset, the Marquis of Worcester in the 16th century; a brick-tower gatehouse, along with many other significant archaeological finds that have already been uncovered by MOLA.

Dave helping one of our volunteers identify finds

Dave helping one of our volunteers identify finds

Temperatures soared to 27 degrees as staff and volunteers excavated the remains of the Tudor palace whilst we listened to the hee-haws, oinks and clucks of hot but contented farmyard animals, surrounded by trees and many varieties of herbs and colourful flowering plants.

Hee-haw

Hee-haw

The allotments, buildings and pathways were designed from recycled materials; bunting swayed in the breeze overhead, a flourishing and successful outcome to a plot of land where squatters once stood their ground and won!

The Stepney City Farm allotments complete with upcycled plastic bottle greenhouse

The Stepney City Farm allotments complete with upcycled plastic bottle greenhouse

The vision underground, however, is very different.  Dark and eerie caverns and utility tunnels weave between London’s tube and rail lines at depths exceeding 35 metres.  These caverns under Stepney Green are some of the largest mined and constructed tunnels in Europe with many people employed by Crossrail, below street level, in protective clothing, oblivious to the temperatures above. This heavy and dangerous work will continue after we and our volunteers move on.

Back on the surface, MOLA has an archaeological excavation underway that has exposed a ditch, moat and boundary walls of Worcester House, otherwise known as ‘King John’s Palace’.

Examining the finds from a feature

Examining the finds from a feature

Karen and volunteer washing finds

Karen and volunteer washing finds

Archaeological small finds include a copper dress pin and remains of a Tudor shoe from the moat, glass beaker bases from the cess pit and a bone ivory ring from Garden Street. Exciting recoveries are being made on a daily basis!

An array of bowls and plates

An array of bowls and plates

A plethora of finds

A plethora of finds

The site was visited by BBC TV television crew and their film was broadcast at 6.30pm on BBC London. The East London Advertiser also made a visit.

Volunteers getting a little face-time on the BBC

Volunteers getting a little face-time on the BBC

In-depth archaeology has been undertaken by MOLA on this site and includes bore holes, nine trial trenches and full scale excavation of the area.  This is to pave the way for the 42km of Crossrail tunnel that will pass under Stepney Green for the high capacity London railway line that is due to open in 2014.  Despite all of this, above ground, the residents of Stepney City Farm carry on as normal.  Sid the ferret was rescued by Dave Sankey when he wandered into a trench, Billy the goat never failed to amuse the visitors with his cantankerous ways and my favourite Stepney animal, that I have named Mollie, was a big white fluffy bantam chicken that crossed the road!

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Cantankerous Billy the goat

Cantankerous Billy the goat

These happy animals, the amazing variety of flora and the community that created this magical place, continue to live in blissful co-existence, oblivious to the archaeology and construction below their feet and roots.  This eco environment, along with the history of the site and the current work being undertaken by MOLA appealed to my sentiment and made my day at Stepney City Farm both memorable and gratifying!

Shelley with artefacts

Shelley with artefacts


Continue Reading

A Different Kind of Fieldwork: A Day in Public Archaeology

As one of the Outreach Coordinators for the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN), a not-for-profit program of the University of West Florida dedicated to outreach and education related to Florida’s amazing historical and archaeological resources, I see this year’s Day of Archaeology as an opportunity to extend my influence far beyond the Florida Panhandle region in which I typically work. The Day of Archaeology, in my opinion, is a wonderful international component of the every-day job of the public archaeologist.

On a daily basis, the staff of FPAN, like other public archaeologists throughout the world, take on the equally difficult and rewarding task of convincing the public, a public that is largely unaware of the actual role of archaeologists, that archaeological resources are something to be valued and protected. For those I often encounter, the archaeologist can be one of any number of popular media-influenced archetypes: the “Indiana Jones,” the “treasure hunter,” or the “dinosaur specialist.” My job, and that of other public archaeologists, is to dispel these misleading images and to show how truly amazing archaeology actually is without out being any of the above. Most impressive to me is how quickly people are willing to give up those old stereotypes. When those with which we engage begin to better recognize the science, research, time, and dedication that goes into archaeological research, a deeper appreciation for the goals of the discipline, and for cultural resources in general, is often not far behind. For those who seek to understand, archaeology can provide a deep and lasting connection to the past that gives us a sense of where we are and just how far we have come!

Pensacola, Florida

Pensacola, Florida

The Coordinating Center for the Florida Public Archaeology Network: our home base!

The Coordinating Center for the Florida Public Archaeology Network.

Summer is a fairly busy time for us at FPAN. Working out of our Coordinating Center in Pensacola, Florida, we co-direct a summer camp, present talks on local history and archaeology in a variety of venues, and host a public archaeology lab. On top of these tasks, we are constantly generating new promotional and informational materials that aid us in our goals of raising awareness about local cultural resources.

I work with one of our History & Archaeology summer camp students to  use an atl-atl and illustrate changes in hunting technologies throughout human history.

I work with one of our History & Archaeology summer camp students to use an atl-atl and illustrate changes in hunting technologies throughout human history.

For the first half of every day this week, I am co-directing the History and Archaeology Summer Camp that FPAN helps run through the University of West Florida in partnership with West Florida Historic Preservation, Inc. The camp offers us a chance to dedicate a week of our summer to truly engage campers in the daily life of the historian and archaeologist. The children who attend our camp are immersed in hands-on activities in history and archaeology. Campers visit our public archaeology lab, as well as local museums, historic sites, and archival collections. The camp curriculum and activities attempt to build a deep appreciation of Pensacola’s rich past and to instill stewardship for local cultural resources. While this may sound overwhelming for children, all of our campers become incredibly dedicated and the camp has consistently received excellent feedback from both attendees and parents.

I speak with an audience about Florida's fishing history at Fort Pickens, located in the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

I speak with an audience about Pensacola’s fishing history at Fort Pickens, located in the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

The demands of summer camp do not slow me down, however, and I head next to the Fort Pickens Auditorium on Gulf Islands National Seashore. In partnership with the National Park Service at Gulf Islands National Seashore, FPAN has helped put together a summer lecture series on local history and archaeology. On this particular day, the topic is my Master’s thesis work on the Red Snapper fishing industry that dominated Pensacola’s waterfront from 1860-1930. Utilizing historical documents and archaeological materials, I tell my audience the tale of the rapid boom and bust of the industry and how it continues to affect daily life in the local area (namely, the strict conservation measures on commercial fishing and the subsequent rise of recreational fishing tourism). I get a lot of great questions and some interesting insight from individuals who remember seeing commercial fishing vessels ply the waterfront in the sunset years of the industry.

I work with one of our volunteers in the Public Archaeology Lab to identify and rough sort artifacts from University of West Florida excavations.

Working with one of our volunteers in the Public Archaeology Lab, I help identify and rough sort artifacts from University of West Florida excavations.

After the talk at Fort Pickens, I put on my hat as Public Archaeology Lab supervisor and head back to our Coordinating Center. With the wonderful help of our senior intern, Tristan, FPAN invites the general public to come in a couple days a week to rough sort artifacts from actual excavations that the University of West Florida has undertaken in past years. The lab allows interested individuals to get hands-on with cultural material, the archaeological process, and, more abstractly, their past. While lab work is not for everyone, those who do come by always leave with a greater appreciation of the vigorous, but sometimes surprising, nature of archaeological analysis. Over the past few years, we have also retained a number of very dedicated volunteers who come every day that we are open.

A new heritage sites and museums map that FPAN is putting together to promote heritage tourism in the Pensacola area.

A new heritage sites and museums map that FPAN is putting together to promote heritage tourism in the Pensacola area.

To wrap up a long day, I sit down to work on some of the new materials we will be releasing to promote heritage tourism in our area. By creating colorful, accessible handouts and making them available to visitor centers and popular tourism destinations, we hope to have a significant influence on visitation to the many spectacular museums and sites that feature local cultural resources.

Although we are not “field archaeologists” in the typical meaning of the phrase, public archaeologists are constantly working in their local and regional communities to spread knowledge and appreciation of the many historical and archaeological resources that piece together the puzzles of the past. This type of “fieldwork” provides similar gratification and, at times, frustration as does standard archaeological fieldwork, but I have never felt entirely unsuccessful in any of the programs or events in which I’ve played a role. Even if all I was able to get across to a group is that archaeologists do not, in fact, dig up dinosaurs, I have decidedly brought my community one step closer to appreciating the roles of the many individuals who work in academic, public, and private archaeology. More frequently, however, I feel that those groups with which I talk and engage actually learn a great deal about archaeology, the role of archaeologists, and the relevance of archaeology to our modern world. Thus, a day in the life of the public archaeologist may not be filled with excavations of 16th-century Spanish shipwrecks or laboratory analysis of cultural material from 18th-century British fortifications, but it is certainly equally exciting to help the public navigate history in ways they never knew were possible.

FPAN_Vert-01

If you are interested in the Florida Public Archaeology Network, our mission, or what we do every day of the year, please visit our website (flpublicarchaeology.org) and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Continue Reading

Working in the palace of the Queen She-Wolf: the Mallou hilltop fort in Galicia

mallou_total-1000x395

The impressive location of the Mallou hilltop fort.

An independent team of archaeologists, journalists, anthropologists and people from many different disciplines and professions is working on the last two weeks of July in the hillfort of Mallou, led by archaeologist Anton Malde and the popular science writer and university professor Manuel Gago. This is a public archeology project promoted by the  Council of Carnota.

mallou_2

Main gates at Mallou hilltop fort

The hillfort of Mallou is a small fortified town on the Atlantic coast Galician striking monumental in its structures (especially the walls and the original door),  original configuration (a combination of large elongated structures near the wall and small circular huts in the center) and its excellent state of preservation, which allows understanding the original urban even without digging! The village, inhabited by Iron Age people of the Celtici Supertamarici  (the Celts located at North of the Tambre River) offers a unique perspective for the end of the Iron Age II on the Atlantic coast, very little known from a scientific point of view. The two closest excavated forts are more than 60km away.

mallou_1

South Walls

The fort has an important symbolic role for the local community, which identifies this as the residence of the famous Queen Lupa (The Queen She-Wolf), the mythical pagan figure who allowed disciples of St. James burying the body of the saint in the sacred woods of Libredón.

But the Mallou Castro Project is also special for the attention given to the local community and public archeology. Although the archaeological team has eight experienced professionals in the field, the design of this action encourages the participation of the local community and everyonge interested in archeology, through activities adapted to the conditions of training, health and interests of the participants in the project. The aim is involving society in the process of building knowledge and creating experiences and strategies for the local community to be the leading advocate and user of the archaeological site.

Thus, the project offers volunteers a wide range of activities: since cleaning the dense fields, support archaeologist technical tasks, and even literary workshops on writing historical tales. Over sixty volunteers from Mallou villaje and allGalicia are involved in the project for one or more days, enriching the local tourist economy and creating a new way of relating to heritage.

Connect live from 18:00 h. Friday July 26

Live streaming video by Ustream

Continue Reading

Education, Community and Irish Archaeological Research

Hi. My name is Christina O’Regan and I am the Fieldwork and Educational Director of Irish Archaeological Research (IAR). Three colleagues and I set up this non-profit social organisation in early 2011 with the aim of getting the public more involved with archaeology through education, workshops, and community events. We are all from commercial archaeological backgrounds and wanted to develop our experience in community archaeology.

A focus has been the delivery of school workshops, typically to second level students in years 8 – 12. These workshops begin with a general introduction to the archaeology of Ireland, followed by a practical session varying from how to make and decorate prehistoric-style pottery, learning about diet through artificial ‘poo’ dissection, hands-on interaction with genuine and replica artefacts and prehistoric hunting techniques. These workshops have been incredibly successful, with benefits for students and teachers alike.

My work in IAR varies from day-to-day as I develop workshops, plan for future events and shoot off a few emails to raise the profile of IAR within the archaeological and educational sectors.

For this year’s Festival of British Archaeology, we have decided to host two family-orientated events; the first at Glenariff Forest Park (July 21st & 22nd) and the second at Gosford Forest Park (July 28th & 29th). Our experience with the school workshops has shown us that the more practical the day, the better. Pottery workshops, archery, demonstrations of flint knapping and a children’s activity area will ensure there is something for everyone to enjoy. There will also be a mini museum, with an interactive artefacts table as well as information on the archaeology of the areas where the events will be held (Antrim and Armagh). The Northern Ireland Environment Agency have very generously granted us a loan of some artefacts from both counties and I joyously spent an afternoon sifting through their stores, picking out choice artefacts with the help of Andrew Gault from the Agency. We are also busy planning similar events for National Heritage Week in the Republic of Ireland, August 18th – 26th.

A trial run of the Open Air Museum at the Carnival of Colours, Londonderry showed us the enormous benefits this type of venture can have in increasing awareness of local heritage within communities.

Social media has been a lifeline for IAR with our Facebook page now ‘liked’ by over 1,000 people. The page allows us to announce all of our upcoming events as well as share archaeological discoveries and support other institutions and companies. Facebook also allows us to easily disseminate our free online magazine, Irish Archaeological Research and we have just put out a call for articles for the fourth (summer) edition. As editor of the e-zine, I envisage many late nights over the coming weeks organising layout and thinking up witty headlines!

For more information on any of our events see www.irisharchaeologicalresearch.com

 

Continue Reading

Seeing with archaeological eyes

2.30 am. Change diaper. Feed baby.

4.00 am. Change diaper. Feed baby.

6.00 am. Tell toddler to go back to sleep. Change diapers just in case. Fed the cat… or was that the baby? Woops, put diapers on the cat.

8.00 am. Go to work.

Having a baby and a toddler has completely changed our lives. It’s also changed the material culture of our house. Diapers! Who knew they came in so many different varieties? What is common to all of them is that they are branded. Here an Elmo, there a Big Bird, woops, here’s a Dora and Diego… These are the things I notice in the early morning, as I sing ‘Morningtown Ride‘ for the umpteenth time. Does the branding go with age? Is there a gender difference? In the store, do Elmos get better shelf space than Oscars? There’s certainly a spatial component within our house…

Archaeology isn’t just a job, it’s a way of seeing the world.  You start to look for patterns, you start to see patterns, in places where others see nothing at all. You wonder why is it that *this* building faces *that* way, when the rest of the street seems to be on a different alignment. You stand in forest clearings and notice the presence of lilac bushes, indicating an abandoned farmhouse. It’s a bit like poker – the landscape, the social environment, all have little tells, and we’re trained to see ‘em.

I’m now the first – and only – archaeologist in my department at my University. We’ve got a long hallway on the top floor of the building. There’s no common area (if you don’t count the stair landing). The layout of the department reflects the way that historians have often traditionally worked – in isolation. The contrast with the archaeology department at Reading (where I did my PhD work) is striking. There, all of the offices and work spaces are arranged around a communal atrium. From one office door you can see pretty much anyone else’s door, and the workrooms – and the doors have windows in them.

Atrium in the Reading University Archaeology Department

I’m still new here at Carleton. There are other archaeologists squirreled away in other departments, somewhere on this vast sprawling campus. I really must make contact, some day.

On the other hand, being the only archaeologist amongst the historians means that my archaeological eyes are seeing things they wouldn’t otherwise see, which has its benefits! One of which is a project I’m working on this morning, ‘HeritageCrowd’, a project using the Ushahidi crisis-mapping platform to solicit memories and knowledge of the historic landscape. It’s a crowd-sourced map of the tangible and intangible memories and erasures in this region. Of course, the map is as wide as the world, so if anyone else wanted to use it in their own neck of the woods, there’s no reason they couldn’t – please check it out!  This project is an outcome of the great conversations I’ve been having with the oral history folks and public history folks here at Carleton.

My student assistants and I were to go out to the ruins of the Ottawa Electric Company, (Google map pic) but it looks like we’ll have to reschedule. In which case, I guess I’ll spend the rest of my day planning my syllabi for next year’s courses: Digital Antiquity; The Historian’s Craft; and Augmented Reality & Public History.

 

HeritageCrowd.org Screenshot


Continue Reading

A Highland view from Edinburgh

Like a number of other archaeologists, I haven’t been working within archaeology for a some months now. I was fortunate that following finishing my degree studies, I was working continuously – in some form or another – right up until Christmas last year. Since then I’ve been seeking gainful employment outside the archaeological world always with the hope of getting back into it. Jobs have been applied for, interviews taken, rejections accepted… Still, I’m a determined individual and accept that while it may take some time, I will be employed within archaeology again. I believe that with enough time, effort and blind faith, my determination will pay off. Though it may worth asking me in a year’s time if I still see this the same way…

So, this ‘day in the life of’ will be slightly different as I’m not – strictly speaking – an archaeologist, merely someone who wishes to be one (again). I live in Edinburgh, Scotland and in many respects it is a fantastic place to be situated as an archaeologist. There is an abundance of commercial units, government agencies and fantastic museums all of which provide great opportunities and resources for interested parties of all kinds – whether students, professionals or others. Indeed, it’s these ‘others’ that I’m interested in as an archaeologist. I see archaeology as a discipline breaking down into 3 basic (and, yes, exceptionally generalised) categories: academic, commercial and public. Now, I don’t really agree that there should be a separate branch of archaeology called ‘public’. I think that all archaeology should be public. This is an attitude that not everyone agrees with and an attitude that is very difficult to fulfil within the commercial and academic sectors. Happily, however, the importance of public archaeology is increasingly being realised and evermore funding and resources being given towards it. For anyone reading not immediately familiar with what ‘public archaeology’ means, it is a democratic approach to studying our past: ensuring the transparency, accessibility and opening up of archaeology to everyone. Community involvement and support is absolutely critical to this.

My own interest stemmed partly from what I was learning at university and my frustrations with hitting a brick wall of grey literature at seemingly every turn, and partly the fieldwork I undertook as part of my degree studies. I consciously chose sites that were varied, working with a wide variety of individuals and an equally as wide variety of subject matters. While I didn’t realise it at the time, my interests were drawn towards projects where there was a degree of community involvement and within cultural landscapes with which I identified (silly me thinking it’d be just the archaeology drawing me to a place!). These landscapes are the Scottish Highlands, or more specifically the Gaidhealtachd – the Gaelic-speaking Highlands. As a native Gaelic-speaker myself and having been brought up in the Highlands perhaps somewhat inevitably a significant part of my fieldwork experience has been in this area.

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

SAA at Garfield Park, Washington, DC

 The Society for American Archaeology (SAA) is participating in the Day of Archaeology 2011 festival at Garfield Park in Washington, DC.  Today I’m preparing materials to distribute to kids, families, teachers, and anyone else who drops by.   We’ll also have some hands-on archaeology activities at the booth. The festival is sponsored by Archaeology in the Community--a network of archaeologists, anthropologists, teachers, and volunteers working together to make archaeology accessible to youth, schools, and community organizations though creative programs and community projects. Look for additional posts about the festival from organizer Alexandra Jones.

 

 

 

 

Continue Reading

Historic graveyards and community archaeology in Ireland

wrapped Monaghan headstone

Low impact headstone rubbing from Kileevan, Co. Monaghan, Ireland

A colleague of ours spent years recording the archaeology of an island off the west coast of Ireland. In the last few weeks of the project the team commenced the survey of the islands’ historic graveyard.

‘Finally,’ his neighbours said jokingly ‘ you are doing something useful around here’.

 

We know, as archaeologists, the value of our surveys, excavations and publications (http://eachtra.ie/index.php/journal/) but that value is not always apparent to the general public. We have found that community-based historic graveyard surveys (http://www.historicgraves.ie/blog) are a great way to introduce members of the public to our methods and to our ways of thinking and looking at the world.

 

In the course of this Day of Archaeology we hope to touch on the application of archaeological methods to historic graveyard surveys and to also present the sights and sounds of the Irish landscape.

Continue Reading