My name is Kurt Thomas Hunt. I’m a CRM archaeologist based in New York State and I head up an archaeoblog called Sexy Archaeology. Sexy Archaeology is one way that I provide public outreach within the field of archaeology by sharing the work that I do alongside what I consider excitingly appealing happenings from around the globe. I’m also the president of the New York State Archaeological Association’s (NYSAA) Thousand Islands Chapter, one of sixteen Chapters within the Empire State.
For this year’s Day of Archaeology, I’ve chosen to share a brief overview of the NYSAA’s history, highlight the work of my Chapter, and attempt to persuade those who are not already members to join their local archaeological Chapter or Society.
The New York State Archaeological Association (NYSAA) is composed of professional and avocational archaeologists primarily within New York State (though residency is not a prerequisite to join). NYSAA exists to promote archaeological and historical study, and research covering the artifacts, rites, customs, beliefs and other phases of the lives and cultures of the American Indian occupants of New York State up to their contact with Europeans and beyond.
The NYSAA was founded in 1916 and there are currently sixteen regional chapters of the NYSAA throughout the State. Each of the chapters holds monthly meetings where they present programs related to New York archaeology. Some of the chapters conduct their own fieldwork with the assistance of both members and volunteers. The NYSAA also publishes a bulletin and journal and sponsors an annual meeting in the spring of each year.
The Thousand Islands Chapter of the NYSAA was founded in 1994 and hosts over thirty members with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.
Our Chapter recently finished hosting a summer dig for its members along the shores of the Indian River, long known to be an essential byway for indigenous peoples through Northern New York. While a complete understanding of the site is still a ways off, a rough interpretation dictates that the two-acre area was most likely a seasonal Iroquois occupation site.
This rough interpretation is derived primarily from surface finds and excavations performed over the past couple of years. During this year’s dig, 298 pieces of pottery were unearthed within the first five centimeters of a single 1m x 1m unit. Other evidence has included flakes of locally sourced chert, projectile points, and just this year a post mold.
Aside from fieldwork, the Thousand Islands Chapter has, in the past, hosted lectures and discussions from a wide range of professionals, organized tours of historical sites, and has provided educational outreach programs for both children and adults across several counties within Northern New York.
Local or regional chapters of your state archaeological society provide exciting opportunities and come with numerous benefits. Society’s allow the chance for professional individuals to network, avocational archaeologists to hone their craft, and students the opportunity to garner experience from more seasoned individuals. Regional societies or chapters also afford members of the community the opportunity to better familiarize themselves with the history and archaeology of their area.
I invite you to join your local Chapter and Society. Not sure where to get started? The AIA website is a great place to turn, but a simple Google search or an email to your State Historic Preservation Office will also help further your search. Good luck, and make the most of it!