Kenneth J. Basalik

Kenneth J. Basalik – A Day of Archaeology, 2014

A day in the life of an archaeologist: 7-9-14

Today started early as I left the house at 6:45am to meet with a client at 7:15am. The meeting was supposed to involve a discussion of the findings of archaeological excavation in Chester County. Instead of discussing the significance of the archaeological finds, a different situation arose that needed attention. A project, for which the cultural resources work was completed four years ago, was set to go to construction. Unfortunately, the planned construction access area had just been blocked by the installation of a new utility pole. Construction access could be undertaken by another route, but that route had not be evaluated previously. In addition to a possibility of archaeological impacts, the new access area lay within a listed historic district and adjacent to two historic properties. The new access route needed to be evaluated for potential impacts to cultural resources, and quickly, or, because of scheduling related to endangered species habitats, construction could be delayed for a year. Fortunately I had forgotten [as I often do] to remove my laptop from my car, and so was able to use it to connect to my office, collect files from four years past, and verbally address the issues at hand. By 11am I was back to the office working on preparing documentation describing the proposed work, the preservation of the landscape using geotextiles, and the lack of impact by the proposed work. By 5:30pm the documentation was sailing through the ether to the client for review. I arrived home by 6:30 pm with the thought that tomorrow would begin early with a meeting to discuss review comments on the construction access, and maybe, just maybe, there would be time to discuss the archaeological excavations in Chester County.

Kenneth J. Basalik, Ph.D.
President – Cultural Heritage Resource Services, Inc.
Lansdale, Pennsylvania (USA)

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

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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

My day started…

Lansdale, Pennsylvania (USA)  [Posted by the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum webmaster]

The business of archaeology can be a frustrating experience. I work for a cultural resource management firm. My day started, like that of many others, sitting in traffic to get to work. Once there, I was greeted by a long flatbed trailer who had parked across all of the parking spots for the office. After I had a few gentle words with the driver, and I intimated that the borough police would not look favorably on his parking, he moved and I was able to park. On checking my email, I was greeted by a request for nine hard copies of a report for work performed in Berks County (Pennsylvania, USA), and could I have them delivered to their office by 3pm today? Another email wanted to know why the company’s insurance broker had not sent the requested documentation for a bridge project in Montgomery County (Pennsylvania) and still another email from our phone system company indicating that, despite a three week wait, they had brought the wrong software fix and would come back when they could find the correct software.  I had been at work for less than a half an hour and wanted desperately to leave. Phone calls were left with the client, the insurance broker, and the phone system firm. No one was in to talk to me. I also placed a call to an archaeologist with the National Park Service to discuss possible upcoming work in Valley Forge National Historic Park.  They were also not available. Later in the day, I was able to get some work done. The work included the review of an informational packet that we were preparing for a local municipality in advance of a proposed ordinance to protect historic buildings; a review of a Phase I archaeological survey report where three archaeological sites were found, but where project impacts were changed to avoid the sites; and updating of a work plan for archaeology at an early twentieth century site in Delaware County (Pennsylvania). Later in the day, I was reminded by my computer to prepare a submission for the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum’s Artifact of the Month and to prepare a short summary of work performed in a mining community in western Pennsylvania for the Society for Historical Archaeology newsletter.  The two small write-ups were the only enjoyable part of the day as they provided an outlet to provide information concerning archaeological work to the general public — and I didn’t have to wait for a call back.

 By Kenneth J. Basalik, Ph.D. President Cultural Heritage Research Services, Inc.

A Day of Archaeology from the City of Brotherly Love (And Beyond)

It’s been a typically diverse summer day for me. One of my ongoing projects deals with understanding the initial adoption of pottery technology by the Indian peoples of the Delaware Valley (between roughly 1600 BC and 1000 BC) and subsequent trends in the manufacture and use of pots. Today I reviewed a number of recently published articles on the subject and made arrangements to see collections of pottery from archaeological sites in New Jersey (Gloucester County) and Pennsylvania (Philadelphia). I also continued my review and organization of data from an ongoing excavation project I direct, along with graduate student Jeremy Koch, in the Lehigh River Gorge of Pennsylvania. This location is a fantastic layer cake of deposits left by Indian groups beginning around 11,300 years ago and ending in colonial times. The site was brought to our attention by amateur archaeologist, Del Beck, who was concerned about the site being looted. Del remains an important member of our research team along with my old friend and amateur archaeologist, Tommy Davies, and colleagues from the State Museum of Pennsylvania, Clarion and Baylor universities. We are currently into our 5th year of investigations at the site and are collecting evidence of native cultures that is rarely seen in buried and undisturbed contexts in Pennsylvania. I’m looking forward to my next trip to the site later this week.

Michael Stewart, archaeologist in the Department of Anthropology at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

 

For the record, I’m not an archaeologist. I manage the regional historic preservation program for the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. General Services Administration. The regional headquarters is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania although the region covers six states from New Jersey to Virginia. We undertake a number of projects for the federal government that involve ground disturbing activities and I manage the regional regulatory compliance, including archaeological investigations. On June 25, 26, and 27 I reported to a customer agency about the ongoing investigation of two historic archaeological sites at their project site in southern Virginia, sent copies of correspondence and archaeological resource identification reports to a couple of Native American tribes who expressed interest in being consulting parties to a Section 106 consultation, prepared a scope of work to direct an archaeological contractor to undertake a survey to identify whether or not there are archaeological resources present in a planned project area, and worked on slides describing how to incorporate archaeology into project planning for a training presentation I’ll be giving in a few months.

Donna Andrews, Regional Historic Preservation Officer, GSA Mid-Atlantic Region, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

 

In the evening of June 25, 2012, I edited a draft of a publication being prepared regarding a multi-component prehistoric site (28GL228) located in New Jersey immediately east of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania, USA). The article will be published in the journal entitled Archaeology of Eastern North America and presented at the 2012 Eastern States Archaeological Federation meeting in Ohio (USA). The data from 28GL228 provides insight into Native American culture in the Philadelphia region. This project is being conducted on a volunteer basis.

Jesse Walker, MA, RPA

 

I, Poul Erik Graversen, MA (Masters), RPA (Registered Professional Archaeologist), spent most of my Monday, June 25, 2012, doing research for my PhD/Doctorate Degree.  I am currently living and working in New Jersey (USA), not far from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where I grew up; however I attend the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom.  Literature on free African Americans in the antebellum northeastern United States is sparse.  The literature that can be found on this very important topic has had little focus on the placement, layout, settlement patterns, and the archaeological record of these people.  My PhD dissertation aims to fill in the gaps of current scholarship focused on African American archaeology in the northeastern United States by means of an in depth analysis of both enslaved and free African American settlements in not only the northeastern United States, but in the southern United States and West Africa as well.  By analyzing the settlement patterns and socio-economic reasons behind the settlement patterns in other parts of the United States and the world, a clearer and more concise picture of the reasons behind the settlement patterns of free and enslaved African Americans in the northeastern United States will emerge.  Most of the information amassed in this regard up to this point stems from a historical perspective, with archaeological contributions and content lacking.  The new information gathered in this dissertation will shed light on the life-ways of these people via the archaeological record of both enslaved and free African American Diaspora in the northeastern United States of America and the ramifications of their extended exposure to European influence in North America. 

Poul Erik Graversen, MA, RPA PhD/Doctoral Candidate University of Leicester
Principle Investigator/Instructor Monmouth University New Jersey USA

 

Worked in the morning on several writing projects including my material culture based memoir: “Some Things of Value: A Childhood Through Objects”, my essay with my colleague Julie Steele on Valley Forge and Petersburg National Park Service sites, and some new stuff on American Mortuary practices inspired by my attendance and paper presentation at last week’s national meeting of the Association for Gravestone Studies held in Monmouth, New Jersey (USA). At about 10:30 am left Temple University (in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) and went to Elfreth’s Alley [the oldest street in the USA) and discussed the excavations now underway, directed by my graduate student Deirdre Kelleher, ably assisted by two energetic volunteers and fellow student Matt Kalos. Three foundations have appeared (not the expected two) and need to be sorted out. Lots of stuff to think about there: the growth of 18th century Philadelphia, perhaps the first settlements there, the 19th century immigration and its impacts, all to be read through material culture; especially the remarkable surviving architecture. Greatly relieved not to get a speeding ticket as I journeyed back to Delaware City (Delaware, USA) where I answered some queries and agreed to some talks; including one on the Fourth of July!! My local historical society is busy trying to save a magnificent mid-18th century farmhouse on an imposing knoll surrounded by lowland farm ground and wetlands. Approved a draft to hopefully speed the preservation process along. Also reviewed the National Register nomination crafted by a group of us working at the Plank Log House in Marcus Hook, Pa., another early structure in the Delaware Valley. Regretfully decided that I could not attend the Fields of Conflict 7th Annual Meeting in Hungary this October. The day ended with a group response, led by my next door neighbor, to save an injured Great Blue Heron which found itself in front of our house. By 8:00 pm the heron was revived and taken care of at a friend’s animal hospital!

David G. Orr, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

 

I spent the day doing fieldwork at Elfreth’s Alley in Old City Philadelphia (Pennsylvania, USA) as part of my doctoral research.  Elfreth’s Alley, designated as a National Historical Landmark, is credited with being one of the oldest residential streets in the nation.  My research seeks to illuminate the lives of the inhabitants on the Alley, especially the many European immigrants who resided on the small street during the nineteenth century.  This summer, I am working behind 124 and 126 Elfreth’s Alley which house a small museum and gift shop.  During the day I worked with volunteers from the local community who came out to learn about and participate in the excavation.  I also spent time discussing my project with the many visitors who came to the Museum of Elfreth’s Alley.

Deirdre Kelleher, Doctoral Student, Temple University, Department of Anthropology, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

 

I am a Rutgers University (New Jersey, USA) lecturer who teaches in three programs (Anthropology, Art History, Cultural Heritage); I also am a sole proprietor archaeological consultant with 25 years of archaeological experience – every day is always busy, diverse in the tasks and projects I work on, and linked with archaeology and anthropology. Today I: 1. Finished and submitted a review for a textbook on on Native American history and culture to a major publisher of archaeology and anthropology texts 2. Submitted an application to be listed as an independent archaeological consultant for the state of Pennsylvania 3. Gathered material for, and started writing a draft of, a syllabus for one of three courses I will be teaching next fall (“Cemeteries, Monuments, and Memorials: Cultural Heritage and Remembering the Dead”) 4. Wrote a short draft of an invited book contribution on the topic of an Alaskan archaeological site I helped to excavate in 1987 and 1994.

Katharine Woodhouse-Beyer

 

I just returned from a visit to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, where I viewed the traveling Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Franklin Institute in which the accompanying artifacts of everyday life illuminate the scrolls themselves. I also was privileged to enjoy a preview of reconstructed transfer-printed creamware pitchers that will be included in an exhibit commemorating the War of 1812.  Curiosity about the images of naval engagements on these Philadelphia artifacts led me to explore similar prints offered on the websites of antique print dealers as well as on the Library of Congress Guide to the War of 1812. Researching Melungeons in aid of a relative’s family history quest, I examined Kenneth B. Tankersley’s work about the Red Bird River Shelter petroglyphs in Clay County, KY.

K. L. Brauer, Maryland, USA

 

June 26, 2012

Today, at Drexel University (in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA), I met with two Digital Media undergraduates developing digital assets representing the James Oronoco Dexter House, the site of which was excavated in Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia.  The 3D model will eventually serve as a virtual environment in which users interact with avatars and take part in “possible” conversations that led to the formation of the African Church, later known as, The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, which are known to have occurred in this home. Jason Kirk, a junior who received a Steinbright Career Development Center Research Co-op Award to work on the project, is completing the latest digital model.  Jason and I met with freshman Joseph Tomasso who received a Pennoni Honor’s College STAR (Students Tracking Advanced Research) Fellowship to work on the project. Today is Joe’s first day on the summer term Fellowship. He will develop digital 3D models of appropriate furniture and furnishings that will be used to populate the house.  Virtual artifacts will include ceramics recovered from the archaeological site that are believed to be associated with Dexter’s occupation.  The purpose of the meeting was to prepare for a session with Independence National Historical Park representatives on Wednesday, June 27th.  At that Park meeting we will review the house model and will discuss appropriate virtual furnishings with Park experts.  The model has been prepared with advice from archaeologists Jed Levin and Doug Mooney (who excavated and interpreted the Dexter House site) and guidance from Public Archaeologist, Patrice Jeppson and Karie Diethorn, Chief Curator Independence National Historical Park.

Glen Muschio, Associate Professor, Digital Media, Westphal College, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

 

Doing archaeology today has entailed a wide range of activities, some not always associated in the public’s mind with archaeology.  I work for a cultural resource management firm. Today’s work has included such mundane activities as reviewing contracts to perform archaeology in Bucks County and the city of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, USA; firming up logistical efforts to meet with a geomorphologist tomorrow in Delaware County (Pennsylvania); and checking time statements. Fortunately, the day also included putting the finishing touches on an archaeological monitoring report for work in Bucks County. This required nailing down dates for two artifacts found in association with a house foundation. I learned that Pennsylvania in the 1920s and 1930s stamped out automobile license plates with the year that they were issued. I also learned, through a historical marker database on the internet, that the Trenton Brewing company was incorporated in 1891 as a side line business of an ice company and stopped using the name by 1899. These two objects helped to bracket the date of the foundation that had been encountered.  In comparison to the mundane business aspect of doing archaeology, the historical information about the two artifacts, brightened my day.

Kenneth J. Basalik, Ph.D. Pennsylvania USA

 

6/28/12

I work for an engineering company in Pennsylvania (USA) and serve as the Vice President of the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum (in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). In the course of the day I went over plans for field and laboratory work for a Phase II bridge replacement project that will be starting shortly outside of Philadelphia. I spent time researching the status of industrial archaeological sites in the city for an encyclopedia article. Indications are that in some neighborhoods in the city, between 1990 and 2007, as many of 50% of the documented and listed industrial archaeological sites were completely or partially demolished, or were abandoned or fell into disrepair. In other neighborhoods with higher property values, more sites were preserved by adaptive reuse. In addition, I spent a portion of the day reviewing and proofreading comments on a visit to a laboratory for a major urban archaeological project in Philadelphia.  In the evening, I attended the monthly meeting of the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum (PAF), an organization that works to promote archaeology in the City of Brotherly Love (Philadelphia).  After the meeting, I began reviewing the report summary for Phase IB/II testing and the data recovery plan for a major highway project in the city. The goal will be to prepare comments on the documents for submission to the agency that is sponsoring the project, on behalf of the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum.

Lauren Cook, Registered Professional Archaeologist, Philadelphia, PA