Public Archaeologist

Funny ha-ha? Excavations at Eastcote House Gardens

On the Day of Archaeology 2014, AOC Archaeology Group is working once again with London Borough of Hillingdon (LBH) and the Friends of Eastcote House Gardens (FEHG) to deliver an exciting programme of public archaeology in this lovely park. I’m Charlotte, AOC’s Public Archaeologist. AOC first worked at Eastcote House Gardens in 2012, when we ran a smaller evaluation excavation as part of the development phase of this project. You can read our Day of Archaeology 2012 post at: http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/community-excavations-at-eastcote-house-gardens-hillingdon/.

The excavations at Eastcote House Gardens form just one part of a larger project, which is being supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund, through their Parks for People programme. This project, led by LBH and FEHG, will see significant changes to the Park including the repair and re-use of the historic buildings, the building of ancillary facilities, with a cafe, toilets and manager’s office, and the improvement and upgrading of the Gardens for educational and community use. The archaeological programme includes public excavations, training workshops, an open day, and a schools programme involving hundreds (literally!) of young people from local schools (primary, secondary and special), uniformed groups (Guides, Cubs and Beavers) and one youth charity. FEHG has a small army of volunteers who are passionate about the park and its past, and they play a key role in the school visits, giving learners a tour of the historic dovecot and stables as well as the smaller trenches current being excavated. Most days onsite are very busy, with lots of volunteers and young people working to explore the past at Eastcote House Gardens.

The Gardens, and its historic buildings, are all that have survived from Eastcote House and its outbuildings, which were demolished in 1964.  Eastcote House was a big white stuccoed house of many different periods, part of which dated from the 16th century. However historic records suggest that there was previously an even earlier building on the site, known as Hopkyttes. During the evaluation excavations in 2012 we opened only small trenches, confirming the location of the remains of Eastcote House, establishing the condition of any archaeological features, and assessing the value of any future work. This year, we have opened a much larger area, so that we can gain a better understanding of the layout and phasing of the house. We are very excited to have found (we believe) the remains of Hopkyttes, overlain by the Tudor structure.

However, on to our activities on the Day of Archaeology! As well as our lovely, ever-cheerful project participants – some old hands and some newbies – today we welcomed to site three classes from a local primary school, and a group of young people from The Challenge, a charity aimed at building a more integrated society. The primary schools and The Challenge group concentrated today on excavating the remains of Eastcote House and washing some of the finds, and we also focussed on the site’s funniest feature – the ha-ha.

Les, who is directing excavations onsite, informs me that his Chambers dictionary defines ‘ha-ha’ as a representation of a laugh. The second definition is ‘a ditch or vertical drop…between a garden and surrounding parkland’. We have one of these features in one of our smaller trenches, which is placed to investigate the southern end of a sunken flint wall with a steep sided ditch dropping towards it.

The upper levels of soil that had collected in the ditch contained 20th century finds, as we might expect.  We have a Tizer bottle with 3p due on return, a bottle which contained a chocolate milk drink – the ingredients include shagreen (sharkskin) – a stoneware mineral bottle, and smaller, broken pieces. Some of the finds are the result of accumulation, while others are probably from people seeing a handy ditch to throw rubbish, rather than recycling or taking it to the nearest bin. Fizzy drinks seem to be a theme on this site: last week we found a bottle marked ‘Eiffel Tower Lemonade’. After a bit of online research, we’ve discovered that this was a lemonade powder – tasty!

The ha-ha

The ha-ha

 

It looks as though our ha-ha ditch was originally 2m wide and 1.5m deep, and was probably a grassy slope. Some of the local historians think that this may be less of a ha-ha and more of a drainage ditch. At the moment, we think it may be both. In our excavation is a flat slab with flint blocks on top of it. This may be a secured entry to a drain inserted into the ditch: it looks later. We do wonder whether the slab may have been placed over the burial of a favoured pet though. We will know tomorrow.

Hard at work in the ha-ha

Hard at work in the ha-ha

This is just a small taster of everything we’ve been discovering at Eastcote House Gardens. Please do head over to the project website to find out more about the excavations: www.aocarchaeology.com/eastcote

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Community Excavations at Eastcote House Gardens, Hillingdon

I’m Charlotte Douglas, public archaeologist for AOC Archaeology Group. I live in Edinburgh and am usually based in our northern office, but I spent Friday 29th and Saturday 30th June in London, helping our southern team in the delivery of a community project in Eastcote.

Eastcote House Gardens were once home to Eastcote House. Records suggest that there was a building on the site from as early as the 16th century. Eastcote House itself was demolished in the 1960s after falling into disrepair. The remaining park is maintained by the Friends of Eastcote House Gardens, and they, along with London Borough of Hillingdon (LBH) council, were recently awarded funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help them progress their plans for the gardens. They aim to apply for further HLF funding in the future so that they can improve the gardens’ facilities, repair and improve the historic buildings, and excavate the site of Eastcote House. This preliminary phase of the project involved excavating four 2m x 10m trial trenches on the site of the house to confirm its location and assess the condition of the remains, as well as testing the community involvement and outreach. Paul Mason, one of AOC’s project managers, has been working closely with the Friends of Eastcote House Gardens and London Borough of Hillingdon council to ensure that the project turns out exactly as they want it. My role as public archaeologist varies from project to project but my main role at Eastcote was to deliver a programme of activities for local children when they visited the site.

A team of around 40 volunteers, mostly members of the Friends of Eastcote House Gardens, took part in the excavations which were directed by Les Capon and supervised by Chris Clarke of AOC. Saturday was the official Open Day, with the Friends offering tea and biscuits and bounteous local knowledge, and with AOC’s Fitz manning a finds-handling table under a gazebo clearly not designed to withstand a bit of a breeze! Many people visited the gardens to check out the excavations over the two days, and the end-of-day tour on Saturday saw about 60 people of all ages peering into the trenches and finding out about the weekend’s findings.

AOC’s Chris leads the end-of-day tour on Saturday

Around 65 local children participated in the excavations: Year 5 and 6 pupils fromWarrenderSchool, Ruislip, came to the gardens on Friday morning and Cubs and Beavers from the local Scout Group visited on Saturday afternoon. The children explored the gardens with Lesley from the Friends, learning about the gardens’ history and visiting the dovecote and the herb garden. Funnily enough, the part of the garden tour that seems to have stuck in their minds the most is the fact that the poo in the bottom of the dovecote would have been collected and used in the production of gunpowder! Their second favourite fact was that strong herbs were sometimes used in sauces in the past to disguise the pungent smell of off fish… Delicious!

The children also participated in an archaeology workshop, learning about archaeologists and excavation, and played a timelines game. My job is to make archaeology fun – to engage with the children in a meaningful way, so that what they learn sticks in the mind. And of course, it’s essential that they enjoy themselves! I encourage the children to ask lots of questions and to steer the conversation – if they’d rather talk about bog bodies than pottery morphologies, so be it! Activities tend to be interactive and informal, allowing the children to move around and make a bit of noise. The timelines game also involves doing a bit of maths. I was really impressed by how much the children knew about some of the historical figures and archaeological sites featured in the timelines game.

After completing the workshop and game, I took the children onto the site itself. Here they donned high vis vests (essential for any archaeologist) and gloves, and armed with trowels and sieves they carefully looked through the loose soil generated by the excavations, retrieving mostly metal, pottery and glass related to the house demolished in the 1960s. The children seemed to have a great time, and I always really enjoy having them onsite – not least because they often ask questions that make you scratch your head and think about archaeology differently! I often have a sore throat at the end of a day involving lots of school children from talking as loudly and enthusiastically as I can, but its great fun nonetheless.

In terms of the archaeological findings, the massively thick foundations (up to 4ft) of the house were revealed in each of the three trenches and the walls of the coach house in the fourth; two trenches also revealed the remains of a basement/cellar level. The discovery of a series of steps that led down to a vaulted cellar in Trench 3 promoted an easily imaginable flow of people around the building. Most of the brickwork appeared to be 18th century in date, but pieces of 16th century brick indicate that the remains of the medieval house are not too distant from our reach. The most significant finds recovered were fragments of pottery that date from the 14th to 20th centuries. These finds show the site to have been inhabited for over 700 years.

Trench 2: the major northern wall

The volume of attendance and participation in Friday and Saturday’s activities demonstrate the high level of local passion and support for the gardens and their past, and will surely bolster the Friends’ and LBH’s case in any further application for funding.

One of AOC’s archaeologists will present the results of the excavations at a public lecture sometime soon (date and venue TBC). For more information and event updates please see www.hillingdon.gov.uk

For more information on the gardens please see www.eastcoteparkestate.org.uk

 

 

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

A Day in the Life of Gaye Nayton, Heritage Archaeologist

Hello from Perth, Western Australia where I want to introduce you to a day in my life. As an archaeologist I am a bit of a hybrid beast. I work as a consultant archaeologist/heritage consultant and run my own consultancy. I also carry out academic research, having a PhD from the University of Western Australia and authoring the first book on WA historical archaeology. I also work as a public archaeologist running public outreach programs and I am authoring a book on WA historical archaeology aimed at the general public. You can check out my varied archaeological personalities at my web page at www.gayenaytonarchaeology.com.

When people think of archaeology and archaeologists they think of digging but the truth is most archaeologists spend 90% of their time in the office or lab. I thought for the Day of Archaeology I would take hourly photographs throughout my day to show how my day panned out. I could have been on a site but statistics are against it and this day like many others is going to be spent mainly in the office working on reports. My sister Jackie is helping out my Day of Archaeology project by hanging around and snapping photos every hour. (more…)

General antics of Public Archaeology student

As a student archaeologist, life is routine but fairly relaxed. I am currently finishing my Masters with only my dissertation left to do. I spend most of my time in the Institute of Archaeology library and talking to fellow Institute students in the park. I like the fact that we all do a range of subjects for our dissertations, from archaeology and art to conservation; it is surprising where archaeology plays a role. My dissertation is part of a project at the British Museum – I am helping to develop a new video-conferencing session, related to the Portable Antiquities Scheme and the work it does with treasure finds. The session is going to be structured around challenge-based learning – this involves a real life situation where students have to make their own decisions based upon the resources/evidence available to them.  Its main elements consist of allowing students to work by themselves with minimal input from an adult, using teamwork and applying technology. Having fun is a key aspect of the activity. I am currently making Top Trump cards of treasure finds… this should make my next presentation more entertaining, will also help me to decide which artefacts should be used for the session.

I am a Public Archaeologist. Frankly, I admit that my knowledge of historical periods/civilisations is very superficial. However, I am comfortable with this as I am primarily interested in how the public perceive archaeology – through television, newspapers, museums and even politics.  I work as a facilitator at the British Museum, a job I love and enjoy; it is always good to see children getting really stuck into an activity (trying to get a balance between entertainment and education, of course) and I like hearing the questions they ask. Sometimes they approach objects with a completely different perceptive, which is refreshing after reading so much academic literature. The activities I am involved in range from following museum trails, presenting arts and crafts to schools groups and making news reports. I actually spent most of my time in the Samsung Digital Discovery Centre, where we use technology and the museum’s collections to create both family and school activities. One example is the Sutton Hoo Headline, where  school children create a news report of the discovery using a video camera and a green screen – we get them to gather content by visiting the galleries using a video mobile phone.

On the ‘Day of Archaeology’ I attended the Mortimer debate, an organisation named after Mortimer Wheeler which focuses on archaeology and the future, using the tag line ‘our past, our future, our choice!’. There have been problems of late with the government trying to reduce the amount legislation that protects our environment and heritage. The debate had four panel members: Tony Robinson (Time Team), Cllr Alan Melton (who sparked recent media fury by calling archaeologists ‘bunny huggers’), Andrew Selkirk and Andrew Richardson. Some interesting points were made about sustainability and the costs of commercial archaeology, ie who should pay. The debate got quite heated, especially between Tony Robinson and Alan Melton. Melton suggested that the public were not that interested in heritage, with Robinson arguing that it is human nature to be interested in the our heritage. Does the past have value to you?

A Day in the Life of a Public Archaeologist in North Central Florida!

This is me at my office in Tallahassee, FL.

Hello! First let me introduce myself! I am Barbara Hines, the Outreach Coordinator for the Florida Public Archaeology Network’s North Central Region (www.flpublicarchaeology.org). I have been working with FPAN for just over a year now, and have loved every second of it so far. Prior to Public Archaeology I worked in Cultural Resource Management. Because of that experience I have a wide range of interests as far as archaeology goes, but I tend to get a bit more excited about historical archaeology (especially the antebellum stuff). At FPAN our mission is to promote and facilitate the conservation, study and public understanding of Florida’s archaeological heritage through regional centers, each of which has its own website. We have a total of eight regions throughout the state of Florida.

Today I don’t have any field work going on, but there is still a ton of stuff I am trying to get done by the end of the day today. First thing I do everyday is update our facebook and twitter status. You can follow FPAN North Central on twitter at @FPANNrthCentral. I try to post upcoming outreach events and sometimes interesting articles about local archaeological finds. After that it is on to the rest of the day’s tasks.

Today I am trying to finalize plans for an upcoming event I have going on in Blountstown, Florida. I have teamed up with the FPAN Northwest Region, the Panhandle Archaeological Society at Tallahassee and the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement for a Public Archaeology Day. It will be located at the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement on September 10th. This is going to be a great event where the public can bring their own private artifact collections so that they can have them identified by Professional Archaeologists. This is a great way to create a working dialog between the private collector and archaeologists. I think this is very important and allows archaeologists to get a more holistic view of the archaeological record. I have been trying to line up volunteers and work on other logistical matters.

The Thank You Wall!

This morning I went to the P.O. Box to check our mail. I love checking our mail because it is always filled with thank you letters from children. I visit a lot of classrooms and present on archaeology. FPAN also has a ton of hands on activities we do with the kids to teach them about different concepts relating to archaeology. It is probably my favorite part of the job! I have a bulletin board in the office where I display some of my favorite thank you notes and newspaper clippings about some of our events. It is a constant reminder of the impact we are making, and I hope it is a lasting impact. I am a true believer that education will lead to the conservation of our important archaeological sites. In fact, another one of my goals today is to email my education contacts to let them know that I am ready for the upcoming school year. I have a listing of emails for teachers and educators that I email on a regular basis to keep them updated about FPAN outreach events. Some of the teachers even give the students extra credit if they attend! We also conduct teacher trainings to equip the teachers with the necessary skills to incorporate archaeology into their existing curricula.

We also do a lot of things with adults as well. Today one of my main goals is to finish a presentation that I will be giving in early August to a group of adults in Columbia County. I will be talking about the turpentine industry in North Florida. From the 1700s to the early 1900s it was an important industry in this region and I have had the opportunity to work on several sites that contained the remains of turpentine camps. It has been a long time interest of mine. And to think, I had no idea what the turpentine (sometimes called Naval Stores) industry was until I moved up here to Tallahassee! Turpentine was used to seal ships and was also an ingredient in many other products, such as paint thinner, beauty products and medical products as well. I have been compiling information for this presentation for months, now it is time to create the power point and get down to business. I have some really cool pictures that I am very excited to show the public. I found them at the state archives.

This whole summer I have been busy going to summer camps and doing archaeology activities with the campers. Last week I attended a Girl Scout camp and did a whole bunch of lessons with them. Their favorite activity though, was learning to use the atlatl. The atlatl, or spear thrower, is a prehistoric hunting tool. It even predates the bow and arrow! We all spent some time outside learning how to use it. With the use of the atlatl you can learn to throw a spear three times farther and faster! That would come in pretty handy if you had to hunt large game for dinner. The kids always get a kick out of it and so do the adults! Today I want to unpack all my summer camp supplies and send an email to the Camp Director to thank her for inviting me to come and teach the campers about archaeology. I hope that the campers all enjoyed it as much as I did!

Well, I believe that is my day in a nutshell. It is probably pretty different than what most people would expect. No digging in the dirt for me today! As much as I do love excavating, I am pretty glad to be in the air conditioning today, as it is almost 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside today. However, when I was doing Cultural Resource Management I was regularly out there in the heat, so I know I could do it if I had to! I hope you enjoyed this entry and I really hope I gave some good insight into the typical day of a Public Archaeologist!

The private life of Jaime… a public archaeologist

Some months ago, when #dayofarch came up, I was wondering why this experience was happening a friday in July. Then, I realized that my life is not ‘normal’ and the FBA and summer field seasons where enough to have a good view.

Madrid (Spain) 29th July 2011 – The private life of Jaime…

Today I woke up as usual, around 7:30. Had a quick breakfast, drove my mom to work and went to the gym a bit. With this temperature it is impossible to run outside even in the morning. Shower, second breakfast and time to go to the office.

I am supposed to work in the commercial field. Created my own company last year as a kind of economical suicide, but I’m still alive. Said this, I haven’t been in the field since 2009. I miss it, but getting a contract nowadays is becoming impossible with the climate of crisis and savage competence with prices. It was much more easier when I worked for others. Instead I try to promote and practice Public Archaeology and that is probably the hardest challenge I have taken. A lot of project planning and ‘selling’ in the private sector (that should be managed publicly), and more comforts in Ethiopia than at home.

As a good friday, today I only had 3 hours to do stuff and I am having a lot of stuff to do. I lack time, although I waste a lot…

My list for this week still said ‘ArchPP’ (an article for Archaeologies I have to rewrite in a couple of weeks), ‘Docs Etiopía’ (preparing all documents I have to take to Ethiopia next week), ‘Correo ChC’ (sending emails to the contributors of a book I’m coordinating), ‘Web HCIII’ (continue preparing a web site I’m working with), ‘Enviar libros’ (mailing a couple of parcels with books I sold). 3 out of 5 remain there…

I run to the post office (5 minutes from the office) and spent around 30 minutes reading and answering emails. The pity is that people ask for lots of things, but never offering paid stuff… I should start having fees for ‘consultancy’. The problem of having the Internet is that while/after emailing, Facebook, Twitter and today, this page took a good time from these hours. So, right before lunch time, I decided to collect all the papers for Ethiopia, write a couple of mails more and take some work for the weekend in the village.

I am flying to Ethiopia next week to try end a project I started last year in Melka Kunture (Public Archaeology related about the evaluation and awareness on the site), participate in the EAAPP meeting with it and start new ideas while money comes. I’m in love with the country and highly recommend it (btw).

So, with the briefcase full of stuff, the laptop and a couple of books was time to go shopping for lunch. Today’s menu: Green peas with onion and jamón serrano. Delicious and really easy to cook.

During lunch I watched a couple of chapters of ‘Entourage’. I am a compulsive consumer of series and as the summer season is a bit boring and I’m to date with all I like, I started yesterday to watch this one.

And after lunch and a short nap, I went to pick my mom before going to the village.

My village is El Cabaco, 3 hours from Madrid in Salamanca province. I have a strong relation with it and was also where I started working in Archaeology. There are some Roman gold mines and a site. It was excavated in 2000-2001 and I was lucky to take part of it when I was just 16. I think that was determinant for me to end up working in Public Archaeology.

Anyway, midway we stopped for shopping and dinner. There was a terrible traffic jam to get out of Madrid… and my day ended in one of the bars in my village, having a drink with some friends before going to another village for party (summertime local parties!).

It looks like there has been very few archaeology around, but I it was in my head all the time 😉 Hope this shows that the life of an archaeologist is not always digging up things or doing cool (or boring) stuff. We have normal lives like normal people. We eat, run, drink, chat, have holidays, friends… Archaeology is just our job.

BUT – Having a look at the context…

Today it has been a normal day… a bit weird, but normal. The routine of my life is pretty stable. Maybe doing it next friday would have been better… I will be in a foreign country, kind of exotic, having meetings, visiting sites, doing surveys or who knows what (I still didn’t close the schedule). Or maybe last thursday, when I stayed till 4 am preparing the layout of a book I’m publishing in a couple of months and emailing contributors, while managing a wave of proposals for the journal I edit, ‘AP: Online Journal in Public Archaeology’ (www.arqueologiapublica.es). Or I could have talked about the worries of a PhD student that has to work and manage his company while trying to keep his ‘academic-research-life’ with no resources or time. There are even days when I don’t do any archaeology at all!

For Spanish \’understanders\’ this is what I do in the company… + PhD = My life