Ray Sarnacki – My Day of Archaeology

This week, and for an additional two weeks in August, I have the privilege of digging as a volunteer at the Lake George Battlefield Park with Dr. David Starbuck as part of the State University of New York (SUNY) – Adirondack Campus field school. Located at the southern end of the lake, the Lake George Battlefield Park preserves the sites of major battles and encampments from the French & Indian War through the American Revolution, making it a prime site for conducting archeology. Many of the events that inspired James Fenimore Cooper’s novel, The Last of the Mohicans, actually occurred here. Among the features found in the Park are the ruins of a stone bastion from Fort George, which General Jeffery Amherst authorized and began building in 1759, but later, abandoned after the British took control of Fort Carillon, now known as Fort Ticonderoga.

Digging at this site is made possible through the cooperation of the New York State Museum and the agency that operates the park, the Department of Environmental Conservation. The overall objective of this multi-year dig at Lake George is to provide information that will allow the State to improve signage and create an interpretive center to house some of the artifacts uncovered, giving visitors a greater appreciation of the park’s historical significance.

This is second year I have traveled from West Chester, PA to dig at the Battlefield. Last year I dug several test pits in open areas within the park and wrote an article about the experience, Digging a Battlefield of American History, that Popular Archaeology published in their Winter 01/01/2015″>Winter 01/01/2015 issue. My assignment this year, along with five other volunteers, is to dig test pits inside the bastion ruins with the goal of defining the walls of a barracks located within the bastion. The assignment is somewhat tricky as we are working on a steep incline. In addition, reconstruction of part of the original bastion took place during the 1920s and 1930s, likely disturbing portions of the site and adding to its complexity. If we are successful in uncovering at least a portion of the wall, stabilizing it would create a new point of interest within the park for tourists to visit.

Summer archaeological tasks: Typical Today (Weds. July 9, 2014)

David G. Orr recording a 19th century tenet farmer’s cabin, central Delaware, 1980.

David G. Orr recording a 19th century tenet farmer’s cabin, central Delaware, 1980.

Wrote a draft of book review for the SHA (Society for Historical Archaeology) on Roosevelt’s New Deal for Archaeology called “Shovel Ready” by Bernard K. Means. Finished manuscript on Valley Forge Archaeology for my new co-edited book on the Camps and Huts of the American Revolution. Met with Deirdre Kelleher on her dissertation progress, she is on track for defending her thesis this fall (on Elfreth’s Alley). Worked on courses for my LAST semester teaching at Temple University this fall (50 years of this stuff comes to an end). Did some artifact sorting of the material found at the Kiln site of the Muhlenberg House in Pa. Did some preliminary work for a new project on “markings” i.e. graffiti, etc. on material culture.

David G. Orr, Ph.D.
Temple University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

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)

Kimberlee Sue Moran – A Day of Archaeology, 2014

Kimberlee Sue Moran – A Day of Archaeology, 2014
The attached picture is myself (far right) and high school teachers attending the Forensic Science Educational Conference, a program of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, hosted by Arcadia University (Philadelphia, Pennsylavnia) and the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education. Yesterday, these teachers learned about forensic archaeology, human remains recovery, and crime scene investigation and interpretation.


Kimberlee Sue Moran, MSc, RPA
Director, Center for Forensic Science Research & Education
2300 Stratford Ave
Willow Grove, PA 19090

Historical Archaeology New Technologies and Community

Glen Muschio –
A Day of Archaeology, 2014

As an associate professor of Digital Media at Drexel University and as a cultural anthropologist my interests focus on using digital technologies to explore issues relating to cultural heritage. I work with digital media students, Philadelphia area archaeologists, operators of historic sites and archaeologists, historians and museum curators at Independence National Historical Park (INHP) to produce 3D digital models of historical artifacts, structures and sites. Several of the 3D house models are visualizations based on archaeological evidence and historical documents. One such model is the James Oronoco Dexter House.
Dexter House original model

The archaeological remains of the house were discovered during excavations conducted in 2001-2003 in association with the construction of the National Constitution Center on INHP grounds. The Dexter House is of considerable historic interest, it was occupied in the 1790’s by James Oronoco Dexter, a manumitted slave active in Philadelphia’s emerging African American community. The house was used as a meeting place for discussions relating to the founding of the African Episcopal Church of St Thomas. Historical records document meetings attended by Absalom Jones, the church’s founder and the first ordained African American priest in the Episcopal Church. Other attendees included prominent Philadelphia African Americans and Euro Americans.
Dexter House front and rear

Over the years the 3D model of the Dexter House has developed in consultation with archaeologists and other experts. Each iteration of the model seeks to refine its historic accuracy. The first version was produced in 2005. Helpful critiques led to a 2007 refinement of the exterior house model. In 2012 models of the house interior were produced and the model was placed in a game engine enabling explorers to navigate around the exterior and the first floor interior of the house.
Dexter model Large room

Historically appropriate virtual furnishings were added. Also added were virtual ceramic artifacts produced from 3D scans of artifacts excavated at the archaeological site and believed to be associated with Dexter’s occupation of the house.
James Dexter Model

Last night the latest iteration of the model was shown to members of the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum (PAF) and demonstrated in the Oculus Rift, a head mounted 3D immersive display system enabling wearers to virtually stroll around the exterior and interior of the house.
Matt and Chester demo prep
We also discussed plans to produce 3D interior models of the 2nd floor and garret. PAF members provided feedback on preliminary models. The long-range plan is to produce a 3D interactive environment in which visitors to the site can discuss 18th century views on race, religion and class as well as their 21st century legacies and consequences. Today I am reviewing notes from last night’s meeting.

PAF tour

Glen Muschio, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Antionette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design
Drexel University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA)

Jesse Walker – A Day of Archaeology, July 2014

Jesse Walker
Today (Monday July 7th, 2014) was a typical mid-summer day in archaeology. In the office, I worked on several cultural resource management reports and a variety of projects. At home in the evening, I spent time on a few side archaeology projects. This fall I am giving a presentation at the Bristol Cultural & Historical Foundation located in Bristol Borough, Bucks County, Pennsylvania (USA). The presentation is focused on archaeology in the borough and surrounding community. Arrangements have been made to examine a local collection of Native American artifacts house at the Grundy Museum in Bristol. I have been tracking down other local archaeological information such as data regarding a Cheval de Frise found in the Delaware River near Burlington Island and a Contact-period burial found in the late nineteenth century. A surprising amount of local archaeological-related information has turned up in preparation for the presentation. I am also editing a short summary of the 17th Annual ‘Artifact Show’ hosted by the Gloucester County Chapter of the Archaeological Society of New Jersey. My final side project is the Hoffman Site (28GL228). Guy Di Giugno and I have been working on an article summarizing the results of 13 years of excavations at the Hoffman Site (see photo) which is a multi-component Native American site. The article will be published in the Archaeological Society of New Jersey Newsletter.

Jesse O. Walker
Richard Grubb & Associates
Cultural Resource Consultants,
Cranbury, New Jersey, USA

Deirdre Kelleher – A Day of Archaeology, 2014

Saull 1
Today (Thursday, July 10, 2014) I hosted a public archaeology lab day at Temple University’s Anthropology Laboratory. During the day we cleaned artifacts recovered from archaeological investigations behind 124 and 126 Elfreth’s Alley, which house the museum and gift shop of the Elfreth’s Alley Association. The Alley, which is located in Old City Philadelphia, is a National Historic Landmark District and is credited with being the oldest continuously-occupied residential street in the United States. The street was formed circa 1702 as a cartway to connect Front Street along the Delaware River to the commerce on Second Street.

Throughout the day, I set-up, assisted, and oversaw volunteers as they wet washed and dry-brushed artifacts from excavation unit 14. Unit 14 was excavated in the small courtyard behind 124 and 126 Elfreth’s Alley during the summer of 2013. Today volunteers diligently used toothbrushes to gently remove dirt from the objects, revealing previously hidden details of the artifacts such as a hand-painted floral design on a sherd of creamware ceramic or a molded letter visible on a piece of clear vessel glass. Once the objects were cleaned, they were placed on screens to let them dry before being cataloged. As volunteers cleaned, I also put cleaned artifacts into new storage containers.

As always, the volunteers today were amazing to work with! As they washed artifacts and discussed the street’s past, they actively took part in the discovery and formation of the small street’s history. While Elfreth’s Alley Archaeology volunteers often come from various backgrounds (today alone volunteers included a professional photographer, a math professor, a stay at home parent, and recent college graduates), they all share a passion and love of history. I asked the volunteers to share their thoughts, impressions, and experiences from today. Below is what they had to say:
Elfreths Volunteers
“This was my first time processing artifacts. I felt like I was touching history.” – Leanna

“I am a repeat customer. I am interested in discover/interpreting the story of another time.” – Jill

“I got involved in [the] Elfreth’s Alley Archaeology project and in interpretation by hearing stories of settlement and survival. Handling artifacts, wet washing/dry brushing, gives me direct context to a place.” – Amanda

“[I] found a very black piece of bone and a mostly intact tooth.” – Andrew

“I really enjoyed my first time processing artifacts. My favorite part was washing the dirt off the ceramic pieces and waiting for the pop of color to show up. It was like taking a trip back in time.” –Livia

“Today, I mostly dry-brushed metal objects. There were several nails, all shapes and sizes. I enjoyed trying to imagine the structures these nails once held together, structures that have since been swallowed by time.” – Wendy

Each of these fantastic volunteers has become part of the Alley’s history themselves!

Later in the day, I was also on a conference call with the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) and archaeologist Douglas Mooney of URS Corporation regarding the planning and recording of an upcoming podcast on urban archaeology in Philadelphia for CHF’s Distillations program.

Related Websites:

Archaeology on the Alley Blog (www.elfrethsalleyarchaeology.blogspot.com)
Elfreth’s Alley Website (www.elfrethsalley.org)
CHF Distillations Podcast (www.chemheritage.org/discover/media/distillations)
Temple University Anthropology Lab (www.temple.edu/anthro/laboratory_museum)

Ilene Grossman-Bailey – A Day of Archaeology, July 2014

Ilene Grossman-Bailey, Jennifer Palmer, Wendy Miervaldis, and Chris Setzer excavting at Summerseat in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Ilene Grossman-Bailey, Jennifer Palmer, Wendy Miervaldis, and Chris Setzer excavting at Summerseat in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

July 9th, 2014
I work as a professional archaeologist and I’m active on the board of the Archaeological Society of NJ. Today my work combined field work and office work. I performed a pedestrian reconnaissance of a location proposed for a bridge replacement in a rural part of Burlington County, New Jersey that is still very close to areas that have undergone significant development. The project requires an archaeological survey under New Jersey laws protecting freshwater wetlands. I walked over the entire project area and took photos. I looked at the topographic relief, setting, vegetation cover, and levels of disturbance, in order to assess the potential for prehistoric and historic archaeological resources. I spoke with a colleague about prehistoric sites in the vicinity of the project site. This afternoon, I examined historic maps and wrote up the field work portion of my report. Another aspect of an archaeological practice involves teaching and to that end I reviewed texts and articles, including a fascinating one about Richard III’s remains found in a car park in the UK, for an upcoming Spring 2015 Introduction to Archaeology class. I also looked over the results of a local dig I did with volunteers in my town in Bucks County last month toward writing up the results and planning the next dig day.
Ilene Grossman-Bailey, Ph.D., RPA
Senior Archaeologist
Richard Grubb & Associates, Inc.
Cranbury New Jersey (USA)

Karen Lind Brauer – A Day of Archaeology, July 14, 2014

Consulting Historic St. Mary’s City (Maryland, USA) publications, Anne Arundel County’s Lost Towns Project publications (Maryland, USA), and NPS Historic Jamestown’s History and Culture resources (Commonwealth of Virginia, USA) while researching 17th and early 18th century Chesapeake society and economy for sharing ancestral cultural and historical context with family historians.

Karen Lind Brauer
Maryland, USA

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

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