Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools

Archaeology, Animation & Visual Effects

June 27, 2012

I’m a  freshman majoring in Animation and Visual Effects in the Digital Media Program, Westphal College, at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.  Today was my second day on a 10 week STAR Scholars Fellowship using archaeological evidence. The majority of my time will be spent modeling virtual furniture appropriate for the virtual interpretation of the 18th century Dexter House which was excavated in Independence National Historical Park. To better understand how the house may have been furnished Jason Kirk, Professor Muschio and I today visited the park to meet with Chief Curator, Karie Diethorn; Chief Historian and Park Archaeologist, Jed Levin and Deborah Miller, Park Archaeologist, to seek advice and guidance regarding appropriate furnishings.

NPS Archaeology Lab

Being new to the project, I didn’t have much to contribute to the meeting, other than take in all the information that was being communicated. The main discussion centered on where to find artifacts of the time period to use as models for Dexter house furnishings. I was impressed by the excitement and passion all expressed toward the project. The collaboration quickly came together as ideas flew back and forth, developing what would be in the house, and how it might look.  Field trips to historical sites and museums were planned to study suitable furnishings. The project still has a long way to go, but hopefully we can give people a historically accurate glimpse into the past using today’s technology and the expertise of Park archaeologists, curators and historians.

Joseph Tomasso

Freshman, Digital Media Program, STAR Scholar, Pennoni Honors College

Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Artifacts from Urban Sites

In 2009 and 2010, the Public Archaeology Facility conducted intensive excavations in downtown Binghamton, at what is now the Binghamton Intermodal Transportation Terminal.

Project area of the Binghamton Intermodal Transportation Terminal.


The Greyhound station in Binghamton ws built in 1938 and is National Register Eligible. The facade of the station was preserved and is still visible today, although the building behind it is new.

In 1938, a Greyhound Bus terminal was built over the remains of a block of buildings dating from the late-19th and early- 20th centuries. Asphalt parking lots covered the site.

When the city of Binghamton wanted to update and renovate their bus terminals, and turn them into the Binghamton Intermodal Transportation Terminal, archaeologists from PAF were brought on site to investigate the archaeological remains that were to be disturbed. Archaeologist Maria O’Donovan, PhD., led the team.

Excavating a privy from the BITT site.

Several features were uncovered during excavations, including privies. The artifacts from one of these privies are currently being analyzed in our laboratory. Today, lab assistant Erin G. carried on with the ongoing analysis of this project.

Artifacts excavated from one privy at the BITT Site are spread out on the lab tables.

Lab assistant, Erin G., researches and catalogs glass bottles from BITT.

Lab assistant, Erin G., researches and catalogs glass bottles from BITT. One of the more common artifacts were nursing bottles (above, center).

PAF has been doing a lot of urban archaeology in Binghamton, New York. Maria O’Donovan and our laboratory staff have spent several years working on the analysis of these sites in downtown Binghamton, such as BITT, and Binghamton Mall (which is now the location of the Binghamton Downtown Academic Center) . Today, Maria spent much of the morning doing research at the Broome County Clerk’s Office, to find out more about the people who lived at the BITT site from historic deed documents.

The results of another one of these large urban projects – the Binghamton Mall Site – was the basis of an exhibit on display at the Roberson Museum called “Our Invisible Past: The Archaeology of Everyday Life.” This exhibit was part of our efforts to bring the results of our excavations to the public.

Museum signage, displaying a daguerreotype excavated from the Binghamton Mall Site.

Some of the artifacts from this excavation are now on display at Binghamton University’s Downtown Academic Center, which was built over the site. In addition to displaying the artifacts, the locations of the features from the site were incorporated into the floor design in the new building; the exact location and size of the features were represented on the floor of the building’s lobby to give the public a way to conceptualize the layout of the site.

The green floor tiles represent the exact locations of features excavated at the Binghamton Downtown Academic Center Site.