August 27, 2014

“If you’re going to sue the government, you better be in it for the long haul.”

Filed under: Pre-Clovis, Public archaeology — acagle @ 1:30 pm

The Kennewick Man Finally Freed to Share His Secrets

In the summer of 1996, two college students in Kennewick, Washington, stumbled on a human skull while wading in the shallows along the Columbia River. They called the police. The police brought in the Benton County coroner, Floyd Johnson, who was puzzled by the skull, and he in turn contacted James Chatters, a local archaeologist. Chatters and the coroner returned to the site and, in the dying light of evening, plucked almost an entire skeleton from the mud and sand. They carried the bones back to Chatters’ lab and spread them out on a table.

The skull, while clearly old, did not look Native American. At first glance, Chatters thought it might belong to an early pioneer or trapper. But the teeth were cavity-free (signaling a diet low in sugar and starch) and worn down to the roots—a combination characteristic of prehistoric teeth. Chatters then noted something embedded in the hipbone. It proved to be a stone spearpoint, which seemed to clinch that the remains were prehistoric. He sent a bone sample off for carbon dating. The results: It was more than 9,000 years old.

Thus began the saga of Kennewick Man, one of the oldest skeletons ever found in the Americas and an object of deep fascination from the moment it was discovered.

Read the whole thing. Quite sordid.

June 11, 2014

Fight! Fight!

Filed under: Public archaeology — acagle @ 7:06 pm

Dispute surfaces over Hyde Park dig’s remains

An archaeological dig to unearth a free slave community in Hyde Park a few years ago has turned into a potentially contentious mystery revolving around the excavated artifacts.

The Dutchess County Historical Society, which arranged the dig and the funding for it, is seeking return of the artifacts from the Bard College professor they hired to run the dig.

The Hyde Park Town Board also wants the artifacts back because town officials say they belong to the town.

I’ve never heard one like this before. Read the whole thing, although it doesn’t shed much light on what was going on, mostly because the professor’s not talking so it’s hard to get at what the disagreement really is.

October 22, 2012

U.S. Archaeology Month is almost over — but there are still a few prime events

Filed under: Conservation/CRM, Public archaeology — ArchaeoFriend @ 8:48 am

Archaeology month is drawing to a close, but don’t fear, there are many events to attend, all over the U.S. For example:

In the Boston area, there are talks, walks, and open houses in the Roxbury area (if you want to see footage of excavation in Roxbury, watch an old but well-done documentary called “Other People’s Garbage” which includes other projects in Massachusetts as well as California and Georgia.  A short video excerpt is available on youtube). 


(A still shot from the film, showing excavation at Harvard Gate, Cambridge MA)

 Remaining archaeology month happenings near Boston include:

October 22: Walking Tour: The Archaeology of the North End. As we journey from Faneuil Hall to the Paul Revere house, we will explore some of the most important archaeological sites in the city. Faneuil Hall, meet in front of Samuel Adams statue. FREE 11 a.m. to noon

October 25: Open House: City Archaeology Laboratory. Come visit the City Archaeology Lab, see how we process artifacts, organize collections, and display artifacts! City Archaeology Laboratory, 201 Rivermoor St. West Roxbury. FREE 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

October 29: The Archaeology of Roxbury. Explore 7,500 year history of the place we now call Roxbury including Revolutionary War sites, Native American sites, and the industry of the neighborhood. Haley House Bakery, 12 Dade St., Roxbury. FREE 6 p.m.

October 30: The Archaeology Roslindale, JP, West Roxbury, and Hyde Park. Lecture includes Native American and historic archaeological sites from Brook Farm, Arnold Arboretum, and Franklin Park, among others. City Archaeology Laboratory, 201 Rivermoor St. West Roxbury. FREE 3 p.m.

Look for a schedule of events for your local area/state.

October 11, 2012

Posing (yet again) the musical question — Do you know the way to San Jose?

Filed under: Public archaeology — ArchaeoFriend @ 12:26 pm

If you know the way, and are nearby, I suggest you drop in on an interesting archaeology event planned for Sat, Oct 13, 2012 at the Mission San Jose. 

 You can do some mapping, watch stone tool making, or be part of an atlatl demonstration.  FUN!  


  For more information on this event, go to:


This is just one of MANY events around the U.S. that have been planned for October, archaeology month!  (Oct is also, by coincidence, squirrel awareness month.  I’m not sure why those two things intertwine temporally).

June 25, 2012

Public archaeology update

Filed under: Amateur, Public archaeology — acagle @ 3:23 pm

PSU archaeologist wants community involved in studies

Chris Wolff, an assistant professor of archaeology in Plattsburgh State’s Department of Anthropology, is attempting to piece together details about what life was like for early inhabitants of our region. He is seeking help from area residents in his quest for knowledge.

“There is such a rich cultural history in this region, both historic and prehistoric,” Wolff said. “My main interest in the study of the past is how did humans interact with the lake and the environment? How did they survive?”

I like the idea of a web site with feedback for archaeological finds.

July 28, 2011

Mermaid archaeology

Filed under: Historic, Public archaeology — acagle @ 7:00 pm

Sorta: Photo gallery: Archaeologists uncover history at the Mermaid Inn in Hedenham

The finds were discovered during a dig at the Mermaid Inn at Hedenham, near Bungay, on Sunday.

The dig took place at a Summer Fayre put on to raise money for sufferers of cancer.

Carenza Lewis, of Channel 4’s Time Team, led the digs and explained how excited she was as it was the first time she had excavated in the area she grew up in.

“We’ve never dug here before and we had no idea what we would find,” Dr Lewis explained.

The photo gallery is kinda useless as far as archaeology goes.

March 19, 2011

Army of Davids update

Filed under: Conservation/CRM, Public archaeology — acagle @ 8:38 am

Public Archaeology Part 3: The Priority of Provenience

“Peter said a geocacher had been out searching for a cache when he saw something half buried. He thought it was his target, but when he removed it from the ground he realized it was not what he was looking for. It was a small dusty-gray brown jar the man said looked to be very old

“Then, to our surprise and joy, he did the right thing. He took a picture, put it back and notified the NAU professor, sending along the photo and the GPS coordinates. That doesn’t always happen,” Zamora says.

Nice little article. Hopefully this sentiment McKie agrees that a new mindset regarding artifacts has begun to settle in, one where people are less inclined to play finders-keepers and more inclined to see that what is left is preserved the best possible way. is somewhat accurate.

December 7, 2009

Public archaeology on the web

Filed under: Conservation/CRM, Public archaeology — acagle @ 7:55 pm

City website devoted to archaeological work

The City of St. Augustine has launched a new website featuring the extensive work and research literally uncovered by the city’s Archaeological Division through the city’s archaeological preservation ordinance. The city adopted the ordinance in 1987 and over the past 22 years more than 600 locations within the city limits have been investigated.

The website address is and it is hoped that it will become a valuable tool for historians in general, and, archeologists in particular, as it provides a greater understanding of archaeology as a discipline

The site looks okay. They have a section on the ordinances pertaining to archaeology, but it would be nice if they had a section explaining the ordinances in plain language.

October 19, 2009

News from a former fellow student

Filed under: Conservation/CRM, Public archaeology — acagle @ 9:11 am

Poverty Point archaeologist leads ’screen-a-thon’

A handful of stone knives or scrapers fashioned thousands of years ago were among items turned up Friday, the first day of a weekend “screen-a-thon” for artifacts at Poverty Point State Historic Site.

The round-the-clock event continues until 2 p.m. Sunday, for a total of 50 hours – two more than last year, when 13 volunteers washed the dirt from 16 to 18 boxes of prehistoric artifacts and modern-day construction leftovers.

“We haven’t finished sorting everything we found last year,” said station archaeologist Diana Greenlee, who is supervising the event as part of Louisiana Archaeology Month.

Go Diana go!

We were in grad school at the same time. Sounds like a neat idea for getting the public involved. And they actually find stuff without having to go through all the excavation stuff.

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