Writing for Historical Archaeology – Part 3. Research Articles

Hand charm

As the editor of Historical Archaeology, I see some of the best research in the field come across my desk. It is exciting to see so many areas of interest whether it be research on different regions or exploration of new theories, topics, site types, time periods, or varieties of material culture. While I am indeed lucky and the journal is doing well, there is always room for improvement. So, in this series of blog posts, I have wanted to share a little bit about the process of publishing in Historical Archaeology and invite you all to contribute a research article, technical brief, or book review soon!

Historical Archaeology is among the most prestigious research journals in archaeology and the preeminent journal for research in global historical archaeology. It has been published independently by the Society for Historical Archaeology since 1967. We publish four issues each year, which include two guest-edited thematic issues (click here to learn more about Thematic issues) and two issues consisting of individually contributed articles (click here to learn more about the peer review process).

HA book reviews are published online on the SHA website (http://sha.org/publications/book-reviews/), and they are released twice a year in conjunction with each contributed issue. The journal also publishes essays on SHA award winners and memorial essays for prominent contributors that we have lost over the previous year. Please contact me (shaeditor@gmail.com) if you have an article you would like to submit or contact Julie Schablitsky (JSchablitsky@sha.state.md.us) if you are interested in writing a book review. You can learn more about the journal here: http://www.sha.org/index.php/view/page/journal.

The Technical Briefs in Historical Archaeology series started up in 2006. Technical briefs articles are peer-reviewed and published on the SHA website. The Technical Briefs series provides “fast dissemination of shorter specialized technical papers in historical archaeology, maritime archaeology, material culture technology and materials conservation” (from the SHA website). Dr. Ben Ford is the Technical Briefs editor(ben.ford@iup.edu). Please visit the Technical Briefs webpage for more information about the series and how to submit your own work and, of course, to browse through the articles already published in the series: http://www.sha.org/index.php/view/page/technical_briefs.

For authors

All serial publications follow the rules laid out in a Style Guide, which details how manuscripts should prepared in terms of conventions for writing, references, quotations, figures, tables, and other attributes of an article. The SHA Style Guide can be found here: http://www.sha.org/index.php/view/page/for_authors.

While knowing the rules is necessary, most of us have harder time with the stages involved in framing and writing up our findings and ideas into a research article. So, I want to go over in the following some advice and strategies that I have picked up during my career about writing a research article in archaeology.


Writing a research article

The most important part of a research article is the argument. What is the main idea you trying impart? What are trying to convince the reader of in the article? You should be able to explain your argument in a short paragraph.

For example, in a recent article on “hand charms” James Davidson (2014) argues that most archaeological interpretations of these artifacts have mistakenly proposed that they reflect a retention of African spiritual beliefs in the Diaspora. He argues that this interpretation overlooks evidence that these “hands” were part of a set of hook-and-eye fasteners found on low-cost clothing likely purchased by slave owners to provide for their laborers. Thus, the association of the hand artifacts with African American sites is not due to spiritualism but to plantation economics. Similarly, Linda Scott Cummings et al. (2014) argue that by lumping all Chinese household sites as one unit of analysis that we miss essential aspects of the diversity of experiences within these communities. They show that differences in archaeobotanical data recovered from merchant households and tenement buildings indicate both class and occupational differences that are important to understanding the late 19th century Chinese community in San Jose, CA.

But how do you build a good argument? Good arguments in Historical Archaeology (1) make clear connections between material culture and historically and culturally situated people, and (2) present and interpret these data as argumentative evidence to show and explain how people lived and acted, such that the data you discuss are the appropriate result. A good argument thus starts with good data, and, as we all know, good data comes from solid research skills and usually a bit of good luck. Since luck is out of our control, I’d like to talk some about the skills you should demonstrate in a research article to craft a successful argument.

  1. Defining the Research Problem

Research methods in historical archaeology are quite diverse, ranging from geophysical survey to architectural analysis to ceramic decorative pattern studies to oral history to critical race theory and more. Yet, no matter the methods you use or the materials you engage, a good article starts with a compelling research problem. To develop a good problem you need to consider two things. First, how is your research problem connected to a body of literature? And, second, what is the particular contribution of your article? In other words: who actually cares about your research? And what will they find interesting in this piece of work?

A body of literature refers to the work of other researchers in historical archaeology and related fields that have recently and actively contributed to our understanding of a particular area of interest. In the examples above, Davidson is working on problems being examined in African Diaspora archaeology as well as religious studies and plantation history. Cummings et al. are addressing problems in overseas Chinese archaeology, archaeobotanical research, and immigrant and minority communities.

It is essential that you know the particular fields of study to which your work is connected. To establish this understanding, research articles need to include a discussion of the literature of the field or fields where the work belongs. The point of a literature review is to establish your knowledge and expertise in this field and to set up your article as making a unique and important contribution.

To detail your contribution you want to explain what the next step(s) should be for researchers in a given field of study. You should be able to state your contribution like this: “while we indeed know quite a bit about this field of study, we still do not know XXX (or we have been mistaken about XXX), which is the exact area where my research contributes to advancing and deepening our knowledge.” A good way to write about your contribution is to pave a path through related research such that you set the stage for your own work. As you discuss case studies that describe the kind of work being done in the field, make sure you also show how they each in some way point to that specific next step your own work takes.

  1. Implications

Once you have established a good and well-grounded research problem, you need to discuss how you will address the problem you defined for your article. A good way to frame this discussion is to think of a set of implications of the given problem that should be evident in your data. These can be phrased as “if … then” statements and presented as a set of predictions that, if they prove true, will support your argument.

In Davidson’s article, he establishes that if the hand artifacts were charms then they should be found in similar contexts to other spiritual items such as caches buried under floors or in the walls of houses. He shows instead that the hands were recovered in ambiguous spaces such as “cabin floors, chimney rubble, yards/middens, or manor-house crawlspaces—suggestive of acci­dental loss or deliberate (and casual) discard, or, at the very least, not from any recognized formal caches suggestive of intentionality or an elevation of the object above the mundane” (Davidson 2014:20). Similarly, if the hand clasps were charms then there should be mention of the use of such items in the increasingly rich archival record of African American folkways. Rather, he shows that the use of hands in this literatures refers almost exclusively to actual human hands and hand bones rather than metal clasps.

In the article by Cummings et al., they suggest that if there was a uniformity in the overseas Chinese experience in California then the distribution of archaeobotanical remains should be comparable across different site types. They show that this expectation does not hold up. They further suggest that if class differences within the Chinese-American community account for variations in archaeobotanical species representations then there should be a consistency across households of the same class, which they also show does not hold up. This is how they discovered that the occupations of the residents was an additional factor they needed to consider.

  1. Methods

Next you need to discuss your research methods. What is your data and how did you collect it? What research tools were used in the process? Did you encounter any problems that may affect the reliability of your data? It is good idea to reflect on how the implications of your research problem and the methods you used to collect and analyze your data fit together. In addition, in Historical Archaeology, this part of the article will often be the place to review the sites and/or historical and cultural contexts of the materials to be discussed. Do not try to do too much here. No study is expected to universally apply cross-culturally, as the focus in most articles is predominantly on explaining particular discoveries and patterns as examples of broader, yet still historically constrained, cultural norms and debates.

  1. Your findings

The next stage of your article is an examination of your specific findings. This is where you will present in substantial detail the evidence that will support your final argument. Often this involves the use of data tables, graphs, and figures such as maps, historic images, and artifact and excavation illustrations.

The structure of your data exposition should be directly guided by how each set of data fits into your argument. You want this section to accomplish two things: (1) present your data and—once you show us what you found, where, and with what—(2) tell us what your data mean. What do the patterns you have identified tell us about the people who created the sites, deposits, and artifacts you have studied and discussed? Did your predictions hold up? Why or why not?

  1. Discussion and Conclusion

Once the data is presented and explained, you are now ready to state your argument. While your argument has been latent throughout the article, it is worth resisting the urge to spill the beans until you have laid the groundwork by doing a literature review, establishing your contribution, reviewing your methods of data collection and analysis, and detailing the results and your interpretations of the evidence. Building from these steps, your argument is a way to encapsulate all of the work that went into preparing and writing your article. You are then set up not only to review the findings of the paper in the conclusion but to propose ways to extend your argument to new research areas and interests, a helpful clue all researchers like to see!

These steps outline one productive way to organize your writing for a research article, and they reflect the structure of many articles published in Historical Archaeology. However, I do not mean to suggest that all articles published in Historical Archaeology must follow this structure absolutely! There are other ways to write effectively that you might find useful and productive, and I welcome your submissions!

To learn more about writing a research article, please visit these sites:







Cummings, Linda Scott, Barbara L. Voss, Connie Young Yu, Peter Kováčik, Kathryn Puseman, Chad Yost, Ryan Kennedy, and Megan S. Kane

2014       Fan and Tsai: Intracommunity Variation in Plant-Based Food Consumption at the Market Street Chinatown, San Jose, California. Historical Archaeology 48(2): 143-172.

Davidson, James M.

2014       Deconstructing the Myth of the “Hand Charm”: Mundane Clothing Fasteners and Their Curious Transformations into Supernatural Objects. Historical Archaeology 48(2): 18-60.

Image credit: Fist closure from Kingsley Plantation. (Photo by James M. Davidson, 2012.)

Spotlight on #SHA2016 Workshops

The SHA’s annual conference offers many activities and opportunities for professional development. One such is the collection of workshops offered to attendees on the Wednesday before the conference kicks off. This year, as always, we have a wonderful set of offerings. If you are interested in one or more of these workshops, make sure to sign up during #SHA2016 registration. They are:


[01] Archaeological Studio Photography, chaired by Karen Price of George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Take your cameras off “automatic” and come learn the basics to manual photography. This workshop covers the fundamentals to archaeological object photography. We will cover setting up a photo studio, appropriate software, file formats, and metadata. Participants will learn how to manually adjust camera settings to produce high-quality record and publication images. Working with studio lights and backdrops, attendees will have the opportunity to photograph a wide range of archaeological artifacts and feel comfortable setting up their own shot. Equipment and artifacts are provided, but participants are encouraged to bring up to 5 artifacts and a USB.

This is a half-day workshop, $50 for members, $60 for non-members, $30 for students, and $40 for student non-members.


[02] Archeological Illustration, chaired by Jack Scott

Want your pen-and-ink drawings to look like the good ones? Pen and ink is all basically a matter of skill and technique which can be easily taught, and the results can be done faster, cheaper, and are considerably more attractive than the black-and-white illustrations done on computer. Workshop participants will learn about materials and techniques, page design and layout, maps, lettering, scientific illustration conventions, problems posed by different kinds of artifacts, working size, reproduction concerns, ethics, and dealing with authors and publishers. A reading list and pen and paper (tracing vellum) will be provided, but feel free to bring your own pens, tools, books and, of course, questions. Be ready to work!

This is a full-day workshop, $80 for members, $100 for non-members, $50 for students, and $70 for student non-members.


[03] Underwater Cultural Heritage Resources Awareness Workshop, chaired by Amy Mitchell-Cook of the University of West Florida

Cultural resource managers, land managers, and archaeologists are often tasked with managing, interpreting, and reviewing archaeological assessments for submerged cultural resources. This workshop is designed to introduce non-specialists to issues specific to underwater archaeology. Participants will learn about different types of underwater cultural heritage (UCH) sites, and the techniques used in Phase I and II equivalent surveys. This workshop is not intended to teach participants how to do underwater archaeology, but will introduce different investigative techniques, international Best Practices, and existing legislation. The purpose of this workshop is to assist non-specialists in recognizing the potential for UCH resources in their areas of impact, budgeting for UCH resource investigations, reviewing UCH resource assessments, developing interpretive strategies, and providing sufficient background information to assist in making informed decisions regarding UCH resources.

This is a full-day workshop, $80 for members, $100 for non-members, $50 for students, and $70 for student non-members.


[04] Excavating the Image: The MUA Photoshop Workshop, chaired by T. Kurt Knoerl of the Museum of Underwater Archaeology

This Photoshop workshop covers basic photo processing techniques useful to historians and archaeologists. We will cover correcting basic problems in photos taken underwater and on land, restoring detail to historic images, and preparation of images for publications. We will also explore Photoshop’s photomosaic capabilities and the recovery of data from microfilm images such as hand written letters. No previous Photoshop experience is needed but you must bring your own laptop with Photoshop already installed on it (version 7 or newer). While images used for the workshop are provided by me, feel free to bring an image you’re interested in working on. Warning…restoring historic images can be addictive!

This is a full-day workshop, $80 for members, $100 for non-members, $50 for students, and $70 for student non-members.


[05] Battlefield Workshop for Contractors and Grant Applicants, chaired by Kristen McMasters of the National Park Service

The National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) promotes the preservation of significant historic battlefields associated with wars on American soil. The goals of the program are 1) to protect battlefields or sites associated with a battle that influenced the course of American history, 2) to encourage and assist all Americans in planning for the preservation, management, and interpretation of these places, and 3) to raise awareness of the importance of preserving battlefields and sites associated with battles for future generations. The ABPP provides guidance, support, and seed money for battlefield preservation, land use planning, cultural resource and site management planning, land acquisition, and public education.  Principal ways of providing support is through our two grant programs and technical assistance.  The goals of the workshop are to introduce archeologists to the program, provide a working knowledge of grant opportunities, explain to both nonprofits and for-profit organizations how they can participate in battlefield preservation and create a forum for continued site identification through our KOCOA method of military terrain analysis, registration and protection.

This is a half-day workshop, and there is no charge to attend.


[06] Practical Aspects of Bioarchaeology and Human Skeletal Analysis, chaired by Tom Christ, of Utica College, and Kimberly Morrell, of AECOM Corporation

This workshop will introduce participants to the practical aspects of detecting, excavating, storing, and analyzing human remains from historic-period graves. It also will address the appropriate role of the historical archaeologist in forensic investigations and mass fatality incidents. Using historical coffins, hardware, and actual human remains, this interactive workshop is led by a forensic anthropologist and an archaeologist who collectively have excavated and analyzed more than 2,000 burials. Among the topics that will be covered are: effective methods for locating historical graves; correct field techniques and in situ documentation; the effects of taphonomic processes; appropriate health and safety planning; and fostering descendant community involvement and public outreach efforts. Participants also will learn about the basic analytical techniques that forensic anthropologists use to determine demographic profiles and recognize pathologic lesions and evidence of trauma. No previous experience with human skeletal remains is required to participate in, and benefit from, this workshop.

This is a full-day workshop, $80 for members, $100 for non-members, $50 for student members, and $70 for student non-members.


[07] Shattering Notions: Glass Isn’t as Hard as You Think!, chaired by Mary Mills, of AECOM

How can I determine if this piece of glass is blown, pressed, or cut? Is this decoration etched or engraved? Is this English or Continental? Which published sources should I use? If you have asked yourself questions like these, join glass educator and historian, Mary Cheek Mills, as she demystifies the topic of glass. This workshop includes a well-illustrated survey of tableware and other forms used and made in America in the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as videos demonstrating glass forming and decorating techniques. Through hands-on instruction, participants will learn how to “read,” describe, and interpret glass artifacts. Handouts will include a bibliography and other helpful resources.

This is a half-day workshop, $40 for members, $50 for non-members, $20 for students, and $30 for student non-members


[08] Doing Research and Teaching with The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS), chaired by Jillian Galle, Lynsey Bates, Leslie Cooper, Elizabeth Bollwerk of the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (www.daacs.org), and featuring guest speakers J. Cameron Monroe and Fraser Neiman

This workshop is aimed at students and scholars wishing to become more proficient in using the diverse archaeological data contained in The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery. The workshop begins with an introduction to The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS) and its website (www.daacs.org). Participants will learn how to navigate the website and the easiest ways to locate the artifactual, contextual, spatial, discursive, image, and metadata served by the archive. Following this introduction, the remainder of the workshop focuses on the essentials of teaching and doing research with DAACS. The hosts and guest speakers will alternate research and teaching case-studies with hands-on activities to ensure that each participant engages fully with the archive. Participants will also have the opportunity to submit research questions or problems, which will be addressed by the hosts during the workshop. Participants will leave the workshop with a deep working knowledge of DAACS’s contents, research and teaching possibilities, and handouts and sample syllabi that serve as starting points of continued work with the archive. Although no previous experience with statistical computing programs is necessary, a good working knowledge of MS Excel is encouraged. Participants are asked to bring a laptop with MS Excel and wireless connectivity. If you don’t have one, DAACS will provide several laptops that participants without laptops can share.

This is a full-day workshop, $60 for members, $80 for non-members, $20 for student members, and $30 for student non-members.


[09] Introduction to Archaeological Digital Data Management, chaired by Leigh Ellison of the Center for Digital Antiquity

Archaeology relies heavily on digital data: photographs taken in the field, GIS information, analytical and descriptive data sets, project reports, etc. This is in addition to an existing, underutilized backlog of archaeological information. Without a well thought-out approach to data management, important information will be forgotten, misplaced or damaged. Good digital data management requires attention to data storage, archiving data, how data are preserved, and the curation of data so that is discoverable, accessible and usable.

This workshop will introduce participants to the importance of effective and efficient management for digital archaeological data and describe good principles and practices of data management using four interrelated aspects of data management:  Storage, Archiving, Preservation, and Curation. It will also look as how good digital data management can improve archaeological research and resource management in general and benefit individual archaeologists in their careers.  Participants will get hands on experience curating one of their own files in tDAR (the Digital Archaeological Record), a disciplinary repository managed by the Center for Digital Antiquity, Arizona State University.  Instructors will be on-hand to answer questions about files types and metadata and assist participants with curating their data.

Participants will receive a voucher for curating one (1) file in tDAR and a copy of ‘Caring for Digital Data in Archaeology: A Guide to Good Practice by the Archaeological Data Service & tDAR’ (published by Oxbow). Participants need to come prepared with a laptop with wireless capabilities and a file for the hands-on portion of the workshop.

This is a half-day workshop, $100 for members, $110 for non-members, $75 for student members, and $85 for student non-members.

Recognizing, Reassessing and Reconstructing European Maritime Cultural Landscapes from the Late Neolithic to the 20th Century

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To follow on from the first set of 2015 SHA conference videos, posted last month, here are some Underwater/Maritime Archaeology videos:

Reconstructing Holocene Wetlands of Northern England: New Paleogeographic Models in the Humber Estuary

Eric A. Rodriguez

With the recent application of paleographic modelling on prehistoric wetland environments, it has been possible to observe not only the landscapes of past societies but also how the dynamic nature of these environs influenced the phenomenology and settlement patterns of such peoples. This paper focuses on two areas from Northern England’s Humber Estuary and describes the interactions between the reconstructed palaeolandscapes of Roos Carr and Ferriby and the shifting settlement patterns from the Late Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age. Given the rapid sea-level change of the period, this study contributes to the existing discourse concerning the interconnectivity of climate change, dynamic landscapes and past societies. The aims of this study are not solely focused on reconstructive modelling techniques, but move rather, towards an investigation into the role of dynamic maritime landscapes in crafting Holocene phenomenologies and influencing settlement patterns in the Humber Estuary.



The Medieval Shipwrecks of Novy Svet: A Reassessment

John A Albertson

Since 1997, Dr. Sergey Zelenko of the Centre for Underwater Archaeology (CUA) at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kiev has been conducting survey and excavation near the resort town of Novy Svet on the southern coast of the Crimean peninsula. CUA researchers have discovered the remains of three medieval shipwrecks spanning the 10th to the late 13th centuries, illuminating much about Black Sea seafaring. Recently, multi-national CUA teams discovered hull timbers, anchors and vessel materials dating from the early Classical to the Medieval periods. Careful mapping of these materials has shown that they have discrete distributions. While it has commonly been held that organic preservation at the site is poor, recent finds challenge this and demand a renewed effort to ascertain the full extent of the assemblage. Further, these findings demonstrate that in situ or nearly in situ preservation of wreck sites may be found even in dynamic littorals.



Maritime Archaeology in Albania: Connecting the Dots Along an Overlooked Coastline

Loren R Clark While

Albania boasts over 400 kilometers of coastline, very little research has been done to learn about the significance of this dynamic coast. Until recently, it has been difficult for outside research to be done in Albania, but that is rapidly changing thanks to government agencies supporting research in many different fields targeted specifically along the coast and in the offshore regions. Because of this renewed energy in bringing attention to the coast, this project has sought to aid in the overall management of submerged cultural resources in Albania by presenting a baseline of datasets from many different disciplines as well as analysis of coastal morphology changes and the potential for submerged sites along the entire Albanian coastline. In doing so, this project will also seek to bring awareness and future researchers to an area of the Adriatic Sea that has been overlooked for far too long.



Scrannying for Spidge amongst the Shipwrecks; Interviewing the Pirates of Plymouth, England.

Mallory R. Haas

Over the past 2 years the SHIPS Project has set out to conduct several dozen oral histories concerning divers’ recollections from the early days of scuba diving in Plymouth, UK. These oral histories were undertaken for several reasons, to better understand the layout of virgin shipwrecks when first located, to record the items recovered, which are affectionately known as ‘spidge’, and to document the human interest and lust for ‘scrannying’. What has been explored and expanded upon within the oral histories is the true appreciation for the cultural heritage of these shipwrecks, from within this diving community. We have also gained trust and access to recording finds information, allowing us to build our knowledge of Plymouth Sound’s cultural heritage. Within the process, we were able to capture interviews that convey the vagabond adventure that lures a person to become a diver, while finding the true definition of a pirate.

The Newport Medieval Ship in Context: The Life and Times of a 15th Century Merchant Vessel Trading in Western Europe

Toby N. Jones and Nigel Nayling

This paper presents a summary of recent research into the broader economic, cultural and political world in which the Newport Medieval Ship was built and operated. Digital modeling of the original hull form has revealed the dimensions, capacity, and performance of the vessel. Examination of the individual ship timbers and overall hull form have led to a greater understanding of shipbuilding and woodland resource management in the late medieval period. Archaeological research has helped to illuminate the origins of the vessel and revealed details about its use-life. Direct evidence of trade between the Iberian Peninsula and the British Isles has been uncovered, along with clues relating to the origin and size of the crew and general aspects of daily-life on board the ship. In addition, the online publication of a comprehensive digital archive has enabled unprecedented access to the wealth of detailed archaeological data produced by the project.


#SHA2016 Registration is OPEN!

Good morning SHA members! Autumn is moving fast, and we hope you are gearing up for #SHA2016!SHA2016-logo3-250x300

For #SHA2016 conference details, please follow this link.

To register for #SHA2016 conference, please follow this link.

The #SHA2016 conference program is posted. Please note that Symposium organizers may notice the names associated with the Introduction, Discussants and breaks in their session are not correct. These names will be updated in the program once the individuals who will be performing these roles register for the #SHA2016 Conference. Only individuals who are registered in ConfTool can be added to the program; it was necessary, therefore, to create “placeholders” to ensure that the timing for each session is correct.

Additionally, Saturday, October 17th was International Archaeology Day! We hope that many of you took part, and we encourage you to run searches on #InternationalArchaeologyDay and/or #IAD2015 via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to see how your fellow archaeologists contributed. Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 11.13.44 PM

If you participated in International Archaeology Day and have yet to post anything, we encourage you to post to the hashtags (#InternationalArchaeologyDay or #IAD2015)!

As we get closer to #SHA2016, our blog posts will focus on conference related details as well as Washington, D.C. related information.

Stay tuned!

Writing for Historical Archaeology – Part 2. Thematic Issues


To follow up to an earlier blog post on the process of publishing an article in Historical Archaeology, I want to discuss what is involved in putting together and publishing a Thematic Issue of the journal. Every year two of the four issues of Historical Archaeology are guest edited collections on specific themes. Some examples of thematic issues from the past few years have been on The Archaeology of Chinese Railroad Workers; Material Testimonies: Landscapes, Artifacts, and the Oral Tradition; and Contemporary and Historical Archaeology of the North. Thematic issues often but not always emerge from sessions at the SHA conference as well as other conferences and meetings. From this starting point, guest editors are usually in a good position to propose publishing the papers in a thematic issue.

Proposing a thematic issue

If you are interested in guest editing a thematic issue of Historical Archaeology, the first step is to contact me at shaeditor@gmail.com to tell me about the topic. In most cases I will ask you to follow up with a brief proposal that includes a one-page overview of the collection and the way it will be approached by the contributors. The proposal should list the titles and authors of the articles that will be included. There is no magic number of articles for a thematic issue, but they are typically around 10 articles. Thematics always have a short introduction written the editor(s), and they also often have a concluding discussion essay written by a leading person in the field or, as often, by a scholar in a cognate discipline relevant to topic. The proposal should also include a timeline detailing the deadlines for collecting drafts, plans for the peer review, and submitting the collection to the HA editor.

Once the proposal is submitted, the thematic will go into the queue. Thematics follow the schedule guest editors create and manage, but they are published in the order they are formally accepted for publication. The journal editor can certainly let you know how many thematics have been accepted and tell you the next slot (i.e. volume/issue number) that is open.

Herding cats

As the guest editor, you are responsible for selecting the contributing authors, arranging the structure of the collection, supervising the peer review of the papers, and finalizing the submission to the journal. While this should be an enjoyable process, there is no getting around that pulling together ten articles from ten or more authors requires a lot management. I recommend staying in regular touch with your contributors and setting and keeping fair but firm deadlines.

Internal and external reviews

Once all of the articles are in hand, it is typical that editors will organize an internal round-robin review. In this format, each contributor will be assigned to review two other articles in the collection. As contributors to thematic, the authors are expected to be experts in the field and thus ideal reviewers for the other papers. Peer reviews should comment on the organization of the article, the clarity of the argument, the effective presentation and use of the data, and the overall quality of the writing.

The guest editor will collect and return the reviews to each author with a statement explaining what they see as most important aspects of the review that need to be addressed in a revision. Once you have collected the revised the articles, the collection is ready to be assembled for submission to the journal. I am more than happy to arrange for an electronic submission. This is also the stage when the articles including tables, figures, and permissions need to be formatted to conform to the Style Guide of the journal: http://sha.org/index.php/view/page/for_authors.

Upon submission to the journal, I will arrange for the collection to be reviewed by one or two outside readers who will provide comments on both the overall collection as well as the individual papers. This external review will spur a second round of revisions, and it will also confirm for the journal editor that the collection is suitable for publication.


Assuming all goes well, the revised articles for the thematic can be compiled again for a final submission. Once the editor has all the files in hand, they will send the guest editor(s) a letter stating that the collection has been formally accepted for publication and indicate which Volume/Issue number it will be assigned.

Right now we are publishing thematic issues about one year after they have been accepted. So, after the collection has been accept you will have a 6-8 month break before hearing from the journal’s copy editor with queries about the articles. The copy editor will work directly with the authors to finalize the manuscripts for publication. The next step will be to review the printer proofs. For this stage the journal editor will send typeset PDFs of the articles to the guest editors, who should review the collection as a whole and circulate the articles to the individual authors for proofing. Once the proofs are returned, the corrections are submitted to the printer, and the issue will be published within the next couple weeks!

*Image: Early 20th-century British postcard depicting lucky horseshoes, old shoe, and a black cat. [From the collection of the M. Chris Manning, 2013, published as Figure 3 in his article, “The Material Culture of Ritual Concealments in the United States,” Historical Archaeology 48(3):52-83].

Time to Register for the #SHA2016 Conference!

Hello SHA members!

Registration for #SHA2016 has begun! Please follow this link (http://sha.org/conferences/) to access the registration site. In addition, the #SHA2016 conference program is posted; follow this link to take a look (https://www.conftool.com/sha2016/sessions.php).

As you are registering for #SHA2016, the conference has reserved a limited number of rooms at the conference venue, the Omni Shoreham. Located in NW D.C., the hotel overlooks Rock Creek National Park, which also happens to be celebrating its 125th Anniversary! The Omni Shoreham is just a quick five minute walk to the Woodley Park-Zoo Metro stop, which is location on the Red line.  The Red line will take you straight into the heart of downtown D.C. In addition, Just north up Connecticut Avenue is the National Zoo, which is open daily, from 7 am to 8 pm.
national-zooOmni Shoreham Hotel
The Omni Shoreham is in a great location to take advantage of what D.C. has to offer, so make sure to reserve your hotel room when registering for the conference. Follow this link (http://sha.org/conferences/)) to do so.

Your Chance to Weigh In! NPS Revising U.S. World Heritage Tentative List

GovAffairsFor the first time in almost ten years, the National Park Service (NPS) is revising the Tentative List of nominees to the World Heritage List. Inclusion on the Tentative List is a necessary prerequisite to being nominated by the United States to the World Heritage List. NPS has asked US/ICOMOS to structure an Expert Consultation for the revisions to identify and prioritize themes in U.S. cultural resources that fill gaps identified in the World Heritage List. US/ICOMOS seeks inter-disciplinary input to insure inclusion of a wide variety of themes, such as the “archaeological sites or landscapes of global significance” theme. If you would like to participate, please register and respond to the survey here. You can join one or more moderated professional discussions, and follow the on-line discourse.

Management Challenges, Public Relations, and Professional Issues

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This week we bring you another video recorded session from the 2015 SHA conference. This was a general session so the topics will be diverses. If you are interested in seeing more great archaeology presentations be sure to book your tickets to this year’s SHA conference in Washington DC.

 The presentations:

Urban Archaeology in the City of the Saints and the Growth of a Real Frontier City

Donald D. Southworth II

While archaeologist in the western United States survey wide open expanses for federal and state agencies, archaeology in the urban centers themselves are often ignored. The majority of city centers consist mostly of businesses and business is money. Archaeology in these districts cost time and money, so archaeology is almost never undertaken unless it is done for an agency that must follow established laws and regulations that include archaeology. The new United States Courthouse for the District of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah, presented just such an opportunity to conduct urban archaeology. The results of these excavations have highlighted contrasting interpretations of the accepted narrative history of the city, and the life style of its inhabitants. This paper presents some of the evidence for a reinterpretation.

Present in the Past: Environmental Archaeology and Public Policy

James G. Gibb

Eroding farmland, diminishing forest stocks, sediments choking navigable waterways….these are environmental changes wrought, at least in part, by human decisions and human actions. In the present, these are highly politicized issues, providing thin veils to debates about ideology. Exploring environmental changes in the distant past creates a safe place in which dialogue participants have little or no vested interest and ideology a less prominent role. Public dissemination of archaeological research into historic changes in the lands and waters of Southern Maryland, USA, specifically dealing with erosion and sedimentation, have a direct bearing on the current statewide “rain tax” debate. Research at the Port Tobacco townsite and the Sellman’s Connection plantation contribute to a scientific basis for public policy without direct reference to the politics of imposing a new tax to fund solutions to a centuries-old problem.

Digital Archaeological Data: An Examination Of Different Publishing Models

Mark Freeman

The open data movement, inter-site analysis, and the desire for public outreach are encouraging archaeologists to share data, as well as results. Yet the history of archaeological collections provides concerns about access and preservation that extend to managing digital assets. This paper will examine the availability of digital archaeological data in Virginia, based on a recent survey, and examine the strengths and weaknesses of different models of archaeological data publication.

Finding Successful Solutions for Environmental, Engineering, Cultural Resources, and Public Relations Challenges at the Presidio of San Francisco, California

Sean E McMurry

In 2012-2014, AMEC successfully balanced the needs of the National Park Service (NPS), the Presidio Trust, and regulators to preserve historic resources, maintain public relations, engineer safe and effective solutions, and address environmental concerns during remediation activities to remove contaminated soil at the Presidio of San Francisco, a NHLD and NRHP-listed property. For over 150 years, the Presidio, located near the Golden Gate Bridge, was used by the U.S. Army to protect San Francisco. Remedial activities removed approximately 14,800 cubic yards of contaminated soil. Working with NPS staff, AMEC archaeologists developed an archaeological monitoring, sampling, and excavation strategy that preserved archaeological resources while keeping the project on schedule and budget. The 32 features recovered included a buried 1870s ammunition magazine and large, intact 1870s and 1890s coastal defense battery features. This presentation discusses the challenges of working in an archaeological landscape and the innovative techniques used during remedial excavations.

Overwhelmed with Possibilities: A Model for Urban Heritage Tourism Development

Tristan J. Harrenstein

The city of Pensacola, FL has been attempting to create a heritage tourism industry for half a century but has never achieved the same level of success of some of the most notable destinations they were trying to emulate. This is, in part, due to a significant level of development in the historic district, much of which is now historic as well, combined with an impressively complex history concentrated in a relatively small area. If Pensacola, and any community in a similar situation, is to develop an effective heritage tourism program then a well organized plan is required. This paper presents a model for the development of an interpretive program which aims to provide the best possible results for the community, the tourist, and the archaeological resources.

The Best Kept Secrets in Archaeology: The numbers no one knows, but everyone talks about.

Doug Rocks-Macqueen

How many professional archaeologists are there? How much do they make? How many women are archaeologists? Where do they work? It has been 20 years since the data to answer these questions was gathered through a survey and published in the report The American Archaeologist: A Profile by Melinda A. Zeder. However, there has yet to be a follow up project. Our only profile of professional archaeologists is arguably out of date, significantly. This paper uses a variety of different data sources to build up a profile of current American archaeologists and what has happened in the intervening years. While it is not possible to replace such a large scale survey as the one undertaken 20 years ago, this paper will layout what we know, a current profile, and our gaps in knowledge.

New Articles from Technical Briefs in Historical Archaeology

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Technical Briefs in Historical Archaeology has recently published several exciting and useful articles. Three are artifact studies, including a discussion of the origins of French faience based on stylistic and compositional data (Métreau and Rosen), an analysis of bottle contents with some surprising results (von Wandruszka et al.), and a case study of utilized glass analysis (Porter). At a larger scale, Thomas and Volanski offer a geochemical method of for identifying laundry washing sites. Three additional authors discuss innovative photography applications. Rivera’s article provides a primer on applying forensic photography techniques to archaeology collections. A two part article by Whitely introduces the use of drones in archaeology and methods for collecting video footage for site mapping. Finally, an article by Selden presents the uses of photogrammetry in grave marker recording.

Please also consider submitting an article to Technical Briefs. Technical Briefs is a peer-reviewed publication devoted to the fast dissemination of shorter specialized technical papers in historical archaeology, maritime archaeology, material culture technology, and materials conservation. Technical Briefs articles reach and international audience through the SHA webpage and provide free, open access to your ideas. At 3,000 words and with an average of four months from submission to publication, Technical Briefs also offers a relatively painless way to publish. Submission guidelines are available on the Technical Briefs webpage and inquiries can be sent to Ben Ford.

Cover image is an aerial view of Waddington Roadhouse, oblique angle. (Photo by Thomas G. Whitley, 2015.)

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