Please join us for #SHA2016!

Did you enjoy #SHA2015? Please join us for #SHA2016!

The Organizing Committee for the #SHA2016 Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology invites you to Washington, D.C., the Nation’s Capital, January 6-9, 2016! The year 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the creation of the National Park Service in 1916 and the 50th anniversary of the passage of the National Historical Preservation Act of 1966.  Because of the synchronicity of these events, and the conference location, #SHA2016 will focus on the past development and future prospects of Historical Archaeology.  The #SHA2016 theme, “A Call to Action: the Past and Future of Historical Archaeology”, encourages us to consider the impact of the NPS and NHPA on the practice of Historical Archaeology.

Washington, D.C. represents both the Federal City and the District of Columbia, providing an exciting, dynamic environment. Washington, D.C. is not only home to policy movers and shakers, but offers rich local and national histories, long preserved and made accessible by its numerous museums and institutions. In recent years, Washington, D.C. has undergone transformations that have highlighted the culturally diverse neighborhoods that make up the city, for instance, the new and flavorful restaurants, bars, and local markets. We hope to see you at #SHA2016, to reflect on how far Historical Archaeology has come, since the early 20th century!


Help Celebrate Our Past: Work with the SHA History Committee

Did you know the SHA turns 50 in January 2017?

Members of the SHA’s History Committee are very excited about this landmark anniversary, as it is our responsibility to document and share the history of the SHA. In the past, we have done this primarily by recording and publishing oral histories of past SHA presidents, Harrington Award recipients, and other significant contributors to the society and discipline. We continue to fulfill this important responsibility. But we are also buzzing with ideas of how to share more of the SHA’s history in celebration of the society’s upcoming 50th anniversary. The possibilities and opportunities are virtually endless, but we need interested and enthusiastic individuals to help us envision and implement them.

For example, we recognize the great potential of social media to share the fascinating history of the SHA and promote the upcoming 50th anniversary celebrations. But we need an able and willing individual to serve as our liaison with the Social Media Committee – someone who can represent the History Committee’s interests and coordinate our social media efforts.

Other ideas for how the SHA’s history can be shared and celebrated include:
• Working with the society’s publications team to create a special publication on the history of the SHA for the society’s 50th anniversary. This volume would include previously published oral histories, as well as papers and articles that specifically discuss the history of the SHA and the discipline. Ideally, this special anniversary publication would be paired with, and promoted by, a celebratory session at the 2017 conference in Dallas, Texas (see below).
• Hosting and organizing a special session at the 2017 conference. Speakers for this session would highlight the history and future of the society and the discipline.
• Working with the National Anthropological Archives, where the SHA archives are stored, to curate a small exhibit of significant SHA documents and artifacts for display at the 2017 conference.
Collecting “mini” oral histories from those attending the 2015 and 2016 conferences and sharing these as part of celebratory events at the 2017 conference.

If you want to be involved in these and other exciting endeavors to celebrate the SHA’s history for the upcoming 50th anniversary, we invite you to attend this year’s History Committee meeting. The meeting will be held at 12:00 noon on Saturday, January 10 in the Kirkland Room (3rd floor of the Sheraton Seattle Hotel).

Please come and participate in the exciting work of the History Committee. Together we can experience “history-in-the-making” as we document and share the significant history of the SHA and celebrate the society’s 50th anniversary.

If you have additional ideas, suggestions, or questions, please contact Ben Pykles, chair of the History Committee, at pykles@gmail.com.


Tell your Stories: #SHAStories at #SHA2015

Did you know the SHA is turning 50 in January 2017? In anticipation of the big anniversary, the History and Technology Committees want to hear your SHA stories. At this year’s conference in Seattle, committee members will be set up and ready to record your SHA stories in the Technology Room (Ballard, 3rd floor) on Thursday and Friday, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Please stop by and spend a few minutes sharing your SHA story.

Not sure what you would say? Don’t think you have anything meaningful to share? Nonsense! Just answer one or more of the following questions and you’ll be on your way! You can come by yourself and chat with one of our interviewers, or bring a colleague and go back and forth!

  • When did you join the SHA?
  • Why did you join?
  • What was the first SHA conference you attended?
  • What is your favorite memory of a SHA conference?
  • Why do you like the SHA?
  • What difference has the SHA made in your career?
  • And any other SHA story you want to share!

The best stories will be compiled into a special presentation and featured at the 50th anniversary conference in January 2017. The more stories we record, the more meaningful the birthday bash will be!  So please stop by the Technology Room and spend a few moments in the recording booth sharing your stories. We want to hear from everyone!

Follow along on Twitter with #SHAStories to see who is taking part!


#SHA2015: Using Social Media at the SHA Conference

Over the past few years, SHA has built an online presence through the use of social media, and it began within the conference committee. With the addition of the blog, and the society’s developing use of Twitter and Facebook, we want to encourage you all to incorporate social media into your conference experience in Seattle. Since 2012, we’ve been using social media at our conferences, to great success particularly in the past few years. They are a great way to improve your conference experience, while also demonstrating the value of the SHA to archaeology and scholars of the past.

Before the Conference

Using social media before the conference provides a number of opportunities to make your experience in Seattle more enjoyable. Here’s some suggestions:

  1. Catch Up with What’s Happening: We have a Facebook PageConference Event Page, a Twitter Account, and official Twitter Hashtag.  Follow and Like Us, and read up on what to expect at the conference!
  2. Start Communicating: Twitter is a great way to meet other archaeologists. See who is tweeting with the #SHA2015 tag, and start conversations with them!
  3. Advertise your session by blogging and posting: Do you have a blog? Use it to share your session, the reasons why it is important, where and what time it’s being held. Post it on our Facebook wall and send a tweet with #SHA2015 and @SHA_org mentioned, and we’ll share it with our members!
  4. Share Your Trip: Let us know what’s happening on your trip to Seattle. Did you find a good travel deal? Need someone to share a ride with from the airport? Delayed? Lost? Send a tweet with the #SHA2015 tag and see if someone can lend a hand.

At the Conference

Once you arrive in Seattle, use @SHA_org and our Facebook page to communicate with the conference committee; we’ll be using it to communicate with you. Here are some things we’ll be using social media for:

What we’ll be doing

  1. Announcing special events: We’ll send out reminders about events including the awards banquet, student reception and so on, so you don’t miss anything! We’ll also live-tweet and post from the Business Meeting, so those of you leaving early on Saturday can follow along from the train.
  2. Special Announcements: If something is relocated, delayed, or cancelled, we will announce this via social media.
  3. Answering Questions: Send your questions to @SHA_org or the Facebook page
  4. RTing and RePosting: We’ll repost on Facebook and ReTweet on Twitter the things you share on the #SHA2015 hashtag. If you’ve taken a great picture, made an interesting comment in a session, or provided some good information, we want to make sure our followers see it!

What you can do

  1. Wear a Twitter Sticker: When you collect your conference bag, ask a volunteer for a Twitter Sticker. Then write your Twitter name on it, and stick it to your name badge or wear it separately. This way, other Twitter users will know you Tweet.
  2. Post YOUR Special Announcements: Has something happened in your session that is delaying things? Have you found a great restaurant or coffee shop you want to share? Spotted your book in the book room? Post these items and we’ll repost them so others can see them.
  3. Ask Questions: Use Twitter and Facebook to ask questions about the conference. Can’t find a room? Can’t remember what time the Awards Banquet is? Send a tweet to @SHA_org or post on the Facebook wall and we’ll get back to you.
  4. Take Pictures: we’d love to see and share your pictures from the conference, particularly from the special event.

In A Session

Twitter can be particularly useful when you’re in a session. It provides a backchannel of commentary and discussion, so people who couldn’t attend the session or conference can still follow along. It also gives presenters and chairs a chance to get some feedback on their presentation, and to communicate with the audience – leading to interactions and relationships that might not have occurred otherwise. Here are some tips to maximize the effectiveness, and civility, of Twitter. You can find more hints and tips here.

For Session organizers

  1. Use a Hashtag: It’s OK with us if you give your session its own hashtag; this way, it is clear what tweets belong to what section. We STRONGLY advise that you also use the #SHA2015 hashtag, so that people following it will see your session as well. Otherwise, it may not be noticed. So, pick something short to save characters!
  2. Make it Known: Make sure all your presenters know about the hashtag, and that you’d like to use social media during the session. Make sure that the audience knows as well; tell them as you introduce the session. Also, encourage your presenters to include their own Twitter name and the session hashtag on their introduction slide, so that people can use it during their presentation.

For Presenters

  1. Be Loud: include your Twitter name on your presentation slides, and say something in your introduction about how you’d like to hear feedback on Twitter. If you DON’T want anyone to broadcast your session, make the request at the beginning of your presentation.
  2. Respond: Be sure to respond to the comments that you get, and build relationships!
  3. Pay it Forward: Be an active tweeter during the session for your fellow presenters.

For the audience

  1. Be Respectful: Don’t tweet anything you wouldn’t say to a presenter’s face; Twitter is, in general, a friendly place. Constructive criticism is certainly welcome, but remember you only have 140 characters. It’s probably best to send the presenter a private message saying you’d love to chat about their presentation rather than publicly dig into them. If a presenter requests silence on social media for their presentation, respect it and give your thumbs a rest.
  2. Introduce your Speaker: It’s courteous to send a tweet out introducing the presenter and their paper topic before starting to tweet their presentation: this gives those following some context.
  3. Cite: Use the presenter’s Twitter name, surname, or initials in all the following tweets so that their ideas are connected to them. Use quotes if you’re directly quoting someone from their presentation, and be sure to include their name. Remember: these presentations are still the presenter’s intellectual property, so treat it respectfully!

After the Conference

Just because a conference is over, it doesn’t mean the work is done! The same goes for social media; here’s how you can round out your conference experience:

  1. Write a Summary: Use a blog or Storify to give other archaeologists a glimpse into your experience, session or paper, and see what they missed. This also allows us to gather feedback about the conference so we can make it better next year! Be sure to post it on Twitter, use the #SHA2015 tag, and post on our Facebook page so others can see it!
  2. Post your Paper: Using a blog or academia.edu to post your paper is a great way to make it available to everyone. Or you could make a video; simply record yourself talking over your slides and upload it to YouTube or Vimeo (read more about this here). Then, share it with us!
  3. Build your Networks: Build longer lasting relationships by looking up the people you’ve met at the conference on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn (oh, we have a LinkedIn Group, too, just for SHA members). If you find them, send them a message saying how nice it was to see them!

 


Public Archaeology Happenings in Seattle: What not to miss!

by Sarah E. Miller, PEIC Chair

Do I say this every year?  There seems to be more public archaeology at #SHA2015 than ever before.  Without a strategy in place, there’s a lot that can be missed.  Follow the guide below which will lead you to #PubArch happenings at the conference.  This post is organized by PEIC sponsored sessions (1-5) followed by excellent additional offerings beyond the PEIC (6-10) in order from the conference program.  I provided lots of links in headings and text, so use ‘em!

Print PubArch cheat sheet to keep in badge holder!

Join the #EnvArch discussion now on Facebook or join for panel discussion Thursday afternoon.

1. Panel: Are we missing the boat?  Archaeological Response to Disasters and the Potential for Community Engagement

THUR 1:30-3:30 pm  Redwood A Archaeologists and conservators working with the local community unite in this panel to address environmental impacts to archaeological sites including hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, sea level rise mudslides and more.  To encourage discussion before and after the conference the EnvArch Facebook Group was created with introductions by panelists and case studies linked on the feed.  Come with your own case studies, best practice questions, and queries for future training.  Theater holds 125 so help up fill it up!

2.  Public Education and Interpretation Committee Meeting

FRI 8:00-9:00 AM Diamond A  Join other public education and interpretation minded archaeologists at the PEIC meeting Friday morning.  Full agenda of topics including future conference sessions and reports on National Council of Social Studies, Archaeologists for Autism, International Archaeology Day, and future collaborations with the Archaeology Education Clearinghouse (SHA, SAA, and AIA join venture).  Some sessions start at 8:30 but please come for the minutes you are able.  As always, wake up calls are free! (dm @semiller88)

Look for PEIC fliers at registration.

3.  Hit Them Where They Learn: Educational Policy and Archaeologists as Architects

SAT 10 AM-12 PM  Issaquah Room  Steve Dasovich has assembled a fine panel featuring Larry Zimmerman and PEIC members Bernard Means, SHA Board Memeber Della Scott-Ireton, and PEIC Chair Sarah Miller to tackle not just increasing K-12 archaeology education opportunities, but refining strategy by understanding policy.  This panel builds on a previous post to the blog (Archaeology Education at the Crossroads) featuring both Steve and Sarah’s experiences at the St. Louis National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) conference in 2013 and recent trends in increasing professional development of heritage educators.  What Steve noticed at NCSS was that all teachers are using archaeology in their classroom, they just misunderstand what archaeology is and need assistance labeling what they are often already doing as archaeology.

4.  Three Minute Forum: Can Lightening Strike Twice?  Thrice?  Sharing Tips and Tricks for Engaging the Public

SAT 1:30-3:30 PM Ravenna B  Ideas to take home! In rapid-fire form public archaeologists from all corners of the country will bring in their activity show-and-tell with Q&A discussion to follow the presentations.  Activities can be used in classroom but are especially useful for festival tables and other informal audience veues.

5.  Archaeology Day at the Burke

SAT 10:00 AM- 4:00 PM Burke Museum  Hosted in partnership with SHA, the Center for Wooden Boats, Edmonds Community College, the National Park Service, and the Suquamish Tribe, the Public day is always a great opportunity to learn about local sites and get new activity ideas to take home.  Post your “scuba selfie” to @SHA_org and let them know how important it is to reach out to local communities.

Public Archaeology Day at the Burke.

Click here for more information about Archaeology Day!   

***Beyond the PEIC organized sessions there are some excellent symposiums and panels with emphasis on sharing archaeology with the public.***

6.  Inspirations from Public History: Recommendations for Collaboration and Community Outreach Drawn Across Disciplinary Boundaries

THUR 9 AM-10:45 AM  Metropolitan A  Public archaeologists: don’t reinvent the wheel in terms of theory and practice!  We can look to what are colleagues are up to and borrow from them.  The “them” in this case are Public Historians.  How can we make stronger connections with these specialists (public history educators, park historican, museum managers, oral historians) and what lessons can we learn from their experience.

7. Punk Public Archaeology

THUR 10:30 AM-12 PM  Cedar A  Best. Title. Ever.  Just for the name alone, you gotta go.  Experience the cross sections between DIY aspects of punk and how public archaeology functions.  Beyond the playful title I’m intrigued by the organizers’ association with punk rock to political change and how this plays out for heritage educators.

***Let me preface- I do not envy you the choice you have to make Thursday afternoon.  I’ll be in #EnvArch panel so will miss most of these, but you can be there and tweet for others who can not be present themselves***

8.  Bringing back the Community: Archaeology of an Early 19th Century Community at James Madison’s Montpelier in Orange County Virginia

SAT 1:30-5:00 PM Grand Ballroom A  It’s fun to follow #DigMontpelier throughout the year on FacebookTwitter, and their blog (Archaeology Department Heads to Seattle).  If you’ve never been to James Madison’s Montpelier, take advantage of this opportunity to learn from these 12 papers about five different Montpelier sites.  Multiple analysis–ceramics, labor, small finds, floral and faunal–will lead to their approach in interpretating these data sets to the public.

The Montpelier Archaeology Director Matt Reeves is also involved in symposium early Friday morning, “Building Consensus: Archaeologists and Metal Detectorists working towards a Common Goal.” This is an important session given the tension archaeologists and metal detectorists experience, particularly due to reality shows of years past.  I’m looking forward to constructive conversations and all the points of view they are bringing to the table with this forum: Doug Scott, Wade Catts, Michelle Sivilich, Linda Stine, SHA President Charlie Ewen, metal detectorist, and Montpelier’s Expedition Member Scott Clark. Look for the National Trust’s Preservation Magazine article next month to feature the Montpelier metal detecting project.  The session will be held at 8:30 am Friday morning in Ravenna A.

9. Engaging the Public: Involving People Underwater, On Land, and Online in Maritime Archaeology

THUR 1:30-4:15 PM Willow A As an archaeologist on land it’s always a good idea to check in with our colleagues from the sea.  Their unique perspective into training and working with avocationals, citizen science approach to survey, and promoting history that is too often loved to death always presents a high level of best practices, often with great humor.

10. Management Challenges, Public Relations, and  Professional Issues

THUR 1:30-4:30 PM Metropolitan B One of the most important things the public learns from #PubArch programs is often overlooked, that there are these people called archaeologists and they have jobs and they are part of a large industry.  In addition to providing stats on our profession by the numbers, this session also includes environmental issues that will be brought up during the #EnvArch panel, such as James Gibb’s paper on environmental archaeology and public policy as well as Morgan MacKenzie’s paper on Hurrican Sandy and the New Jersey Waterway Debris Removal Project. Oh to be in two sessions at once!

******************************************************************************************************

Don’t see the session you are in listed?  Give it a plug below!  Don’t forget to join and contribute to #PubArch discussions on Twitter.  The Heritage Education conference hosted by the Archaeology Institute of America in New Orleans unfortunately coincides with SHA.  Let’s bring these subjects to audiences outside of Seattle and continue to develop the profession of public archaeology.

Text: Sarah E. Miller, PEIC Chair

Images: #EnvArch thumnails emergency collections, Iceland digOcklawaha flooding, Washington mudslide, Historical Ecology for Risk Management, PEIC flier by Sarah Miller, Public Day flier by staff of the Burke Museum.          


SHA 2015: Countdown to Seattle!

It’s hard to believe that the conference is only a few days away!

We hope you are all as excited as we are for the 2015 conference in Seattle. Throughout the conference we will be posting session times, updates on sessions, event information, and other fun posts on the SHA Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SocietyforHistoricalArchaeology) and the SHA twitter account (SHA_Org). We will be using the hashtag #SHA2015 so follow the conference on Facebook and twitter!

Currently Projected Weather

As we all know weather is very unpredictable especially in the city, but current projections for the week of the conference are upper 40sF / 7C to low 50sF / 12C for highs and low 40sF / 4C for lows and since the conference is in Seattle there is a chance of rain every day, especially Thursday and Friday.

Let’s hope the winter storm system moving across the eastern half of the US ends this weekend, making for a smooth week of travel for the conference!

Getting to the Conference Hotel from the airport reminders

Preferred Airport Transportation Provider — Shuttle Express is the SHA’s preferred airport transportation provider. They will provide SHA Conference attendees a discounted rate of $25 per person round trip between Sea Tac Airport and the Sheraton Seattle Hotel (Retail rate for this service is $36 per person round trip).

The easiest and cheapest way to get to the hotel from the airport is to take the Central Link Light Rail. The service runs from 5am to 1am Monday through Saturday and 6am to Midnight on Sundays. The trip from the airport to downtown (below Westlake Mall at 4th and Pine; 2 blocks away from the hotel) will take approximately 37 minutes and cost $2.75 each way. The trains run every 7.5 to 15 minutes depending upon what time of day. http://www.soundtransit.org/schedules/central-link-light-rail

To make your reservation, call Shuttle Express at 425-981-7000 and tell them you are with the Society for Historical Archaeology to receive the discount or you can book online at: http://shuttleexpress.hudsonltd.net/res?USERIDENTRY=SHA&LOGON=GO

If you prefer a taxi service the trip can cost $40-$50, with some hotel to the airport services for $40 and may take 25-30 minutes without traffic.

For travel around the city, the “Metro” public bus system operates throughout Seattle and King County, and is one of the most extensive and highly-praised in the nation. To find a route, maps, and fare information visit Metro online at www.metro.kingcounty.gov

Seattle Neighborhoods

In case you find yourself with some time on your hands and wish to strike out on your own beyond downtown area and explore one or more of the city’s other great neighborhoods (Seattle is definitely a city of neighborhoods, each with
their own unique personality) we wanted to share this guide to help you choose your adventure. Each of these communities is only a short commute from the conference hotel. http://www.seattle.gov/TOUR/neighborhoods.htm


Historical Archaeology in a Changed Climate

The effects of a changed global climate are proving to be the largest and most daunting challenge facing the Earth’s inhabitants. Rapidly melting Arctic ice, the increased ferocity of ever more frequent storms, coastal flooding, vanishing islands, thousands of stranded walruses, and intensifying conflict over limited resources are all disruptive signs that we need to reconsider and even remake how we live on this planet. But our engagement, politics, and diplomacy are not producing the required outcomes as shown by a growing list of failed international climate agreements, foot dragging governments and industries, and less-than-effective pubic actions.

Nevertheless, there is a growing awareness of the scale of the crisis and broad scientific consensus that humans have been instrumental in bringing on these changes. Academic societies like Geological Society of America others have begun to use Paul J. Crutzen and Eugene F. Stoermer’s term, the Anthropocene, to describe this new age of Earth’s history in which human kind has become akin to a geological force in shaping the Earth’s climate. Whereas other climatological epochs were shaped by volcanic activity, tectonics, meteorites, and other non-human forces, the Anthropocene was brought on by the actions of people. Scholars like Paul Dukes and Dipesh Chakrabarty date the age as beginning sometime in the mid-eighteenth century, whereas William Ruddiman sets the start with the development of agriculture, but in any event,but in any event, we have left the Holocene whose conditions shaped life for nearly 12,000 years and are now somewhere new. The idea of the Anthropocene moves the discussion away from climate change as something in the future and makes it instead the epoch we now inhabit. Environmental damage can be slowed, but damage done cannot be undone—we now live in a climatological reality very different from what we as a species faced only a few short centuries ago. This means that we have to rethink much of how we live on our planet.

As the scale of our new reality slowly dawns on a denial-prone population more and more fields of endeavor are asking what they can do to address and manage changes as significant as the ones before us? A few academic societies have formed task forces designed to ask what a given discipline has to say about our changed climate, how must it practice differently in light of change and to be of use in a changed reality? Given historical archaeology’s natural interests in landscape, preservation, cultural resource management, and sustainability, and the unique challenges the field faces, the time is right for a historical-archaeology-specific discussion about what a changed climate means for archaeology and archaeologists.

Toward that end, SHA 2015 will have the first face-to-face meeting of an interest group dedicated to dealing with the many field-related issues emerging from a changed climate. The group will meet in the Madrona Room from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 10. Other similar interest groups and task forces have crafted white papers, outlined best practices, and sought out new avenues for scholarly inquiry—our meeting will help define how we best see our role and activity while hopefully starting a wider conversation about the role of archaeology in the Anthropocene. Please feel free to contact me or email me at plevy@usf.edu with your ideas and let me know if you are interested in participating in this discussion. See you in Seattle.


Collections-Based vs. Field-Based Research: A Need for Dialogue

By Julia A. King

Collections-based research is a form of archaeological excavation in its own right. Searching through the contents of boxes and old catalogs found deep in repositories is a process full of discoveries, as a group of us working in the Potomac River valley has learned over the last three years. Our purpose has been a reconsideration of colonialism as it was experienced in the lower Potomac and how that experience compares with places elsewhere, both within and beyond the Chesapeake. Through the reexamination of 35 archaeological collections recovered from sites ranging in date from 1500 through 1720, we have been able to develop narratives of interaction and encounter that are revealing just how much there is to learn from existing collections.

We could take such a regional focus only because we turned to existing collections; no single site or settlement could reveal this complex story. The collections we used were generated over a period of decades, beginning in the 1930s and 40s and continuing right on through to the present, each with its own history of creation. Some of the collections were generated by academic institutions, some by museums, some by volunteer organizations, and some by cultural resource management firms. At least one was generated by professionals generously volunteering to “rescue” a site that was slated for imminent destruction through a change in land use. As varied as these collections are, the comparative perspective our project required revealed relationships among these sites that otherwise would have gone unnoticed.

As the project winds down, there are observations that may be of use to people both using collections and generating them in the field.

Artifacts from sites used in the Colonial Encounters project

The first observation is that almost any collection is a good collection. For example (and not surprisingly), the collections we used that had been generated in the 1930s and 40s were problematic, but use them we did. These materials almost always lacked provenience information other than to the site, and, worse, artifacts we might have found useful had long ago been discarded, lost, or misplaced. Still, we included these collections anyway because, as problematic as they are, they are the only available datasets for some of the lower Potomac’s most important settlements. Our research results were better and stronger as a result even if the use of these collections was limited.

Recently generated collections (the 1980s on) also have their challenges. These collections have been created using a variety of methods. Some of the collections, for example, were the result of wide-area survey projects while others were generated through site-focused data recovery efforts. We anticipated that these different methods would require a careful consideration of how collections were compared and we proceeded accordingly. We had to carefully consider sample size (including not just the nature of the test units but screen size) and artifact density, variability, and richness before we could begin organizing assemblages for comparison. In some cases, rather than comparing artifact assemblages, we compared the narratives developed for each site. Not perfect, but not that bad either. And, the different recovery methods did have a bright side: wide-scale surveys provided a broader landscape perspective lacking in focused site excavations, and the different sets of data could be complementary.

The variability we observed in data collection strategies, however, does point to a need for dialogue about the ongoing generation of collections today. As more and more sites are excavated and their collections curated and made accessible, researchers are moving from considering a single site to considering a far broader context, as we are doing for the lower Potomac. Field practices and decisions that may work within the context of a single site (or landscape) may not support the kind of comparative research made possible by the increasing availability of other collections.

Perhaps the most troubling issue we observed is a disciplinary mindset (for want of a better phrase) which continues to foster the never-ending field season, resulting in un-cataloged or under-cataloged collections along with no site report. More materials – many more – are dug up than can be reasonably processed and reported, despite universal acknowledgment that the curation crisis remains in full swing. Some of these materials make it into repositories, others don’t. Not surprisingly, most of these materials come from sites with lots of artifacts, increasing the dataset for these types of sites while low density sites remain under-represented in the collections archive.

Also problematic is the variation evident in data collection strategies, not just from site to site but within sites. Excluding shovel tests, unit sizes varied widely in size (from 1.5-by-1.5-feet to 2-by-2-meters) and shape (from squares to rectangles), sometimes within sites. This can dramatically complicate spatial analysis. In a few cases, new grid systems were imposed at previously-tested sites, making the tracking of proveniences especially difficult.  In one case, screen size was switched mid-project, presumably to enhance artifact recovery but making intrasite comparison as challenging as intersite comparison.

The condition of field records was also disturbing: while many were detailed in the kinds of information they contained, not a few were woefully limited or incomplete (or altogether missing), with critical information left unrecorded.  In one particularly egregious example, linking strata to excavated deposits at one very important site may ultimately prove to be impossible because elevation data were simply not recorded.

No doubt most archaeologists can relate to the events that might lead to these problems. I struggle to get site reports completed in an environment where peer-reviewed publications and teaching evaluations are rewarded but site reports barely acknowledged. Sometimes new grid systems are necessary when benchmarks from earlier projects can’t be relocated. And, believe me, I know my volunteers and my students would rather dig and find stuff than wash. Finally, a lack of resources should never preclude efforts to “rescue” truly threatened sites.

Collections-based research – using existing collections to pose and answer scholarly questions – and field-based research – actively generating new collections to pose and answer questions – represent two approaches in the effort to create archaeological knowledge. Proponents of collections-based work decry the making of new collections as a perpetuation of the curation crisis. Their point is well-taken, but are they being heard? Is it realistic to think all digging must or should or will stop? Meanwhile, newly-generated assemblages become the collections of tomorrow. The cycle continues.

The collections-based Potomac River project does not offer a perfect solution, but it does suggest one way forward. Those who generate collections in the field should work with those who use and advocate collections-based research to forge a critical dialogue about methods, methodology, and the ethics of fieldwork. Sure, the ethical concerns of generating and using collections may not rival recent discussions concerning treasure salvors or reality stars on backhoes, but don’t let that banality obscure the issues at stake.  Collections are integral to both field- and collections-based research. By looking not just at the scholarly findings of collections-based research but the methods that resulted in the creation of those collections, we can resolve to dig smarter.  Dig less, catalog more. Create collections that will be usable and that will be comparable, now and in the future.

Acknowledgments

“Colonial Encounters: The Lower Potomac Valley at Contact, 1500-1720” was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities with additional support from the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory, the Colonial Dames of America Chapter I, and Mr. Philip J. Mudd.  Project participants include Gregory J. Brown, Laura J. Galke, Brad Hatch, Barbara J. Heath, Audrey J. Horning, Silas Hurry, Phil Levy, Mary Kate Mansius, Lauren McMillan, David Muraca, Dennis J. Pogue, Patricia Samford, Esther L. Rimer, and Scott M. Strickland. All of the datasets from this project along with interpretive papers will become available in early 2015 via the internet. The opinions in this blog post are my own.

The above is the inaugural blog post of a new series sponsored by the SHA Collections and Curation Committee. We will be inviting members who work with difference aspects of collections to blog about issues pertinent to collections management and use, as well as comment from their own perspective on the care and treatment of artifacts after they are removed from the ground. This follows on from the series of articles published in 2012-2014 in the SHA newsletter on similar themes. If you are sponsoring or participating in current projects incorporating collections-based components, we would welcome your suggestions and recommendations for blog posts. Please contact Sarah Platt at seplatt@syr.edu


Have You Ever Googled Yourself?: Online Personal Branding for Archaeologists

This is a guest post by William A. White, SHA Member, author, and PhD student at the University of Arizona.

I held down the button on my iPhone until I heard a quiet tone. I clearly enunciated a question: “Siri. Who is Bill White the archaeologist?” A robotic female voice replied: “Checking my sources.” A short pause. “Here’s what I found on the web for who is Bill White the archaeologist,” Siri replied.

With one hand, I scrolled down the list of information in Siri’s response on my phone while I was holding my son, Cyrus, with my other arm. “Daddy, that’s you,” my son said when he saw my picture in the query result. Looks like Siri found the correct Bill White, archaeologist.

It may seem like the height of vanity to query yourself using Siri—Apple, Inc.’s knowledge navigator that comes with every iPhone since the 4s. I mean, asking a robotic smartphone program to search the internet for information about yourself seems really similar to when the evil queen in Snow White asks a mirror on the wall, “Who is the fairest one of all?”

In reality, it is very important to know what kind of things the internet is saying about you. Online search engine queries are a good way to discover what information exists about you on the internet. When you ask about yourself on Siri or Google, what do you see? Your contributions to a local community archaeology project, your profile on the Department of Anthropology’s webpage, or your latest political rant on Facebook? Or something worse?

This summer, I attended a webinar attended titled “How to Build Your Personal Brand Online”. The webinar was sponsored by the University of Arizona’s Human Resources Division and was led by two amazingly experienced social media advisers: Christine Hoekenga and Jaynelle Ramon. Hoekenga is a freelance writer and the Social Media Coordinator for the University of Arizona’s Office of the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences. She’s been published in High Country News and Technology Review and is an online content strategist (Learn more on her personal website http://christinehoekenga.blogspot.com/). Ramon is the Web Content and Social Media manager for the UA Alumni Association. She is also the writer and copy editor for Arizona Alumni Magazine. This webinar was a great introduction to online persona management for folks that may not realize how important this is for career development and promotion.

Controlling your online persona is an increasingly important element to job searching and employment in all industries. Recent polls cited by Hoekenga and Ramon revealed:

  • At least 39% of companies use social network sites to research job candidates,
  • 43% of hiring managers who researched candidates via social media saw something that caused them not to hire a candidate (Facebook posts, anyone?),
  • Surprisingly, only 19% saw something that caused them to hire a candidate; however,
  • 56% of hiring managers are more impressed by candidates that have personal websites, while only 7% of job seekers have their own site.

These are the statistics for a number of industries. I do not believe these numbers accurately reflect the situation in archaeology because our field is still very tight knit and many archaeology jobs are still filled based on personal recommendations from friends and colleagues. However, I will admit the archaeology job market is competitive and will only get more competitive in the future. In a jobs workshop I attended at the 2014 Society for American Archaeology Conference in Austin, I learned that universities in the United States grant about 8,300 anthropology B.A.s, 1,000 M.A.s, and 440 PhDs. Not all of these folks will go into archaeology, but it gives you an idea of the sheer quantity of degrees granted every year. At SAA2014, I also learned that top-tier universities get between 40 and 50 applications for every anthropology professor position. Other universities get well over 100 applicants for each position.

These numbers tell me anyone that wants to work in archaeology had better use everything in their power to become well-known and well-connected long before they think about starting their job search. Conducting some extensive personal branding is one way to make yourself known and network extensively with other archaeologists.

Personal Branding for Archaeologists

This webinar inspired me to create a blog post series called Personal Branding for Archaeologists on the Succinct Research Blog. In a series of seven blog posts, I covered a number of personal branding techniques archaeologists can use to increase their visibility on the internet, connect with other archaeologists and potential employers, and demonstrate their personal experience and expertise. I also created an eBook called “Social Media Strategy for Archaeology Job Seekers” that outlines three strategies archaeologists can use to brand themselves as professional archaeologists.

I have complied the text from the blog posts and the social media guide into one document that is available for download by clicking Personal Branding For Archaeologists.

The body of this eBook has seven main parts:

Part I: Why Should Archaeologists Care About Branding— You need to care about what Google tells potential employers because they are going to look you up on the internet before they even think about hiring you. You need to make sure they only see good things. Personal branding allows you to highlight your skills, knowledge, and abilities in a positive site and differentiates you from the other 10,000 recent anthropology graduates.

Part II: Low-Hanging Fruit: LinkedIn— Harnessing the search engine optimization (SEO) power of LinkedIn is the easiest way to brand yourself as a professional archaeologist. LinkedIn is also a great place to connect with other archaeologists.

Part III: Listen to the Twitter of Little Birds— Contribute to conversations about archaeology with archaeologists around the world via Twitter. Use this platform to let the world know your perspectives and connect with archaeology communities of practice.

Part IV: Control the Message: Build your Own Website— Building your own website allows you to create an online portfolio. Projects and accomplishments are the new resume. Use a website to demonstrate your skills to the rest of the world.

Part V: Blogging your Way to Infamy— A blog allows you to address relevant questions in our field using your own voice. Blogging has the potential to replace the working papers of old and allows others to comment on your ideas and theories. It is also a great way to get published.

Part VI: If a Picture Says 1,000 Words, What Does a Video Do?— Archaeology is a very visual field. Use photo- and video-based social media to spread the word about your work and life. This is also another way to connect with other archaeologists.

Part VII: Crafting a Social Media Campaign— Online personal branding can be a daunting, time-intensive project but it doesn’t have to be. With the right planning and strategy, you can craft your image as a professional archaeologist in a few hours each week.

I have been working on my online personal brand for a couple years now and still have not gotten my name in the top 10 Google search results. There are simply too many politicians, former athletes, and neo-Nazis with that same name for me to compete with. However, a lot of good things about me come up if you Google “Bill White archaeologist”. That’s exactly how I want it to be.

Online personal branding is important for all archaeologists, but it is especially important for early careerists and archaeology students. Nobody in archaeology knows who you are in the beginning— before you’ve published a laundry list of articles, book chapters, and reports. You can paint a positive picture of yourself as an archaeology professional if you take advantage of the interconnectivity of the internet. You can also use the internet to connect with a vast network of archaeology professors, cultural resource management specialists, and government archaeologists around the world. Most importantly, you need to act as soon as possible to make sure the search engines are showing the world what you want them to see: your finest accomplishments and best achievements.

About the Author

Bill White, III is an archaeologist, author, PhD student at the University of Arizona, and the creator of the River Street Digital History Project. He is also the Research Publications Director at Succinct Research— a company dedicated to helping cultural resource management professionals learn what they need to forge fruitful careers.


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