Wrecks in the Sand: The Potential Relationship Between Beached Shipwrecks and Climate Change

Jennifer E. Jones, PhD

East Carolina University

The archaeological remains of ships in the beach zone are part of a complex and dynamic system, being periodically exposed and reburied, they vary between being both visible and frequently forgotten features of the physical and cultural coastal landscape. These limited and nonrenewable resources play an important informational role as tangible pieces of maritime heritage that also document dynamic coastal processes. Shipwreck remains in the beach zone are highly susceptible to instability within the landscape. This instability in turn, affects decisions regarding importance and management strategies. The challenges to certain management strategies may result in these resources being damaged, ignored or forgotten, leading to a potential loss of pertinent social, economic, and physical information. Although little can be done to prevent natural coastal processes, a better understanding of them allows for their mitigation and management. Elements of the beach environment are common to all sites, but regional and local environmental conditions dictate certain challenges to management and the stability of the beached wreck resource. Sand movement, extreme storms, shoreline change (e.g. accretion and/or erosion), and the physical effects of climate change (e.g. sea level rise) may present both challenges and advantages to protection the beached wreck resource.

Ada K. Damon shipwreck on Crane Beach, Ipswich, MA; photo-Jones 2015

With the continued threat of sea level rise as a major component of climate change, many managing entities are focusing on sea level rise and climate change in their management plans, especially as environmental changes are already being seen in national parks and seashores. For example, climate change is considered “probably the biggest over-arching management issue that faces [Assateague National Seashore] with changing conditions” (Jones 2017). Although “steeped in politics” (Jones 2017) and varying perceptions of its occurrence, some managers see that subject of climate change as an opportunity to address the vulnerability of coastal cultural resources such as beached shipwrecks and get multi-agency support for monitoring and protection (Jones 2017). This requires a balance between the protection of the resources and their use, as well as the well-being of the public. In other words,

“…How are we going to get our visitors, our stakeholders to really appreciate and care about what’s happening on [barrier islands like] Assateague when other coastal communities…[are] going to be facing real issues with personal property and rising waters and coastal storms? Are people still going to care about these undeveloped natural areas [or cultural resources] along the coastline? I guess in the same breath, how can we make these [resources] contribute to the resiliency of those developed areas? We tend to think if we have a healthy barrier island system, we’re providing an ecosystem service or function as a protective barrier to the mainland communities. In the scenario of sea level rise and global climate change; how can we continue to increase the resiliency that we’re providing?” (Jones 2017)

Howard W. Middleton Shipwreck on Higgins Beach, ME; photo by Jones 2015

The same can be considered of the cultural resources and its importance and maintenance in the cultural resiliency of coastal communities. If and when climate change and sea level rise continues to occur: 

“…more and more we will see circumstances where we need to step in. Now what do you do? I think in most cases you have to look very carefully at what has been exposed, and what you do with it. In some cases, if it’s part of a regular program in which it’s monitored and….it has shifted a mile or half mile, then that information—tagging it, plotting it—helps better understand the site formation processes in that environment. It also gives us a sense of time if we continue to look at these, let’s say over the next 100 years, you can say this is what happened and from that draw inferences. In other places where [you] do an excavation in time…does it naturally follow, given the way we think it all works, that a 1600s wreck [for example] on the beach has gone, will be completely gone? Or would the archaeological survival, not just of the heavy stuff that sank further down, but more of the buoyant material floating somewhere in a matrix of sand and water? I think that’s the key. So consistently going out, checking, monitoring, responding to these things is important, but then making some decisions on what we’ve learned” (I-31).

“Can we learn from the beached shipwrecks as indicators of climate change? If we are finding more beached shipwrecks, is it because people are paying more attention or is it because physical processes (e.g. storm cycles, shoreline change, sea level rise) are changing (I-31)? In the end, nature is in change. Shipwreck sites are going to be exposed on beaches. They are going to break up in part. They’re going to shift around and move; that’s part of it, that’s part of the process. And if you can track it, monitor it, its’ not unlike in some ways…tagging of marine life…So to that end, I think the biggest impact then comes when people interfere with those processes” (Jones 2017). 

BEFORE: Ponte Vedra Shrimp boat on Ponte Vedra Beach, FL; photo by Jones July 2016

AFTER: Ponte Vedra Beach, FL; photo by Miller 2016 October 2016, post Hurricane Matthew

The resource’s link to climate change and shoreline change was also expressed by several of the managers, and the resource’s ability to provide environmental and physical information was becoming more important in data collection and management decisions. Along those lines, climate change is a growing concern for managers as well, in terms of both its effect on the resource and perceptions of its occurrence along the eastern seaboard. Although climate change denial is of regulatory concern for some managers, physical changes in shoreline and exposure of the resource are major considerations for effect on resource stability and how the resource can and will be managed as changes continue to occur. Most of the managers work on an ad hoc or case by case process, even within a larger regulatory framework. While some state and federal entities are preparing extensive plans for climate change (e.g. Maryland), most entities are still focused on a reactionary basis to issues of change and stability. 

Additionally, as climate change continues to present effects along the coasts, indications of such change are essential to understanding these effects (e.g. shoreline shifts, extreme storms). As research begins to pick up speed looking at climate change and its relationship to archaeological resources, specifically terrestrial—and more recently underwater—coastal archaeological features must be added to this discussion. As embedded features within the coastal landscape, beached shipwrecks stand to contribute to the discussion on climate change. These resources, if monitored and documented over time, can expose both short- and long-term fluctuations in beach and dune systems, storm cycles, and other coastal processes. Along those lines, potential research into the effect of the beached shipwreck on the stability of the landscape is warranted. For example, a recent discovery on Reedy Island, Delaware shows probable use of a beached wreck as a breakwater on the island (Mastone 2017, pers. Comm). Along with the considered use of beached wrecks in the dunes during the WPA/CCC era in North Carolina, these we as well as other examples show the potential for examining the effects of the resource on providing stability to the beach and dune systems.

Jones, J.E.

2017   On a sea of sand : a comparative analysis of the challenges to beached wreck site stability and management. Doctoral dissertation, Coastal Resources Management, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.


New Thematic Collection – Excavating ‘The Garden of the North’: Five Centuries of Material and Social Change in Western Massachusetts

The upcoming Thematic Collection of Historical Archaeology (53:3) takes Western Massachusetts as an archaeological research subject, a source of poetic inspiration and ideological struggle, and a locale of critical investigation. In the 19th century, the region was aesthetically re-cast as a romantic “garden of the north” by White Euro-American writers and visitors. The emotional color of that depiction remains to this day, even if the political-economy of the region has shifted away from agriculture and nascent industrialization towards cultural production in the form of educational institutions, museums, and tourist destinations. By focusing on the mechanisms of the deployment of social power, particularly along lines of race, class, gender, and state-formation, the articles in this issue locate this romanticism as a landscape with a much longer and more complicated social history.
The articles are also a testament to the University of Massachusetts Department of Anthropology’s long-standing research investment in locally-based Historical Archaeology. For over 30 years, UMass anthropology has been training graduate and undergraduate students, partnering with local historical societies and museums, and working alongside Algonkian, African-American, and allied partners to enrich, complicate and disseminate the story of the region. All of this work has contributed to Historical Archaeology’s projects of materially investigating the past, democratizing historical narratives, and linking the social relations of the past and the present, to build a better future.
This thematic collection was edited by Quentin Lewis, Linda Ziegenbein, and Robert Paynter. The authors contributing to his volume and the titles of their articles are as follows:
Robert Paynter (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), Linda Ziegenbein (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), and Quentin Lewis (Yager Museum of Art & Culture, Hartwick College)
Excavating ‘The Garden of the North’: Five Centuries of Material and Social Change in Western Massachusetts: An Introduction
Siobhan Hart (Skidmore College) and Katherine Dillon (Binghamton University)
Entangled Things and Deposits in Early Colonial Native New England
Quentin Lewis
The Materiality of Fishing, Property, and Labor in Western Massachusetts
Anthony Martin (Worcester State University)
Haven to the East, Haven to the North: Great Barrington and Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Robert Paynter and Whitney Battle-Baptiste (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) 
“Contexts of Resistance in African American Western Massachusetts: A View from the W. E. B. Du Bois Homesite in Great Barrington, MA”
Linda Ziegenbein
The Sensory Landscape of the Mid-Nineteenth-Century Connecticut River Valley
Deborah Rotman (University of Notre Dame)
Domestic Ideals and Lived Realities: Gendered Social Relations at the Moors House, Deerfield, Massachusetts, 1848–1882
Alan Swedlund (University of Massachusetts) and Katie Kirakosian (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
“Glass Cabinets and Little Black Boxes: The Collections of H.H. Wilder and the Curious Case of his Human Hair Samples”
Elizabeth Harlow (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
Gendered Landscapes: Women, Materiality, and Historical Memory in Deerfield, Massachusetts
Stephen Silliman (University of Massachusetts, Boston)
A View from the East: Reflections on Historical Archaeology in Western Massachusetts

Image: The Oxbow, View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm The Oxbow by Thomas Cole


Archaeologists Working with High School Students

By Patricia Samford, Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory, Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum

Several years ago, I told a colleague that I was working with a group of high school students, cataloging and writing up a mid-19th century privy assemblage, excavated forty years ago in Baltimore. She was aghast, insisting that the students would surely screw something up and asking why I would even consider working with students that young. I politely reminded her that the freshmen enrolled in her field school were only a year or two older than my students – so I didn’t really see any great difference in what we were doing. In fact, when students are interested and engaged, working closely with professional archaeologists, there is no more reason to worry about the accuracy of their work than there is with college students. High school teachers are often looking for these types of hands-on, real world learning activities for their students. Finding a willing and flexible school educator and committing the time to work with students can yield great results for everyone.

Figure 1. Huntingtown High School students getting a first look at the artifacts they will be studying during the school year.

For the last seven years, archaeologists and educators at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, Maryland’s State Museum of Archaeology, have been working with the Calvert County Public School system to provide archaeological opportunities for students at one of the county’s high schools. The park is home to Maryland’s archaeological curation facility—the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory—and, as such, is easily able to offer students the opportunity to work with an artifact collection each year. The site we have been focusing on – the Federal Reserve Site (18BC27)—encompassed a full city block in Baltimore and the 1980 excavation uncovered the subsurface remains of approximately fifty privies and row house cellars. Each year, the lab’s archaeologists choose a discrete assemblage—usually a privy with two or three boxes of artifacts—for the students to work with.

Figure 2. A collaborative mending project on a mid-19th century North American stoneware spittoon.

Throughout the course of the year, students work weekly with museum staff to catalog, mend and research the assemblage’s artifacts. As the capstones to their project, the students give a public presentation on their work, as well as plan and create a small exhibit for the public library and their school. During the process of analyzing an artifact assemblage from start to finish, the students gain valuable skills in writing, research, teamwork and public speaking. The Maryland Archaeological Laboratory benefits from having an understudied archaeological assemblage cataloged and analyzed.

Of course, conducting a program of this type is not without its challenges and park staff have learned over the course of the last seven years how to create an environment that facilitates learning and success. The lessons below relate generally to collections-based projects like those we have been conducting with the students at Huntingtown High School, but could be applied to fieldwork-based projects as well. Some of the lessons we have learned include:

  • Don’t assume the students will have any background knowledge at all about archaeology, site formation processes or how to interpret artifact data. Be prepared to have the “no, archaeology is not about dinosaurs” talk and use lots of visuals to help students understand how archaeologists work.
  • If possible, take a visit to an active archaeological site or an archaeological laboratory to see work in process. Visits like this will help students understand better the processes involved with archaeology.
  • Limit the size of the student group based on the number of staff you have working with the students. A ratio of one staff to three or four students worked well for us.
  • We learned to pare back on our original overall project goals – for example, it was very quickly became apparent that the time constraints posed by the school year and MAC Lab staff availability made it unrealistic to expect the students to write a technical report on their feature.
  • Activities that involve working with the actual objects are going to be more popular and engaging than tasks that involve writing or researching. Find ways to make these less hands-on tasks more enticing by relating them to people from the past. Our students were particularly interested in doing research with online census data and with newspapers.
  • Closely monitor research activities – kids will want to do all research on their phones and often choose sources that are unreliable.
  • Build in more time than you think you need for tasks—at least twice as much as you would for a beginning professional. Things like standardized testing and the lack of focus during the pre-holiday periods mean that productivity declines (for everyone!).
  • An important component of our project was incorporating ways to improve writing and public presentation skills. Be ready to offer constructive criticism in a supportive environment.
  • Realize that you are not going to get as much focus the last month of school as you have the remainder of the year and plan accordingly.

Figure 3. Students proudly showing off their capstone project: an exhibit in the local public library, appropriately named “One Man’s Privy…Is Another’s Class Project”.

Sometimes, as I leave a stack of work towering on my desk as I depart for the journey to the school, I wonder why the lab got involved in a project that demands so much of our time and energy. But, when I reach the school, and see the enthusiasm with which the students approach this project, I know that we have made the right decision. And, the students’ enthusiasm always reminds me why I got into archaeology in the first place—that excitement that we feel when we engage with the past. Two years ago, the students got so interested in the family whose trash we were studying that they used Ancestry.com to track down and contact living descendants to tell them about their project. And what makes the past come alive more than that?

Branding, Buy-in, and Archaeology Partnerships

By John P. McCarthy, RPA

Delaware State Parks

In 2014 as a new employee of Delaware State Parks, I was charged with reactivating the Time Traveler volunteer archaeology program (https://destateparks.com/Programs/TimeTravelers). I knew from the outset that rebooting a program that had been idle for at least a decade was not something I could do by myself. I needed to develop a brand for the program, get buy-in within my agency, and find partners with whom I could develop relationships that would leverage the meager resources available to me. I offer my experiences as a case study in building public archaeology partnerships.

Branding and Mission

One initial thought I had was that Time Travelers should not simply be about archaeology, but should address cultural heritage writ large. What I came up with was a two-pronged approach. While Time Travelers would be reestablished as a volunteer program for hands-on archaeology and other cultural heritage-related activities, it would also be a branding effort for cultural heritage-themed programs and events in the parks. This would give cultural heritage programs a unified identity and connect those programs to hands-on, participatory opportunities.

Part of the branding effort was development of a visual identity for the program. I worked with our Creative Services group in developing a new Time Travelers logo that reinforced the connection to State Parks that had been missing in the logo created in the mid 1990s.

Time Traveler Logo (courtesy McCarthy 2019)

Internal Buy-In

Delaware State Parks is a 67-year old organization managing over 20 parks, preserves, and natural areas totaling about 400,000 acres. Like most organizations, there are many fiefdoms, and turf is carefully guarded, sometimes extremely carefully guarded. Accordingly, I recognized that internal partnerships were going to be very important, and my boss and I met with the Chief of Interpretation and with Chief of Volunteer and Community Involvement as soon as I had some notion of what I wanted to do with the Time Traveler program.

In these meetings, my boss stressed that revival of the Time Traveler program was a priority that upper management had endorsed when filling my position. To the interpretive program I pitched the idea of Time Travelers as a branding for public outreach/education events and activities in State Parks with a cultural heritage focus. With the hope that such activities and events would serve as a recruitment gateway for potential volunteers, I committed to doing public talks and other programs on a regular basis. While there is a Chief of Interpretation in State Parks’ central office, interpretive programming in the parks is initiated and scheduled by Interpretive Managers and staff in each park. I was invited to introduce myself and pitch the Time Traveler concept at quarterly meetings of the interpretive staff, and I found enthusiastic supporters in several parks with whom I developed presentations for the general public and summer day-camps. Positive responses from the public to the programs developed with those initial contacts has led to interest from other park units and the development of additional programs. I’ve also reached out to local historical societies and metal-detector clubs and have presented programs to their members, gaining a few new potential volunteers each time I speak.

Multiple generations of Time Travelers (courtesy McCarthy 2019)

Our chief of volunteer programs immediately embraced the concept and paid for the printing of 2,500 logo stickers and 100 embroidered patches out of his budget. He recently paid for a second order of sticker and patches. He also worked with me to develop a position description for archaeology volunteers and an online application form, integrated with the systems he had previously developed.

Time Travelers working at the Bell House (courtesy McCarthy 2019)

Outside Partnerships

Looking outside the agency, I first reached-out to the Archaeological Society of Delaware (ASD) who had been running a successful excavation at a 17th-century historical site near Rehoboth Beach for several years. In exchange for access to their emailing list of over 100 members, I sold my soul and became the new treasurer of the ASD, a position that I suspect I may end up holding for life. In our first Time Traveler field projects veteran ASD members made up most of the teams, but not exclusively so, and the experienced hands were paired with those having little to no experience. I continue to have a close relationship with the ASD, and the ASD has helped staff and fund a number of events and activities.

Delaware has two state-recognized Native American groups: the Nanticoke Indian Association and Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware. There are no federally-recognized tribes resident in the state. I reached out to both tribes initially via email, and when that was not successful with the Nanticoke, via telephone. While I was easily able to make contact with the leadership of the Lenape and meet with them, attempts to contact the leadership of the Nanticoke have proven more difficult and will apparently require face-to-face introduction by someone known to and trusted by the Tribe. This has yet to happen, but I think I have found someone willing and able to make that introduction.

My initial goal in contacting the tribes was to explore their attitudes toward archaeology and interest in potential research projects. The Lenape’s Chief Dennis Coker was cautious positive in his reaction, having had in the past both positive and negative experiences with professional archaeologists, but our conversations were positive overall and lead to a partnership among ASD, the tribe, and State Parks to put on a festival event called Native Ways. I began to meet regularly with the Lenape Tribe’s Outreach Committee, a group run by respected female members of the Tribe, and they are now enthusiastic in their support for archaeology.

The Native Ways event was held in the Fall of 2016 and 2017, presenting native spirituality, foodways, and technologies presenters at stations where the public could interact with the presenter and try their hand at many skills, including cordage making and atlatl-assisted spear throwing. The 2017 event grew to two days with good public attendance. Changes in staffing at the park where the event was held, however, resulted in the event not being able to be held since, but we are planning shorter programs focused on particular craft activities, such as pottery-making, and I have presented a talk on regional prehistory as part of each year’s Lenape Heritage Month (September) for the last four years.


In reviving the Time Traveler volunteer program, I found it useful to redefine its mission and the brand of the program. It was also vital to get internal buy-in for my program objectives and develop external partnerships with groups with whom my program shares a similar mission and goals. The success of such relationships is in addressing some need of all those involved, but can draw on the resources of each to build capacity and achieve outcomes that would be otherwise impossible.

How to Publish Your First Journal Article

By Lydia Wilson Marshall

Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, DePauw University

While knee-deep in your dissertation, it’s easy to let publishing plans fall by the wayside. You might think, “How can I possibly do one more thing?” or “Let me finish my degree first and I’ll worry about the rest later.” However, students who receive a Ph.D. without any peer-reviewed publications are at a considerable disadvantage. The academic job market in archaeology is both generally dismal and ultra competitive. Now more than ever, publishing is an essential career move before the degree is in your pocket. Here’s the good news: writing an archaeology article and moving it through peer review to publication in a journal can be a highly rewarding process, both personally and professionally. Here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Make sure you have something to say.

A journal article is different from many papers you may have written in graduate school in that it must include original research. An excellent seminar paper synthesizing several secondary sources is not the same as an academic journal article. Of course, neither can an article accommodate the entirety of your dissertation’s data and analysis. Consider if your master’s thesis could be transformed into an article or if there is a subset of data from your dissertation that might work. Perhaps you collaborated on a project with your graduate advisor; he or she might be amenable to letting you publish your interpretation of a subset of the data. Or maybe you completed a small research project as part of one of your graduate courses. Perhaps you have worked with archaeological collections at your institution or a nearby institution.

This step to the publication process is the most foundational: you must have something new to say.

  1. Select your target journal thoughtfully.

Where you choose to submit your article for review will have consequences for the likelihood of publication, the quality of the feedback you receive from reviewers, and how favorably colleagues and potential employers view the publication.

Be wary of predatory publishers. An invitation from a predatory publisher is likely to end up in your email inbox before you graduate and more of them will keep coming the more you publish legitimately. The hallmarks of a predatory journal are an upfront publishing fee charged to authors (often ostensibly to support the journal’s open access format) and a shoddy or sham peer-review process. A publication with a predatory publisher is worse for one’s academic credentials than no publication at all; at best, it signals an author’s naivety and at worst his or her desperation and complicity with the journal’s pay-for-play tactics. Of course, not every invitation from a journal that comes into your inbox is necessarily from a predatory publication.

The best advice to avoid illegitimate journals is to be on your guard and carefully research any journals that contact you.

Consider fit. When choosing where to submit your article, visit each journal’s website and read its stated mission and focus. Then, peruse recently published issues to get a feel for whether your article might fit or not. Most of all, you should think broadly. Beyond Historical Archaeology and International Journal of Historical Archaeology, there are many other journals publishing historical archaeological research that are also well respected and maintain a robust peer review process. These journals often have more specific missions or foci, so it’s important to determine whether your research fits. Does your research involve collaboration with community stakeholders? Consider the Journal of Community Archaeology and Heritage. Does your research focus on social relationships and use social theory? The Journal of Social Archaeology might be a good fit. Some journals center their attention on specific research topics like the Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage or the Journal of Conflict Archaeology. Others focus on methodology, such as Ethnoarchaeology. Some history journals also publish historical archaeological research, though you should realize that historians bring their own disciplinary conventions and expectations to the review process.

Above all, don’t limit yourself to considering just one or two possible target journals. So long as they are associated with reputable publishers, don’t discount smaller or more recently founded journals. Many of these journals have editors experienced in working closely with new authors to guide them through the review, revision, and publication process.

  1. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot.

Pay attention to journal style and submission guidelines. Editors may view an article submission that does not follow journal-specific style rules as lacking in care or effort. Also, proofread carefully for grammar and citation errors. Sloppy writing and citations annoy reviewers because they make it harder to understand the ideas in your article. These low-level errors also make it easier to dismiss your work since reviewers will reasonable assume that laxity in writing indicates a broader carelessness in your research and interpretation.

  1. Appreciate your reviewers.

Before you begin publishing, it’s easy to imagine peer reviewers as a faceless cabal of scholars who delight in cataloguing your errors and expounding on your shortcomings. In fact, as I have recognized more and more through my editorial work at the Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage, peer reviewers are highly generous. They share their expertise and time for your benefit. Even when a peer review is negative, try to recognize the effort that it represents on the part of the reviewer. Your reviewers made time for you. Doing peer reviews counts very little toward promotion or tenure and so offers scant benefit to your reviewers themselves. Be grateful for your reviewers, even when they hurt your feelings.

To make the most of peer feedback, take a few days to digest your reviews and to get over any defensiveness. Recognize that your reviewers are trying to help you. Assume their goodwill and approach their suggestions and comments with as much impartiality as you can muster. If you feel the reviewer mischaracterized your work, consider why your ideas were hard to understand and try to clarify them. When revising, pay particular attention to any observations or suggestions made by multiple reviewers. Also, remember that reviewers can be wrong. You may, for example, receive contradictory feedback from different reviewers or you may vehemently disagree with a suggested revision. If this is the case and your article is accepting pending revision, many journal editors will understand if you explain why you chose not to complete a specific suggested revision so long as it is clear you are not simply rejecting all critical feedback.

Above all, recognize that peer review is a learning process that can benefit you rather than simply a litmus test.

  1. Accept failure as part of academic life.

If you stay in academia, you will fail over and over. We all do. You will fail in grants, in the classroom, and in publications. Indeed, most of my professional successes have been built on multiple failures. The first article I submitted to peer review was rejected outright. In summing up the reviewers’ responses, the journal editor remarked, “I wish I could be more positive.” The second article I submitted to a journal had to be revised and resubmitted before its eventual publication. While these failures were painful at the time, I learned from them, and they made my eventual publications stronger.

  1. Commit to keeping the conversation open.

Once an article has been accepted through peer review, the author typically has to choose between transferring the copyright to the publisher and paying a fee to publish open access. Open access fees, which can run to a few thousand dollars, are far out of reach for most graduate students. However, you should know there is a third way. Even publishing behemoths like Springer and Taylor & Francis have what is called a “green open access” or “self-archiving” policy. What this means is that when you transfer copyright to the publisher, you still retain the rights to a post-peer review version of your accepted article prior to its copyediting and typesetting by the journal. You can post this version of your article in your university’s institutional repository online after an embargo period set by the publisher, typically one year. Doing so helps scholars and students worldwide benefit and learn from your research. For assistance with this process, I have found university librarians to be exceptionally helpful.

  1. Recognize your own value.

Publishing your research not only benefits you but also the broader field of historical archaeology. Publish not only for yourself but also for your colleagues. Don’t underestimate the value of what you have to say and contribute.


Caught in a Bad Romance

By Tristan Harrenstein, Public Archaeology Coordinator, Florida Public Archaeology Network

Talk, talk speaker matey, work it move, that partner’s lazy

Not all interpretation is worth your time.

Interpretation itself is, of course, a vital part of archaeology as it builds support for preservation and it passes on those untold stories that we are uncovering, which is particularly important to descendant communities. However, sometimes the effort is simply not worth the output. Sometimes we are better off not doing the interpretation.

Now, do not use this to make excuses. This does not mean that kids are not worth our time, that we do not have to do something that takes us out of our comfort zone, or that a program which goes sour is not worth putting effort into.

However, do enough interpretation and sooner or later you will have someone take advantage of you. This can be a teacher who uses you as nothing more than a copyright free movie to entertain their class while they grade papers, an organization who dumps their responsibility on you, or an event that clearly does not care if you are actually present. Being overburdened is less a question of convenience, and more a question of whether or not our time is better spent elsewhere. What are the chances of having any sort of impact in a class that is out of control, or when nobody shows up because the host could not be bothered to advertise?

This is an issue that the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN) has been dealing with since it was founded over a decade ago. When our organization was new, our approach was to take on anything and everything. This was perhaps a necessary strategy at the early stages as we were figuring out who we were and building contacts. Unfortunately, the result was certain abuses from some “partners” and an overworked, over stressed staff. I know we are not alone in this experience.

Opportunities for public outreach are far too numerous to justify this, at least in the long run. Other classrooms, schools, after school programs, libraries, home school groups, historical societies, parks, senior centers, and the list of potential audiences goes on. If a project partner’s actions or inaction disrupts our message then we do not have to work with them. There is always someone else who will welcome a program.

Sometimes this is an easy decision to make. The behavior is so egregious that returning sounds preposterous. When a teacher leaves the classroom, or when the promised single classroom of 20 kids inflates to 500, our best option is to leave right then and there. Many times, though, the decision is not so clear cut. Perhaps their involvement is just a little lacking, or perhaps, there is a real limit to how much they can do.

To the latter issue, we must tailor our expectations. We simply cannot demand as much from a rural museum run by five volunteers as we should from a state-run museum. When the involvement is there but not to the degree we would wish for, we need to weigh patience against time invested. If reasonable, the best thing we can do is simply let them know (as gently but directly as possible) what we want to see for future programs.

We will have to use our discretion when deciding where exactly these cutoffs should lie and perhaps must rely upon time and experience for refinement. Informing a partner that we do not intend to work with them again is very uncomfortable but our time and energy is valuable and we should seek out those who understand this. There is always a new audience.

New Thematic Collection on “Disrupted Identities: Colonialism, Personhood, and Frontier Forts”

Post prepared by Mark Axel Tveskov, Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology

The forthcoming issue of Historical Archaeology [Vol 53(1)] includes a thematic collection dedicated to the archaeological reading of frontier fortifications, one of our most enduring signifiers of settler colonialism. The authors consider the role of military, colonial, or trade fortifications and their imposing materiality in the innovation, negotiation, retrenchment, and disruption of identity over the centuries of North American settler colonialism. The papers conceptualize colonial settings as liminal and ambiguous spaces where, despite the unequal power dynamics at play, cultural practices and social arrangements were highly volatile. At the same time, any given fortification, including those considered by the various authors, was used in a particular geographic, cultural, and temporal moment that conditioned how identity, class structure, labor practice, and ideology were disrupted, negotiated, and often normalized.  

The collection includes case studies drawn from across two centuries of colonialism in North America.  The focus varies, ranging from comparative studies of particular faunal and artifact assemblages, the spatial analysis of domestic and architectural features, to the innovative use of remote sensing data.  We are particularly honored that the volume concludes with a discussant paper by Kent Lightfoot, whose scholarship has inspired so many of us to look at colonialism as a center rather than a margin. Mark Axel Tveskov and Chelsea Rose serve as guest editors for these papers, which include:

Tveskov, Mark Axel and Chelsea Rose, Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology

Disrupted Identities and Frontier Forts: Enlisted Men and Officers at Fort Lane, Oregon Territory, 1853-1856


Nassaney, Michael S., Western Michigan University

Cultural Identity and Materiality at French Fort St. Joseph (20BE23), Niles, Michigan


Cobb, Charlie, Florida Museum of Natural History

Flat Ontologies, Cosmopolitanism, and Space at Carolina Forts


Emily Taber, Douglas C. Wilson, Robert Cromwell, Katie Wynia, and Alice Knowles,

Transfer-Printed Gastroliths: Fowl-ingested Artifacts and Identity at Fort Vancouver’s Village.


Eichelberger, Justin E., Oregon State University

Colonial Identities of U.S. Army Commissioned Officers: The Negotiation of Class and Rank at Fort Yamhill and Fort Hoskins, Oregon, 1856-1866


Wilkie, Laurie A., University of California, Berkeley

At Freedom’s Borderland: The Black Regulars and Masculinity at Fort Davis, Texas


Eichner, Katrina C., University of California, Berkeley

Frontier Intermediaries: Army Laundresses at Fort Davis, Texas


Arnott, Sigrid, Sigrid Arnott Consulting, LLC and David Maki, Archaeo-Physics, LLC

Forts on Burial Mounds: Interlocked Landscapes of Mourning and Colonialism at the Dakota-Settler Frontier, 1860-1876


Lightfoot, Kent, University of California, Berkeley

Frontier Forts: Colonialism and the Construction of Dynamic Identities in North America

Images: (L) Fort Lane drawn in 1855 by the commanding officer; (R) the Fort Lane site today from the same view.

There is Power in Numbers: If Archaeologists Don’t Meet with Elected Officials, Someone Else Will!

Barbara Clark, Northwest Region Director, Florida Public Archaeology Network

As an archaeologist, the idea of walking the halls of your state capitol to speak with legislators and their staff might be horrifying. I get it. We are natural introverts who prefer the comforts of our labs, a good book, or the isolation of conducting fieldwork in the woods. We did not get into archaeology so that we could “play politics.” However, we cannot avoid politics either. Everything is political, as unfortunate as that may seem. The fact is that if we are not educating our elected officials about the importance of archaeological protection, you can guarantee someone looking to weaken those protections is meeting with them. As uncomfortable as it may be, we have to learn to occasionally swap the field clothes for a suit and parade ourselves to the capitol building to meet with legislators.

Field Trip Group at the Florida Capitol on Archaeology Day
Field Trip Group at the Florida Capitol on Archaeology Day

The good news is that there is comfort and safety in numbers. We may be introverts, but we feel comfortable around our own kind. So bring a friend, or a few! A few years ago some of my colleagues

and I realized this and wanted to bring more of our archaeology friends to the capitol. We planned an event called Archaeology Day at the Capitol and invited fellow archaeologists from around the state. Learning the ins and outs of how to get permission to have an event at the capitol was an adventure, but it really was not as daunting as I imagined. The event went so well that we have made it an annual event! This year we will be having our third Archaeology Day at the Capitol. Each year we learn how to make it better and more efficient.

In 2018, I asked each participant to fill out a survey so that I could get ideas on what they wanted the event to look like. We used that feedback to plan this year’s capitol event. Starting the event from scratch has given us an opportunity to turn it into whatever we want it to be. It is my dream to have an Archaeology Day at every state capitol. If you are interested in collaborating, please contact me! I would be delighted to help you establish a similar event at your state capitol.

Display at Archaeology Day at the Capitol

Display at Archaeology Day at the Capitol

That being said, we cannot wait until something happens to react. Far too often, I think archaeologists hesitate to be proactive. It must be our introverted nature! However, even if there is nothing in the works that threatens archaeological protection, we need to reach out and educate our elected officials at all levels. The goal is to become a go-to person for all issues archaeological.

As daunting as it may seem, they are just people too. They were elected to serve the public and it is their job to listen to us. The meeting does not have to be long. Fifteen minutes is plenty of time (remember that they are busy people). If your elected representative is not available, meeting with their staff is just as effective. It can be as simple as going to talk to them about the interesting finds from your latest project or inviting them to come out to your site for a tour. Archaeology is inherently interesting. Getting someone interested in archaeology is not a hard task. All you have to do is talk about it.

If our voices are not heard, then we cannot expect to see issues we care about addressed in ways we deem appropriate. So make your voices heard! Take charge! We can turn the tide and get in front of issues if we are proactive. I always try to end meetings with action items. I have never ended a blog that way, but here it goes! By the end of the day tomorrow, schedule one meeting with an elected representative at any level of government (local, state or federal). Remember, there is power in numbers, so bring a friend!

African American Burial Grounds Network Act

Historical archaeologists are the ones who most frequently come into contact with burials from the African American past.  From the First African Burial Ground in NYC to community cemeteries around the country, historical archaeologists have time and time again been brought in to deal with human remains when developers discover an unmarked burial ground on their project site.  That is why the SHA developed and presented guidance on abandoned burial grounds on our website, and why we have promoted and sponsored legislation to provide documentation of African American burial grounds and training and support to their communities.  We are very pleased to announce that the African American Burial Grounds Network Act has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Alma Adams (NC) and Rep. Donald McEachin (VA).  We encourage you to reach out to your Congressional representatives and voice your support of this legislation.

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