New Articles from Technical Briefs in Historical Archaeology

Figure 2-4

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

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

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

Autumn is here! #SHA2016 registration is near….

Good afternoon SHA members!

Autumn is here, and registration for #SHA2016 begins next week! Be sure to mark your calendars for next Thursday, October 1. For general #SHA2016 conference details, please follow this link.

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

Otherwise, as we get closer to #SHA2016, our blog posts will focus on conference related details as well as Washington, D.C. related information. Before we begin our next round of blog posts, however, we would like to hear from you. Is there anything specific you would like us to blog about, leading up to the conference? Is there anything you wished you knew beforehand, about previous conferences?

Please comment below this blog post with any thoughts- we’d love to hear from you.

Don’t forget to register for #SHA2016, next Thursday, October 1!

Courtesy of


Five Tips for Managing Your Time in Graduate School

by Theodor Maghrak
I’m often approached by fellow grad students asking me, simply, “How do you get it all
done?!” Throughout my graduate career, I’ve worked at least one job alongside school,
oftentimes without having a complete day off for the entire semester. A lot of us know
this situation, trying to avoid student loans at all costs by working ourselves to the bone.
Even with funding, it often seems like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to keep
up with our schoolwork, much less having a job and a social life. Here are few tips on
“getting it all done” in grad school that I’ve found useful, regardless of your particular
1. Be busy.
While it at first seems counter-intuitive, I have found that maintaining a full schedule actually helped me to develop excellent time management skills by force. While this isn’t an ideal situation in graduate school, it helped me to adhere to scheduling and make time for the important things. That brings us to the next point.
2. Make a schedule.
It’s elementary, and may sound a little juvenile, but regardless of how full your plate is, you should always have a schedule. Most of us go into the weekend with a long list of things that we have plenty of time to accomplish. But it’s far too easy to keep saying “I have all weekend,” or “I’ll get around to it,” or “I have plenty of time.” By Sunday evening, many of us will have accomplished nothing on that ever-growing to-do list. That being said, plan your day. Block out a specific hour or two for each task. This will eliminate the “I’ll get around to it” factor as we all get increasingly distracted by daily
life. For a lot of us, a calendar app, spreadsheet, or daily planner can accomplish this very well. For more visual people, there are lots of other great tools to organize just about all of your work like Trello.
3. Make time for yourself.
Working on the same principle, schedule time for yourself. Doing so makes a rigorously
planned day more bearable, but it will also help you to enjoy that time for yourself much
more fully. Without that time planned into a busy schedule, most of us would likely fall
behind and get backed up, overwhelmed by all the work. That would make a rigorous
schedule unbearable. Building in time for friends and self-preservation is key.
4. Don’t even consider incompletes as an option.
Let’s be honest. Many of us end up taking incompletes in graduate school courses
because of the sheer amount of work involved in any given semester. Lots of professors
will give them without much fuss, a pattern that can be unproductive at best. Knowing
that an incomplete is an option can make you ignore work for one or more courses while
focusing entirely on one or others. An incomplete will also add additional stress and
weight on your shoulders until you can finish that course, resulting in an even greater
backlog of work. While sometimes an incomplete is unavoidable, treat them as the last
resort they should be rather than a legitimate option.
5. Set writing goals.
While a schedule helps to organize your time, you should make sure to use your time
most efficiently. Whether you are writing a term paper,a conference presentation, an article, or your dissertation, explicit writing goals will help to move your work along in small, digestible chunks. In my undergraduate career, I always tried to write an entire paper in one sitting. While I could do this with some courses, I pushed other work to the side because I could not dedicate the consecutive hours to write the entire thing. Learning from this, I developed the skill to write in chunks in
graduate school. Try a daily goal of 3 pages, a weekly goal of 12, or a monthly goal of 30. Having a
concrete schedule and page goal will help to motivate you as you move deeper and deeper
into your own dissertation research. (For more tips on writing, check out this blog post). While I could mention a few more useful ideas, following these five guidelines should help you to get yourself and keep yourself on track. If you feel like you’re going under,don’t give up on the schedule. Maybe allot more time per task, smaller goals, or longer
breaks between tasks. Whatever works best for you, you’ll find it. We’re all in this together, and no one should feel like they’re alone on a sinking ship. Good luck!

New thematic issue of Historical Archaeology: Contemporary and Historical Archaeology of the North

49.3 Cover image compressed

The new issue of Historical Archaeology, 2015, Vol. 49, No. 3 is soon to be hot off the press. In this issue, guest editors, Jeff Oliver and Neil Curtis (University of Aberdeen), have assembled papers originally presented at the 2010 Contemporary and Historical Archaeology and Theory conference in Aberdeen (CHAT ‘north’), which brought scholars from both sides of the Atlantic to discuss and debate northern worlds in contemporary and historical Archaeology. Northern worlds have always suffered from stereotyping. Since the Enlightenment, north played the role of frontier of geographic knowledge and wilderness of harrowing and sublime proportions. The last century saw its diversification as a space of untapped resources, from fur and gold to oil and gas. In other historical moments, north figured large as a relational concept in the formulation of identities and mentalities, especially by those farther south. The papers in this special issue of Historical Archaeology move beyond the concept of the global north as a space on the map and instead consider how the ‘placing’ of the north and its diverse cultural geographies has been shaped historically through connections with others, notably through relations of exploration, mercantilism, colonialism, and capitalism.

This thematic issue of Historical Archaeology showcases the research of scholars from Europe and North America. It includes eight substantive papers, beginning with an essay contextualizing the creation of the Northern World followed by seven case studies examining on the contemporary and historical archaeology of Alaska, Iceland, Newfoundland, Northern Ireland, Orkney and Scandinavia. An introduction to the volume by Oliver and Curtis is freely available to download here: 1 HA49-3-OLIVER.

Here’s the complete list of articles:

  • Contemporary and Historical Archaeology of the North: An Introduction, by Jeff Oliver and Neil Curtis
  • Placing North, by Jeff Oliver and Neil Curtis
  • I Wish I was where I was when I was wishing I was here: Mentalities and Materialities in Contemporary and Historical Iceland, by Oscar Aldred
  • The Changing Lives of Women’s Knives: Ulus, Travel and Transformation, by Emily Button Kambic
  • Confronting Marginality in the North Atlantic: Archaeological and Historical Perspectives from the French Colony of Plaisance, Newfoundland, by Amanda Crompton
  • Time, Seasonality and Trade: Swedish/Finnish-Sami Interactions in Early Modern Lapland, by James Symonds, Timo Ylimaunu, Anna-Kaisa Salmi, Risto Nurmi, Titta Kallio-Seppa, Tiina Kuokkanen, Markku Kuorilehto, Annemari Tranberg
  • North/South Encounters at Sami Sacred Sites in Northern Finland, by Tiina Aikas and Anna-Kaisa Salmi
  • Memorials and Marching: Archaeological Insights into Segregation in Contemporary Northern Ireland, by Laura McAtackney
  • Northern Worldviews in Post-Medieval Orkney: Towards a More Holistic Approach to Later Landscapes, by Dan Lee

The West as an Edge: The SHA 2015 Plenary

Seattle 2015 LogoDoug Rocks-McQueen

At the 2015 SHA conference in Seattle, myself and the organising committee tried an experiment in video recording some of the panels and presentations. The goal is to share some of the remarkable research and thoughts that were presented at the conference with everyone who could not attend. Or maybe did attend but could not see every session/roundtable/presentation you wanted to because of conflicting schedules.  Over the coming weeks we will be posting the videos and discussion about many of the exciting topics filmed, from how to publish as a student to work/life issues in professional archaeology.

The first set of videos we would like to share with you are those from the plenary. The topic of the SHA 2015 Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology plenary was ‘The West as an Edge: Defining and Exploring Current Approaches in Archaeology’. This explored the conference theme—boundary and periphery—and took the idea of “the west” in its myriad forms as its secondary theme. We hope you enjoy watching them discuss the topic as much as we did.

Symposium Chair: Carolyn White (University of Nevada, Reno)

Panelists: Chelsea Rose (Southern Oregon University)



James Delgado (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)



Kelly Dixon (University of Montana)



Laurie Wilkie (University of California, Berkeley)



Margie Purser (Sonoma State University)



The Q & A.



If you like these videos be sure to check out this years conference, which is sure to be amazing. If you are interested in more conference videos be sure to check out Recording Archaeology and subscribe there to receive updates when more videos become available.

What to do when there’s no to do: The search for public dig alternatives

PEICBy: Melissa Timo

Developing new avenues of public archaeology is not always easy. Last year I highlighted my difficulties trying to connect a temporary or transplanted population to the archaeology of southwest Florida. By (tourist) season, I’ve made headway through persistence.  Thanks to some amazing partnerships with regional museums, public library systems, and National and Florida State Parks, Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN) and I have been able to reach a growing variety of people through lectures, children’s programming, tours, and heritage events. It’s supremely satisfying to chat with attendees who, even after 20 or more winters spent in the area, “didn’t even know ___.”

However, my elation grinds to a halt when they pose their inevitable follow up question: “Where can I help at a dig?” I am forced to admit that there aren’t any. We aren’t so lucky down here as wonderful St. Augustine where visitors might “stumble upon” an active, professional dig site. In fact, the number of field projects that have happened in my region’s five southwest Florida counties in the last four years couldn’t even fill up one hand. There are no regularly accessible labs either. A visitor might have to drive two or more hours to find a lab to visit or help out. How do I connect the people who’ve seen the lecture, read the panel, taken the tour, or visited the museum with an active, responsible way to do fieldwork nearby when no such opportunities exist locally? Fortunately, I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. FPAN already has two popular workshops that empower the engaged public with vital aspects of archaeological work that require no excavation or artifact removal.


The Cemetery Resource Protection Training (CRPT) workshop, recently awarded the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2015 Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Preservation Education/Media, teaches participants how to manage, maintain, and record human burials and historic cemeteries.  The Submerged Sites Education and Archaeological Stewardship (SSEAS) workshop teaches sport divers about submerged resources and how to monitor and record them scientifically.  In both cases attendees are furthered charged with the task with going out into the world and recording and reporting additional cemetery or submerged resources to the Florida Master Site File (FMSF). Using these successful workshops as models might be my ticket to investing the more eager members of the public to our local resources and the field of archaeology in new and unexpected ways.


SSEAS participants mapping.

 I think involving the public in the discourse of archaeology through a direct connection to the resources in the places they have been found is key. Public interest and hands-on participation create a bond that can lead to steps professionals don’t always get to: extensive advocacy, fundraising, the creation of watchdog groups, and lobbying. Plus, I’m not entirely sure the uninitiated public would be prepared for the difficulties of excavation under the hot south Florida sun anyway.

I am in the process of developing such a new workshop, but I need your help! So far, I’d like to discuss archaeological resource types and processes and highlight the laws that govern them. I’d like to teach participants basic pedestrian survey-style techniques as a way of identifying sites and recording archaeological remains for the FMSF. That way, under the supervision of archaeologists or resource managers, participants can help with the vital work of monitoring known (and sometimes infrequently visited) sites or add to/update the general knowledge of Florida’s resources without having to touch a shovel. Ideally, educated volunteers keeping a constant wary eye out for our resources by may relieve overtaxed resource managers of some of their burdens. I’d also like to include specific “modules” geared towards special interest groups.  One idea is to perhaps model a lesson after the cautiously and eloquently designed Archaeological Partnership Program intended to educate avocational metal detectorists. My goal test audience will be park or museum volunteers- those already operating under the supervision of senior staff –and the first workshop will occur late this fall.

As is a concern with all training workshops, I do not want this to become “How to Pot Hunt 101.” Do you think I’m on the right track for my no-digs predicament? What other hands-on, no-dig/ no-lab ways have you done active archaeology with the public? Do you have any suggestions for additional modules? Let me know!  If not, you’ll likely hear how I fared on my own next January in D.C.

SHA Mentoring Program

 by Jenna Coplin
Sponsored by the SHA’s Gender and Minority Affairs Committee and the Academic and Professional Training Committee.
The purpose of the Mentoring Program is to support diversity in historical archaeology, to strengthen the discipline and improve the SHA by facilitating full participation of all people. Your participation as a mentor or mentee will help to ensure that people with diverse perspectives are given equal opportunities to grow and develop as strong archaeological professionals. Any SHA member can participate by filling out an application here:
Make sure to include any particular goals you may have for participation so we can best pair you. We only share your contact information with your partner. All other information remains confidential.
How Mentoring Partnerships Work
Mentoring partnerships can take a variety of forms, and we encourage participants to create a partnership that works for them. Participants can be from any area of archaeology(academic, commercial practice, non-profits, etc.). Partners form relationships of trust based on communication and confidentiality. All types of partnerships benefit from clearly outlined goals and boundaries. Program staff can help you get started and offer support for building a stronger partnership
Students as Mentors
Mentoring is not just something for students – students can also be mentors. Students at all stages of the education process have much to offer one another, and can share aspects of academia only seen and experienced by them! Students can help each other negotiate administrative issues, find available resources, and develop collegial and scholarly skills. Being a mentor or mentee can develop important skills necessary for long-term success in
the discipline.
Potential Goals for your Partnership
All partnerships can help mentees to negotiate job/workplace/school stressors, whatever they may be. This includes issues related to race, gender, ability, etc. which are pervasive. Success in any area of archaeology requires a supportive and diverse environment; one that helps address challenges faced by all people at every stage of education and work life cycles. As a result, partners have an infinite number of productive goals to choose from and it may be difficult for some to decide. Specific goals exist in each area of archaeological
practice. Here are a few examples to help you get started.
Academic success
  • Engaging areas of interest (choosing courses, research directions)
  • Pursuing funding/support
  • Finding a field school/running a field school

Changes in academic status

  • Choosing a graduate school or post-doc program
  • Preparing for the job market
  • Preparing for Adjunct teaching- benefits and pitfalls

Participation in SHA

  • Understanding benefits of participation and how to get involved
  • Preparing presentations or organizing symposia
Participating in social events, networking, etc.
Work success
  • Developing skillsets for a career in cultural resource management or other area of archaeological practice.
  • Negotiating salaries and other workplace issues.
  • Finding the right publication venues
  • Preparing papers for submission; understanding style and writing guidelines
  • Navigating the peer-review process


Sign up
Joining the program is easier than ever. Follow this link
( and fill out the form. You will hear from the
program staff within a few weeks about next steps.
For more information, email

#SHA2016 Ethics Bowl: Let’s Get Ethical!

SHA2016-logo3-250x300Good morning SHA members! For this week’s #SHA2016 conference post, Jade Luiz, graduate student at Boston University, discusses the upcoming #SHA2016 Ethics Bowl. Please read below to learn more!

As registration for the #SHA2016 Annual Meeting takes off, we hope that students consider all of the different events available to them, including the Ethics Bowl! The APTC student subcommittee, aided by the Ethics Committee, is gearing up for the third annual SHA Ethics Bowl at #SHA2016 in Washington, DC! Terrestrial and underwater archaeology students are invited to participate in this challenging and fun ethics event. Students will take on case studies relevant to ethical issues that they may encounter in their careers. Because issues in archaeological ethics are rarely static, “game-changer” cards will also be introduced during play to encourage participants to think on their feet and make changes to their plans mid-stream.

Students are welcome to form their own teams of up to four members of mixed graduate and undergraduate participants. Competitors will be given this year’s cases in advance so they can prepare their position. The issues posed range from underwater to terrestrial contexts and have been provided by members of the SHA Ethics committee. These issues are based on current challenges students may face in their careers (if they have not already). In addition, we want The Ethics Bowl to mirror real life as closely as we can—one always has to expect the unexpected. For this reason, a game-changing card will be introduced during play for each team. The cards contain new information about the case and provide complications players will need to negotiate. Quick thinking will be a plus! The spontaneous nature of these curve balls will make for some additional fun!

Planning is already underway to make the #SHA2016 Ethics Bowl the biggest and best yet! While the past grand prize has been registration for the following year’s annual meeting, this year the Register for Professional Archaeologists (RPA) is providing a grand prize of $500 to be shared among the members of the winning team with a second place prize of registration to the 2017 annual meeting in Fort Worth, TX! In addition, the ethics scenarios will be provided by the SHA Ethics Committee and the RPA, with volunteer judges from both organizations.

Teams will be scored on clarity, depth, focus, and judgment, in their responses. The bowl is intended to foster both good-natured competition and camaraderie between students from many different backgrounds and universities. Registration is now OPEN for the #SHA2016 Ethics Bowl, until October 20th, 2015!

The 2015 Ethics Bowl in Seattle, WA, was a success despite its small size. Competitors included both graduate and undergraduate students from East Carolina University, Wesleyan University, and University of Idaho. As our judges, we were honored to have Paul Johnston, Darby Stapp, and Sara Gonzalez, who asked probing questions of the participating teams. The 2015 case study posed the following issue to our competitors:

“For several years you have been working for a local museum in a region known for its underwater, colonial era shipwrecks. One day, a patron schedules an appointment with you to discuss a wreck that he has discovered while diving. The patron seems genuinely interested in the history of the area, and you feel like the meeting may end in an excellent research opportunity, but the patron removes a box from his bag which, as it turns out, is packed quite full of Spanish coins and other small, valuable objects. He explains that he took only the items he could easily carry from the wreck as he had not been expecting to find anything so intact, but that there were many well-preserved boxes of cargo and ship fixtures visible and apparently recently exposed. It becomes clear that the purpose of meeting with you is that he wants you, as an archaeologist, to value the items so that he might better estimate the economic wisdom of carrying out a large-scale salvage of the site. When you explain that you do not feel comfortable assigning value to artifacts, the patron becomes offended and suggests that he might get the information elsewhere. He is unwilling to share the location of the site if you do not agree to value the artifacts.”

In addition to the above problem, our teams also had to contend with the following game-changers:

“The patron informs you that he has already secured the full support and funding of a large salvage company for removing artifacts.”


“The patron refuses to guarantee that he will let you know where the site is if you assist him.”

Despite there being no ideal option for our participants in this scenario, they did really well making the best of an awful situation through in-depth exploration of the issues. In the end, the East Carolina State team took the day and each team member won free registration to the #SHA2016 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC!

SHA 2015 Ethics Bowl

#SHA2015 Ethics Bowl


For more information for #SHA2016 Ethics Bowl, check out the online conference agenda , the SHA Meeting website, or please email

Additionally, if you are interested in volunteering with this event, either in preparation for the annual meeting or the day of competition (or both!), please email Jade Luiz at

Keep an eye out for more information regarding upcoming student events and the #SHA2016 Ethics Bowl. We look forward to seeing you in Washington, DC!

DRIVE Act: Clearing Things Up

GovAffairsA lot of news (and panic) is rapidly circulating among the preservation and archaeological communities as the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act – the DRIVE Act (S. 1647, sponsored by Sen. Inhofe (R-OK)) – makes its way through Congress. It passed the Senate on July 30 as an amendment to H.R. 22.

Drawing everyone’s ire is Section 11116 of H.R. 22 (formerly Section 1116 of the Senate’s DRIVE Act), which in part orders the Secretary of Transportation to “align, to the maximum extent practicable, with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4231 et seq.) and section 306108 of title 54 [Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act].” Commentaries on Section 11116 express deep concern that it will eliminate review under Department of Transportation Act Section 4(f), which mandates that the administering department at the federal DOT may not approve the use of a Section 4(f) property unless a determination is made that there is no prudent and feasible alternative to the use of the property and the action includes all possible planning to minimize harm, or that the use will have a de minimis (i.e., trifling or minimal) impact on the property.

National Trust President & CEO Stephanie Meeks published a widely circulated op-ed in The Hill’s Congress Blog on July 29, arguing that “Section 11116 … essentially guts the requirement that transportation projects take the least harmful alternative around a historic landmark, if avoiding it altogether isn’t ‘feasible and prudent.’”

Clarifying Section 11116

Section 11116 would not completely eliminate 4(f) reviews. Rather, it states that if the DOT determines there is no feasible and prudent alternative to avoid use of an historic site (that is, properties listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places), the Secretary shall inform applicable SHPOs and THPOs, the ACHP, and the Department of Interior of the determination and ask for their concurrence. If they all concur, then the DOT can satisfy the requirements of Section 4(f) through treatment of the historic site as stipulated in a Section 106 memorandum of agreement or programmatic agreement.

Currently, if the DOT uses a historic site or other protected property and the impact is not de minimis, the DOT prepares an individual Section 4(f) evaluation, which can be a time consuming process. (The Federal Highway Administration has five programmatic evaluations that it can apply to a project, if appropriate, which are basically streamlined individual evaluations.) The 4(f) evaluation requires the DOT to demonstrate that there are no feasible and prudent alternatives that avoid the use of the Section 4(f) property, and if there are no such alternatives, the DOT identifies measures to minimize harm to the property.

Under the proposed changes in Section 11116, if the parties agree that there is no feasible and prudent alternative that avoids impacts to an historic site, then the impacts on the site are not taken into account in the individual Section 4(f) evaluation process. Also, the proposed changes will have little impact upon archaeological resources, since 4(f) protection only rarely applies to archaeological sites. As the Federal Highway Administration’s and Federal Transit Administration’s Section 4(f) regulations explain, a National Register listed or eligible archaeological site is not protected under Section 4(f) if the site is important chiefly because of what can be learned by data recovery and has minimal value for preservation in place.

Finally, with the House in recess until after Labor Day, the Act has a minimal chance of progressing, particularly because lawmakers are unlikely to agree on how to pay for a long-term transportation bill. That being said, there is concern among state DOTs that involving Interior in this new review process might actually delay projects rather than streamline them, since Interior already takes months to approve Section 4(f) reviews. Accordingly, involving Interior in the concurrence process might further slow down project delivery, and grow the incentive to reduce protections for historic sites. Also, the Act would place the burden of consulting with the DOT to determine what is feasible and prudent on SHPOs, THPOs, and the ACHP, a task outside their NHPA-mandated responsibilities.

It appears that while there are ample grounds to oppose Section 11116, and to watch this and other transportation proposals closely for impacts on historic and archaeological resources, we should resist the urge to panic.

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