Meet a Member: Alasdair Brooks

Here’s the latest in our series of entertaining interviews with a diverse array of your fellow SHA members. Meet a member for the first time or learn something about a colleague that you never knew before. This blog series also offers current members an opportunity to share their thoughts on why SHA membership is important (Camaraderie? Professional service? Exchange of ideas in conference rooms and beyond? You tell us!). If you would like to be an interviewee, please email the Membership Committee Social Media Liaisons Eleanor Breen (ebreen@mountvernon.org) or Kim Pyszka (kpyszka@aum.edu). An Interview with Dr. Alasdair Brooks, editor of both the SHA Newsletter and the journal Post-Medieval Archaeology, and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Leicester.

What is the first site you worked on? What is the last one (or current one)?

My first site was the long-running field school at St. Mary’s City in Maryland, which most readers will recognise as the 17th-century colonial capital of Maryland.  My most recent site (see the photograph!) was a mud-brick village in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Bat, in the mountains of the Sultanate of Oman; the village had been abandoned in the 20th century, and is currently the site of an ongoing research program based at the University of Leicester.  In-between, I’ve also worked in my native UK, Jamaica, Australia, and Venezuela.  I get around; you know how it is.

Fieldwork or labwork?

Labwork – not quite always and forever, but fairly close. While Ivor Noel Hume might have once infamously argued (albeit more than 40 years ago) that women were ideally suited to ‘the potshed’, there are a few men who gravitate in that direction as well. I think I last wielded a trowel in anger while working at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest in the mid 1990s; even then I was the Lab Supervisor, but I did occasionally help out in the field.  I do a fair amount of artifact processing in field labs (ranging from an abandoned church in Australia through to a mansion belonging to the national heritage body in Oman), but I haven’t been involved in physical excavation for some 20 years.

What are you currently reading?

Moby Dick. I love chapter 89…. “Is it not a saying in every one’s mouth, Possession is half of the law: that is, regardless of how the thing came into possession? But often possession is the whole of the law. What are the sinews and souls of Russian serfs and Republican slaves but Fast-Fish, whereof possession is the whole of the law? What to the rapacious landlord is the widow’s last mite but a Fast-Fish? What is yonder undetected villain’s marble mansion with a door- plate for a waif; what is that but a Fast-Fish? What is the ruinous discount which Mordecai, the broker, gets from poor Woebegone, the bankrupt, on a loan to keep Woebegone’s family from starvation; what is that ruinous discount but a Fast-Fish? What is the archbishop of Savesoul’s income of lb. 100,000 seized from the scant bread and cheese of hundreds of thousands of broken- backed laborers (all sure of heaven without any of Savesoul’s help) what is that globular 100,000 but a Fast-Fish? What are the Duke of Dunder’s hereditary towns and hamlets but Fast-Fish? What to that redoubted harpooneer, John Bull, is poor Ireland, but a Fast-Fish? What to that apostolic lancer, Brother Jonathan, is Texas but a Fast-Fish? And concerning all these, is not Possession the whole of the law? But if the doctrine of Fast-Fish be pretty generally applicable, the kindred doctrine of Loose-Fish is still more widely so. That is internationally and universally applicable. What was America in 1492 but a loose-fish, in which Columbus struck the Spanish standard by way of waifing it for his royal master and mistress? What was Poland to the Czar? What Greece to the Turk? What India to England? What at last will Mexico be to the United States? All Loose-Fish. What are the Rights of Man and the Liberties of the World but Loose-Fish? What all men’s minds and opinions but Loose-Fish? What is the principle of religious belief in them but a Loose-Fish? What to the ostentatious smuggling verbalists are the thoughts of thinkers but Loose-Fish? What is the great globe itself but a Loose-Fish? And what are you, reader, but a Loose-Fish and a Fast-Fish, too?”

What did you want to be when you grew up? 

Up until I was about 13 or 14, I had my heart set on becoming a palaeontologist, likely the residual result of a fairly standard male childhood fascination with dinosaurs.  I can almost precisely pinpoint the precise moment when, walking home from school after soccer practice, I realised that maybe I wasn’t too keen on the biology side, but I was really, really interested in history.  So I think on some level I simply combined the digging things up aspect of palaeontology with the interest in history to decide more or less on the spot that archaeology was the way forward; I stuck with that decision even though I wouldn’t actually get any practical experience until my field school after my second year of university.  To the chagrin of some of my college professors I never really considered myself an anthropologist, though (sorry, Julie!), due to a combination of my British background, the core teenage interest in history rather than anthropology, and sheer intellectual stubbornness.

Why are you a member of SHA?

Originally, like many people straight out of college, because I sort of vaguely felt I should.  As my career developed, it was a combination of the sense of professional community, the networking opportunities, and a perhaps wholly misplaced sense of obligation about encourage SHA – sometimes willingly, sometimes not – to engage more consistently with historical archaeology outside of North America.

At what point in your career did you first join SHA?

Straight out of college; I joined right after graduating in 1990.

How many years have you been a member (approximately)?

Erm…  25 years now, or thereabouts.  I think I failed to renew once in the early 1990s, but that one year aside I’ve been a member continuously since 1990.

Which article from Historical Archaeology has been the most influential to you?

If ‘most influential’ equates to ‘most cited’, then it’s undoubtedly George Miller’s 1991 revised CC Index article (pdf), and Patricia Samford’s 1997 transfer print dating article (pdf).  I’ve spent large parts of my career nibbling around the edges of George’s seminal work, and arguing why it doesn’t always apply outside of the United States, but I’m also very conscious that I’ll likely never produce anything of my own that’s so monumentally influential and important within my own little corner of the discipline (ed. note: both of these articles are available for free in our SHA Publications Explorer!!).

Which benefit of belonging to SHA do you find the most beneficial?

The conferences, probably – and the personal and professional networking opportunities presented by the conferences.  I always used to claim that I hate networking, and then at some point around the turn of the millennium I realised that all my social interactions and friendships at the conference were actually networking.  The importance of meeting colleagues in person can’t really be underestimated – likewise the importance of regularly circulating the conference both inside and occasionally outside North America to increase those networking opportunities for as many people as possible. Have I mentioned that I’m a really strong supporter of taking the 2021 SHA conference to Lisbon, Portugal? Trust me, you’ll love it.  


How do we reduce risks from frequent hazards to Archaeology and Preservation sites?

PEICAuthor: Anne Garland, ARIES Research Associate

Sponsor: Public Education and Interpretation Committee

 

Well, what is CRM and Disaster Management? This was a query of an oceanographer colleague recently who is on the team for our work with the North Slope Borough Risk Managerment (NSB RM). We are developing and implementing the HERMYS Program (Historical Ecology for Risk Management: Youth Sustainability), which has many diverse integrated projects spin offs. Most of them are community driven with organizations as partners. CRM and Disaster Management is an integrated project. While my colleague is tuned into environmental resources and critical infrastructure impacts from coastal storm surges and erosion, she had no point of reference for how cultural resources are related.

This blog post is what I wrote to my oceanographer colleague to expain CRM and Disaster Management. Any of you can correct me if I am incoherent. Perhaps we can provide a better “label” for this growing concern, that is, improved CRM skill, public education, and decision making with regional and local communities.

While “threatened sites” or “salvage archaeology” are “traditional” labels for these scenarios, the pervasive complexity of these situations for communities are now rapid, or are waiting the inevitable with gradual onset. Are we up to this task, that is, to provide professional decisions to communities facing this frequent and certain situation?

This is how I described the growing cascade effects to my colleague.

“Cultural Resource Management aligns with Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) in US environmental law. This is where archaeology derives its legal mandates for compliance to EIS. I am using this “label”, CRM and Disasters, for any eco-heritage mitigation, preparations, response, or recovery due to hazards, risks, and disaster events. This is why we began the EnvArch Facebook group for those who work in archaeology, historic preservation, ecosystem planning, and related disciplines to share case studies and information for improved training. The goal is to better prepare CRM consultants for communities making tough decisions about their historic sites, buildings, and districts due to sea level rise, storm surges, flooding, wildfires, and other hazards.“

The SHA 2015 panel in Seattle was about this topic and we will continue this year at the SHA 2016 conference in DC. Through those in the EnvArch group, this focus has spread to other professional societies — SfAA, AAA, SAA — and other preservation societies as conference sessions. It is a global scenario and is rapidly increasing. See IHOPE. They now have an emerging hub related to this global concern.

While I assist North Slope Borough Risk Management with CRM decisions, which are now included in their Hazard Mitigation Plans, HERMYS has limited resources for CRM mitigation. However, as a local initiative, it must be accomplished by the community through politically correct protocol.

In the NSB there is a resident archaeologist, Anne Jensen, who works for UIC Science, the Barrow Native Corporation. She is available for contractual services by the tribal government as necessary. HERMYS team assists her efforts at threatened sites along the coast.

Due to the storm surge on 8/27/2015, huge sections of the bluffs along Barrow collapsed and spilled out archaeological remains (Photo 2). This is happening all along the North Slope shoreline, but is the first storm to impact the Barrow bluffs. Besides the archaeological site, the bluffs include current residences. The Barrow bluffs retain the archaeological heritage of the community (Photo 1). The 2014 PolarTREC teacher of the HERMYS team created a video journal about Utqiagvik.

Anne SHA 1

Photo 1: Utqiagvik Bluffs facing East towards Barrow. Credit: Anne Garland

 

The NSB policy to assess and protect the impacted site had little precedent since most effected sites were on UIC property (Native Corporation). NSB has no archaeologist. For the August surge, the Inupiat Heritage Center (IHLC) made decisions as a NSB department. However, there was no consult with the Risk Managers. presumably due to lack of understanding about their integral role, through federal funding, by Department of Homeland Security. See CRM and Disaster Management polices for context:

  1. https://heritagepreservation.org/PDFS/Disaster.pdf
  2. https://www.fema.gov/office-environmental-planning-and-historic-preservation

Through the decisions of IHLC, a CRM firm was hired from Fairbanks. Anne Jensen typically relies on local hires, who are incorporated into her community archaeology efforts. The CRM firm was not as familiar with the community concerns about eroding burials and permafrost sites. The collection management, and storage of materials are at IHLC, which has limited archaeological capabilities. The price tag for this salvage archaeology was high and which must be justifiable as the NSB Risk Management applied for a federal disaster declaration for public assistance.

For NSB, lessons learned for CRM and Disaster Management relates to protocol concerning mitigation practices prior to the next surge event. Having CRM in the Hazard Mitigation Plans is an essential step for all communities; however, mitigation implementations, rather than disaster response, is a cost benefit decision for all communities. What is the tolerable risk to cultural resources, especially if it provides tourism and community heritage?

There is no longer uncertainity about surge events along the Barrow coast during the late summer and fall. They will occur. However, the severity of impacts and surge locations are variable. Impacts to the remnants of the bluffs and their ancient deposits are under siege by an angry Arctic without sea ice. 

Anne SHA 2

Photo 2: Utqiagvik Bluffs facing west after the August 27 Storm Surge. Archaeology salvage effort is in the foreground. Surge extent eroded entire bluffs exposing remains of sod houses. Photo Credit: Anne Garland

Anne SHA 3

Photo 3: Utqiagvik Bluffs facing west during the August 27 Storm Surge. August 4 storm surge showing surge extent. Credit: Anne Garland

Come learn the outcomes of the NSB case study and  those of the DRR Panel. Bring your case studies for the interactive session. And join the EnvArch Facebook group for continuing education!

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Archaeology and Preservation Disaster Risk Reduction: Mitigation and Preparedness with Communities

 

Chair/Organizers: Barbara Clark, Florida Public Archaeology Network

                                   Anne Garland, Applied Research in Environmental Sciences Nonprofit, Inc.

 

Panelists:

George Hambrecht, University of Maryland

Kevin Gidusko, Florida Public Archaeology Network

John Haynes, USACE Archaeologist, Norfolk District

Michael Barber, Virginia DHR, Threatened Sites

 

Hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, sea level rise, oil spills, and other environmental disasters severely impact cultural resources. Communities depend on cultural resources for tourism and local economies. Expecting that we will have to plan for the unexpected is not enough.  Archaeologists who work on disaster projects are often doing so after the fact and are forced to learn on the job.  What steps can professional archaeologists take in their own development to be proactive rather than reactive?  How can public archaeology partner with communities to mitigate eco-heritage resources with disaster risk reduction strategies and policies (Sendai Framework)? What creative solutions have land managers found after experiencing phenomena firsthand?  How can we be a better partner for the communities and stakeholders we serve?  Panelists for this session will offer case studies to be featured in advance of the conference on the SHA blog #EnvArch.  Participation is essential, so please come ready to share best practices and creative solutions.


Students at the SHA Conference: A Preview Student-focused Activities

Good morning SHA members!

#SHA2016 is just around the corner, and the advance registration deadline has passed. Please note that registration rates have increased.  Online registration is still available until Friday, December 18, 2015.  To register online, please proceed to here.SHA2016-logo3-250x300

Please note that if you are presenting a paper or poster, participating in a forum or acting as a discussant in a session, you must register at the full conference rate.  Full-time students are encouraged to sign up to serve as volunteers during the conference and receive free conference registration.  The volunteer form can be found on the SHA website at www.sha.org/conferences/ under the Registration tab. Please contact the SHA staff at hq@sha.org if you need assistance with your #SHA2016 Conference registration. 

As we usher in the New Year celebrating the 50th and 100th anniversaries of the National Historic Preservation Act and National Park Service, respectively, let’s also give a cheer for students in the Society for Historical Archaeology. This year marks the 20th year since the inception of the Academic and Professional Training Committee (APTC) Student Subcommittee (SSC)—and opportunities for student participation at the 2016 SHA Conference abound. The following details a schedule of student-focused activities outlined in the preliminary program.

Thursday

Kick off the conference bright and early with the APTC Student Subcommittee meeting from 7:45am to 8:45am in the Committee Room. The mission of the Subcommittee is to provide a gateway for student members into the greater SHA community; create and support opportunities for professional development of student members; serve as a platform for student concerns and mutual assistance; share information; foster mentoring between professionals, advanced students, and beginning students; and promote active participation in the Society. It is the best way to make new connections, participate in the SHA and gain leadership experience. At the meeting, students can get involved, voice concerns, suggest ideas, and organize events for next year’s conference – ALL STUDENTS WELCOME.

Student teams will face off in the Third Annual SHA Ethics Bowl, starting at 10:30am in the Ambassador Ballroom. Teams have a chance to win $500 donated by the Register for Professional Archaeologists or free registration at next year’s SHA conference by addressing realistic ethical dilemmas they may encounter in their future careers. The bowl is intended to foster both good-natured competition and camaraderie between students from many different backgrounds and universities. All are encouraged to attend this public event and cheer on the teams and student representatives in this competition. If you are interested in getting involved with the Ethics Bowl, please email SHAethicsbowl@gmail.com.

In between sessions, stick around the hotel and grab lunch with Dr. Stacey Camp from noon to 1:30pm at the roundtable luncheon, Data Sharing and Publishing for Students. In this informal setting, folks will discuss the pros, cons, and strategies of publishing in traditional formats as well as digital and open access data sharing. Note: all roundtable luncheons cost $30 and require registration in advance.

Rub elbows at the Past Presidents’ Student Reception at the Bird Cage Walk from 4:30pm to 6:00pm (no fee). This reception is for students and distinguished past presidents and is a great chance to talk directly with SHA’s leaders and other students. The mixer also provides complimentary soft drinks and snacks.

Saturday

This year’s student-organized collaboration between the Advisory Council for Underwater Archaeology (ACUA) and SHA explores the nuances of federal, state, and local cultural resource laws as well as discusses changing laws, lobbying, and organizational involvement in setting examples for protection. Underwater and terrestrial panelists from the United States and Canada will also discuss how students can engage in the future of heritage preservation and protection. Find out how you can get involved during, Looking to the Past for Our Future: Navigating the Cultural Resource “Law-scape” for Students and Recent Graduates, which will take place in the Ambassador Ballroom from 9:00am – 12:00pm.

Last, but not least, check out the fast-paced, fun format of the session My Research in a Nutshell – Powered by PechaKucha on Saturday starting at 1:30pm in the Forum Room. In the last few years a new type of presentation format reflecting the rhythm of our busy modern societies was created: the PechaKucha! In 2003, members of an architecture firm located in Tokyo, Japan, noticed that speakers tended to get lost in their communication, rendering a hard-to-follow and long presentation. The group thus decided not only to limit the time of the presentations but also the content. The basic rule is simple: each speaker must present their research in 20 images shown for 20 seconds for a total presentation time of 6 minutes and 40 seconds. Speakers must thus synthesize their idea and present it in a clear and concise way. Participants must share their idea, research, or project (at any stage of development) in 20 slides at 20 seconds per slide! As a collaborative forum between the APTC Student Subcommittee and the Public Education and Interpretation Committee, participants are encouraged to take this as an opportunity to practice and receive feedback on presenting research as you would to the public, share experiences and research pertaining to public archaeology approaches, and for public archaeology job preparation. Sign-up for this uniquely formatted session is open until January 6th – to join the forum, email your name, topic, and contact information to pk.at.the.sha@gmail.com.

 

Double-check schedules and room locations at the conference as they may change.

Schedule at a glance:

Thursday

 

Saturday


Sharing Tips and Tricks for Engaging the Public

Seattle 2015 Logo At some point in your archaeological career you will have the privilege of engaging with the public. How we engage is mainly learned through a trial and error process. Sometimes you are lucky enough to have someone share with you a tip or trick on how to do it better. There was a session at the 2015 SHA conference that did just that. It asked, ‘Are you at a loss for how to interest the public in your museum or archaeological site? Do you risk losing the public’s short attention span with static outreach programs?’ It featured lightning-fast (3 minute) presentations from a broad range of archaeologists who interact with the public in a wide variety of settings. All of the participants share time-honored as well as innovative techniques designed to engage the public over the short- and long-term in field and laboratory settings.

This session was filmed and you can view the tips and tricks:

Becky O’Sullivan:

Bernard Means:

Build a Archaeology Site:

Elizabeth Bollwerk:

James Gibb:

Joe Bagley:

Jennifer Poulsen:

Karen Price:

Kari Jones:

Mark Freeman:

Scott Williams:

Stefan Woehlke:

 

There will be a follow-on session at this year’s SHA conference in Washington DC- FOR-045: Teaching the Past to the Huddled Masses, Yearning to Learn: Building an Educational Toolkit for Archaeology. Time: Saturday, 09/Jan/2016, 1:30pm – 5:45pm

Session Abstract: Working as a historical archaeologist in the 21st century presents new and old challenges for women, minorities, and the privileged. Equity Issues affect all whether direct or indirect; this session focuses on the immediate concerns of emerging professionals in both CRM and academia as they navigate upwards in these spheres. The goal of this session is to provide a semi-formal setting for “ladder-climbers” to interact with upper-management through a set question and answer period and informal round table format. Topics discussed include but are not limited to tips and lessons, gender and ethnicity workplace climate. This is an opportunity for professional development at a higher level.

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


Revised Regs Implement Sunken Military Craft Act Permitting Requirements

GovAffairsOn August 31, 2015 Naval History and Heritage Command published in the Federal Register a set of revised regulations which implement the Sunken Military Craft Act (SMCA) permitting requirements for conducting intrusive activity on sunken military craft under Department of the Navy jurisdiction. The regulations go into effect on March 1, 2016.

Enacted in 2004, the SMCA clarified that, consistent with customary international law, right, title and interest in and to any U.S. government sunken military craft remains with the U.S. in perpetuity. The SMCA authorizes the Secretary of the Navy to establish a permitting program governing activities directed at sunken military craft for archaeological, historical, or educational purposes.

The revised regulations establish a permitting process for intrusive activities on Navy sunken and terrestrial military craft for archaeological, historical, or educational purposes. Generally, intrusive activities are those that cause disturbance, removal, or injury to a sunken craft. Activities such as diving on or remotely documenting sites are not considered intrusive, although the Navy cautions that permits or authorizations may be required under other laws and regulations.

The rule also identifies guidelines for inclusion of foreign or other Department of Defense sunken military craft under the Navy’s permitting program, and establishes the process by which enforcement provisions of the SMCA will be implemented. Finally, the permitting process for activities on terrestrial military craft under the jurisdiction of the Navy are aligned into a single permitting regime. The Command will serve as the authority for permitting activities directed both at historic Navy sunken military craft and terrestrial military craft, and at non-historic Navy sunken military craft.

Underwater archaeologists should review these new permitting regulations and understand how they may impact research and management of sunken military craft sites. The Naval History and Heritage Command reiterates that under the new system, applicants must “demonstrate careful planning, professional credentials, and a long-term view of the effects of the proposed activities on the craft and any recovered material” in order to obtain permits. Under the revised rule, violators may be subject to significant fines (not to exceed $100,000 per violation, with each day counting as a separate incident), liability for damages, and the possible confiscation of their vessel and equipment. The existing permitting program, in place since in May 2000, stays in effect until March 1, 2016.

The Department of the Navy’s sunken ship and aircraft wrecks represent a collection of more than 17,000 non-renewable cultural resources distributed worldwide. They often serve as war graves, safeguard state secrets, carry environmental and safety hazards such as oil and ordnance, and hold great historical value. The Navy helps maintain public safety, preserves our nation’s history, and protects the final resting places of many who made the ultimate sacrifice.
More information and the complete rule (32 CFR Part 767) are available at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/08/31/2015-20795/guidelines-for-permitting-archaeological-investigations-and-other-activities-directed-at-sunken and http://www.history.navy.mil/research/underwater-archaeology/policy-and-resource-management/upcoming-permitting-program/text-of-final-rule-32-cfr-767.html.


#SHA2016 Tips for Your Stay in D.C.!

Good morning SHA members!

#SHA2016 is just around the corner, and the advance registration deadline is tomorrow, Tuesday, December 1, 2015.  Please note that after December 1, registration rates will increase.  Additionally, online registration for #SHA2016 will close on Friday, December 18, 2015.  To register online, please proceed to www.conftool.com/sha2016.

Please note that if you are presenting a paper or poster, participating in a forum or acting as a discussant in a session, you must register at the full conference rate.  Full-time students are encouraged to sign up to serve as volunteers during the conference and receive free conference registration.  The volunteer form can be found on the SHA website at www.sha.org/conferences/ under the Registration tab.

Please contact the SHA staff at hq@sha.org if you need assistance with your #SHA2016 Conference registration. 

Please visit the #SHA2016 Conference webpage, for general information about the conference. Additionally, our last blog post (“Tips for Getting Around D.C.”) provides information about parking and transportation in and around the D.C. area. Please proceed here, to access our last blog post.

Similar to our last blog post, this week we provide a list of cafés, bars, and restaurants within the immediate vicinity of the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

Cafés/Bars/Restaurants (Calvert Street and Connecticut Avenue)

1) Roberts Restaurant, at Omni Shoreham.

2) District Kitchen, American Mid-Atlantic small plate and bar serving Brunch on the weekend, Lunch every Friday, and Dinner every day. Located at 2606 CONNECTICUT AVE. NW.

3) Open City, casual American coffeehouse, bar, and restaurant serving Brunch, Lunch, and Dinner. Located at 2331 Calvert ST. NW.

4) Medaterra, casual Mediterranean bar and restaurant serving Lunch and Dinner. Located at 2614 CONNECTICUT AVE. NW.

5) Tono Sushi, casual Japanese sushi bar serving Lunch and Dinner. Located at 2605 CONNECTICUT AVE. NW.

6) Woodley Café, American diner serving Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Located at 2619 CONNECTICUT AVE. NW.

7) Café Sorriso, Italian café and gelateria serving Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, and Dinner. Located at 2311 CALVERT ST. NW.

NOTE: Chipotle, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts are also along this block.

Please note that the Omni Shoreham Hotel is a short walk away from the popular D.C. neighborhood, Adams Morgan. Walk east, along Calvert Street, to 18th Street, where an additional array of delicious cafés, bars, and restaurants are waiting to be explored!

  Slide11


#SHA2016: Tips for Getting Around D.C.

Good morning SHA members!

As you all know by now, online registration for #SHA2016 is open. Online SHA2016-logo3-250x300registration for #SHA2016 ends December 18, so be sure to register!

As we draw near to #SHA2016, our blog posts are going to concentrate on D.C. related topics. This week, we focus on transportation. Please read below, for a few tips about getting around D.C.

Hotel: #SHA2016 will take place at the Omni Shoreham located at 2500 Calvert Street NW, Washington, D.C. To make your reservation, call 800-545-8700 and reference the SHA annual conference or click here.

Parking: Parking is offered at hotel. Click here, for parking rates. Parking off-site, in the surrounding neighborhood, is very limited. Tip: If you plan on traveling around via car, consider downloading the “Park Mobile” app (Google Play / Apple). This will enable you to “feed your meter”, from your smartphone.

Metrorail: Metrorail Service (a.k.a. Metro) is another option, and the Omni Shoreham is located on the Red Line, at Woodley Park-Zoo Metro station. Please note that during the weekdays trains run less frequently after morning and evening rush hours, and even less frequently on the weekends. Tip: If you plan on traveling around via Metro, consider downloading the “DC Rider” app (Google Play / Apple), to plan accordingly. Also, a map of the D.C. Metro system can be found here. Metrorail serves D.C. as well as Maryland and Virginia.

Metrobus: Metrobus Service is another option, and the Omni Shoreham is a quick walk from Connecticut Avenue, one of the more major thoroughfares. Tip: If you plan on traveling around via Metrobus, consider downloading the “DC Metro and Bus” app (Google Play / Apple), for maps and timetables. Or, proceed to the Metrobus webpage, for maps and timetables. Metrobus serves D.C. as well as Maryland and Virginia.

NOTE: Visit the Metro Trip Planner webpage, for additional Metrorail and Metrobus information.  

Cabs: Cabs are another option, and please note that services such as Uber and Lyft have a pretty large presence in D.C. Tip: Download the Uber (Google Play / Apple) or Lyft (Google Play / Apple) apps.

Check back soon for our next #SHA2016 blog post about D.C.!


Writing for Historical Archaeology – Part 3. Research Articles

Hand charm

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

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

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

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

For authors

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

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

 

Writing a research article

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

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

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

  1. Defining the Research Problem

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

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

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

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

  1. Implications

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

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

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

  1. Methods

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

  1. Your findings

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

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

  1. Discussion and Conclusion

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

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

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

http://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide

http://pages.ucsd.edu/~keferree/Writing%20a%20Good%20Social%20Science%20Paper.htm

https://www.apa.org/education/undergrad/empirical-social-science.pdf

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/biology/ug/research/paper.html

http://intqhc.oxfordjournals.org/content/16/3/191

References:

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

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

Davidson, James M.

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

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


Spotlight on #SHA2016 Workshops

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

 

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

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

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

 

[02] Archeological Illustration, chaired by Jack Scott

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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


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