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.

Meet a Member: Michelle Pigott

membershipHere’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( or Kim Pyszka (

Michelle Pigott is a graduate student at the University of West Florida. Her master’s thesis discusses culture change in two Apalachee Indian communities during the 18th century using detailed ceramic analyses.

What’s the most interesting artifact you’ve ever found? This summer the field school I was running as a graduate student field director discovered a partially complete miniature Apalachee brushed ceramic jar, nestled in the backfill of a historic post hole. This fall UWF’s Virtebra Lab run by Dr. Kristina Killgrove and fellow grad student Mariana Zechini, was able to 3D scan and print it:

What is the first site you worked on? What is the last one (or current one)? The first site I worked on was a month-long field school through California State University, Dominguez Hills, at a late historic Chumash Indian village in the Los Padres National Forest in 2009. The most recent site I’ve worked on (field work ended in August, lab work is ongoing) is a mid-18th century Apalachee Indian Mission, San Joseph de Escambe, located north of Pensacola. It has been the main source of my material for my master’s thesis research and also has a great blog run by our PI, Dr. John Worth:

What are you currently reading? Well my “for fun” book right now is Cibola Burn by James A. Corey, the fourth of a series of excellent hard sci-fi novels. Archaeologically speaking, I am reading The Native American World Beyond Apalachee: West Florida and the Chattahoochee Valley (John H. Hann, 2006) and French Colonial Archaeology in the Southeast and Caribbean (Kenneth G. Kelly and Meredith D. Hardy, editors, 2011), both of which are providing excellent background information for my master’s thesis research.

What did you want to be when you grew up?  In my elementary school years I was fairly certain I would grow up to be a paleontologist, however, discovering a cache of old Egyptology coffee table books at eight years old left me obsessed with archaeology (I had pyramids painted on my bedrooms walls well into high school), and while my interests have shifted continents and time periods, I’ve never looked back!

Why are you a member of SHA? As a graduate student, being in SHA opens up so many opportunities to be in tune with current international research, as well as great networking. Plus it’s an awesome excuse to go and visit new cities for the annual meetings!

At what point in your career did you first join SHA? When I was in my second year of graduate school.

How many years have you been a member (approximately)? Two years (and planning on many more!)

Which article from Historical Archaeology has been the most influential to you? Well right now, as part of my thesis work, I’ve been reading up a lot on the theory of “creolization” and how it’s best used to discuss culture change in North American Native Indian communities. I’ve found three articles, “From Colonist to Creole: Archaeological Patterns of Spanish Colonization in the New World” by Charles Ewan (2000, 34(3):36-45), “The Intersections of Colonial Policy and Colonial Practice: Creolization on the Eighteenth-Century Louisiana/Texas Frontier” by Diana DiPaolo Loren (2000, 34(3):85-98), and “Creolization in Southwest Florida: Cuban Fishermen and “Spanish Indians,” ca. 1766-1841” by John Worth (2012, 46(1):142-160), to be especially helpful on this diverse topic.

Which benefit of belonging to SHA do you find the most beneficial? It’s definitely a tie between access to all the journal articles (online!) and being able to attend the annual meetings. A conference full of presentations just on historical archaeology? Yes please!

#SHA2016: D.C. participates in #dayofarch!

Good afternoon SHA members!  We hope this post finds you taking a much needed break from the field or lab!

As you may know from our previous post, July 24th was the international Day of Archaeology (#dayofarch), virtually hosted by the Day of Archaeology Project! To reiterate, the Day of Archaeology Project encourages the archaeological community to celebrate and promote archaeology on a global scale, via social media.

For the past few years, D.C. has participated in #dayofarch, hosted by Archaeology in the Community (AITC).  This year, the D.C. Day of Archaeology festival was held at the historic Dumbarton House, in Georgetown, and had a wonderful turnout of D.C., Maryland, and Virginia organizations, firms, and school departments.  #dayofarch participants and volunteers set up displays, games, exercises as well as coordinated visits to the local Yarrow Mamout Archaeological Project, in order to celebrate and promote archaeology in the D.C. area.  Please check out AITC’sFacebook for photos of the event!

If you are curious about other participants in #dayofarch, run a search on #dayofarch via Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram.  Anyone who posted to the hashtag “#dayofarch” will pop up in a search on one of these social media outlets.  Or, visit the Day of Archaeology Project website for all of the #dayofarch blog posts- from around the world-here!

And, if you are curious about past #dayofarch contributions, check out this awesome map, depicting the growth of the Project since 2011!  Hover over your region/country/city of choice and see what contributions were posted!

Hope you join #dayofarch, next year!

Being on Diggers: Advice and Reflections from Montpelier

By: Matthew Reeves and Terry Brock

On Monday, July 20th, the Montpelier Archaeology Department appeared on the National Geographic Channel’s Diggers television program. This program has been an issue of contention for archaeologists and metal detectorists alike, but efforts by SHA and other archaeological organizations to work with National Geographic and the National Geographic Channel have led to a show that melds archaeology and metal detecting together. As participants in these conversations, and as advocates for the collaboration of archaeology and metal detecting Montpelier decided to put ourselves forward as one of a handful of archaeological sites willing to have a show filmed at our site. In this blog, wanted to provide some tips and strategies we used to ensure the filming was successful (you can watch the entire episode below).

First and foremost, we found that the production team, from the exective producer down to the film crew, wanted to cooperate with the goals we had for filming. In terms of the actors, Ringy and KG are both very intelligent folks who are skilled metal detectorists with an earnest interest in material culture, sites, and bringing the joy of discovery to the public, all elements we have in common. And finally, the newly hired archaeologist, Dr. Marc Henshaw, is a fantastic guy with great experience who serves as an excellent liaison between the film team and the project. With this said, we found the following guidelines as essential for a successful production.

Establish and Maintain Ground Rules


Ringy (blue sweatshirt) and KG (Green sweatshirt) attending one of the four lectures during the Expedition Program. Participating in all elements of the Expeditions was one of our caveats for participating in the show (Photo Courtesy of The Montpelier Foundation).

Establish with the field film crew the ground rules. We had three areas we wanted to reinforce:

  1. that Ringy and KG would be shown as working within a larger team of archaeologists and metal detector participants–teamwork would be a tangible outome. We filmed this show during one of our Metal Detector Expedition Programs, and had the expectation that they would participate in the lectures, tours, and other elements of that program, including building relationships with our staff and participants. They did just that.
  2. that our crew would do their best to present the grid in a visible manner-in this case, we not only staked the grid with wooden stakes, but also pulled flagging tape between the stakes to have it prominently displayed.
  3. that Ringy and KG would only work in areas that we designated–no side trips anywhere outside the gridded area–we emphasized the only place we do metal detector survey is where we have a grid established–anywhere else is a strict break in protocol.

With these parameters clearly established, the film crew and the actors knew exactly what to expect—and this guided what the field producer looked for in terms of entertainment and improv from the guys–and in the end built methdology and teamwork into the shows storyline.

Prepare the Site

For preparation for the shoot, pick a site where you know you can get results in a short amount of time–that way you control the content of the project and the show. This is the reason we chose the stable–we knew we would recover artifacts related to tack material (horse shoes, nails, buckles, etc) and had a high chance of finding enough material culture to establish patterns. While the survey was real and the info we gained was new, we chose an area we had very high confidence in, and had poked around before.

Emphasize Context by Finishing


During the Expedition, staff used our total station to map all the samples taken during the Expedition, allowing us to have results by the end of the program. The total station was also set up directly behind KG during the entire show, ensuring its presence in most of the footage (Photo Courtesy of The Montpelier Foundation).

Make sure that you can process the finds to the point to show the importance of provenience: in the field, we made sure we were able to complete an entire 60′ x 60′ survey block and had time to shoot the points in with the transit, data enter the field catalogue of items, and plot these on maps by the end of the week. This was of critical importance since the assessment needs to happen while the film crew is still on site, in our case, this happened the Saturday morning following the final day (Friday) in the field. Having a plot map with the patterns already established meant the assessment was more than just a glorified artifact display, but presented the data behind all the work carried out to record location.


Preliminary results showed a void in the area surveyed, providing us with solid interpretations about the location of the stable by the end of the program, and allowing us to emphasize the importance of context and distributional data (Photo Courtesy of The Montpelier Foundation).

Communicate and Be Flexible

The Digger’s production crew clearly wanted to capture the elements we discussed—they just needed to get the results while they were in the field. Also, what is shot in the field has to well thought out enough to make sense to the editors in the office—these are two different teams, and the only communication that occurs between the field and office is the executive producer—so capturing quality shots, quotes, and messages in the field that flow together into a larger story is absolutely essential. In the end, know that getting results from about 3–4 days in the field that are suitable for a prime-time reality TV show entails a lot of work and preparation. Once the film crew arrives you have to be on top of your game with very little margin for error. For the production shoot we held at Montpelier, the staging of the work and results would have been impossible without having a trained and dedicated archaeological staff to assist through the process.

Over Emphasize Your Message


Staff and Expedition Members were briefed on talking points. Here, one participant is taped talking about his work on the site (Photo Courtesy of The Montpelier Foundation).

The final item to realize is that while the production team is allowing review of content during production, there it is almost impossible to shoot new material once the film crew is done with the shoot. As such, make sure your message is caught on film—both in anecdotal clips in the field and definitely in the assessment. Review this message with your staff, and make sure it is said over and over again, whenever anyone is on camera. We talked with our staff and Expedition members about what we wanted to message, so that they were prepared when the camera was in their face. In the case of the final assessment, it occurred to me during in the middle of shooting how to play Ringy and KG off one another to make the point regarding negative data. What this required was complete immersion in the final product—both in terms of us (as archaeologists) and the production team.

Prepare Yourself and Your Staff


Learning how to collaborate with metal detectorists is vital preparation for the TV show. Here, Frank Juarez, left, is partnered with Seth Van Dam, an archaeologist from Ft. Drum Army Base, who attended the program to learn about our survey techniques (Photo Courtesy of The Montpelier Foundation).

This is critical. We could not have done all the work we did without having a sizeable staff that is well trained in metal detector survey, in addition to a full expedition program that included 9 additional metal detectorists and 6 visiting archaeologists. We have been working with metal detectorists for years through our public programs, and even employ two metal detector technicians on our staff. We had no concerns about using metal detecting as a survey tool, the efficacy of our methods, our ability to work with KG and Ringy once they arrived on site, or with how to excavate, record, bag, flag, tag, and catalogue objects: our methodology is tried and tested, and our staff executes it regularly. The only thing that was new to us were the TV cameras. We made sure to prepare our staff and expedition members for appropriate messaging, language, and other elements so that they were all ready to be on camera.

If you haven’t built relationships or worked with metal detectorists before, then the television program could be a lot of learning for you and your staff all at once. We’d strongly encourage you to attend one of our upcoming Metal Detector Expeditions to learn our methodology and also how to work with members of the metal detecting community, particularly if you are interested in doing the Diggers Program. We have designed these programs to provide a space for archaeologists and metal detector hobbiests to collaborate, and, more importantly, to learn how to collaborate. Having confidence in the methods and understanding the community you are working with will ensure that you can focus on getting your message through.

Working with the Diggers program was an incredibly rewarding experience, as have all our Expedition Programs. In truth, it has made our Expedition Programs better. For example, having results at the end of the week is not ever something we have done before: we believe the entire Expedition learned more about context by seeing the results of the survey at the end of the week then by us explaining what we would be using the data for in the future. From a larger perspective, it is our hope that participating in the Diggers show has allowed the public to also learn about what archaeology is, and what the collaboration between metal detectorists and archaeologists can look like when done through empathy, collaboration, and hard work.

Diggers Done Right

They’re back!

Yes, the King and Ringy, that duo you love to hate will be kicking off the third season of Diggers, July 20th on The National Geographic Channel. What? They’re still in business!? All the other such shows – Savage Family Diggers,Dig Fellas, and Dig Wars, have all gone by the wayside. Curiously, Diggers has actually been a hit for the NGC. Even with that ratings success, things will be a bit different this season.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, the National Geographic Society wants to win back its brand and they have turned to professional archaeologists for help. In cooperation with Half Yard Productions, the producers ofDiggers, both the SHA and the SAA assembled panels to review the rough cuts of each of the episodes for season 3. These panels made comments, on what they saw and these were often incorporated into the final episodes. They also compensated the panels for their time and effort. The SHA panel put this money ($3000) into the student travel fund.

So, what has changed? First, they have eliminated the dollar value assessments of the artifacts that are recovered. This has been one of the main objections from the archaeological community and we told the production company that it was a deal breaker if it stayed. Still, this was a huge concession on their part since valuation of the finds is the “payoff” on popular shows such as Pawn Stars, Antiques Roadshow, and Storage Wars. We will see how much it is missed by the non-professional audience.

Second, they have hired a new on-screen archaeologist, Marc Henshaw. Marc has a PhD in Industrial Archeology and Heritage from Michigan Tech. He owns his own archaeological consulting firm, Nemacolin Archaeological Services and writes an archaeological blog where he shares his insights into the everyday life and mind of a professional archaeologist. Accordingly, he subscribes to a holistic stakeholder approach to archaeology. His blog proclaims “that if you can’t make the archaeological sites important to the community, they will never be worth anything to that community either from a heritage standpoint or a preservation standpoint.” Seems like the right guy for the show and there is a chemistry developing between he and metal detectorists.

Third, archaeology is becoming a bigger part of each episode. Marc gets a respectable amount of airtime serving as the straight man to the antics the diggers. He is often shown discussing the research strategy, recording provenience and relating the significance of the finds at the end of each program. There are frequent text reminders that they have permission to search on private property and it is made explicit that the artifacts remain with the landowners or local museum/historical society.

Finally, they have sought out real archaeologists to partner with when possible. This has proven to be no small feat as most archaeologists were understandably reluctant to have them or the disruption of their cameras, on their sites. Still they managed to work with a few archaeologists this season and these proved to be the best episodes. In fact, the season begins with the boys volunteering at Montpelier and being shown the cooperative ropes by our own Matt Reeves (who has shared about his public metal detecting programs here before). It is worth watching.

Is it a good show now? That depends upon what you want. It is entertaining, the backstories and graphics are good, and they visit some interesting places. The boys are still over-the-top silly, but apparently that is part of their charm. And honestly, many of the shows on PBS have bought into the cult of personality (e.g. History Detectives, This Old House, Secrets of the Dead). Diggers may not be your favorite show, but at least I don’t think you will hate it now. If you do, there’s always CSPAN.

#SHA2016 Conference: Let’s Trend from the Field!

Good morning, SHA Members!  We hope you were able to submit your abstracts for #SHA2016 and that you are gearing up for an exciting Conference!  As the majority of you are undoubtedly in the field, this week’s #SHA2016 blog post focuses on you and your work.

July 24th is the international Day of Archaeology*, virtually hosted by the Day of Archaeology Project! The Day of Archaeology Project seeks to celebrate and promote archaeology, on a global scale.

The project asks people working, studying or volunteering in the archaeological world to participate with us in a “Day of Archaeology” each year in the summer by recording their day and sharing it through text, images or video on this website.

With the increase in social media use, this is easily achievable across various outlets. In the past, archaeologists have chosen to blog, pin, post, Tweet, Instagram, and YouTube about their #dayofarch experiences.  These experiences have ranged from large-scale public outreach events to profiles on artifact finds.  If this is something you are interested in, please reach out to the Day of Archaeology Project, to find out how to contribute!  Additionally, if you are a frequent social media user, run a search on past #dayofarch posts!

Washington, D.C. will be taking part in this year’s #dayofarch, with it’s 4th Annual Day of Archaeology Festival, hosted by Archaeology in the Community (AITC). Each year, AITC has hosted a large-scale festival, complete with numerous archaeology community participants and volunteers.  This year, it will take place on July 18th, beginning at 10am at Dumbarton House, in Georgetown, NW.  If you happen to be in town, please stop by!

Alternatively, consider virtually participating in #dayofarch, July 24th! As we are all currently scattered in the field, promoting each other via social media offers a great opportunity to stay connected and be supportive, during the busy season.  Not to mention, a great opportunity to reach the masses.

Let’s get trending!

*Not to be confused with the International Archaeology Day, in October!

7 Archaeological Things to See and Do in Washington D.C.

Reminder: June 30th is the last day to submit your #SHA2016 conference abstract!

Last week, we started posting about Things to Do in Washington, D.C., so that you may begin planning for your #SHA2016 trip!  This week’s blog post provides another list of various, exhibits and research centers.  Whether you wish to play tourist or conduct research, we suggest you check out our list, below!

The Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

If you are interested in learning more about the urban development of Washington D.C., a visit to the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. is a must. The Carnegie Library, located in Mt. Vernon Square, offers a variety of exhibits exploring the history of the city and the history of the city’s inhabitants.  The “Window to Washington” exhibit depicts the city’s transformation from rural landscape into a modern metropolis. Additionally, the library and collections offer ample resources for researchers to study the “city’s physical landscape as well as the families, organizations, businesses, neighborhoods, religious institutions and other communities that comprise Washington, D.C.”

Free of Charge

Check it out:

Sewall-Belmont House

Just a block northeast of the U.S. Capitol is a museum dedicated to history of the fight for women’s rights. The Sewall-Belmont House museum is owned by the National Woman’s Party, and displays their extensive collection of objects that document the story of the women’s suffrage movement. The collection features thousands of books, scrapbooks, political cartoons, textiles, photographs, organizational records and other artifacts “produced by women, about women.” This offers another wonderful resource for historical archaeologists.

$8 for a Guided Tour

Check it out:

The Smithsonian Institution Building (The Castle) Located on the National Mall, the beautiful mid-nineteenth century Gothic-Revival Smithsonian Institution Building now houses the Smithsonian’s administrative headquarters, but the ‘Castle’ also contains several exhibits celebrating the institution itself, funded by James Smithson. These exhibits look at the history of the Institution, and visitors can see selected objects from all of the Institution’s museums.

Free of Charge

Check it out:  

Fords Theater

The fateful night of April 14th, 1865 when President Abraham Lincoln was shot at Fords Theatre, is commemorated at Ford’s Theatre Museum. Visitors may take a self-guided tour around exhibits that explore Lincoln’s presidency, up until the night of his death.  The collection features textiles, documents, and artifacts of Lincoln’s, and, at the Center for Education and Leadership, an exhibit examines the aftermath and impact of Lincoln’s assassination, on the United States.

$2.50 for a self-guided tour

Check it out:

Clara Barton Missing Soldier’s Office Museum

Only recently rediscovered, the Clara Barton Missing Soldier’s Office Museum is the former residence and office of Clara Barton during and following the Civil War. Located on 7th Street in NW, the CBMSOM offers a stark and realistic history of the aftermath of the Civil War, through the efforts of Barton to find and identify missing soldiers.

Check it out:  

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

Owned and operated by the National Park Service, the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site is the last home of Frederick Douglass.  Douglass lived in Cedar Hill, SE from 1878 to 1895, when he passed away.  The house museum does well to present and interpret Douglass’ impressive and impassioned political career, in our nation’s capital. The house museum offers an extensive and intriguing collection detailing Douglass’ vision, mission, and lifestyle during the latter 19th century.

Check it out:

Last but most certainly not least! 

Before coming to #SHA2016, be sure to take the virtual archaeology tour of Washington, D.C.!

Check it out:

5 Archaeological Things to See and Do in Washington D.C.

Remember, the last day to submit your #SHA2016 conference abstract is June 30th, 2015. See our previous blog post with the Call for Papers:

As we have seen in the last several posts, Washington D.C. and it’s surrounding area is a thriving place for history and archaeology. Archaeologists are doing important work engaging the public and interpreting the past of the nation’s capital. When we all travel to D.C. for #SHA2016 there are plenty of places to explore that capture the essence of this area’s heritage. Below, are five places to visit:

The National Museum of the American Indian

A new exhibit entitled “Our Universes: Traditional Knowledge Shapes Our World” opens at the Museum of the American Indian this September. What looks to be an incredible exhibit focuses on indigenous cosmologies, introducing the worldviews and cultural philosophies of eight communities all over the western hemisphere. This exhibit will run until October 2017 and along with the many other feature collections at the Museum, is a must see during our stay in Washington D.C.

Check it out:          Free of Charge

Alexandria Archaeology Museum

Located just a metro ride away, the Alexandria Archaeology Museum features exhibits highlighting their excavations of The Lee Street Site, the Green Furniture Factory, and the Ashby household. The museum also features hands-on-activities for adults and children alike, and the space also doubles as a public laboratory. You can also get information to walk the Alexandria Heritage Trail, which is a 23-mile walking and bike tour that takes you through 110 historical and archaeological sites representing the history of Alexandria.

Check it out:       Free of Charge

The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress houses millions of artifacts and archives that, as archaeologists, we know are important resources. The Museum features exhibits commemorating the history of the Library, the architecture of the Thomas Jefferson building, and its celebrated holdings, including the Gutenberg Bible. You can join a one-hour walking tour of the historic building or enjoy a self-guided tour. Definitely take time to explore the reading rooms, and even take an extra day to use the research centers to examine the Library’s archival materials for your own research.

Check it out:          Free of Charge


The National Geographic Museum

If you decide to make a longer trip to Washington D.C., make sure to stop by the National Geographic Museum. Ending January 3rd, the “Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology” exhibit juxtaposes real archaeological artifacts with a collection of film materials from the movie. How many of us get asked if archaeologists are like Indiana Jones, well this seems like an exhibit that explores the difference! If you can’t make this exhibit, the National Geographic Museum showcases their stunning photography from all over the world.

Check it out:

Dumbarton Oaks

Located in Georgetown, Dumbarton Oaks is a research institution with collections of Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art. The House collection showcases the historic interiors with Asian, European, and American artworks and interior furnishings donated by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss between 1940 and 1969. Docent-led tours take place every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 3:00 pm, but the Museum is open from 11:30 to 5:30 for self-guided tours.

Check it out:        Free of Charge

Throughout the summer we will be linking to more “archaeological” sightseeing opportunities in Washington D.C.

Publication in just…. How many easy steps?

This past January I had the pleasure of attending the annual society conference in Seattle, Washington. As usual, the conference was an amazing opportunity to learn about current research taking place in the field, network with colleagues and potential employers, as well as let loose and have a little fun at the annual dance on Friday night. In addition to this business as usual, I had the amazing opportunity to chair a panel discussion focused on publishing that was geared specifically towards students and recent graduates. With the help of Jennifer Jones, Nicole Bucchino and Mary Petrich-Guy, we were able to assemble an all-star panel of people from various universities, publishing companies and research institutions, who were able to answer all of our burning questions on the art of publishing.

Despite taking place at 8:30am on Saturday morning, the panel discussion had an excellent turnout and the panelist were lively and eager to answer our questions. Due to our focus audience, many of our questions focused on some of the basic ins and outs of publishing. How do I get my work out there for publication? What medium of publication (journal article, edited volume, blog, etc.) is best for me? How do I cope with rejection? Fortunately in this panel discussion I was the one asking the questions and our panelists came prepared with excellent answers. While I dont have space to recap the entire panel here, I would like to share some of the major points I took home points from panel.

First off, all panelists unanimously agreed that the act of simply writing was important. Such an elementary step may seem obvious to some, because you cant publish something that you havent written. However this all-important step is one of the most difficult steps to accomplish. One panelist suggested that devoting one hour to writing every day was a good start, while another advised that writing 1,000 words a day was an admirable goal. So step #1 to publication? Write. Simple, right? Well sure, but write what exactly? Again, panelists were in agreement on this one too; their suggestion was to write about what you know and to tailor your publication for a medium that is appropriate for your target audience. Because of this, the form a publication will take depends on the program of study, degree, career path and the goal of the publication. So, how to choose? Journal article? Single author or co-author? Chapter in an edited volume? Article in a newsletter? Blog? Fortunately, I have some very good news for you here. Our panelists were all in agreement that there is no such thing as a bad publication. I thought this was particularly interesting given that some of the newly emerging electronic and open access publication mediums (like Academia, for example) make publication a little easier perhaps, or at least more accessible to students than some of the more traditional publication mediums. However, after a lengthy discussion of the issue the panelists were still in agreement and all of the aforementioned mediums were given the thumbs-up for pursuit.

Moderating this panel discussion was a truly enjoyable experience and would like to thank Charles Ewen, Annalies Corbin, Teresa Krauss, Carol McDavid and Doug Rocks-Macqueen for graciously participating in our panel. We are currently putting together our topic for next years panel, so please stay tuned!

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