Historic Preservation Advocacy Week –Advocating on Capitol Hill

Rebecca Allen (Environmental Science Associates),
Sara Mascia (Historical Perspectives, Inc.), and
Joe Joseph (New South Associates)

One of the few issues that Washington, DC-based politicians agree on across the aisle is that the history of the United States is important. Yet even with Democratic and Republican support, the Historic Preservation Fund and other legislation is in jeopardy. The HPF is funded by off-shore oil revenue, not taxes, and while Congress re-authorized the HPF at the end of 2016, it has yet to approve funding. The HPF provides funding for the State Historic Preservation Offices, Tribal Historic Preservation Offices, and historic preservation grants. These funds are critical to how architectural historical and archaeological projects across the country get reviewed. School House Rock’s catchy tune “I’m Just a Bill” didn’t teach us this: authorization is nice, but without the funds to back it, laws are nothing. And this is not a straightforward process. Neither is getting the Historic Tax Credit for architecture restorations reauthorized. These efforts need spokespeople.

During Preservation Advocacy Week on Capitol Hill, the authors represented the Society for Historical Archaeology and our respective companies. We spent the week of March 13 flying to Washington, DC, learning the bill numbers and the congressional lingo, discussing strategies for how to talk with legislators and their staffers, and getting tips on what to say to get beyond the receptionist’s desk. Preservation Action is the nation’s oldest grassroots historic preservation advocate (founded in 1974). PA organizes Advocacy Week every year, held in conjunction with the National Council of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO) annual meeting. Accompanied by other state delegates and SHPO staff, armed with our business cards, a congressional letter from the Historic Preservation Fund’s co-sponsors, and wide smiles, the authors opened about two dozen office doors of House Representatives and Senators.

[pt id=’15438′ size=’medium’ class=’aligncenter’] View of the Capitol from Rayburn House Office Building (House of Representatives)

We learned that the halls of Congress are very long. House representatives are not in one building, but in three. Senators are in yet another three buildings. Washington, DC can be very cold in March (it snowed on us every day), House and Senate buildings are not next to one another, and although every building has nice views of the Capitol, Congress members and their aides walk in underground tunnels between office buildings and between offices and the Capitol, out of the cold and away from the public. Legislation is messy, many are shell shocked at the new administration (both sides of the aisle), but the best way to get heard is to show up in person. Constituents matter. Republican staffers respond best to discussions of the economic importance of heritage tourism. Democrat staffers respond best to representations of diversity, and the importance of history in education.

Our experiences were varied. For Rebecca, solely representing California, stating that she had traveled to DC from their home state got a “heads up” look from the receptionists of California representatives. Telling the receptionist that she was there to thank the Congressperson for their support of historic preservation got a smile and nod. Telling the person that she was an archaeologist got a conversation, and that she was as happy to talk with a staffer rather than directly with a congressperson got her four in-person meetings, and a dozen or so business cards of the right legislative staffer to email.

[pt id=’15437′ size=’medium’ class=’aligncenter’] Rebecca Allen standing outside Tom McClintock’s (R-CA 4th District) office. Mr. McClintock is the representative of El Dorado County where she lives, and yet it was easier to get an in-person meeting with his Legislative Aide in Washington, DC than his office in Roseville, California. According to his Aide, Mr. McClintock obsessively watches the History Channel.

For Sara, New York has a very active SHPO office as well as several non-profit preservation groups. Representatives from each of these organizations participated in the Hill visits along with her. A representative from the NY Governor’s Office scheduled all of the meetings with congressional staffers from numerous districts over a period of three days and attended many of the meetings with the larger group. Sara traveled with a large delegation that split 10 of NY Congressional offices between them. Joe also traveled with a larger Georgia delegation, and visited nine offices for congressional appointments. We all learned to be succinct, have Congressional bill numbers at the ready, and have arguments well-honed and backed with figures. We were also able to share information about successful projects that had a direct and positive effect on the districts that they represent, and detail the number of individuals that are employed (directly and peripherally) in our field.

Getting support for environmental issues in Washington must be a concerted and consistent effort for the next several years. We need your help. SHA, ACRA, SAA, and AAA have banded together to form the Coalition for American Heritage (http://www.heritagecoalition.org/ or https://www.facebook.com/heritagecoalition/). The Coalition hired Cultural Heritage Partners as our advocate in Washington, DC. Sign up for email on critical legislation on the Coalition’s website. You can also become a member ($40/year) and track happenings on the Hill at Preservation Action (http://www.preservationaction.org). Contribute to either or both. Proposed changes to environmental legislation and death by defunding or non-funding are coming fast and furious. Petitions and protests matter. Media articles and interviews matter. Emails and phone calls matter, but snail mail gets lost in the still-testing-for-anthrax ringer (send an email or better yet, call, instead).

What matters most? According to Javier Gamboa, Nanette Barragan’s (D-CA 44th District) Legislative Director, “Talking with your feet is important. When someone comes here all the way from [each state], we listen. Lobbyists are good, but having constituents in front of us is even better. Genuine and passionate people like you connect us directly to the issues at hand. It’s important. It lets us know what matters, and what is happening in [our home states].” As unique as it is visiting the DC offices of your congressperson, the opportunity is not only for those who can travel to our Nation’s Capital. Each of your Representatives and Senators has offices in their home district. It is just as important to take some time and visit them there when Congress in not in session. Remember to always bring your business card and some printed information to leave with the staff or your actual Congressperson when you go.

There is a “Dear Colleague” letter circulating Congress and asking for support for the HPF. Please email, call, or visit your state House Representatives and Senators, and ask them to sign-on to the HPF Dear Colleague Letter. The Dear Colleague letter closes on March 30th, so please contact your Congressional representatives now.

Thank you!

SHA @ March for Science

I am happy to announce that the SHA has signed on as a partner organization for the upcoming March for Science, to be held in Washington DC and many other locations across the United States on April 22, 2017.

The March for Science is a gathering of people concerned that scientific knowledge and the scientific process has come under attack and who want to have their voices heard by the new administration and congress.

The organizers and steering committee of the march come from varied fields in the sciences, including social sciences, as well as science education and journalism. They include Valorie Aquino, an archaeologist! SHA is excited to join with several other scientific organizations such as the American Anthropological Association, Sigma Xi, Earth Day Network, Union of Concerned Scientists, American Association of University Professors, and many others in supporting this important action for justice and evidence-based policies.

Here is the mission statement of the March for Science:

The March for Science champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.

You can learn more at the March website here:  https://www.marchforscience.com/

I have also set up a new Facebook group: SHA @ March for Science. Please join the group to keep up to date with the SHA’s role in the march and to find other historical archaeologists near you can march with!

Regional Introductions in Historical Archaeology

Readers of Historical Archaeology have certainly noticed the two shorter articles that open up the latest  issue of the journal (Vol 50.4). These are the articles on “Toward a South Asian Historical Archaeology” by Brian C. Wilson and Mark W. Hauser and “Historical Archaeology and Heritage in the Middle East: A Preliminary Overview” by Alasdair Brooks and Ruth Young. These are the first in a new series of articles in the journal of regional overview essays. Two more articles in the series are in the works and are slated to appear in the journal this year. These will be essays on eastern Africa by Jonathan Walz and southeast Asia by John Miksic.

I started this series in an effort to let readers know about historical archaeology being done in regions not typically represented in the journal and to bring greater awareness of Historical Archaeology and the SHA to researchers working there. I was inspired this by our discipline’s commitment to a global understanding of the modern era as well as our new publishing partnership with Springer, which will be giving us much greater worldwide exposure.

Obviously, it is a big world and there are many regions where historical archaeology is making excellent contribution outside of SHA’s traditional Americanist focus. If you are interested in contributing an article on recent research in your region of interest or would recommend a potential author for the series, please let me know!

Chris Matthews, editor

Historical Archaeology


Roundtable Luncheons at the 2017 SHA Annual Conference – Fort Worth, Texas | January 4-7, 2017

Hi there, everyone. Mason here. I’ve pulled down all of the Christmas lights and boxed up the tree so it’s time to roll up my sleeves and get ready for this year’s annual conference. Though I’m hoping you know the particulars by now, just in case, the 2017 Annual SHA Conference (the 50th Anniversary, mind you!) will be this week in Fort Worth, Texas (January 4th-7th, 2017). Head on over to the Omni in downtown Fort Worth this Wednesday and have some fun while you learn a thing or two.

I know I’m a bit late – but not too late – to talk about Roundtable Luncheons. There are nine different lunches between the proceedings on Thursday and Friday. All roundtable luncheons will cost $30. They are scheduled from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Omni Fort Worth Hotel, Stockyards 1. Several of them certainly caught my eye.

On Thursday, January 5th, the first session that resonates with me in particular is the “Jobs in Nautical Archaeology” session. I’m going to confess something: 15 years ago when I graduated from the Nautical Archaeology program at Texas A&M University I truly thought that people would be beating down my door offering me a job. Boy, was I wrong! It’s tough out there and I didn’t know the first thing on where to go, who to talk to, or how to have success in the industry! Benefit from my painfully embarrassing naivete, people! Talk with Paul Johnston of the Smithsonian Institution about the different avenues for careers in nautical archaeology and get a leg up on the competition.

Publishing helps a lot, that’s for sure! Come and attend the “Publishing Opportunities for my Research” roundtable on Thursday or the “SHA Publishing Opportunities for Students” roundtable on Friday to see where your research and your ideas can best get out to your colleagues and the public at large.

Once you’re in the “biz,” communication is one of the most essential tools (if not THE MOST) in your toolbelt. The session, “The Language of Advocacy” looks like a goody. Working in CRM, I am constantly talking with government employees and private companies who are weighing my findings against finite budgets. I’ve done my best in navigating these waters successfully, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way to go about it. This session seems like it could be a great learning opportunity.

Another notable roundtable follows a different track: “Marketing Heritage Tourism: Examples from the San Antonio Mission World Heritage Site and the Rio Grande Valley Civil War Trail.” A lot of us archaeologists are advocates for the resources with which we work. Heritage tourism is a relatively new solution to the continued problem of funding archaeological preservation and research. Look into it while you’re having your lunch!

On Friday, the roundtables continue. Much like the session on Thursday, the “Careers in CRM and Academia” is one from which I really would have benefited in my latter days of grad school and early days in the job market. It’s a chance to sit down with professionals who have cultivated a career and learn the ins and outs of an insider. I also have a personal interest in public engagement. I’m looking forward to potentially sitting down with Ms. Sara Ayers-Rigsby to talk about new ideas to grab the public’s attention and keep it. After all, they have the potential to be very strong advocates for the work that you do. Look into “Innovative Approaches to Public Engagement and Archaeology” if you’re hoping to excite and invigorate the general public about your site.

If curation is your thing, by all means, you should sit down with Sara Rivers-Cofield and Leigh Anne Ellison to talk about your concerns over long-term care of artifacts, documents, and general data. With the Center of Digital Antiquity being one of the participants, there’s little doubt that you’ll learn something new regarding curation technology. And last (but not least), there’s “Archaeology of Submerged Landscapes: New Directions for Underwater Research.” This roundtable will give the participant to look at bigger picture topics surrounding underwater research such as historic water level fluctuations and their impacts on human occupation. New and interesting stuff!

Ya’ gotta eat lunch anyway. Why not grab some food and talk shop with some innovators and experts in the industry.

50 year SHA online exhibit

In recognition of the 50th anniversary meeting of the SHA – to be held this week in Fort Worth, TX – the History Committee of the SHA is building an online exhibit celebrating 50 years of SHA. Check out all program covers from the past 50 years and an interactive map of past meeting locations: https://sha.org/online-exhibits/exhibits/show/fifty-years-of-sha

Throughout 2017, we will be adding a variety of materials, including photos from each meeting, video and audio recordings, and resources related to the founding of the society in 1967.

To ensure as wide a representation as possible of past SHA meetings, we will be reaching out for digital photo or scanned submissions, all of which will be preserved in a digital SHA history archive. To make a submission, please email sha50years@gmail.com.

There will be a variety of SHA 50th anniversary materials available at the meeting, including a commemorative publication recognizing Harrington Medal and Rupee Award recipients and a poster featuring all 50 annual meeting program covers.

See you in Forth Worth!

SHA Meet a Member: Ben Ford

Ben Ford teaches at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Archaeology Questions

What’s the most interesting artifact you’ve ever found?

I am very fond of the coffee grinder and coffee beans that were recovered from the Mardi Gras Shipwreck. The Mardi Gras Shipwreck is the remains of a circa 1815 vessel located 4000 feet beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. This was the time when America’s caffeine addiction was shifting from tea to coffee because of ongoing hostilities with Britain and the ready availability of coffee from South America. Finding the coffee grinder on a ship lost between North and South America during this period of transition is a good example of how archaeology can make us reconsider the mundane. However, I can’t claim to have found this artifact. I was only one of more than 30 archaeologists, remotely operated vehicle pilots, crew members, ship captains, conservators, and others who were involved in recovering the artifact…but I still really like that coffee grinder.

Who influenced your decision to become an archaeologist?

I honestly, don’t remember who exactly influenced me to become an archaeologist, but I have the uncomfortable feeling that he might have had a whip and scar on his chin. On the other hand, I can say with certainty that Kent Vickery (University of Cincinnati) and John R. White (Youngstown University) influenced me to stay with anthropology and archaeology. They both showed me how much we can learn from the leavings of the past and how much fun it can be. I model many of my interactions with students on the way that Vickery treated me.

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

My first real archaeological experience was at the Stubbs Earthworks Site in Warren County, Ohio. I learned a lot there, including that sometimes features are only distinguishable by texture and that an experienced excavator with one arm is far more valuable than a zealous 18-year old (me). I’m currently working on three sites: I’m working with avocational archaeologists to record the remains of what appears to be the wreck of Durham boat in Lake Oneida. Students and I are also conducting a geophysical survey outside of a Revolutionary War fort on an island in the St. Lawrence River. Closer to home in Pennsylvania, I have a long-term project at the Revolutionary War era site of Hanna’s Town where we are doing targeted excavations and grappling with a rich collection that goes back four decades.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

This. There was a brief period when I wanted to be a lumberjack, but I settled on archaeology pretty early…even if I didn’t know exactly what it was. I was lucky that, while archaeology didn’t meet my teenage expectations, the combination of physical and mental exertion appealed to me. It doesn’t hurt that being an archaeologist is better than having a real job.

SHA Questions

Why are you a member of SHA?

I am an SHA member because this is the only US organization that represents my interests as a maritime and historical archaeologist. The organization supports what I do by disseminating information and advocating for cultural resources, so I support what it does by being a member.

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

I joined SHA during my first year of graduate school.

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

I’ve been a member for 16 years.

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

I was influenced by Charles Cheek’s “Massachusetts Bay Foodways: Regional and Class Influences.” I liked that it answered large-scale questions using data collected from CRM excavations.

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

The journal on a day-to-day basis and the conference as a special treat. I almost always leave the annual conference energized about the potential for historical and underwater archaeology, but it is the journal that carries me through the year once the excitement of the annual meetings fades. I use the journal weekly in my research and teaching.

Tours at the 2017 SHA Annual Conference – Fort Worth, Texas | January 4-7, 2017

OK! How’s that shopping list coming? You getting it squared away? I’m going to say that mine’s a… work in progress. I haven’t forgotten about the SHA Conference coming up in just a few weeks (January 4, 2017) in lovely Fort Worth, Texas. While there will be all kinds of great symposia and individual talks to see and plenty of opportunities to catch up with – and learn from – colleagues, conferences like these are also a chance to experience some things that you just can’t see closer to your own homes. A chance to get out and see a new city, learn about its unique history and culture first-hand. Unless you live in Fort Worth, in which case… yeah, you might be ok to do other stuff. I remember at six years old when I lived in San Antonio, I got SO SICK of visiting the Alamo every time a relative would visit. And when I moved to DC, I never thought it could happen but you really can reach a moon-rock-touching saturation point… and don’t get me started on “the Exorcist” steps… I digress…

Let’s talk about tours! This year’s conference features four tours. All of them are scheduled for Wednesday, January 4th. They all originate from the conference hotel, the Omni. Please bear in mind that if you signed up for a workshop, you should check those times against the tours to make sure you don’t have a conflict and I’d bet you probably would.

The first tour that I wanted to talk about is T-3 – the Fort Worth Architectural Walking Tour. Fort Worth is a great city. It’s big but it doesn’t necessarily feel big. And for some reason it feels more Texan than others do (I may catch some flak for that…). I think a lot of that comes from the fact that so much of its original architecture remains intact. You can get a sense of the original city if you get out of the car and walk around and this tour is perfect for that. You’ll see the site of “Hell’s Half Acre” one of the bawdiest, most violent, and generally infamous-iest(?) Red Light Districts in the American West (and that’s quite the scale to be at the top of, I’d say). After driving all those cattle for mile after mile after mile to the stockyards, I’m sure folks were ready to let off some steam and this spot was where that happened. There’s also early “skyscrapers”, municipal buildings, and other features all tucked into the main downtown area. It’s a really nice walk and well worth a gander.

Livestock Exchange Building in Downtown Fort Worth – 1920s (source: United States Library of Congress).

T-4 – the Fort Worth Cultural District Tour is a great chance to take in some of Fort Worth’s proudest attractions. This tour is a wonderful way to make a leisurely (or ambitious if you’d prefer) day of art and culture out of the conference’s opening. There’s the Amon Carter Museum, the Kimbell Art Museum, the Modern Art Museum (“the Modern” for those in “the Know”), the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, and the National Museum of the Cowgirl and Hall of Fame. The Amon Carter Museum is a great celebration of American Art. Right now they’re featuring a limited exhibit on American Photographs that’ll be just about to wrap up when you’re there. Moving over to the Kimbell, you can take in works from Monet, Michelangelo, and Matisse and see sculpture and other arts that span centuries from across the globe. Even the building is a work of art! Go check it out! The Modern is a great place to marvel at and pretend you understand (maybe that’s just me) modern works of art by the likes of Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Susan Rothenberg. Standing next to one another, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and the National Museum of the Cowgirl and Hall of Fame are also on the docket. The Science Museum covers such topics as astronomy, paleontology (including dinosaurs!), energy and the Cowgirl Museum is the only such facility in the world dedicated to the women of the Wild West. The Cowgirl Museum is also the site of the next night’s social event and barbecue. So while you’re there taking in the art and history of the American West, maybe you could hang your coat over a chair and save your spot for the barbecue.

Kimbell Art Museum

The view of the interior of the Kimbell Art Museum.

On this tour remember that museum admission is not included so if you want to go to the Modern, or the National Museum of the Cowgirl or the Fort Worth Science Museum, you’ll need to pay the admission fee. If you’re a student, bring your ID for a student discount.

You don’t have to stick to Fort Worth for the tours, though. Two of the tours take you over to Dallas. North Central Texas (and the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in particular) boasts one of the largest and oldest African American communities in the state. Come see the history of this vibrant group with T1- Facing the Rising Sun—A View of a Late-19th- to Early-20th-Century African American Community. On this tour you will visit the Dallas African American museum where you can learn about the Freedman’s Cemetery excavation project which took place during the 1990s and early 2000s. The guides of the tour include Duane Peter, the Principal Investigator of the cemetery excavation, and Phillip Collins, a descendant of the early African American Community there and former Curator of the museum. What a great way to learn about this specific portion of Dallas’, Texas’, and the nation’s history than to hear from those who live there. You’ll also visit the Freedman’s Cemetery and from there continue on to Saint Luke Community United Methodist Church to admire the beautiful stained glass featuring 54 scenes from the community. A one-of-a-kind opportunity right there and a great tour all around!

Saint Luke's Stained Glass

One of the stained glass scenes from the Saint Luke Community Church.

Finally, it’s pretty well known that John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas as he waved to the crowd from his motorcade on a warm November afternoon in 1963. Lee Harvey Oswald, after firing from the schoolbook depository escaped to a movie theater where he was eventually apprehended and ultimately killed in front of live news cameras as he was transferred out of the Dallas Police Headquarters. One of the Nation’s darkest and most talked about moments in history unfolded right downtown. And as someone who’s passed by all the landmarks many times, they are still amazing to see. With T-2 – John F. Kennedy Assassination Tour, you’ll see it all. Starting from the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth, where Kennedy spent his last night, you’ll head by bus to Dealey Plaza in Dallas to see the spot where the President was shot and visit the Sixth Floor Museum to learn about the event. You’ll visit the famed “Grassy Knoll” and see Zapruder’s (of the famed Zapruder Film) offices and head on to Oswald’s residence in Oak Cliff where the infamous photograph was taken. There are many other stops along the way but you’ll eventually make your way back to Fort Worth where you’ll see Oswald’s grave site and conclude at the Ozzie Rabbit (Oswald’s USMC nickname) bar. Led by the tour organizer, Joseph Murphey, historical architect with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District, anyone will find this tour interesting and sobering (except for the bar part, I guess). I’ve taken a similar tour to this one and it really is one of those permanent memories in my mind that I’m so glad I took part in. So much history that’s still there just as it was and all in one place.

One of the final moments of Kennedy’s motorcade before the assassination in Dallas.

Anyway, that’s it! Your tours! Get in there and sign up folks, or at the least sign up when you arrive on January 4th.

Until next time.

Space Still Available for GMAC Anti-Racism Training Workshops at SHA 2017 Conference

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Dear SHA Members,

As you may know, the Gender and Minority Affairs Committee (GMAC) of the SHA is sponsoring two Anti-Racism (A-R) Training Workshops at the upcoming meeting in Fort Worth. An introductory workshop is scheduled for Saturday morning (January 7, 2017) and a Second-Steps workshop is scheduled for Sunday morning (January 8). I am writing to invite you to participate in this important work.

I twice attended a 2.5-day A-R workshop in Kalamazoo, Michigan, offered by Crossroads trainers, the same folks who we have been working with since the Seattle meeting. The workshops showed me that institutional racism was not of my making. It nevertheless harms people of color, provides white people with unearned privileges, and generally dehumanizes us all. In short, the work has been life affirming. I emerged from the workshops with a new resolve to try to change the institutions with which I associate, including the SHA. I feel responsible to help expose how the impacts of structural racism in the SHA make us a less inclusive organization.

I can guarantee that you will find the workshops worthwhile and strongly urge you to register before the Monday, December 19 deadline. You will gain a powerful analysis of racial relations and be on the right side of history as SHA enters our next half century. Help us create a mandate to examine how we can interrupt institutional racism in our Society and our discipline. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the workshop or our intent.

In community,

Michael S. Nassaney
Chair, A-R subcommittee of the GMAC
Former SHA Secretary, 2006-2011
SHA Conference Co-chair, 2016

Workshops at the 2017 SHA Annual Conference – Fort Worth, Texas | January 4-7, 2017

SHA Badge

Howdy folks!

I hope that you’re surviving the crazy holiday season and looking forward to the SHA’s annual conference. This year, the conference mozies on down to Fort Worth, Texas where there will certainly be a lot to talk about, to see, and to do. Over the next few weeks, I wanted to use this space to dig a little bit into the SHA Program and provide my thoughts on those items that piqued my interest. The preliminary program is available now for your own review, but here are some of the highlights that I saw in reviewing it. There are some neat topics, tours, and workshops there that get me looking forward to the meeting!

For today, I’m going to focus on some of the Workshops that struck a particular chord with me. There are several to choose from. My mentioning specific ones below should not discourage you from checking out all of them. As the preliminary agenda says, all of these will be held on Wednesday, January 4th with the exception of the GMAC Anti-Racism Training Workshops, which will be held on Saturday and Sunday, January 7th and 8th.

Being someone who has a keen interest in digital media and has dabbled (albeit ham-fistedly – I figured out how to make a somewhat convincing martini glass once!) in the world of 3D Graphics, the first workshop that jumped out at me was WKS-06: Digital Heritage for Historical Archaeology: A Practicum in 3-D Modeling. I have always wanted to find better ways to give non-archaeologists new avenues to understand an excavation and 2D drawings, though great, often come up short. I have seen 3D graphics as a great tool to make excavations and artifacts ‘come alive’ (as the saying probably way too often goes) but have not been able to figure out the software by teaching myself; the the programs are just too different, I suppose. This course, directed by Edward González-Tennant of Digital Heritage Interactive, LLC, could be just the ticket to getting someone like myself over that seemingly steep initial learning curve and into “smooth sailing” territory. Then I could start viewing, analyzing, and presenting field data in a new way!

The company that I work for conducts surveys on occasion on military training areas and ordnance is always a concern. That’s where a course like WKS-01: Ordnance Identification and Threat Assessment (Instructor: Tom Gersbeck from Oklahoma State University) comes in. In some instances on field projects, training is pretty basic prior to going out to do a survey. Having a practical, beginner’s guide to identifying ordnance in the field taught by a person there in the room with you (versus on an online video) could be fantastic! The subject ties loosely with WKS-07: Battlefield Workshop for Contractors and Grant Applicants taught by Kristen McMasters of the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program, too. In this workshop, the NPS will provide some great guidance on American battlefield preservation initiatives and associated grant programs. Being honest, I wasn’t aware of the ABPP before I read this program. What a great job they are doing and I welcome them to Texas to inform others of how they can help us all out in our work on these historic sites.

The Underwater Cultural Awareness Workshop (WKS-04; taught by Amy Mitchell-Cook from the Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology) would also be very handy in helping to better understand how to explain underwater cultural resources to non-underwater archaeologists. Though I have my master’s in nautical archaeology, I could see a lot of benefit in viewing these resources from a non-practitioner’s point of view to find ways to better convey findings. It’s also always good to have a brush-up on international legislation.

Also, most of us are at least familiar with GIS; maybe not in direct practice, but we’re pretty aware of its capabilities. GIS is THE TOOL for geographic data collection and interpretation and learning to use even the basics of it can be very helpful for the experienced veteran and the new student coming up. If you’re interested, consider enrolling in Kyle Walker’s (Texas Christian University) WKS-02: Geographic Information Systems. As an added bonus, this class being held offsite at TCU’s campus there in downtown Fort Worth (travel is included). It is a beautiful campus (and that’s saying a lot coming from this University of Texas Longhorn) so I encourage you to go check it out.    

Needless to say, race and racism have been a bit of a theme of late on the national stage here in the United States. I have considered archaeology to be a profession and science in which that topic really doesn’t come up very often. That’s quite possibly the result of me simply being unaware, though. That certainly doesn’t mean that it isn’t there and it isn’t worth discussion. Shoot, the fact that there’s a Gender and Minority Affairs Committee (GMAC) suggests as much. Accordingly, I am more than a little curious about WKS-08: GMAC Introduction to Systemic Racism Workshop and WKS-09: GMAC Second-Steps Antiracist Workshop: Becoming an Antiracist Multicultural Institution, both hosted by Flordeliz T. Bugarin (Howard University), Michael S. Nassaney (Western Michigan University), and Crossroads Antiracism Organizing & Training. Split over two days, this course will provide attendees with an opportunity to speak about their own perspectives and see the viewpoints of others on this difficult topic. It will be particularly eye-opening to learn others’ findings on the racialization of our discipline.

In my 15+ years as a professional archaeologist, I haven’t worked with human remains very much until fairly recently. I don’t know if that makes me an anomaly or not, but a couple recent projects and all of a sudden WKS-05: Practical Aspects of Bioarchaeology and Human Skeletal Analysis (Chairs: Thomas Crist, Utica College, and Kimberly Morrell, AECOM) is speaking to me. In the few instances where I have worked with burials and human remains, I’m keenly aware of how much more there is for me to learn about the identification and analysis of burials and how best to effectively engage descendant groups and get the public interested in these sites. This seems like a fantastic place to start.

With the course being offered almost every year since (We’re Gonna Party Like It’s) 1999, it is clear that WKS-03: Archaeological Illustration (Instructor: Jack Scott from Jack Scott Creative) is a tried and true winner! Like the 3D course, this is one that I would bet an illustration novice could walk in saying to him/herself, “I’ll never be able to do something like that…” and then walk out saying, “Hey! Look what I learned how to do!” And if you aren’t much for traditional pen-and-ink illustration techniques, I bet you could pick up a wealth of guidance on common illustration conventions, printing concerns, and more for direct application in digital media as well. To commemorate its long run, I wonder if Mr. Scott will play “Believe” by Cher (the top song from 1999 according to Billboard) for a little concentration music. Maybe some Smashmouth? Anyway…   

There, I went and did it.  I was only going to talk about the ones that really jumped out at me and I wound up talking about all of them.  I guess that means I have a bit of a decision ahead of me, don’t I? While I mull this over, you check out the program and get yourself registered! Talk to you soon!

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