The Art of the Conference

The 119th Annual Archaeological Institute of America conference was held in Boston Massachusetts from January 4th-7th. I almost didn’t make it to Boston because of the massive winter storm that hit the Eastern Seaboard on the 4th. Boston was shut down, every flight into the city was cancelled. I managed to get an 8 o’clock flight the next day that would get me in Boston by 10:00 am. The poster session which I was participating in began at 11:00 am. To make matters little more interesting, the guy sitting across the aisle from me realized that he did not have his phone AFTER the cabin door was shut. By some miracle, I made it to the conference hotel by 11 am and was able to have my poster up only 15 minutes late. This was not the first time that I had attended the AIA’s. But this was an especially exciting conference for me because it was the first time that I was presenting, rather than just attending. I’ve noticed that every time I attend a conference there is a certain theme that pops up each year, last year it was drones and 3D modeling of sites. This year it was “the long duree.” I found this to be quite fortuitous because my own thesis research encompasses quite an extensive time period, from 1100 BC to 395 AD. So, I guess you could say my research fit in with the crowd.


I stood proudly by my poster, in the very clothes I had traveled in. It didn’t matter anymore, I was there, and my poster was up. And within minutes of setting up, I had my first observer come up. Not only did he like my poster but he was specifically keeping an eye out for it after reading about it in the program! The content of my poster focused on the preliminary results of my thesis research. I am looking at the settlement patterns in Albania from the Iron Age, through Greek colonization and Roman integration. Essentially looking to see if there is a change in the settlement pattern between the three periods and if so, what is the nature of the change. My preliminary results show that through time the amount of clustering of sites increases, and the location of these clusters changes. The biggest change is in the clustering from the north to the south for the prehistoric period to the Greek and Roman periods. Also of note is the presence of a linear cluster along the Via Egnatia during the Roman period.

Conferences are an interesting thing. For the seasoned experts, they are like a big reunion. They are fun, a way to reconnect with old colleagues and present their latest findings.  For a newcomer like myself, they can be a bit daunting. Think “little fish, big pond”. Yet, no matter how daunting they can be, I urge every newcomer, myself included, to swallow their fear and take the plunge. The more you go, the more comfortable you become, and the more opportunities you open up for yourself. Conferences are a great way to stay up to date with what is going on in your field. What methods people are using, what discoveries they have made and what conclusions these new methods and discoveries lead too. They are also a good way to network and meet new people. This is especially important if you want to make a career for yourself in academia. You can meet professors who teach at the universities you might apply to, or meet the directors of projects you might want to attend.

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While I am by no means a conference wiz, in fact, I am quite the opposite. I have come up with a set of guidelines for myself as I navigate the art conferencing which might also be useful to anyone else new to the process.

  • Start small – if you, like myself, are a bit on the socially awkward, shy, side when it comes to these things, don’t leap head first into a big (and expensive) conference that is far far away. Instead, go to a local conference for a day. Walk around, listen to some talks, and try to ask at least one question or introduce yourself to one person.
  • Apply for funding – everywhere! Exhaust all of your resources. There are a wealth of grants, scholarships, and funding opportunities out there, so apply to all that you can. Start within your department, and then branch out. Don’t forget to see if the conference you’re attending offers funding too!
  • Get involved – by this I mean, make your way into the program. Now this doesn’t mean you have to get up there and present a paper, but presenting something is a good way to network. I suggest starting small in this case as well. Maybe present a paper the first time, do a lighting session presentation the next time and then a paper presentation, whatever you are comfortable with.
  • Volunteer – this is a really good way to meet people and network.
  • Always have someone double check your poster before you print it. Always.
  • Travel with friends or colleagues if you can. If you know someone who will be attending, contact them to meet up for a coffee and catch up. I know this may sound silly, but if you’re travelling to a city or country you’ve never been, travelling with people you know or meeting up with a friend make the whole thing more fun.
  • Introduce yourself – if you see someone who you want to meet or whose work you admire, go, and introduce yourself. What’s the worse that could happen? They could half-heartedly shake your hand and walk away? That’s not so bad. This doesn’t mean you should just march right on up at any time however. Bathroom? Yea, not a good place to say “hi”. Look for an appropriate moment, one of my profs told us once that the book room is the best place to introduce yourself as often people that are there are killing time.
  • Dress appropriately – this doesn’t mean full formal attire and perfectly ironed lapels. We are archaeologists. But remember that conferences are a professional event, you’re essentially presenting yourself as an academic, and I won’t say looks, but presentation matters.
  • Have fun – remember that this is supposed to be a positive experience. So, enjoy yourself. And if you are in a new city or country, do some sightseeing!

So good luck to all the novices going to conferences this year, knock em dead! And if you’re wondering about the guy and his phone, he decided he would not stall the plane. His good karma paid off as it turned out the phone had fallen between the seats behind him. Guess it was a happy ending for everyone.

By: Erina Baci



MSU Students Attend ASOR

The American School of Oriental Research (ASOR) hosts a conference once a year where Near Eastern Archaeologists can come together to share recent research and learn about the new and exciting strides that are being made in the field. This year the conference occurred from November 15th-18th in Boston, Massachusetts. The conference was attended by MSU’s Dr. James Hardin and Dr. Joe Seger, as well as four graduate students, including Lydia Buckner, Dylan Karges, Kara Larson, and Erika Neimann.  ASOR was opened by a plenary address by Irene J. Winter, followed with a reception on Wednesday night.  Thursday through Saturday hosted a number of panels and sessions focused on a variety of archaeological subjects in the Near Eastern region.

Lydia Buckner, along with University of Wisconsin PhD candidate and fellow Tell el-Hesi member, Geoffrey Ludvik, organized and co-chaired a session entitled, “Border Dynamics in the Tenth Century B.C.E. Levant: A Junior Scholars’ Panel”. The panel was designed to address recent research by graduate students into strategies of border administration and inter-cultural interaction in the Early Iron Age of the Levant. The papers focused on key sites and discoveries in ancient Israel, Judah, and the Transjordan. Lydia presented the opening and closing remarks for the panel, which took place on Thursday afternoon.


Erika Neimann presented a poster, co-authored with recent MSU Master’s graduate, Billy Wilemon, entitled, “PRXF and Vessel Form Analysis” during the Projects on Parade session on Saturday. The poster explored if portable X-ray Fluorescence (PXRF) can be used in archaeological analysis as a tool to identify whole vessel forms of pottery sherds based on similarities among elemental compositions in the Iron II stratum at Tel Halif. The research analyzed if different ceramic forms used specific clays or pastes, indicated a level of informed decision making toward clays for particular types of vessels.


On Saturday afternoon, Kara Larson was invited to attend the Eurasian Archaeology Isotope Research Group meeting to discuss future avenues for isotopic research in the field. Furthermore, all four of the graduate students, along with Dr. James Hardin, attended the Tell el-Hesi Board and Publications Committee meeting to establish future endeavors for the Tell el-Hesi project. Following the meeting, the graduate students attended the conference reception held at the Semitic Museum at Harvard University. The students were able to view the artifacts on display, and were especially excited by the Iron Age reconstruction of an ancient Israel household.

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The conference was highly successful and allowed MSU’s attending faculty and students to make connections in their academic field, as well as invigorate their passion for Near Eastern Archaeology. Everyone is excited to bring back the information that was gained during the course of the conference and apply it to their own research projects and course work.

By Kara Larson

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Fall Events Summary

Mock Excavations

On October 7th and November 28th,  youth from local elementary schools and the community visited the Cobb Institute of Archaeology to participate in our annual Mock excavation It was originally developed as an outreach program in 2008 by Dylan Karges as part of an Archaeology Month program for Eupora Arts Inc, the local arts agency in Eupora, MS. This coordinated a month of activities to engage the public with art and archaeology with art workshops for children to create their own work and then return to excavate them in the first edition of the mock excavation. These activities were held in conjunction with exhibitions of artifacts and illustrations from Tell Halif, Israel and a lecture by Dr. Hardin to discuss the finds and context of Tell Halif.  In 2011, Dylan, Tim Frank – a graduate student with experience at Tell Halif, and Verna Gentile – an undergraduate in Anthropology worked to coordinate the first mock excavation held at MSU, the “Excavation Simulation Station.” The name was shortened after that year, but the programming continues to serve the community.

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The mock excavation has one mission and that is to share with the youth of our community and beyond the thrill of discovery through hands-on learning in the science of archaeology. Through a simulated archaeological site designed and installed by current graduate and undergraduate students in Anthropology at MSU, AMEC engages in a public archaeology program that promotes understanding and appreciation for archaeology as a discipline and for the artifacts found all around us. This program bridges the gaps in understanding and misunderstanding about the importance of our collective past, the cultural heritage of our native peoples, and the preservation of artifacts and sites for a broader understanding of history and each other.

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For many of us, our love of archaeology comes from when we were children ourselves. From a curiosity about the past and a love of digging around in the dirt. Seeing the excitement and joy on the faces of the kids that participate in this program as they “discover” artifacts and piece together what they might be able to tell us is truly rewarding.

By Dylan Karges and Erina Baci


Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead, a holiday celebrated primarily in Mexico, begins on October 31st and ends on November 2nd. It is a time of celebration and family. Families create altars filled with food, photos, and memorabilia of their departed loved ones to entice them to spend time with their still living family members. In honor of this holiday, the Latino Student Association, Anthropology Club, the Spanish Honors Society, and the Multicultural Greek Council got together to host a Day of the Dead celebration.

The event was held on November 2nd, in front of Lee Hall. There were 4 booths that each organization helped to put together. These booths included art and crafts, such as sugar skull decorating and face painting.

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It also included an information booth about Day of the Dead and a food booth where Mexican hot chocolate and the Mexican sweet bread conchas were served.



In a separate location not far from the celebration, there was an altar where people could place their decorated sugar skulls as well as memoirs of their loved ones who have passed.


Later, someone from the Spanish Honors Society gave a presentation on Day of the Dead. They offered information on what the holiday meant to the Mexican identity, for those in Mexico and for migrants who are now in the United States. Altar size and offerings, traditional festivities, food and drinks, and even clothing, were all discussed in the presentation.

They also emphasized  the importance of not having this holiday lumped in with Halloween, which is a common occurrence as Day of the Dead is close to the more popularized holiday. Though people celebrate Day of the Dead with skeletonized embodiments, it is not worn as a costume as in Halloween. Instead, it started as satirical commentary of Mexican culture but later became a part of the fun festivities of the holiday. Today, it would not be uncommon to see people on the streets of Mexico celebrating Dia de los Muertos in full body skeleton regalia, as seen below.



The Day of the Dead event was a great success, thanks to the cooperation of many different groups. Sharing this cultural tradition with others who are ready to learn and become a part of the holiday in a respectful way encourages unity and bolsters friendships. The hope is to continue the tradition in coming years and to inform and education on this very special celebration.

By Andrea Lopez


Ingomar Mounds Mississippi Archaeology Month Event

Ingomar Mounds held its Mississippi Archaeology Month event on Saturday, October 28th. This event gave a snapshot into what life would have been like for those who built the mounds. A small team of archaeologists from the Cobb Institute of Archaeology set up a table at the opening of the site to display artifacts and to model some flintknapping. Petra Banks is pictured below showing off her flintknapping skills. William Harris (pictured to the left showing a few tourists some artifacts) led tours of the mound and the surrounding areas. The mound can be accessed by a flight of stairs and was fascinating to witness.

The event also hosted several individuals who were marketing their own flintknapping handiwork. A variety of items were on display, such as flinted glass, bison tooth necklaces, and stone points. It was fascinating to see such craftsmanship and skill in flintknapping. I know from a small amount of experience and a large number of smashed fingers and whacked thighs that flintknapping is not an easy task to get right. The Ingomar event gave me and the others who visited the site a chance to see what real flintknapping expertise looks like.

In addition to the variety of fascinating tents, there was also a chance for visitors to show their skills at atlatl throwing and bow and arrow shooting, or to learn for the first time. A few skilled individuals were happy to show us how to hold the arrow correctly and some of us even managed to hit the target!

Ingomar Mounds hosted a fantastic Archaeology Month event and everyone from eight-year-old amateur flintknappers to eighty-year-old history buffs could find something with which to get their hands dirty.

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By Cate McAlpine


Welcoming New Faculty

This​ ​fall​ ​AMEC​ ​welcomed​ ​Dr.​ ​Bill​ ​Cooke​ ​and​ ​Dr.​ ​Karen​ ​Williams​ ​to​ ​the​ ​faculty​ ​team​ ​and congratulated​ ​Dr.​ ​Evan​ ​Peacock​ ​on​ ​his​ ​new​ ​position​ ​as​ ​Interim​ ​Director​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Cobb​ ​Institute.​ ​In​ ​this​ ​blog post,​ ​we​ ​hope​ ​to​ ​introduce​ ​these​ ​three​ ​faculty​ ​members​ ​and​ ​to​ ​welcome​ ​them​ ​into​ ​their​ ​new​ ​positions.

Dr.​ ​Bill​ ​Cooke:​ ​Interim​ ​Department​ ​Head

Dr.​ ​Bill​ ​Cooke​ ​is​ ​serving​ ​as​ ​the​ ​interim​ ​Department​ ​Head​ ​for​ ​AMEC.​ ​Dr.​ ​Cooke​ ​spent​ ​the​ ​last several​ ​years​ ​as​ ​head​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Geosciences​ ​Department​ ​at​ ​MSU.​ ​His​ ​plan​ ​was​ ​to​ ​step​ ​down​ ​as​ ​department head​ ​of​ ​Geology​ ​in​ ​order​ ​to​ ​return​ ​to​ ​research,​ ​teaching,​ ​and​ ​his​ ​work​ ​with​ ​the​ ​extension​ ​service. However,​ ​with​ ​the​ ​departure​ ​of​ ​Dr.​ ​Michael​ ​Galaty​ ​in​ ​the​ ​spring,​ ​Dr.​ ​Cooke​ ​was​ ​asked​ ​by​ ​the​ ​Dean​ ​of Arts​ ​and​ ​Sciences​ ​to​ ​fill​ ​the​ ​vacancy.​ ​While​ ​Dr.​ ​Cooke​ ​was​ ​greatly​ ​looking​ ​forward​ ​to​ ​getting​ ​back​ ​to teaching​ ​and​ ​research,​ ​he​ ​happily​ ​agreed​ ​to​ ​come​ ​serve​ ​the​ ​AMEC​ ​faculty.​ ​Through​ ​his​ ​previous experience​ ​with​ ​AMEC,​ ​he​ ​knew​ ​that​ ​he​ ​liked​ ​the​ ​people​ ​here.​ ​AMEC​ ​welcomed​ ​him​ ​with​ ​open​ ​arms and​ ​gave​ ​him​ ​a​ ​tour​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Hester​ ​Site​ ​which​ ​gave​ ​Dr.​ ​Cooke​ ​a​ ​chance​ ​to​ ​nerd​ ​out​ ​about​ ​stratigraphy.​ ​As a​ ​lifetime​ ​learner,​ ​he​ ​is​ ​most​ ​excited​ ​to​ ​learn​ ​more​ ​about​ ​the​ ​world​ ​class​ ​research​ ​being​ ​done​ ​by​ ​AMEC faculty.

Dr.​ ​Cooke’s​ ​previous​ ​research​ ​projects​ ​are​ ​too​ ​numerous​ ​to​ ​list​ ​here.​ ​One​ ​of​ ​the​ ​projects​ ​he talks​ ​most​ ​about​ ​is​ ​predictive​ ​modeling​ ​of​ ​wildfire​ ​locations​ ​considering​ ​human​ ​behavior​ ​as​ ​a​ ​variable​ ​in order​ ​to​ ​predict​ ​locations​ ​susceptible​ ​to​ ​arson.​ ​However,​ ​if​ ​money​ ​was​ ​no​ ​object,​ ​Dr.​ ​Cooke​ ​would​ ​most like​ ​to​ ​return​ ​to​ ​his​ ​epidemiological​ ​research​ ​using​ ​geospatial​ ​sciences​ ​to​ ​help​ ​understand​ ​the relationship​ ​between​ ​disease​ ​spread​ ​and​ ​the​ ​environment​ ​(specifically​ ​pollution)​ ​for​ ​predictive modeling.​ ​His​ ​hope​ ​is​ ​that​ ​this​ ​research​ ​will​ ​help​ ​humans​ ​decrease​ ​the​ ​amount​ ​of​ ​ecological​ ​damage​ ​we do​ ​while​ ​mitigating​ ​economical​ ​and​ ​health​ ​concerns​ ​as​ ​well.​ ​It​ ​seems​ ​like​ ​he​ ​will​ ​fit​ ​right​ ​into​ ​the​ ​applied approach​ ​AMEC​ ​is​ ​centered​ ​around.

In​ ​addition​ ​to​ ​his​ ​duties​ ​as​ ​department​ ​head,​ ​Dr.​ ​Cooke​ ​plays​ ​tennis​ ​and​ ​is​ ​a​ ​member​ ​of​ ​a​ ​local band.​ ​He​ ​considers​ ​himself​ ​equal​ ​parts​ ​academic,​ ​athlete,​ ​and​ ​musician.​ ​If​ ​you​ ​ask​ ​him​ ​which​ ​one​ ​he would​ ​give​ ​up​ ​he​ ​can’t​ ​even​ ​decide.​ ​Each​ ​of​ ​his​ ​passions​ ​feeds​ ​greatly​ ​into​ ​the​ ​others​ ​and​ ​they​ ​have become​ ​inseparable.​ ​For​ ​instance,​ ​being​ ​a​ ​tennis​ ​coach​ ​for​ ​years​ ​before​ ​returning​ ​to​ ​academia​ ​shaped his​ ​classroom​ ​demeanor.​ ​And​ ​his​ ​love​ ​for​ ​creating​ ​music​ ​taught​ ​him​ ​patience,​ ​persistence,​ ​and​ ​the importance​ ​of​ ​having​ ​fun.​ ​In​ ​any​ ​conversation​ ​with​ ​Dr.​ ​Cooke,​ ​you​ ​can​ ​sense​ ​the​ ​sincerity​ ​in​ ​his​ ​voice when​ ​he​ ​talks​ ​about​ ​how​ ​excited​ ​he​ ​is​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a​ ​part​ ​of​ ​AMEC​ ​and​ ​how​ ​much​ ​he​ ​looks​ ​forward​ ​to​ ​the​ ​next year​ ​here.

Dr.​ ​Evan​ ​Peacock:​ ​Interim​ ​Director​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Cobb

Dr.​ ​Evan​ ​Peacock​ ​has​ ​been​ ​a​ ​part​ ​of​ ​the​ ​AMEC​ ​faculty​ ​for​ ​many​ ​years​ ​but​ ​this​ ​year​ ​Dr.​ ​Peacock took​ ​on​ ​a​ ​new​ ​role​ ​as​ ​interim​ ​Director​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Cobb​ ​Institute.​ ​He​ ​will​ ​serve​ ​the​ ​Cobb​ ​in​ ​this​ ​position​ ​for two​ ​years​ ​while​ ​a​ ​permanent​ ​director​ ​is​ ​found.

Dr.​ ​Peacock​ ​first​ ​became​ ​interested​ ​in​ ​archaeology​ ​after​ ​finding​ ​an​ ​arrow​ ​head​ ​on​ ​his​ ​family farm​ ​when​ ​he​ ​was​ ​ten.​ ​This​ ​find​ ​prompted​ ​him​ ​to​ ​read​ ​countless​ ​books​ ​and​ ​ask​ ​many​ ​more​ ​questions. He​ ​came​ ​to​ ​MSU​ ​for​ ​his​ ​Bachelor’s​ ​degree​ ​before​ ​earning​ ​both​ ​his​ ​Master’s​ ​and​ ​PhD​ ​from​ ​the​ ​University of​ ​Sheffield​ ​in​ ​England.​ ​He​ ​is​ ​currently​ ​working​ ​on​ ​many​ ​different​ ​research​ ​projects​ ​but​ ​is​ ​so​ ​enthusiastic about​ ​each​ ​one​ ​that​ ​he​ ​is​ ​unwilling​ ​to​ ​contract​ ​his​ ​to-do​ ​list.​ ​His​ ​current​ ​projects​ ​include​ ​writing​ ​a​ ​book about​ ​the​ ​Lyons​ ​Bluff​ ​site,​ ​studying​ ​freshwater​ ​mussels​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Yazoo​ ​Basin,​ ​and​ ​studying​ ​chemical sourcing​ ​of​ ​shell​ ​and​ ​shell​ ​tempered​ ​pottery.​ ​If​ ​he​ ​had​ ​all​ ​the​ ​money​ ​in​ ​the​ ​world​ ​to​ ​dedicate​ ​to​ ​a project​ ​he​ ​would​ ​choose​ ​the​ ​chemical​ ​sourcing​ ​research.​ ​Shells​ ​have​ ​held​ ​a​ ​special​ ​place​ ​in​ ​his​ ​heart since​ ​his​ ​time​ ​as​ ​a​ ​graduate​ ​student.

In​ ​Dr.​ ​Peacock’s​ ​new​ ​position​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Cobb​ ​Institute​ ​he​ ​hopes​ ​to​ ​continue​ ​the​ ​mutually reinforcing​ ​relationship​ ​that​ ​the​ ​Institute​ ​has​ ​with​ ​the​ ​Department​ ​and​ ​looks​ ​forward​ ​to​ ​planning​ ​the Cobb’s​ ​future,​ ​specifically​ ​expanding​ ​the​ ​interdisciplinary​ ​work​ ​already​ ​being​ ​done.​ ​​ ​Although​ ​Dr. Peacock​ ​is​ ​not​ ​new​ ​to​ ​AMEC,​ ​we​ ​congratulate​ ​him​ ​on​ ​his​ ​new​ ​position​ ​and​ ​are​ ​excited​ ​to​ ​see​ ​what​ ​the future​ ​has​ ​in​ ​store.

Dr.​ ​Karen​ ​Williams:​ ​newest​ ​AMEC​ ​professor​ ​of​ ​Cultural​ ​Anthropology

Dr.​ ​Karen​ ​Williams,​ ​a​ ​cultural​ ​anthropologist,​ ​comes​ ​to​ ​us​ ​from​ ​the​ ​City​ ​University​ ​of​ ​New​ ​York (CUNY)​ ​with​ ​a​ ​PhD​ ​in​ ​Anthropology.​ ​But​ ​did​ ​you​ ​know​ ​she​ ​got​ ​her​ ​B.F.​ ​A.​ ​in​ ​Fashion​ ​Design​ ​and Performance​ ​Art​ ​and​ ​her​ ​M.A.​ ​in​ ​Performance​ ​Studies?​ ​However,​ ​Dr.​ ​Williams​ ​explains​ ​that​ ​her background​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Arts​ ​is​ ​not​ ​unrelated​ ​to​ ​her​ ​work​ ​now.​ ​While​ ​the​ ​medium​ ​has​ ​changed,​ ​the​ ​theme​ ​has stayed​ ​the​ ​same​ ​as​ ​she​ ​continues​ ​to​ ​look​ ​at​ ​the​ ​criminal​ ​justice​ ​issues​ ​impacting​ ​our communities.

Her​ ​primary​ ​research​ ​is​ ​focused​ ​on​ ​programs​ ​inside​ ​prisons​ ​that​ ​are​ ​meant​ ​to​ ​help transition​ ​the​ ​formerly​ ​incarcerated​ ​back​ ​into​ ​society.​ ​She​ ​says​ ​that​ ​coming​ ​to​ ​the​ ​South​ ​offers​ ​a​ ​new challenge,​ ​as​ ​she​ ​is​ ​more​ ​familiar​ ​with​ ​the​ ​re-entry​ ​programs​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Midwest.​ ​The differences​ ​are​ ​something​ ​she​ ​is​ ​excited​ ​to​ ​explore,​ ​while​ ​keeping​ ​in​ ​mind​ ​the​ ​ethos​ ​of​ ​the South,​ ​what’s​ ​being​ ​done​ ​here​ ​in​ ​terms​ ​of​ ​reintegration​ ​initiatives,​ ​and​ ​how​ ​the​ ​programs​ ​inside​ ​prisons work.​ ​When​ ​asked​ ​what​ ​she​ ​might​ ​research​ ​beyond​ ​her​ ​current​ ​interests,​ ​given​ ​time​ ​and​ ​money,​ ​Dr. Williams​ ​says​ ​mindfulness​ ​comes​ ​to​ ​mind.​ ​As​ ​a​ ​practitioner​ ​herself,​ ​she’d​ ​like​ ​to​ ​explore​ ​its​ ​impact​ ​on people​ ​of​ ​color​ ​and​ ​athletes.​ ​Perhaps​ ​something​ ​to​ ​look​ ​forward​ ​to!

Dr.​ ​Williams​ ​says​ ​her​ ​passion​ ​started​ ​early​ ​in​ ​her​ ​career,​ ​when​ ​she​ ​was​ ​part​ ​of​ ​Insight Arts,​ ​a​ ​community​ ​arts​ ​organization.​ ​There,​ ​her​ ​performance​ ​art​ ​delved​ ​into​ ​such​ ​topics​ ​as social​ ​inequality,​ ​gentrification,​ ​police​ ​brutality,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​death​ ​penalty.​ ​From​ ​here​ ​her​ ​interests for​ ​these​ ​and​ ​other​ ​social​ ​issues​ ​began.​ ​This​ ​was​ ​further​ ​cemented​ ​when​ ​Dr.​ ​Williams​ ​found herself​ ​at​ ​a​ ​Critical​ ​Resistance​ ​conference​ ​she​ ​attended​ ​in​ ​1998.​ ​Listening​ ​to​ ​activists​ ​at​ ​the conference​ ​blew​ ​her​ ​away​ ​with​ ​the​ ​passion​ ​they​ ​had​ ​working​ ​on​ ​social​ ​issues.​ ​“This​ ​is​ ​it,”​ ​she​ ​recalls feeling.​ ​“This​ ​is​ ​the​ ​work​ ​that​ ​I​ ​want​ ​to​ ​continue​ ​to​ ​do.”​ ​This​ ​conviction​ ​shows​ ​that​ ​we​ ​can​ ​look​ ​forward to​ ​many​ ​great​ ​things​ ​from​ ​Dr.​ ​Williams​ ​in​ ​the​ ​future,​ ​in​ ​addition​ ​to​ ​the​ ​amazing​ ​work​ ​she​ ​has​ ​already accomplished.​ ​We’re​ ​lucky​ ​to​ ​have​ ​her​ ​and​ ​wish​ ​her​ ​the​ ​best​ ​in​ ​all​ ​future​ ​endeavours.

Help us welcome these three to their new postitions in AMEC! For more information on these and other AMEC faculty visit our website (


Returning home – My summer excavting in Albania

By: Erina Baci

The date today is August 2nd. I am currently somewhere over the Atlantic, 10,000 meters above the ground, flying back to Canada. For the past two months, I have been living in Albania. I have been fortunate enough to study in the country that I was born, after living outside for nearly 17 years. Flying into Tirana International Airport on July 2nd felt like I was coming home. As part of the internship requirement for the Master’s program at Mississippi State, I worked as an archaeological intern with the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). My internship with TAP this summer was two-fold, consisting of 6 weeks of fieldwork and 2 weeks of archival research. Before I dive into my experience this summer, I want to thank several people for making this opportunity possible for me;   Dr. Lorenc Bejko and Dr. Michael Galaty for organizing the internship. Gjergj Vinjajhu, Arber Kadia and Nevilla Molla for acting as my guides and point people in the field, and to the numerous TAP staff, from archaeologists to administrators, to drivers to engineers, for making my experience in Albania truly a memorable one.

My summer in Albania has been a whirlwind experience. I rarely found myself staying in one place too long and now understand the phrase “to live out of a duffle bag.” After parking my clunky luggage at a cousin’s house in Tirana, I was on my to Korce where an archeological site had been discovered during the trenching process for the pipeline. Upon arriving in Korce, I found myself a member of the camp based in Floq. The camp housed about 500 TAP personnel from all over the world, ranging from archaeologists to welders, to chemists and everything in between. The camp was like a city of its own, enclosed within its guarded gate were two canteens, coffee rooms, a café/bar, a gym, a volleyball court, a health center, offices and of course, living quarters.


The Camp in Floq.

The site where I worked at consisted of multiple components and spanned three periods: Neolithic, Iron, and Medieval.  I found myself falling into a routine rather quickly upon my arrival. My day began at 6 am when I woke up and donned by steeled toes boots, hard hat and safety vest and headed to the canteen for breakfast. Because we were excavating in an active construction site, these parameters were a necessity. In fact, we were also required to wear gloves, safety goggles, and long sleeves at all times when on site. The work day on site began at 8 am and lasted until 5 pm. Lunch was at 12 pm. The best part about lunch was the coffee which we had brought to site each day – you cannot believe how much a necessity that dose of caffeine becomes. Although to be honest, I still can’t comprehend how fast the hours would slip by, and before I knew it, my car was on site to pick me up and the work day was done.  After returning to my cabin and washing away the dirt that had accumulated throughout the day, it would be 7 o’clock; dinner time.  Dinner was always an interesting experience. The canteen was always full and you could hear a mixture of at least five different leagues at any one moment. The cuisine ranged from traditional Albanian meals to Asian stir-fries to Indian curries.


Returning home covered in dirt.Fridays were by far my favorite days as on Friday evenings the archeologists would get together and go into the city and explore. Korce is truly beautiful, little cobble-paved alleyways run throughout the city. The buildings are all level, rarely going more than 3 or 4 stories. In the center of the ci, y there is a great plaza with a beautiful cathedral in the middle. A stone-throw away from the cathedral is the “Pazar I

Fridays were by far my favorite days as on Friday evenings the archeologists would get together and go into the city and explore. Korce is truly beautiful, little cobble-paved alleyways run throughout the city. The buildings are all level, rarely going more than 3 or 4 stories. In the center of the city there is a great plaza with a beautiful cathedral in the middle. A stone-throw away from the cathedral is the “Pazar I vjeter” or old shopping district of Korce. This little nook is like a time capsule back in time, again, paved in cobble stones, the Pazar features an open plaza like lay out, encircled with beautiful little cafes and bars.


The Cathedral.


Coffee at the Pazar with some friends from Starkville! It’s a small world.

Not to sound entirely romantic, but there was something magical about excavating in Korce this summer. Maybe it was the fact that I was digging in my home country, and that this had been my dream since I was a little girl. But every now and then I would look up and see the green fields that ran in every direction encircled by the mountains in the distance and I would be in disbelief that I was there.


The view from the “office”

Over my internship this summer, we removed 170 graves that fell within the pipeline trench. This was my first experience excavating graves, and I found myself a little timid at first. But under the guidance of my supervisors and collogues, I learned quickly and found myself quite at home. Now maybe only other archeologists will relate to this – but there is something so gratifying about excavating a grave from start to finish. From the moment that you find the sarcophagus or grave cut to the moment that you close the wooden create that wall house the bones. I think for myself it’s the fact that each skeleton we discover comes with a biography that we can later piece together. They are not just skeletons, they were people, the lived and hey laughed and they loved and they died – and now, centuries later, here we are literally unearthing their story. We can learn so much from the bones of an individual for example, when they died, maybe how they died, what type of life they may have had. Were they local serfs tied to the land, or maybe a foreigner raised elsewhere who by some fate found themselves in a strange new place.


Making friends on site.

And just like that 6 weeks in Korce flew by and I found myself back in Tirana at the Academy of Sciences rummaging through countless academic articles, conducting research for my thesis. Here too, I quickly settled into a routine. Luckily in Tirana could sleep in and only had to wake up at 7 am each day. Upon waking up I would head down to a local “burektore” or pie shop near the bus stop and buy two bureks for my lunch later in the day, as well as a large water bottle, which I would carry around in my backpack. If my accent didn’t tip people off to my foreign-ness, the water bottle surely did. I would then board the bus or “urban” as the Albanians call it and pay the 40 cents fare to the faturino who came around to collect the fare. The academy was about 10 minutes by bus, and of course, it was encircled by a gate and guarded. My first day at the academy I had to explain to the guard why I was trying to get in. The following days, he would laugh and ask me “you’re still not done with your reading?”

Upon arriving I would get settled into my desk in one of the many reading rooms at the academy and begin digging, this time figuratively, through journals. Out of habit, at noon I would take my lunch break outside on a bench by the fountain that was in front of the building. Of course, after lunch followed coffee, which I would have by myself at a cafe across the academy. The act of having coffee alone is a bit of an enigma in Albania. Coffee is more of a social act than a beverage, one does not have coffee alone. If my accent and backpack with a massive water bottle on the side did not tip off people to my foreign-ness, then the act of drinking coffee by myself at 12:15 every day surely did. After my noon coffee, I would return to the academy and work until closing – much to the dismay of the librarians who likely hoped to close early some days, but had to stay because of me – sorry.


The Academy.


Yesterday I returned to the Coin Towner – where the TAP head offices in Tirana are, to return by personal protection equipment; my hardhat my steel toed boots, and my safety vest. Again, I found myself in disbelief at how fast two months had flown by. It seemed like it was only yesterday that I was nervously looking at my google maps app on my phone trying to find the Coin Tower so I could pick up my PPE and figure out the logistics of my assistantship. Here I was two months later walking through a city that was now so familiar, with earphones in my ear, barely even thinking about where I was going – my feet knew the way themselves. In two months, I excavated in Korce, went mountain hiking in Floq, went row boating in Pogradec, saw the amphitheater of Durres, attended a traditional Albanian wedding, conducted research for my thesis, and even got to explore Macedonia for a day. This summer really was a wonderful experience, professionally as an archaeologist, I have learned so much and gained some much-valued experience in the field.  Personally, it was so wonderful to emerge myself entirely in my culture again. To speak my language, to see family I hadn’t seen in years. Now more than ever I am convinced that I have chosen the right field for myself and I hope that one day I can make a positive contribution the archeology of my home country.


Lunch breaks, waiting for the coffee to arrive.


Hiking in Floq.


Days off in Pogradec.


The amphitheater of Durres.




Traditional Albanian wedding featuring traditional Albanian folk dancing, throwing copious amounts of cash at the bride and groom, burning of the “bachelorhood” and a surprise birthday serenade to yours truly at midnight.


Lake Ohrid, Macedonia.


Last, but not least, a group pic, taken on our last day.


A Summer to Remember

By: Lydia Buckner

This summer, I returned to Israel to work with Dr. Hardin at Khirbet Summeily. It was a wonderful season! The weather was unusually cool at the site and one day it even rained…okay, it really misted; but we’ll take what we can get at this point! We had a solid dig crew too, and that always makes for smooth sailing.  This year marked my third dig season at Summeily. I arrived just as excited as I was my first season and with preconceived expectations based on my past experiences. Pottery, rocks, dirt, iced coffee, more pottery- those expectations were well met. One thing about this year was different, and I had no clue just how much more it would enrich my experience in the Middle East. That thing was the Fulbright Hays program. When I arrived in Israel in late May to continue my work with Dr. Hardin in Ruhama, things were normal for the first few weeks. We prepared the site, gathered supplies, and awaited the arrival of the rest of the team. Once they arrived, we began excavations.

Fulbright Feynan Dana 618

On June 10th a group of educators and a few college students from Starkville arrived as part of the Fulbright Hays International Grant program. This program entailed a cultural and historical tour of Israel and Jordan that lasted 5 weeks. I do not exaggerate when I say that this was the trip of a lifetime. I could write a book on the events that took place this summer and maybe one day I will, but for now I’ll stick to the high points. The rest of the Fulbright crew arrived as strangers, but by the end of our trip we were all family. Together we broke the Ramadan fast in the Old City of Jerusalem with a shop owner friend. We went for a night swim in the Sea of Galilee, and again in the Dead Sea. At that point we thought we’d never seen more beautiful stars, but little did we know… We visited Masada and Herodian; Jericho and Megiddo; Bethlehem, Capernaum, Qumran and so many more sites across Israel all in the span of 14 days. Just when we thought we had reached our sensory capacity, we crossed into Jordan.

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We camped with Bedouins in Wadi Rum where we saw a star filled sky more spectacular than anything I have ever seen in my entire life. Only one word comes to mind when I think of that sky..splendor, pure raw splendor. We hiked for 3 days in Petra through ancient sandstone buildings that made you long for a revival of their beautiful architecture.  (I also may or may not have ridden a camel in front of the Petra treasury).

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I even had the chance to spend the afternoon with a Bedouin family in Dana drinking tea under their goat hair tent, watching them bake bread, and listening to their stories of marriage traditions and local springs with miraculous healing powers. We spent the remainder of our trip at ACOR in Amman with Dr. McClellan where we visited archaeological sites, museums, local businesses, and even took a Jordanian cooking class. As a student of archaeology, I enjoyed this opportunity to view Israel and Jordan from both a cultural anthropological and archaeological perspective; as well as the opportunity for one on one interaction with so many interesting people.  It’s safe to say that I will still be processing this summer adventures for years to come…



Mining for Meaning in a New England Historical Preserve

By: Jason Ervin

The Upshot

This summer, I am working as an Archaeological Technician at the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire.  The work entails doing survey across the unit ahead of a number of management projects.  It’s a plum job, I think.  It closes the gap a little between myself and a GS-9 permanent position.  The location is pretty fantastic.  The Whites are a network of forested, highland ridges in northern Appalachia.  They have a face with a view, and an intriguing history.  In addition to survey,  I’m doing background research, and writing reports too, things they like to ask about on job applications.  And, I get to learn about a new place.  What I like about a field job is one of the things I like about Archaeology generally.  You get to get your hands dirty.  What a great way to immerse yourself in the real culture of a place: to beat the hills with the soles of your feet, and train your eyes to see the fading marks of history.  And yet, as I say this, a little dialog plays in my head.  What will I find out there?  Only what you take with you.  Let me relate a little of what I’ve found.


The Team

Sarah, the Forest Archaeologist, is my supervisor, and specializes in historic buildings.  There’s Jonathan, Heritage Program Manager, who’s always stopping by to ask how it’s going, what we’re up to, and to tell us first this, then that, about Archaeology on the White. Eric is my fellow seasonal. He builds boats for a hobby (like real sea- and lake-going wooden boats, from scratch).  He’ll also build you a wooden paddle board, if you’re willing to make it worth his while.  Eric is locating and documenting sites in the Pemigewassett Wilderness.  His work often calls for him to spend several days on end in the field, camping out (which he sees as a plus).

The Forest Service is a really open place.  Even the Forest Supervisor is right down the hall, with his door open.  And, you won’t walk past his deputy’s (Claire) office without being greeted.   From top to bottom, you can interact with every person at just about any time they’re around.


The Job

My biggest project is a very large timber sale.  I’m to locate known sites in the area, update and flesh out their records, find and document new sites, and flag out a buffer around all of the sites so loggers know where they shouldn’t go.  I’m also entering the site information into the newly launched, online Forest Service resource database.

I have several smaller projects.  There is a TSI (Timber Stand Improvement): a very localized cutting designed to improve the health of the stand by decreasing the population (tree population, I mean) and eliminating diseased trees that could spread illness to the others.  I’m also covering several trail relocations/rejuvenations.

A particularly noteworthy trail is the Crawford Path: a route to the top of Mount Washington, touted as the oldest continuously used footpath in the country (native footpaths excepted). Crawford Path’s 200 year anniversary will be celebrated in 2019, and REI has granted a large sum of money to the Forest to help commemorate the occasion. They plan to use the money to carry out much-needed maintenance (and some interpretation, which I’m taking a hand in).

My assigned question: how is all this going to impact the “historic character” of the Crawford Path.  My answer, I think, is decently archaeological.  The trail, I decide, is well conceived of as a uniquely long record of trail building, maintenance and use practices that have and continue to proceed from and in turn, influence the role that trails play in American life and culture.  I cannot say at the moment where and how this record is physically manifested along the Crawford Path, but I think that’s a useful question to be asking.

One of the great things about this job is the different kinds of sites that I get to work with.  In addition to the Crawford Path, I am looking at the historic Warren-to-Woodstock road (blazed 1830’s footpath turned 1890’s carriage road), the crash site of a B-18 Bomber (1942), and an old cemetery (j.t.f.d  Jason temporarily forgot the date).  These last two are considered Priority Heritage Assets (PHA’s), a concept you met in a previous blog post. All of these pose their own unique puzzles when you’re trying to work out what their value is, and how they might be (or are being) impacted.


The History

The sites I deal with are almost exclusively historic, and they fall (with the exception of those mentioned above) into two broad categories (so far).  There are 19th century farmsteads, and there are old logging camps.  People moved into the mountains in the early 1800’s, and started moving out around the time of the Civil War.   That’s when the loggers came in.  Today, the forest service controls logging to not only generate economic energy, but to create, over time, healthy and sustainable forests.  They are stewards of the public lands.  A noble calling, my neighbor, Jane, says.  Noble indeed.  The old loggers didn’t know anything about healthy and sustainable forests.  The big dogs were there to get rich, and the little guy was there to make a living.  In a few short decades, uninformed logging practices produced epic floods and wildfires that were an environmental and economic catastrophe.  In stepped Congress and the U.S. Forest Service, to which the land has since been entrusted.   Thus, in a nutshell, I relate the history of the White Mountains.


Prehistory and Predicaments

Prehistory is another matter.  Prehistoric sites are a real challenge, because limited time, staffing and resources make sub-surface sampling on a large scale basically impossible.  The probable nature of mountain settlement adds to the difficulty.  It is hypothesized (partially on the basis of historically documented native groups) that activities in the mountains were seasonal, dispersed, and temporary, and thus left a much lighter footprint.

There is, however, a prehistoric presence on the Forest.  The White has a Paleoindian rock shelter.  And, there have been some light scatterings of flakes found at upland ponds.  For now, Sarah has asked me to keep an eye open for places that show good potential for prehistoric sites.  It may be necessary to come in later, and do some subsurface sampling at those places.  We’ve really just now started talking about this issue, so I’m still working out in my head the best way to do this.

We will actually be doing some digging very soon.  In the first week of August, the entire Heritage team will be in the field together.  The forest is going to sell some land.  That’s an undertaking, with impacts.  We’re going to establish a subsurface sampling grid over the area.  We’re taking all of the “Para’s” we can get together as well.  Para’s, or Paraprofessionals, are Forest Service employees who have had sufficient training to do archaeological work under the supervision of a professional archaeologist.  If they get sufficient training, they can do survey on their own.


“Public” Archaeology

As every Archaeologist knows, the question of how to engage the public about Archaeology can be a little weird.  As stewards of cultural resources on public lands, Forest Service Archaeologists manage places and things of cultural and historical value ostensibly on behalf of the public.  These things belong to the public.  It’s their history.  And yet, we cannot reveal to people where these things are located.  We don’t even tell other forest service personnel where sites are.  The resource is too valuable and too vulnerable.   The answer I guess is pretty obvious.  Actively engage in a serious dialog with the public about the value of the archaeological record.  That’s dialog (as in two-way communication).  And, actually, there’s plenty of people out there who’s classification of archaeological material goes beyond ‘cool’, ‘bank’ and ‘trash’.

Informally, I’ve had a few opportunities to talk with people about archaeology while in New Hampshire.  One day, I was talking to a fellow FS employee.

“That stuff [artifacts] is worth money”, he says.  “I mean, that’s the value isn’t it”.

“Well, if it’s …”

“Well, if it’s old,” he finishes my sentence. ” Like 50 years or something.”

“Well, whether it’s very old or not as old, what we really want to know is if it’s interpretable.  Can we learn something from it?  That’s what we’re really interested in.”

Seems he got in trouble once for setting a tool down on a metal bucket.

Later I’m talking to my neighbor.  He mentions the ruins of an old water powered mill that he knows about.  I know it too.  Sarah took us there our first week.  In fact, it’s part of an archaeological district: an entire 19th-century town, that was abandoned and remains intact.  There are the foundations of houses, a school, a church.  There’s a cemetery, and the mill.  Whether or not I trust my neighbor about the mill is irrelevant.  He knows where it is.  He has a friend with land abutting the area.  He can go there now, if he wants.

Another time, I talk to a man who is running a backhoe.  A road I was using had been totally washed away by a colossal rain storm. The residents tell me the brook lept over its banks, and the road temporarily became a new brook. The man is repairing the road so that people can get out.  He asks me if I know “Peeling”.  That was the name of the town of Woodstock (where I’m living) until the late 1800’s.  It’s commonly used to refer to an abandoned part of the town.  I know it, I tell him.  I was just there.  “I have land up there”, he says.  “We’ve got some cellar holes.”  He’s curious to learn more about it. Unfortunately, I don’t know much.  There’s so much to learn about, and so little time.  I realize that I’m not practiced talking to the public.  I spend most of my days walking through the woods talking to myself and feeling old (as in 19 century old!).

You don’t have to talk to people to know that they make it out to these sites.  It’s not unusual to find modern day trash on a 19th century farmstead, especially if it’s in the more accessible areas.  Leaving one such site to head back toward the truck, I don’t make it maybe 50 meters before a mounted deer stand looms in my face.  The public knows about these places.

Would you recognize the face of a “looter”?  One day, Eric tells me that a Forest Service trail-head volunteer caught someone carrying material from a logging camp out of the wilderness.  Eric happened to be on hand.  “Did you call the LEO (Law Enforcement Officer)”, I ask.  “Well, she was twelve.”  He decided this had more the flavor of a teaching moment than an ARPA violation.  I agreed.  Eric took the stuff back.

And then there’s the Forest Service concept of “multiple use”.  The historic road for which I’ll soon be conducting a 5-year monitoring assessment is also being used, for much of its route, as a snowmobile trail.  It’s a cultural resource, and it’s a recreational resource.  The inherent contradiction in those two uses has to be somehow resolved.


The Conclusion

In brief then, since being in New Hampshire, I’ve found a beautiful area, full of history, and full of people who live, work and play in among the marks of that history.  The National Forest really is an archaeological and historical preserve.  And one that, perhaps more than any other, presents an opportunity to work out the role that archeological material has to play in our lives.  That’s because the concept of multiple use forces the issue.  With that, I’ll conclude the formal part of our program.  But feel free to wander at will about our interpretative photo trail (below) at your leisure.  Thanks for reading!

The Self-Guided Tour

Where the Research Happens


Before I go into an area to survey, I check these big books of USGS topo maps.  On them is marked every known site.  And, on plastic overlays, every survey on record is demarcated.  That way, you have an idea going in what’s there, and some notion of what areas have already been covered.  Details on every site and survey (some more detailed than others) can be found in the file drawers.  There is an online database as well.  The Forest Service is making a nationwide transition to a new resource database that articulates with GIS.  Much of the information in the drawers is on that database (ported over from it’s predecessor).  But the digital records are incomplete.  Helping to flesh those out are one of mine and Eric’s responsibilities.  Of course, I’ve got my own GIS map going that has a lot of this information as well.

Apple Grove at a 19th-Century Farmstead Site


This grove of apple trees surrounds what is left of a home place dating at least as far back as the 1860’s.  We know that because an early atlas indicates a structure at this spot.  Forest biologists maintain a number of such groves for wildlife.  This one has not been maintained, as maybe you can tell (though there is talk of revitalizing it).  In fact, it’s so grown up here that you could trip over the barn foundations nearby and not realize what you had found.  Jonathan tells me that the CCC were also in the business of planting apples groves.  That’s a hemlock on the left, a Beech on the right, and a young Maple sapling growing in the center.  The chimerical curves of the apple trunks, along with their relatively delicate leaves and flaky bark, help them to stand out.

Ervin’s First Find


This isn’t the best photo of a cellar hole (actually, photographing them takes a little more thought than snapping a vacation picture).  But, I was totally going to include this cellar hole, because it’s the first one I located that wasn’t in our records.  It isn’t situated next to any road either.  At least, no road is shown on any map (historic or otherwise), and no road is readily discernible on the ground.  That’s a little unusual for farmsteads.  They are almost always along roads.  That’s how most of them have been found.  This one, however, I found thanks to the brand new LiDAR coverage that the forest had just made available.  The area is just too big for one person working alone to cover in its entirety, and still stop and map and flag and do research and reporting, and attend meetings and do public outreach, etc.  (all of the other cool and valuable experiences included in this job).  The forest is not quite fully LiDAR covered.  Eric can’t use it, because the wilderness has no coverage.  Just where his coverage starts, LiDAR stops.  I guess I should stop turning to him and exclaiming, “Guess what I just found on LiDAR!”  Don’t say that word.  What word?  I cannot say!  How can I not say the word, if you won’t tell me what it is …

Getting the coverage is a little tricky, says Andy (the Forest soil scientist, whose efforts are largely responsible for the LiDAR coverage).  It’s obtained from low altitude overhead flights.  But, you have to do it when there are no leaves AND there is no snow.   In New Hampshire, that can leave a short time window.

Historic Road with Several Farmsteads Along It


You might not be able to tell from the photo, but on the ground, this road clearly stands out.  It appears on an 1860 map.  It hasn’t been used in some time, and large sections appear to be missing.  You can’t tell from the photo, but it’s lined by stone walls on both sides.

Following a LiDAR Track with my Garmin


Once I digitize what might be a road on the LiDAR image, I can then download it to the GPS device and try to follow it.  Things can be a little off.  I don’t think the LiDAR’s the problem (it has sub-meter accuracy).  But the GPS is less precise, especially if you’re on the move (such as when you’re trying to follow a road).  Hopefully, the road (once found) is discernible enough to follow without a GPS.  But, they have a way of playing out on you, and then popping back up again.


Archaeology of a Logging Camp

I’ll sing you a song

Of saws and sardine cans,

Of can dumps and ax heads,

An old wood-burning stove.

A tipped over pail.

Throw in an empty bottle of lager.

And there you have the leavings of a New England logger.

My very first new find was what is probably an old logging camp.  What’s that?  Very good!  Yes, there is a road involved.  An old road that runs to this camp, or away from it, depending on your point of view.  It runs all over the place.  That is, it had me running all over the place.  And a hot day for running it was.

What is This?


This contraption sports a set of opposing leaf springs, such as you might find on the undercarriage of a cart.  It apparently had a frame that is missing.  I still haven’t figured what exactly it was.

Another angle


Stuff I Wish I had Photographs For

If you’ve never take a little tour of old farming equipment, do that sometime, and you’ll gain a new perspective on why people might have abandoned the family farm.  Those people worked hard.

I also found what I think is a old boiler for a small steam engine(at a different spot).  Sorry, I left the photo at work.  Just another teaser.

One day I found what seemed like half of a house foundation at the base of a fairly steep slope.  There was a pile of homemade bricks (a hearth, I think) in the middle, and taking up at least half of that. I pondered and puzzled and paced.  You know, said my dad (who seems to understand everything instantly), people sometimes built houses onto a slope.  They’d prop up the low end.  Jonathan added the next day.  Yes, I’ve seen this.  They would excavate out of the hill, and use the soil and rocks to build up the low part.  You can even do it such a way as to leave a hole for a stone-lined cellar, the whole thing being constructed in layers.  It can be easier than digging down into a flat surface.  Well, I’ll be dogged.  Don’t I feel uneducated, uncultured and incompetent.  Does this stuff have information potential?  Umm.  Yes.  Knowledge ain’t butter on a biscuit.  It’s unevenly distributed.


Watch Your Step!


Many New Hampshire farmsteaders dug shallow wells, often just a meter or two from the house.  I think I measured one at about 3 meters deep.  There is generally a perched water table that the settlers could tap into.  They would line the hole with stones to keep it from collapsing.  Many have filled in over time, but there are a number that are still pretty pristine, like this one.


The Granite State


Granite is an igneous rock that crystallizes deep in the Earth’s crust, and it’s the most common type of rock found in the Whites.  Granite is a mixture of several constituents.  The gray-appearing stuff is quartz.  Potassium feldspars are responsible for the pink.  Biotite is a kind of mica that provides the black part of the characteristic ‘salt and pepper’ appearance.  Metallic, sparkling mica is also very common in the area.


Raw Material

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Large chunks of crystalline quartz are common.  Quartz is believed to have been the most commonly used raw material for making stone tools.  Thus, a significant outcropping of quartz might signal that an area is a good place to look for prehistoric sites.


My Survey Area

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An overview of the area where the big timber sale will take place.  Most of it is beyond the line of hills.

Bald Knob

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There’s no trail going to the top of Bald Knob.  But the bushwhack is worth it.

A More Impressive Cellar Hole

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This house was substantially larger than the one pictured earlier.  That’s a hearth in the center.