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Saint Augustine, Northeast Florida
Going public with archaeology for outreach, assistance to local governments, and service to the citizens and state of Florida. Visit our website at: http://flpublicarchaeology.org/nerc/
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Archive for May 2015

Meet Our Summer Intern!

East Central Summer Internship

This summer the East Central Region will be working with an intern from Valencia College. Glenda will be learning about Public Archaeology through a project that will work to assist the ongoing Orange County Historic Cemetery Recording Project (OCHCRP). Glenda will be recording one historic cemetery in Winter Garden and throughout the whole process she will be blogging about her experience. Check out her first post here and be sure to check back each week as her project progresses!

Text and pics: Kevin Gidusko

Coming to a Library and School near you--Village Trade!

Meet our latest education and outreach tool: the “Village Trade” card game!

Custom box by our intern Tanis! 

When I tell people that FPAN’s core mission is to conduct education and outreach, it always leads to more questions.—“Who do you educate, how old are your students, how do you communicate archaeology to the public?” 

My answer always varies, but it ends up something like this:

“Well, we work with all age groups, from age 5 to 105. And we focus on state and local parks, K-12 schools, and museums; basically anywhere that has a vested interest in history, cultural resources, and preservation is a good venue for FPAN programming. Our organization delivers workshops, lectures, activities, and pretty much anything else we can do to pass on our mission of heritage preservation.”

Therefore, I’m happy that we have this trading card game as our newest medium for teaching about archaeology and Florida Prehistory.

Each player receives a board like this one, to keep track of their products and materials

The object of the game is to trade and collect natural resources such as palm fronds, shells, bones, lumber, and then use them to create tools and structures of Florida’s past. In addition you’ll need to create one “special item” before your opponents do.

Of course in Florida, you'd want to build a mound! 

Special Items include ear spools and pendants! 

 For example, it would take 1 wood, 1 palm frond, and 1 shell to create a shell hammer. But, to earn the coveted ear spools, you would need to get your hands on 1 wood, 1 bone, and 1 piece of (rare) copper. The first player to construct their village, forge their tools, and obtain an exotic piece of jewelry wins the game!

Bones, Wood, and Shells, oh my! 

“Village Trade” will be coming to a school, library, and museum near you!!

Text and Images, Ryan Harke. Full credit to Tanis Montgomery for illustrations and graphic design of cards and game box. 

Digging Deeper: Archaeology at the Fountain of Youth

             Archaeology, it’s a unique blend between mundane and magical. Oftentimes people equate archaeology with the glory and glamour of Indiana Jones or the adventures experienced in The Mummy. Though life as an archaeologist looks and feels quite unlike Hollywood’s vision, the work is never boring. What answers lie beneath the ground compels my curiosity and imagination. The information uncovered through archaeology is exciting. Finding objects made, used, perhaps cherished, by real people at some point in the past provides a sensation other professions cannot. Working to know people in the past, to understand them, to reveal their stories, and to share those stories with others is, to me, immensely more interesting than Indy’s tales.

            As we prepared for the field season at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, we began with the mundane tasks in order to move toward the magical. Our first week involved preparing the site for archaeology. We cleaned and organized equipment. We decided where the screening station would be. We relocated our datum points—established points that never move and that tie all of our units together. We strung our units and we readied ourselves for digging!

 We pull tapes to find more datum points.
Tapes, datums, survey equipment, and the crew
            Unlike past years, Dr. Kathy Deagan from the University of Florida decided to utilize a backhoe to help strip larger areas for excavation and to save considerable time. Kathy’s familiarity with the soil on site, and her analysis of non-modern soil depths from maps made in previous seasons, helped her to determine how deep the backhoe should dig. The machine stripped the sod and modern overburden (or soil related to the 20th century) from two blocks: one 6 meters by 7 meters (Block 1) and the other 10 meters by 10 meters (Block 2).

David, Tommy, and Janet remove sod to make an outline for the backhoe operator to follow.

Beep beep! The backhoe begins to work as Linda measures how deep it digs.


            Kathy selected the block areas for specific reasons. Research questions guide archaeology and our interests were two-fold: first, could we locate units excavated in the 1950s? We have records of the dig, but lacked enough information to definitively tie those excavations into those completed by Kathy. Second, could we locate features (soil stains) that relate to the fortifications of the 1565 Menendez encampment?

Kathy looks on as the sod leaves Block 2.
            With two blocks created by backhoe, we faced the task of leveling these large blocks. With shovels and trowels in hand, the crew began to bring the block areas to the same depth. We battled through shell and slayed roots, large and small.

The pink string shows our first unit!
Janet and Linda schnitting as Tommy chats with visitors.

            At this point, the mundane and the magical merged. We traversed the land, finding the tools we needed and marking areas we needed to know. We guided our backhoe friend through careful, but massive, excavation. We measured and plotted. We schnitted and troweled. We overcame nature to make our units square. With flat floors and straight walls, we looked to the soil. There the next chapter begins…

The 2015 field season spans six weeks and we’re in the middle of the fourth week. You can look forward to more posts about the field season and our finds. In between blog posts, keep up with the dig on the Fountain of Youth’s Facebook page or with the hashtag #FOYarchaeology on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Text and photos: Sarah Bennett

We're Back!: Archaeology at the Fountain of Youth

For many people, the most wonderful time of the year relates to a favorite holiday—presents beneath the Christmas tree, an annual birthday bash, Mom’s Thanksgiving turkey. For me, the excitement of a field season at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park brings pep to my step and a twinkle of excitement to my eyes. Some people dream of the aroma of Christmas ham. I dream of the smell, and the occasional accidental taste, of dirt. Some people anticipate colorful Fourth of July fireworks and their powerful, resounding booms. I anticipate dirt stains on my hands and chatty peacocks. Some people countdown to dying and searching for Easter eggs. I count down to the art of archaeological investigation.

Under the direction of Dr. Kathleen Deagan from The Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida, archaeologists began working at the Fountain of Youth (FOY) during the mid-1970s. For many years, students learned about archaeology and excavating from Dr. Deagan at FOY. In recent years, professional archaeologists began to dig at the site with Dr. Deagan. For the past two years, I have been privileged to be one of those archaeologists.

The 2014 crew goes strong into 2015. We miss you, Greg!

Archaeology is scientific and excavations always seek to answer a research question. The 2014 field season answered few questions, but raised many more. This partially led me to my state of excited, archaeology-infused stupor. We would return to the site! We would be able to answer our questions! I’d spend the day in the dirt, finding features and artifacts! We’d have peacocks and peahens as company! People visiting FOY would see archaeology in action! Field season at FOY—it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Sketch map of units and features from 2014

This year the dig will focus on two areas and our interest relates especially to soil stains, or features. John Goggin, an archaeologist, briefly dug at FOY during the 1950s. Archaeology and excavation methods were immensely different at that time. As Goggin’s team dug, they did not screen much of their dirt, left features intact, and made notes and maps that will be helpful when tied into Deagan’s excavations. In many ways, Goggin guides our current digging plans. The questions that guide us include: where were Goggin’s units? If we find features, are they related to the 1565 Menendez encampment? If so, are they related to the encampment’s fortifications? Past digs offered much information about the area in which the Spanish lived. Where was the settlement boundary and how did it look?
Block 1—searching for evidence of Goggin’s units or post holes related to Menendez’ fortifications
Block 2—in search of Goggin’s 1950s units and Spanish features
The 2015 field season spans six weeks and we’re working toward the end of the third week. You can look forward to more posts about the field season and our finds. In between blog posts, keep up with the dig on the Fountain of Youth’s Facebook page or with the hashtag #FOYarchaeology on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Text and photo credit: Sarah Bennett; thanks to David Underwood for the last picture.

Report From the Field: Investigating Monumental Earthwork Construction in Central/South Florida

Into the Wild

One of our favorite colleagues, Nate Lawres, is out in the field for the next few weeks and offered to send dispatches back to those of us manning the desks so that we could show you, gentle readers, some of the great research happening in the state. Nate is a PhD student at the University of Florida and his research partner, Matt H. Colvin, is a graduate student from the great Anthropology Department at the University of Georgia. Their research holds a lot of promise to broaden our knowledge of monumental earthwork construction here in the state of Florida. Be sure to drop them a note if you have further questions (emails below).

Nate and Matt will be investigating earthworks in the Central/South area of Florida.

Over the course of the next two weeks researchers from University of Georgia and University of Florida will be beginning the first phase of a long-term research project on monumental earthwork construction practices in the Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades watershed.  The first phase of the project is aimed at understanding the temporality of monumental construction in the region by focusing on the stratigraphic sequences of construction and the recovery of datable materials through minimally invasive methods (i.e., coring, shovel testing, etc.) at multiple monumental sites in the region, including Fort Center (Figure), Big Mound City, and the Lakeport Earthworks (Figure) to name but a few. 

Figure 1. Left: Fort Center site, circa 1949; Right: Lakeport Earthworks, circa 1949. (Note: Red arrows and lines have been added by blog poster to highlight earthworks)

One of the primary methods being used is core sampling.  The cores are 1.2-inch diameter clear sleeves that are hammered to an initial depth of 1 meter, with additional meter-long sleeves that can be added when needed.  The clear sleeves allow a view of the stratigraphic sequence immediately upon removal from the sediment, and when the sediments seem to hold the promise of containing datable materials (i.e., charred botanicals, etc.) the sleeves are easily opened to remove a sample for analysis. 

Figure 2. Left: M. Colvin deploying core; Center: M. Colvin extracting core; Right: resulting core sleeve.

The cores are being strategically taken from different features of the earthworks in order to provide insight into the temporality of construction (i.e., were all features of an earthwork constructed around the same time? was one portion built first and then added to at a much later time?).  This initial data set will provide the researchers with an idea as to whether some of these earthworks were constructed as events or whether they were continuously altered and added to over time.  Additionally, by recovering data from multiple sites it will provide insight into the chronology of earthworks in the region and whether these constructions were temporally contiguous or not.

Over the next few field seasons this project will be creating a regional chonometric data set that multiple (and future) researchers can both draw form and contribute to in order to gain a broader scale understanding of the archaeological record of South Florida.  In the long run it is hoped that this regional data set will contain in-depth analytical details regarding practices of monumental construction, ceramic production, lithic production, material sourcing, and the patterns of movement (including both people and material objects) throughout the region and beyond.

Stay tuned for updates and pictures from the field!

For more information about the project and upcoming results feel free to contact Matthew H. Colvin (mhcolvin@uga.edu) and/or Nathan R. Lawres (nlawres@ufl.edu).

Text: Nate Lawres, Matt Colvin, and Kevin Gidusko
Pics: Nate Lawres, Google Maps

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