Historical Archaeology in a Changed Climate

The effects of a changed global climate are proving to be the largest and most daunting challenge facing the Earth’s inhabitants. Rapidly melting Arctic ice, the increased ferocity of ever more frequent storms, coastal flooding, vanishing islands, thousands of stranded walruses, and intensifying conflict over limited resources are all disruptive signs that we need to reconsider and even remake how we live on this planet. But our engagement, politics, and diplomacy are not producing the required outcomes as shown by a growing list of failed international climate agreements, foot dragging governments and industries, and less-than-effective pubic actions.

Nevertheless, there is a growing awareness of the scale of the crisis and broad scientific consensus that humans have been instrumental in bringing on these changes. Academic societies like Geological Society of America others have begun to use Paul J. Crutzen and Eugene F. Stoermer’s term, the Anthropocene, to describe this new age of Earth’s history in which human kind has become akin to a geological force in shaping the Earth’s climate. Whereas other climatological epochs were shaped by volcanic activity, tectonics, meteorites, and other non-human forces, the Anthropocene was brought on by the actions of people. Scholars like Paul Dukes and Dipesh Chakrabarty date the age as beginning sometime in the mid-eighteenth century, whereas William Ruddiman sets the start with the development of agriculture, but in any event,but in any event, we have left the Holocene whose conditions shaped life for nearly 12,000 years and are now somewhere new. The idea of the Anthropocene moves the discussion away from climate change as something in the future and makes it instead the epoch we now inhabit. Environmental damage can be slowed, but damage done cannot be undone—we now live in a climatological reality very different from what we as a species faced only a few short centuries ago. This means that we have to rethink much of how we live on our planet.

As the scale of our new reality slowly dawns on a denial-prone population more and more fields of endeavor are asking what they can do to address and manage changes as significant as the ones before us? A few academic societies have formed task forces designed to ask what a given discipline has to say about our changed climate, how must it practice differently in light of change and to be of use in a changed reality? Given historical archaeology’s natural interests in landscape, preservation, cultural resource management, and sustainability, and the unique challenges the field faces, the time is right for a historical-archaeology-specific discussion about what a changed climate means for archaeology and archaeologists.

Toward that end, SHA 2015 will have the first face-to-face meeting of an interest group dedicated to dealing with the many field-related issues emerging from a changed climate. The group will meet in the Madrona Room from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 10. Other similar interest groups and task forces have crafted white papers, outlined best practices, and sought out new avenues for scholarly inquiry—our meeting will help define how we best see our role and activity while hopefully starting a wider conversation about the role of archaeology in the Anthropocene. Please feel free to contact me or email me at plevy@usf.edu with your ideas and let me know if you are interested in participating in this discussion. See you in Seattle.

SHA 2015 Seattle: Food and Drink Blog

Besides plenty of stimulating intellectual discourse, what do archaeologists need to make their conference experience complete? Why good food and drink of course (perhaps not in that order)! Luckily there could hardly be a more convenient location than downtown
Seattle to put some of the best there is from coffee to cocktails and accompanying nosh right within walking distance. There are tens if not hundreds of options in the general vicinity and while there are many a solid chain, we thought we’d let you know about some unique-to-Seattle options for a more authentic experience of the city.

Breakfast/Coffee

The Sheraton is located just blocks from the famed and historic Pike Place Market, so head in that direction at breakfast or lunchtime and you’ll be sure to find something to suit your tastes. That said, it can be quite the busy spot for obvious reasons (like it’s nearly the top tourist attraction in the city) so don’t be surprised by crowds or lines. January being the off-season though, things should be calm enough to enjoy wandering about and you should actually be able to get food in a timely manner.

Ok, so Starbucks is ubiquitous pretty much everywhere, but nowhere more so than here in its hometown. If you want a “unique” Starbucks experience, Pike Place is home to the mega chain’s original location.

For a non-Starbucks coffee experience at Pike Place, try Seattle Coffee Works.

Monorail Espresso, closer to the Sheraton near the corner of Pike and 5th is a walk-up window serving up what’s raved about as some of the best in the city. Cash only.

Café ABoDegas on 6th between Union and University has freshly made breakfast sandwiches and pastries. Lunch too.

Lunch

Back at Pike Place, there is just about every type of cuisine to choose from come lunchtime.

To take advantage of the readily available fruits of the sea, try Pike Place Chowder. The lines is usually among the longest here, but join the other tourists, their offerings live up to the hype.

Beechers Handmade Cheese offers soups sandwiches and their famous mac and cheese along with a huge selection of, surprise, artisnal cheeses. You can even watch it being made right on site.

Back up near the Sheraton, Umma’s Lunchbox is a much raved about Korean buffet inside the Rainier Square shopping mall located below the iconic Rainier Tower.

Drinks/Dinner

For a pint at the end of the day, the Tap House Grill on 6th between Pike and Pine has 160 beers on tap, good place to sample some of the craft brew the Northwest is renowned for.

For really outstanding cocktails, venture to the other side of Pike Place. Tucked away facing onto the Harbor Steps leading down to the waterfront is the Zig Zag Café. Lots of ambiance and excellent food too.

For that special dinner made up of unabated views of Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains (on a clear day, fingers crossed) and all the kinds of Northwest seafood including more types of oysters than you perhaps knew existed, venture down to the waterfront to Elliott’s Oyster House.

Coming up, we’ll provide you with more info/recommendations if you’re interested in striking out further afield in the city during your stay.

SHA 2015 Seattle Preliminary Program Part 2: Roundtable Luncheons and Public Archaeology Session

A continuation of the events at the 2015 SHA conference in Seattle:

ROUNDTABLE LUNCHEONS

The roundtable luncheons are scheduled from 12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Sheraton Hotel on Thursday and Friday. A minimum of six participants per table applies to all roundtables. Maximum of 10 participants for each roundtable. All roundtable luncheons will cost $30.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

RL-1 Jobs in Nautical Archaeology

Leader: Paul Johnston (Smithsonian Institution)

What are the different job types and career tracks in nautical archaeology? This discussion will examine public archaeology (NOAA, National Park Service, MMS, Parks Canada, state programs, etc.), private-sector cultural resource management (contract archaeology, consulting), private foundations, academic positions and museum work (public and private), and treasure hunting. We’ll talk about the advantages and disadvantages of these various enterprises, as well as prospects in these fields.

RL-2 Public Archaeology in the Pacific Northwest

Leader: Doug Wilson (Northwest Cultural Resources Institute and Ft. Vancouver National Historic Site)

Participants will discuss public archaeology programs in the Pacific Northwest, including the use of field schools, public engagement events, and archaeology month programs. Participants will explore ways of engaging the public and descendant communities and means to evaluate programs for effectiveness.

RL-3 The Archaeology of World War II

Leaders: Stacey Camp (University of Idaho) and Jodi Barnes (University of Arkansas, Arkansas Archeological Survey)

This session will explore the historical archaeology of World War II. Potential discussion topics will include artifact identification, methodological challenges, useful theoretical models for interpreting World War II archaeological sites, and artifact patterning across different types of sites.

RL-4 Numismatic Archaeology  

Leader: James C. Bard (Cardno ENTRIX)

The intent of the luncheon is to bring together professionals interested in the recovery and interpretation of coins and tokens from archaeological sites. The roundtable hopes to promote greater understanding of the interpretive potential of coins and tokens, as there is more to these artifacts than simple description and dating. The luncheon is an opportunity to explore the many interpretive possibilities of coins and to connect with others who are working with this common, yet under analyzed, class of material culture.

Friday, January 9, 2015

RL-5 How to Get Published in Historical Archaeology

Leader: Meredith Morris-Babb (University Press of Florida)

This roundtable luncheon will offer some practical advice to prospective authors on navigating the publication process from submission to publication. The format is flexible and participants should feel free to come with questions or concerns. Possible topics can include the peer review process, publication ethics, marketing and social media, and the logistics of digital publishing.

RL-6 Exploring Chinese Healthcare Practices through an Archaeological Lens

Leader: Sarah Heffner (PAR Environmental Services)

Small, aqua Chinese medicine vials are ubiquitous on Asian American archaeological sites and are frequently viewed as the most representative type of material culture associated with Chinese medicinal practices. Interpretation of these vials in the archaeological literature is often limited, and they receive little mention other than as entries in an artifact catalog as “Chinese medicine bottle,” or “Chinese medicine vial.” In reality, Chinese medical practitioners utilized a wide range of medical devices and ingredients (plant, animal, mineral) for both internal and external applications. Only fairly recently have historical archaeologists begun to include discussions of other forms of material culture and faunal/floral remains that may.

RL-7 Tips for Finding a Job in Archaeology

Leader: William A. White, III (University of Arizona)

What do you need to do to land your dream job in archaeology? That is a question most archaeologists spend their entire careers answering. From the entry-level archaeological technician to the most venerated professor, we all need to learn how to find and successfully land a job in our chosen career field. In this luncheon, we will discuss the three most important things you need in order to land an archaeology job: deciphering job postings, writing a killer resume and cover letter, and building your professional network. Attendees should bring a copy of their resume and an example of a job posting for a position that they would like to have. Be prepared to build a strategy for career success.

RL-8 Historical Archaeology and CRM in the Pacific Northwest: Challenges and Opportunities

Leader: Lorelea Hudson (SWCA Environment Consultants) and Robert Weaver (Environmental History Co.)

Historical archaeologists working in the Pacific Northwest face challenges that are somewhat unique to the region. We have few people working in CRM who were directly trained in an academic historical program. In addition, politicians and bureaucrats focus almost exclusively on prehistory as archaeology. Even among practicing professionals, there is a bias against historical sites, in part due to the fact that our sites are “too recent”-mostly from the 1850s onward. Compliance review processes are inconsistent, and the laws are antiquated. The intent of this luncheon is to bring together professionals working in CRM from various parts of the country to discuss how we might begin to address some of these problems and work towards raising consciousness and improving standards for historic sites in the Northwest Plenary Session.

 

PUBLIC ARCHAEOLOGY SESSION

The Public Archaeology Session will be held on Saturday, January 10, 2015 at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington, in conjunction with its annual Public Archaeology Day.

Archaeology Day is a family-friendly event featuring Northwest archaeologists, educational displays, and activities geared toward a general audience.  The Burke has produced this event annually for over 12 years and it regularly draws more than 600 visitors to the museum. SHA- registered guests are admitted free to the Burke Museum, with their conference credentials, anytime during the week of the conference. This event will open at 10:00 a.m. and conclude at 4:00 p.m.

Bus service will be provided between the Sheraton Seattle and the Burke Museum. A bus will depart the Seattle Sheraton on the hour between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. for the Burke and will depart the Burke Museum on the half hour between 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. for return to the Sheraton.