SHA Storms the Hill!

The government affairs update in May included a long list of issues being pursued and monitored by SHA and its government relations counsel Cultural Heritage Partners. To ensure that key members of Congress know about SHA and its priorities, President Charlie Ewen, President-Elect Joe Joseph, and Eden Burgess of Cultural Heritage Partners went to the Hill for a full day of meetings on June 20. The group visited six Congressional offices to discuss National Science Foundation funding and the FIRST Act, the Military LAND Act, MAP-21 reauthorization, and the value of archaeological research and education. Check out Charlie in front of the Capitol!

As a follow-up, the SHA board plans to schedule a webinar, hosted by Cultural Heritage Partners, on Tuesday, July 22 at noon ET to prepare members for SHA’s first annual Invite Your Lawmakers Day. Congress members typically spend the August recess (August 2 to September 7) in their home states and districts, providing the perfect opportunity for visits to your projects. SHA will be encouraging its members to invite local, state and federal lawmakers –  and the press – to visit nearby sites and digs and learn why archaeology matters. SHA’s Invite Your Lawmakers Day is tentatively set for August 20, 2014  (confirmation forthcoming).

Please watch for an invitation to the Cultural Heritage Partners webinar, and for announcements for SHA’s Invite Your Lawmakers Day. Contact Eden Burgess with any questions in the meantime – eden@culturalheritagepartners.com or 703-965-5380.

SHA 2015: Seattle, Washington

The City: “The Emerald City,” “Jet City,” and “The Rainy City”

Located in the Pacific Northwest in the shadow of the Cascade and Olympic Mountains, Seattle is the 15th largest metropolitan area in the US and the fastest growing metro in the US. The city, as it’s often referred to by locals, has a number of nicknames, “The emerald city” because of the lush evergreen forests in the area, “Jet city” through the local influence of Boeing, and “The rainy city,” because it does a rain a lot in Seattle and is often overcast, but many cities in the Northeast, Ohio, and Michigan average about the same number of sunless days.

The Weather: Everyone’s Favorite Love-Hate Relationship

Last year from January 6th to January 12th, 2013 the temperature ranged from 55F/13C to 37F/3C (highs) and 42F/6C to 26F/-3C (lows) with no snow and 1.75 inches/4.45 cm of rain over the course of the week. The previous year from January 8th to January 14th, 2012 the temperature ranged from 50F/10C to 41F/5C (highs) and 39F/4C to 27F/-3 (lows) with no snow and 0.35 inches/0.89 cm of rain over the course of the week.

The Conference Hotel: Sheraton Seattle Hotel

This year’s conference will take place at the Sheraton Seattle hotel (1400 Sixth Ave, Seattle, WA). The hotel is located at the corner of 6th and Pike St., in the heart of downtown Seattle’s central business district. All of the conference sessions, plenary, meetings, and banquet will take place at the hotel. Off-site events at a variety of unique venues are being planned, most notably the Burke Museum at the University of Washington, whose annual public “Archaeology Day” will take place during the conference this year, and the Museum of History and Industry/Center for Wooden Boats, located on the lakefront at the south end of Lake Union.

The hotel is located within two blocks of premium shopping at two malls, the flag ship Nordstroms (5th and Pine St.), numerous fast food and gourmet establishments (and bars), and the hotel is within one to two blocks of four Starbucks. If Starbucks is not your first choice there are a number of local coffee shops, all with a few block radius of the hotel. As the venue is in the heart of Seattle, the area has a wide array of events, museums, and attractions to see, including the iconic Pike Place market (1st and Pike St.) which is only six blocks from the conference hotel.

The SHA has special rate of $129.00 (plus a 15.60% tax per room/night and a $2.00 per room/night tourism fee) for a single/double occupancy room (online booking code will be available soon). A $20 fee per room/night will be added for a rollaway (if desired) and a $20 fee for additional adults above two. Suites are also available at a conference rate of $350 (plus tax and fee) per room/night. For additional information please visit: http://www.starwoodhotels.com/sheraton/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=460

There are a number of hotels within a mile radius of the conference hotel, if the limited number of rooms at the conference hotel are filled an overflow hotel may become available.

Traveling to the City: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Traveling to and from Seattle by air, train, and car is quite easy. The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport or Sea-Tac (SEA airport code) is the 16th busiest airport in the US and boasts of the world’s largest parking structure with over 13,000 parking spaces under one roof. The top 5 carriers into Sea-Tac are Alaskan, Horizon, Delta, Southwest, and United Airlines, but the airport has flights from over 20 airlines.

The easiest and cheapest way to get to the hotel from the airport is to take the Central Link Light Rail. The service runs from 5am to 1am Monday through Saturday and 6am to Midnight on Sundays. The trip from the airport to downtown (below Westlake Mall at 4th and Pine; 2 blocks away from the hotel) will take approximately 37 minutes and cost $2.75 each way. The trains run every 7.5 to 15 minutes depending upon what time of day. (http://www.soundtransit.org/schedules/central-link-light-rail)

If you prefer a taxi service the trip can cost $40-$50, with some hotel to the airport services for $40 and may take 25-30 minutes without traffic.

For travel around the city, the “Metro” public bus system operates throughout Seattle and King County, and is one of the most extensive and highly-praised in the nation. To find a route, maps, and fare information visit Metro online at (www.metro.kingcounty.gov).

There is a scheduled bus service to downtown Vancouver, Canada, through Quick Shuttle, with stops in downtown Seattle, Bellingham International Airport, the Canadian–U.S. border, and at the Vancouver International Airport (www.quickcoach.com).

If flying isn’t an option or you’re worried about the weather, the train is another option. Amtrak offers a number of trains running from Chicago, Los Angeles, Portland, OR, and Vancouver, BC and all across the west coast of the US. (http://www.amtrak.com/home)

If you choose to drive to the conference, Seattle is the beginning or the end (depending on which way you’re traveling) of Interstate 90 which connects to Interstate 5 which runs through the heart of the city with numerous downtown exits. However, parking downtown and at the hotel ($46 a day) can be very expensive and hard to find. Luckily if you choose to drive you can park at the Sea-Tac airport for cheaper (<$20 a day) and take the light rail for $2.75 each way.

Throughout this summer and fall, the SHA website, blog, Twitter, and Facebook page will be updated with information about local attractions, restaurants in the area, and updates on the conference including the preliminary program, call for volunteers, reminders for the ACUA photo contest, and much more! Don’t forget the deadline for papers and posters is Thursday July 10, 2014! http://sha.org/index.php/view/page/annual_meetings

#SHA2015 #SHAConference #SHA

Ethics: Who Decides?

Ethic – n. rules of behavior based on ideas about what is morally good and bad. (Webster’s online dictionary) And for our members across the pond, the Oxford dictionary defines ethic as a set of moral principles, especially ones relating to or affirming a specified group, field, or form of conduct (e.g. the puritan ethic was being replaced by the hedonist ethic).

As the outgoing chair of the Ethics committee and incoming president of the SHA, I have observed that few things are more likely to spark a visceral response in archaeologists than challenging their ethical interpretations. But where do our ethics come from? Are they the same for everyone? Are they unchanging?

Many years ago, while working at the Arkansas Archeological Survey, I was talking to its founder, Bob McGimsey, about ethics and Public Archaeology (how often do you get to ask questions of the man who coined the term?!). During the course of our conversation he related that SOPA (the Society of Professional Archaeologists) was founded because the SAA could not agree on a code of ethics and this was a way to get one formulated. It was only later that the major archaeological organizations finally adopted their own codes (based on SOPA’s). Shortly thereafter SOPA disbanded and later reconstituted as the RPA (Register of Professional Archaeologists).

So, our current code of ethics owes its origin to a handful of people, mostly in Arkansas, hammering out professional principles of behavior that the rest of the profession could not previously agree on. However, when you talk to the average archaeologist you get the sense that these principles are immutable. You certainly get that impression if you look at the Code of Conduct on the RPA website. There are many “thou shalls” and “thou shall nots”. The only thing lacking is these principles being carved in stone (I’m sure a good webmaster could whip that up).

However ethics, like the cultures that make them, are dynamic. The suspension of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson over comments he made is evidence of changing moral values in this country. Changing views on sexual preferences are one thing, but are professional archaeological ethics as volatile? I show an episode of the original British “Time Team” to my historical archaeology class. It never fails to elicit gasps of outrage. “My God, they aren’t screening their soil!” Shocking that the British don’t see this as an issue.

However, we have bigger fish to fry these days. Controversial metal detecting shows that put $ values on artifacts. We expect it when we watch Pawn Stars or American Pickers, but somehow it doesn’t sit right when we are talking about artifacts out of the ground. Underwater treasure salvors who want to publish the site data before they sell it to finance further work. Should we let them or is this a slippery slope that leads to further destruction of sites? These topics and more will be addressed at several sessions at the meetings in Quebec (spoiler alert – Ivor Noel Hume will be commenting positively on the sale of redundant artifacts at the Ethics Panel on Friday).

I hope that everyone will avail themselves of the opportunity to weigh in on the current state of archaeological ethics; either by attending sessions at the meetings or weigh in on the blogs. But please, be civil, we all share the same passion: to know about the past. Let’s save our outrage for the unabashed looters of our heritage.