Workshops in Quebec City, Part I

This year’s conference has a large slate of workshops; something to answer any interest. In preparation for the conference, and to inspire your interest in coming and participating, the Academic and Professional Training Committee offers three posts introducing these workshops. This is the first of those three postings.

We hope you find something here that piques your interest, and we hope to see you in Quebec City!

Workshop 1: Analyzing Glass Beads: When Archaeology and History Meet Archaeology
Hosted by Karlis Karklins, Jean-Francois Moreau, Adelphine Bonneau, and Ron Hancock
The aim of this workshop is to offer a large spectrum of key concepts on glass beads studies from different points of view and using multidisciplinary approaches. Markers of exchanges, glass beads are often abundant on archaeological sites. Their study provides both important information and underlines questions to be considered. In this workshop, we investigate the use of methods from archaeology, art history and Archaeometry. We will discuss both the limits and the complimentary aspects of these approaches.

Workshop 2: French Faience: Fabrication, Techniques, and History
Hosted by Laetitia Métreau
The raw materials used, as well as the shapes and decorations of tin-glazed earthenwares or faience, reflect the societies that produced used them. These productions are considered both a historical document and a socio‐economic marker. The aim of this workshop is to provide a comprehensive study of French faience, combining written sources, archaeological and archaeometric data. The theoretical part of the day will focus on technical, historical and stylistic aspects of these wares. It will be followed by a practicum consisting of case studies and identification exercises. The workshop will end with a guided tour of the Musée de la place Royale (Québec).

Workshop 3: Principles of Clay Pipe Analysis (Or, What to Do with a Pile of Clay Pipe Fragments)
Hosted by Barry C. Gaulton and Françoise Duguay
The proper identification and dating of clay tobacco pipes is essential for site interpretation; however many archaeologists still rely on outdated and problematic methods in their analyses. The goal of this workshop is to provide participants with the basic techniques used to identify, date and quantify clay pipes, with a focus on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century assemblages. It is designed for those without a strong background in clay pipe research. Topics include bowl typologies, pipe stem dating techniques, dating by makers’ mark and decoration, pipe provenance, quantifying assemblages, clay pipe reuse and modification, as well as approaches in trace element analysis.

Workshop 4: French Glass Tableware, from Production to Consumption
Hosted by Agnès Gelé
Glass tableware is an excellent example of the juxtaposition of different meanings conveyed by an artifact or objet. The purpose of this workshop is to provide participants with a synthesis of up to date research on French glass tableware. The theoretical section of the day examines the production of glass tableware, via a literature review and a discussion of the production processes and vocabulary in use. This will be followed by a discussion of the typological and stylistic evolution of glass tableware. Identification exercises will use the collections from the Maisons Estèbe and Perthuis, which were part of Place Royale in Quebec City. The workshop will conclude with a guided tour of the Musée de la place Royale (Québec).

If you have an idea for a workshop to be held at a later conference, or if you would like to organize one yourself, please contact Carl Drexler at cdrexler@uark.edu.

From the Society for Historical Archaeology’s Governmental Affairs Counsel

SHA Members’ Congressional Visits

Thanks to those of you who participated in Cultural Heritage Partners’ July webinar, “Making Our Voices Heard During August Recess.” An even bigger thanks to members who followed through and visited with members of Congress and their staffers, as well as members of state and local government! If you met with, called or had contact with your Representative or Senator in August, please share your results with Cultural Heritage Partners’ so we can keep track of results and any needed follow-up.

Congress Update

Possible Shutdown?

As tonight’s September 30 end-of-fiscal-year approaches, the House and Senate continue their arguing over the budget and Obamacare. A short-term spending bill (a continuing resolution, or CR) has to pass by midnight to avoid a government shutdown. The shutdown would affect a broad range of services, including forcing a closure of national parks and museums. Seemingly desperate to reach an agreement, Senate Republicans today floated the idea of a 1-week stopgap measure, which their Democrat colleagues seemed unwilling to support. Should a shutdown happen, it is likely to go no more than a few days. The longest shutdown in history lasted 21 days, from December 16, 1995 through January 5, 1996.

A related issue looming on the horizon is the debt: Congress will have to vote to raise the ceiling in mid-October, when Treasury estimates the U.S. will hit the permissible limit.

Syria

Taking most of members’ time until recently was deciding whether to authorize action against Syria, in light of Assad’s use of chemical weapons. After seeing low public and Congressional support, President Obama asked the Senate not to vote on air strikes, and is instead pursuing a diplomatic solution with Russia.

Inside Syria, the war is having a serious adverse effect on archaeology. As the New York Times reported in April, “the country’s archaeological heritage is imperiled by war, facing threats ranging from outright destruction by bombs and bullets to opportunistic digging by treasure hunters who take advantage of the power vacuum to prowl the country with spades and shovels.”

NPS Kicks Off Centennial Website

To celebrate its 100th anniversary coming up in 2016, the National Park Service is inviting the submission of ideas through its “Next Century For Parks” website. Designed to be the home of the parks community, the public is asked to share ideas, successes and solutions for America’s national parks, today and for the next one hundred years, through the new website. NPS is looking for big, creative ideas that can become signature centennial programs. The deadline for consideration is October 20, 2013. You can check out the site here.

Public Outreach: anytime, anywhere

There are particular challenges and opportunities involved with public archaeology when the archaeology is under water or on the muddy foreshore. The very nature of such sites limits public access and visibility. Nevertheless, and perhaps because of this, there is an inherent public fascination with underwater heritage, from shipwrecks and crashed aircraft, to submerged historic and pre-historic settlements. For more than 20 years, the Maritime Archaeology Trust, based in Southampton, UK has been overcoming the challenges and realising the opportunities, to bring maritime heritage into the public’s consciousness.

The most recent addition to our toolbox for this work, is a purpose-built maritime archaeology outreach vehicle. For the past three years we have had the benefit of this unique tool to help us reach remote audiences. To our knowledge, this is the only such vehicle in existence. It has been possible due to generous support from the UK’s Heritage Lottery Fund under a project called ‘Engaging New Audiences’ but does being mobile, necessarily mean you’ll reach more people and more diverse audiences?

The Maritime Bus on the road

Many years of delivering public talks, internal and external school workshops, public events and outreach activities from the back of cars helped identify the need for a mobile outreach unit. On the road the vehicle is an eye-catching Luton-style lorry. But within 30 minutes of arrival, it transforms into an interactive discovery centre, with artefacts (real and replica), models, a digital microscope, HD DVDs, posters and audio. Of course the outreach staff are still the lynchpin to engaging and enthusing the public but this bespoke mobile resource makes the task much easier. We call it the Maritime Bus and visitors are invited on board to make the most of a strict ‘Look AND Touch’ policy.

The Maritime Bus in ‘exhibition mode’ set up on site.

Content for a typical public outreach event might include Palaeolithic hand axes and a mammoth tooth, parts of a Second World War crashed military aircraft, artefacts from a First World War shipwreck, assorted faunal remains, models and underwater video footage from wreck sites or prehistoric landscapes and examples of materials with different states of preservation. The public are often amazed to hear that all this material has come from underwater sites.

Associated hands-on activities include trying on SCUBA equipment, excavating with a miniature air-lift, exploring with a miniature Remotely Operated Vehicle or viewing super-magnified microscopic environmental evidence with 3D glasses.

The mobile nature of the Maritime Bus enables us to address potential barriers to access. Taking this exhibition come research laboratory into the heart of communities, overcomes not only travel and transportation issues but also anxieties about visiting more traditional heritage venues. As a recent visitor to the Bus said:

Stepping into this van is like stepping into a museum. I didn’t realise the Solent hides so much history beneath the waves. It’s quite unique to have this kind of information out here for the public and I think it is really cool that we get to see it and hear about it without going into a museum. 

visitors ‘playing’ with the Bus’s contents

The entire content of the Bus can be very easily changed to suit a particular theme or to create a site-specific exhibit. By choosing an appropriate geographical ‘pitch’, it can therefore help highlight and explain the existence of nearby sites not otherwise visible to the public.

As well as public events, the Maritime Bus is popular with schools where pupils and teachers particularly value its ability to offer practical, hands-on sessions, creating a stimulating, unfamiliar venue without having to leave the school grounds. Schools and communities geographically located inland, value the Bus’s ability to bring the coast and underwater environment to their doorstep.

School students trying to identify a mystery shipwreck.

The reach of the Maritime Bus is not confined to UK’s shores. In 2009 the Maritime Archaeology Trust took the Maritime Bus on a mainland European Road trip. Working with partners in France and Belgium, the Bus visited schools and public events in France, Belgium and the Netherlands where it was well received by an international audience.

A mobile until like the Maritime Bus enables us to reach more people, not least because of the efficiencies achieved by having everything ready to go (no more loading and unloading cars). It also enables us to take resources to more remote places, where local access to cultural heritage is limited. The fact that it constitutes an exhibition and activity space all rolled into one, means we can reach more people at a time and offer them a variety of formats and media. This helps with engaging more diverse audiences. The Bus enables us to offer visitors a variety of media to choose from, including video, audio, models, books, posters, equipment, artefacts, games and computers. Everybody usually finds something that piques their interest and suits their abilities. Recent visits to schools for young people with Special Educational Needs have been particularly successful as the Bus provides a new aesthetically attractive and safe venue on the school site and both teachers and pupils have found the ‘Look AND Touch’ approach particularly beneficial. When the environment allows, we will have brightly coloured bean bag seats outside the front of the Bus with a variety of relevant books. The informal nature of this approach is very popular, particularly with young families, but also with teenage visitors who have been heard to say: “This is the first time I’ve read a book out for school for years!”.

So this is our experience with a mobile public outreach unit. We’re more than happy to share our experiences further, so if you have an interest in this area, please do get in touch. We’d be particularly interested to hear about any other experiences with mobile units. What other mobile outreach projects are out there? Do you have similar or contrary experiences?