Friday Links: What’s Happening in Historical Archaeology

This week’s photo was discovered via the Mount Vernon’s Mystery Midden Facebook Page, where a great conversation has ensued about the objects! The photo is of a collection of mugs excavated from a midden site located at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The site dates from ca 1735-1775. Ware types seen are the Manganese Mottled earthenware, Nottingham stoneware, White Salt-glazed stoneware, White Slip-dipped stoneware, and William Roger’s stoneware. The photo itself was taken by Karen Price, who serves as Historic Mount Vernon’s Photography Intern (learn more about Mt. Vernon’s Internship opportunities here). Thanks to Mount Vernon and their Mystery Midden for letting us share this photo with you!

Headlines

The First Colony Foundation has new historical evidence that may point to the location of Walter Raleigh’s lost colony.

Archaeologists are digging at the site of 18th century Fort Richmond.

Archaeologists at Monticello have discovered two possible slave quarter sites.

Call for Papers, Manuscripts

The Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage is looking for submissions.

The Computer Applications in Archaeology (CAA) North America Chapter is hosting an Archaeology THATCamp on Friday, August 10, 2012, and are looking for participants for the digitally-oriented “un” conference.

The Society for Historical Archaeology (that’s us!) has officially opened the Call for Papers for SHA 2013 in Leicester, England.

Publications

The first issue of The Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage is now out.

New on Facebook and Twitter

tDAR, the Digital Archaeological Record, is now on Twitter.

The Arkansas Archaeological Society is now on Facebook.

The Blogosphere

The Fairfield Foundation discusses their recent flood in the lab, and asks for contributions to protect their archaeological resources and public programming during this disaster.

There’s a new blog in town: check out “Archaeology on the Alley”, a look at excavations being carried out in Philadelphia.

Read about the reanalysis of a religious medal found at the Santa Barbara Presidio by the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation Blog.

The Archaeology Dude discusses recent discovery of the Snowdun Vulcan Iron and Machine Works in Pennsylvania.

Establishing the Society of Black Archaeologists

The field of African American historical archaeology witnessed a boom in social and political consciousness from Black scholars during the 1990s. In 1994 Theresa Singleton and Elizabeth Scott broke new ground with the founding of the Society of Historical Archaeology‘s Gender and Minority Affairs Committee. Several years later, African American archaeologist, Maria Franklin (1997a;1997b) published on the lack of racial diversity in the field and archaeology’s affect on the African Diaspora. The 90s also represented a critical time in African American historical archaeology, in particular, with the excavation and later commemoration of both the Freedman’s Cemetery in Dallas, Texas and the African Burial Ground in Manhattan, New York. Cheryl La Roche and Michael L. Blakey’s (1997) article “Seizing Intellectual Power: The Dialogue at the New York African Burial Ground,” stressed the importance of community collaboration, while Theresa Singleton’s (1999) book, I, too, am America: Archaeological Studies of African American Life, addressed issues of African American representation, and the need for alternative methodological and pedagogical practices within the field.

In years prior, scholars and students alike have historically discussed the need to create an organization (or institute) to identify and address these social and political concerns as well as foster additional dialogue. However, the low numbers of Blacks in the field thwarted previous attempts to solidify an organization until now. More than four decades after the establishment of the Association of Black Anthropologists and a decade after these publications, the Society of Black Archaeologists (SBA) was established.

The groundwork for SBA was laid in 2011 by a few students at the University of Florida who saw the potential to address some concerns within the field of archaeology. At this year’s annual SHA conference in Baltimore, Maryland a group of Black archaeologists came together to discuss their experiences as racial minorities in the field. The meeting brought together veteran and amateur archaeologists, reaffirming the organizations commitment to promote the development of five goals:

  1. To lobby on behalf and ensure the proper treatment of African and African Diaspora material culture.
  2. To promote archaeological research and recruit more blacks to enter the field of archaeology.
  3. To raise and address contemporary concerns relating to African peoples worldwide.
  4. To highlight the past and present achievements and contributions that blacks have made in the field of archaeology.
  5. To ensure that the communities affected by archaeological work are not simply viewed as objects of study or informants. Rather, they should be treated as active makers and/or participants in the unearthing and interpretation of their history.

As of right now SBA currently operates as a listserv as opposed to a formal organization; however, it is currently engaged in two new projects. The first project is interested in exploring the history of blacks in archaeology. SBA is working to collect oral histories from individuals throughout the African Diaspora who have had exposure to archaeology. The Oral History Project was created to collect and archive oral history interviews of Blacks in the field to gain a better understanding of the roles and experiences Blacks have had in the past and present. The first interview was with Whitney Battle-Baptiste, an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and can be heard online at the SBA website. Listeners can hear Dr. Battle-Baptiste discuss how her worldview influenced her research, and her humble beginnings in the field of archaeology.

In addition to the Oral History project, SBA members have been working to increase the presence of archaeology in the field of African Diaspora Studies and organized a panel presentation entitled, “Our Things Remembered: Unearthing relations between Archaeology and Black Studies,” at the National Council for Black Studies 2012 annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia. SBA has also been invited to organize an additional panel for the 2012 Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) convention to be held in Philadelphia this September.

If you have an interest in archaeology and would like to join our listserv please e-mail sbarchaeologists@gmail.com. The organization is still in its foundational stage and we are currently looking for relevant information to post on the website including job openings, internships, field schools, and articles for the blog attached to the website. We are always open to comments and suggestions.

Please check out the SBA website often for updates at www.societyofblackarchaeologists.com or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sbarchaeologists

References

  • Franklin, Maria
    • 1997a “Power to the People”: Sociopolitics and the Archaeology of Black Americans. Historical Archaeology 31(3):36-50.
    • 1997b Why are there so few black American archaeologists? Antiquity: an international journal of expert archaeology 71(274).
  • La Roche, Cheryl and Michael Blakey
    • 1997 Seizing Intellectual Power: The Dialogue at the New York African Burial Ground. Historical Archaeology 31(3):84-106.
  • Singleton, Theresa (editor)
    • 1999 “I, Too, Am America”: Archaeological Studies of African-American Life. University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville

What You Missed in Historical Archaeology: Friday Links

This week’s Photo of the Week is from Jennifer Poulson, the Archaeological Collections Manager at the Massachusetts Historical Commission. The image is of a shoe found in an archaeological deposit in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, dating between December 1895 and January 1896. The image was part of her Master’s thesis research from the University of Massachusetts-Boston, which can be read in-full here. We found the image while perusing the City of Boston Archaeology Program Facebook page, which includes a number of other photos and updates from archaeological work in the field.

Headlines

Archaeologists and community in Ireland working together to map and preserve graveyards.

Archaeologists Jim Gibb and Scott Lawrence are looking for 1662 chapel in Newtone Neck, Maryland.

In Middletown, CT, archaeologists are uncovering an influential African American community from the late 19th century.

Resources

The Digital Scholars Lab at University of Richmond has released Visualizing Emancipation, a new resource for mapping documents relating to emancipation during the Civil War.

World Archaeology has released their most recent issue discussing the archaeology of Sport.

Fort St. Joseph has announced their Summer lecture series.

The College of William and Mary and Colonial Williamsburg are offering a Field School in the Methods of Vernacular Architectural History.

The Blogs!

Scott Tucker discusses his preliminary research in the St. Mary’s River at Historic St. Mary’s City.

In two posts, Random Acts of Science discusses pacing and map drawing.

At Dirt, I look at Visualizing Emancipation as an important research tool.