Maryland Historical Trust and the “Archeological Synthesis” Project

As part of our #SHA2016 series on Washington D.C. archaeology, below we repost a wonderful archaeological project undertaken at the Maryland Historical Trust by Research Archaeologist Matthew D. McKnight. The mission of the Maryland Historical Trust is to preserve and interpret the legacy of Maryland’s past through research, conservation, and education of their historical and cultural heritage. The  “Archeological Synthesis” Project is an important online resource for anyone interested in Maryland archaeology, and it shows the great work being done by archaeologists in the D.C. area:

Maryland’s “Archeological Synthesis” Project

by Matthew D. McKnight, Research Archeologist, Maryland Historical Trust

Are you a student, weekend researcher, or preservation professional with an interest in Maryland archeology? Are you a professional archeologist looking to conduct some background research on a specific artifact or site type? Have you been confounded in the past by lack of access to so much of the CRM “gray literature”? If so, the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) has a new online resource that may be of interest to you.

On Maryland Day (Wednesday, March 25th, 2015) the MHT’s Office of Archeology launched a new online tool to provide members of the public with greater access to data obtained through tax-payer funded and publically mandated archeological research. Funded by generous support from the MHT Board of Trustees and the Maryland State Highway Administration’s Transportation Enhancement Program, the Maryland Archeological Synthesis Project has been underway since late 2007, reviewing the nearly 50 years of archeological site reports generated in compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and similar state and local legislation. The overall goal of the project has been to characterize this data for as wide an audience as possible and produce a number of online and print products to make the information more accessible. Two volumes on Maryland archeology (one on prehistory and one on Colonial archeology) are still in the works, but the first major public offering of the Synthesis Project is now available on the web at https://webapps.mdp.state.md.us/apps/synthesis/.

This Archeological Synthesis Database is a first-of-its-kind online catalog of archeological sites within the state where Phase II and Phase III test excavations have taken place. Focusing on compliance-driven research, the database is linked to MHT’s Site Survey files, but is also tied to synopsis reports and cover sheets generated by reviewing larger excavation reports. The synopsis reports contain capsule summaries of the overall site reports, organized so researchers can quickly pull out the most relevant information needed for determining if a particular site is of interest. Cover sheets deal with the history of archeological activity at a site, specifically the justifications for fieldwork, research objectives, and potential for future research. Best of all, the entire database is keyword searchable. Simply type in your research topic or an artifact type and get back a list of sites that may be of interest. More robust searches can even be carried out on variables like soil type, archeological research unit, county, etc.

Two versions of the database are available online. One portal is open to the general public; the other is available to professional archeologists who meet the US Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Professional Qualifications. Search functionality and the universe of sites within the database are identical in both versions. However, geographic locations and site setting information within the Public Access version of the database are intentionally vague to protect site locations. The Professional Access version of the database includes detailed site location information and is only available to authorized archeologists who have obtained a Medusa account with archeological data privileges.

After considerable public expense to undertake archeological work, test results should not be buried on a library shelf. The only way to advance archeological research is to build upon past experience, but the data from past work needs to be readily available. This project begins to rectify both long-standing problems while giving back to the public a view of the State’s rich archeological heritage. You can read more about the Maryland Archeological Synthesis Project at http://mht.maryland.gov/archeology_synthesis.shtml.

Check out the Maryland Historical Trust blog post on the “Archeological Synthesis” Project at: https://mdhistoricaltrust.wordpress.com/2015/04/10/archeological-synthesis/

 

 

 

Historical Archaeology at George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Greetings from Virginia! Though the #SHA2016 Annual Meeting is some months away, we are assisting the social media committee in presenting the archaeological outlets that the Washington, DC metro area has to offer. Archaeology plays a major role towards interpreting George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and we are pleased to take this opportunity to briefly introduce our program and some of our recent projects.

George Washington called Mount Vernon home for 45 years, and though two wars and a Presidency often called him away from his estate, Mount Vernon was his life’s work. Washington transformed a modest farm house into the mansion we see today, significantly altered the grounds around his homelot to create a formalized ornamental landscape, and successfully farmed an 8,000 acre plantation. A period of estate decline following Washington’s death in 1799 sparked a nation-wide effort to preserve Mount Vernon, spearheaded by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association (MVLA) who bought the mansion house and the surrounding 200 acres in 1858.

View form the Central Passage towards the Potomac. Photo Cred: Karen Price

While archaeological investigations at Mount Vernon have occurred since the 1930s, the majority of collections are from the professional archaeology program established in 1987 and a survey of the property conducted in 1984 and 1985. Excavations have yielded over a million artifacts providing a rich assemblage to study the intertwined lives of the plantation community: enslaved individuals, hired white workers, and Washington family members. Since the department’s inception we have excavated significant sites within Mount Vernon’s historic core including the south grove midden, a large concentration of trash associated with the Washington family from c. 1735–1765, and the House for Families cellar, the main slave dwelling used from c.1760—1793 located at Washington’s Mansion House Farm. Archaeological excavation and research has contributed to the re-discovery and reconstruction of George Washington’s whiskey distillery, a major operation which may have been the largest one of its kind in the United States by the close of the 18th century.

A visitor to the Estate. Photo Cred: Karen Price

Our archeology team is part of the Preservation Division of the larger Mount Vernon Department of Historic Preservation and Collections. Esther White directs our division, with archaeological fieldwork under the supervision of Deputy Director for Archaeology Eleanor Breen and Assistant Director for Archaeological Research Luke Pecoraro. Karen Price is our lab manager and photographer, and Leah Stricker serves as the field crew chief. Within the division is Deputy Director for Architectural History Thomas Reinhart, assisted by his staff of architectural conservator Steve Stuckey, and preservation technicians Elizabeth Rival and Caroline Spurry. Our staff also includes Eric Benson, who manages our GIS and viewshed preservation efforts. With our small staff we work together to fulfill the goals of our department to maintain, research, and manage the valuable historic resources at Mount Vernon.

The Mansion and Bowling Green after snowfall. Photo Cred: Karen Price

Current fieldwork will return us to the south grove this summer to fully investigate the transformation of the space form a work yard to a formal landscaped area, and we will continue an ongoing program of public archaeology in the estate’s slave cemetery. Our survey of the slave cemetery is an attempt to better understand the layout and number of individuals interred in a plot located just 200 feet south of the Washington family tomb. Our field and labwork keeps us busy year-round, and we regularly post updates via our FaceBook page—Historic Preservation at Mount Vernon—and invite you to follow us. An intensive evaluation of the finds from the south grove midden including high-quality artifact photographs was launched in web form recently and can be viewed here: http://www.mountvernonmidden.org/. Our website provides a great resource for these sites and programs in addition to the other activities going on at Mount Vernon: http://www.mountvernon.org/research-collections/archaeology/.For those of you who want to join us in the field this summer, check out our field school in historic preservation – http://www.mountvernon.org/research-collections/archaeology/volunteer-or-intern-with-the-archaeology-team/.

 

Famed 19th-century orator Edward Everett once remarked “A visit to the National Capital is but half made unless it includes the home and tomb of Washington.” When you make the trip to attend next year’s annual meeting, we hope that you will take some extra time for a visit to George Washington’s Mount Vernon. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHA 2015 Seattle: Preliminary Program

The SHA 2015 Seattle preliminary program is available and online registration is now open until December 19, 2014!

Registration

                                  Until 12/1/14    After 12/1/14       
SHA Member:                    $180               $205
Non-Member:                     $280               $305
SHA Student Member:      $85                 $110
Student Non-Member:       $140               $165
Guest:                                $50                 $75

Online: www.sha.org
Until December 19, 2014: The link to the online registration system for the SHA 2015 Conference is posted the SHA website homepage. Instructions on how to register online are available on the website.

Fax: 866.285.3512
Please submit your completed registration form with your credit card payment information to SHA by December 19, 2014.

Mail
Please submit your completed registration form and payment information (check or credit card) by December 19, 2014 to:

Society for Historical Archaeology
13017 Wisteria Drive #395
Germantown, MD 20874 USA

Conference Facilities and Hotel Accommodations
Sheraton Seattle Hotel
1400 Sixth Avenue Seattle, WA 98101

Phone Reservations: 1-800-204-6100

Online Reservations to Receive Conference Hotel Room Rate: https://www.starwoodmeeting.com/StarGroupsWeb/booking/reservation?id=140 8270530&key=12D5B991

A limited number of rooms are available at the conference rate for single and double occupancy are $129 plus tax (15.6%) and a $2 per night tax assessment fee. Hotel amenities include an indoor pool and fitness center, bar and restaurants in the hotel, valet parking, and in-room hair dryer, safe, coffeemaker, and iron/ironing board. Note: the hotel has free wireless Internet in the hotel lobby or in-room Internet for a fee.

The “cutoff date” for reserving rooms in the SHA Room Block at the negotiated room rate is 5:00 p.m. PST on Thursday, December 4, 2014. Rooms are filling up fast, so if you wish to stay at the conference hotel at the conference rate, reserve your room soon!

Student Volunteer Positions are Available

Are you a student planning to attend the 2015 SHA conference in Seattle?

If so, you can receive free registration if you sign up to be a volunteer! For more information on volunteering and requirements for free registration, please visit the SHA annual meetings page and scroll down to SHA 2015 Volunteer Form.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email the volunteer director at SHA2015Volunteer@gmail.com

The Conference: Workshops and Tours

The 2015 conference will have FOUR preconference workshops. All workshops will be held on Wednesday, January 7, 2015.

W-01: Excavating the Image: The MUA Photoshop Workshop
Host: T. Kurt Knoerl (The Museum of Underwater Archaeology)
This Photoshop workshop covers basic photo-processing techniques useful to historians and archaeologists. We will cover correcting basic problems in photos taken underwater and on land, restoring detail to historic images, and preparation of images for publications. We will also cover the recovery of data from microfilm images such as handwritten letters. No previous Photoshop experience is needed, but you must bring your own laptop with Photoshop already installed on it (version 7 or newer). While images used for the workshop are provided by me, feel free to bring an image you’re interested in working on. Warning … restoring historic images can be addictive!
Full-day workshop: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Maximum enrollment: 25
Cost: $80 for members, $105 for nonmembers, $50 for student members, and $70 for student nonmembers

W-02: Archaeological Illustration
Host: Jack Scott
Want your pen-and-ink drawings to look like the good ones? Pen and ink is all basically a matter of skill and technique which can be easily taught, and the results can be done faster and cheaper, and are considerably more attractive, than the black-and-white illustrations done on computer. Workshop participants will learn about materials and techniques, page design and layout, maps, lettering, scientific illustration conventions, problems posed by different kinds of artifacts, working size, reproduction concerns, ethics, and dealing with authors and publishers. A reading list and pen and paper (tracing vellum) will be provided, but feel free to bring your own pens, tools, books, and, of course, questions. Be ready to work!
Full-day workshop: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Maximum enrollment: 30
Cost: $85 for members, $110 for nonmembers, $50 for student members, and $70 for student nonmembers

W-03: Underwater Cultural Heritage Resources Awareness Workshop
Host(s): The Advisory Council for Underwater Archaeology
Cultural resource managers, land managers, and archaeologists are often tasked with managing, interpreting, and reviewing archaeological assessments for submerged cultural resources. This workshop is designed to introduce nonspecialists to issues specific to underwater archaeology. Participants will learn about different types of underwater cultural heritage (UCH) sites, and the techniques used in Phase I and II equivalent surveys. This workshop is not intended to teach participants how to do underwater archaeology, but will introduce different investigative techniques, international best practices, and existing legislation. The purpose of this workshop is to assist nonspecialists in recognizing the potential for UCH resources in their areas of impact, budgeting for UCH resource investigations, reviewing UCH resource assessments, developing interpretive strategies, and providing sufficient background information to assist in making informed decisions regarding UCH resources.
Full-day workshop: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Maximum enrollment: 25
Cost: $80 for members, $105 for nonmembers, $50 for student members, and $70 for student nonmembers

W-4: GMAC Anti-Racism Workshop
Hosts: Flordeliz T. Bugarin (Howard University), Michael S. Nassaney (Western Michigan University), and Dr. Emily Drew (Crossroads)
The Gender and Minority Affairs Committee, with the support of the SHA Board, has worked to identify racism in our organization and profession, develop strategies to transform our society, and strive towards a more diverse archaeological community. We recognize that a lack of diversity within our organization has negative outcomes on every member, and as such should be a central concern for all of us. In this effort and in collaboration with Crossroads, we have organized this workshop to show SHA members how to develop a systemic analysis of racism. The goal will be to assist us (both as individuals and as a society) in beginning and strengthening our institutional interventions against racism. During this workshop, trainers from Crossroads will expose SHA members to a common language and mode of analysis, which will in turn assist us in forming a transformation team to develop effective long- term strategies. Participants will learn how to develop and use a common language about racism, as well as a shared definition. We will discuss how to understand racism as a systemic issue in the United States and by extension throughout the world-and not only as an issue of individual attitudes and actions. We will also discuss the racialization of our discipline, both historically and in our contemporary practices of pedagogy and scholarship. A major goal of this workshop is to understand how racism and other policies act as barriers specifically to an all-inclusive SHA. This workshop will in turn explore approaches to dismantling racism that can provide the foundation for institutional interventions against systemic racism. Registration is free of charge, but space is limited, so please register in advance using the option provided on the conference registration form.
Afternoon Workshop: 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Maximum enrollment: 40
Cost: Free of charge

Tours

This year’s Conference offers FIVE exciting tours. All tours will be held on Wednesday, January 7, 2015.

(T-1) Behind the Scenes Tour at the Burke Museum
Join the museum’s curators and explore the Burke Museum Archaeology Collections, which include more than one million objects from around the world and focus on cultural materials from the Pacific Rim. The Burke is best known for its collections of artifacts from the Lower Columbia River and the Puget Sound region of Washington State.

Three groups of 10 people each will receive a personal tour as follows:
• Group 1: Leave the Sheraton at 9:30 a.m., tour: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon; return to Sheraton at 12:30 p.m.
• Group 2: Leave the Sheraton at 10:30 a.m.; tour: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.; return to Sheraton at 1:30 p.m.
• Group 3: Leave the Sheraton at 11:30 a.m.; tour 12:00 noon – 2:00 p.m.; return to Sheraton at 2:30 p.m.
Cost: $30 per person (includes transportation and admission to the Burke)

(T-2) Washington State Wine and Beer Tour
Tour Washington State’s Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery and enjoy a sample of its award-winning wines. Then you’ll travel a short distance to the Redhook Brewery for a walk-through of the state-of-the-art brewery, information about Redhook history, an overview of the brewing process, a tasting of some of Redhook’s beers, and a souvenir glass! There will also be time for lunch at your own expense at the Brewery’s Forecaster Pub.

Tour start time: 10:00 a.m. The bus will depart from the Sheraton and will return at 4:00 p.m. In the event of extremely inclement weather, the tour will be canceled and your fee refunded. Dress appropriately!

Maximum number of participants: 50

Cost: $50 per person (includes transportation and tour/ tasting fees at Chateau Ste. Michelle and the Redhook Brewery)

(T-3) Seattle Underground
Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour is a leisurely, guided, 75-minute, walking tour beneath Seattle’s sidewalks and streets. As you roam the subterranean passages that once were the main roadways and first-floor storefronts of old downtown Seattle, your guides will regale you with the stories our pioneers didn’t want you to hear. It’s history with a twist! The tour begins inside Doc Maynard’s Public House, a restored 1890s saloon. Following a short intro, you’ll walk through historic Pioneer Square to three different sections of Underground-about three blocks in all.

Tour start time: 2:00 p.m. The entrance to the Underground Tour is at 608 First Avenue in Seattle’s Pioneer Square, between Cherry Street and Yesler Way and approximately 1 mile (12 blocks) from the Sheraton Seattle. Transportation will NOT be provided with this tour.

Cost: $14 for adults (18-59 years old), $12 for students (with valid ID), $12 for seniors (60+). (These are discounted prices for the SHA tour.)

(T-4) Whidbey Island Tour
Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve is an historic rural landscape that includes stunning panoramas, historical communities, Fort Casey and Fort Ebey State Parks, and lands farmed by the descendants of families who filed Donation Claims in the 1850s. The reserve is located north of Seattle on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound and is unique within the National Park Service because most of the land is privately owned. A partnership of the landowners-federal, state, town, and county-provide support to the current community in the preservation of their cultural and natural legacy. This historic rural landscape preserves direct connections to many layers of Pacific Northwest history-Coast Salish peoples, English explorers and traders, American farmers and sea captains, and Chinese farmers. Whidbey Island is the largest jewel in the Puget Sound’s island crown. You’ll travel to Whidbey via bus and ferry. Lunch will be on your own at one of the restaurants on the island.

Tour start time: 9 a.m. The tour bus will depart from the Sheraton and will return by 5:00 p.m. In the event of extremely inclement weather, the tour will be canceled and your fee refunded. Dress appropriately!

Maximum number of participants: 50

Cost: $50 per person

(T-5) Beaux Arts and Art Deco Seattle Walking Tour

During the first quarter of the 20th century, Seattle, “Gateway to the Orient,” could boast of international trade, up-to-date skyscrapers, a thriving entertainment district, and a planned commercial center that would be the envy of other cities. This tour shows off brick- and terra-cotta- clad skyscrapers, private clubs, financial and banking headquarters, and commercial buildings, which expressed the confidence and sophistication of Seattle’s builders. The tour will be led by Larry Kreisman, Honorary AIA Seattle, architectural historian, author, preservation consultant, and since 1997, Program Director for Historic Seattle. He is the author of several books on Seattle’s architecture and history.

Tour start time: 1:00 p.m. This tour will leave from the main entrance of the Sheraton Seattle. Tour will take two to three hours. In the event of extremely inclement weather, the tour will be canceled. Dress appropriately.

Maximum number of participants: 30

Cost: $15 per person