What attending SEAC meant to me

Submitted by James "Wes" Patterson, Fernbank Museum Natural History

It was a dark and rainy day when we left Atlanta headed for Lexington, Kentucky—the location of the 2010 Southeastern Archaeological Conference (SEAC). In a strange way, the weather foreshadowed what was in store for us at SEAC. Just as the storm clouds had gathered over Atlanta, archaeologists from across the country were converging on Lexington and by the morning of October 30, it was pouring archaeology in the downtown Hilton.

 A plethora of topics were covered in talks and posters from the tiniest artifacts to regional settlement patterns. And then there was the lobby, lunches, dinners, bars, parties, and even a dance (yes, I danced) where in addition to an exchange of ideas, everyone had a generally good time. In short, it was more than any one person could take in—although that did not stop anyone from trying.

SEAC had something to offer for everyone. Personal presentation highlights include: a poster that detailed the use of barcodes to transmit 3D images of artifacts and structures to the camera-equipped handheld devices of visitors to museums and archaeological sites (Potential Applications of Augmented Reality in Archaeological and Historic Education, Bryan Tucker, Heath Tucker, and Matthew Luke); a presentation on the use of fuzzy logic in predicting the location of archaeological sites (Predictive Archaeological Site Modeling Using GIS-Based Fuzzy Set Estimation: A Case Study from Kentucky, Phillip Mink, Carl Shields, Ted Grossardt, and John Ripy); and a talk concerning the use of tobacco in Mississippian societies and what the variation in forms of smoking pipes can tell us about this ritual (Smoking Ritual in South Appalachian Mississippian Societies: Variation over Time and Space, Dennis Blanton). This last presentation was particularly satisfying, as I had been hearing tidbits of related information since I first met “Colonel” Dennis Blanton – it was nice to finally get the bigger picture.

 All in all, my first excursion to SEAC was a memorable one, filled with friendly faces and more archaeological information than you could shake a trowel at. It was great to experience first hand the flourishing area of study that is southeastern archaeology, especially as someone who is taking their first tentative steps into the field. I can’t wait to see what SEAC has to offer in 2011.