December 30th, 2016

As the end of the year approaches, I think of all the fun things I did in 2016 and all the amazing places I visited. One of my highlights has to be my personal invitation to attend the Southeastern Archaeological Conference (SEAC). It was held in Athens, Georgia this year and over 800 real archaeologists attended! Reliable sources tell me that the majority of them came to see yours truly, but I am sure a few came to hear some of the professional papers, too. Diary, did you know that Athens, Georgia has the world’s only “double barreled canon”? Well, it never actually worked properly, but it seemed like a good idea at the time! Athens is also home to the Georgia Archaeological Site File, where more than 70,000 archaeological sites in the state of Georgia have been recorded! I was able to cruise around the Athens area during much of the conference and wanted to drive by the “Tree that Owns Itself” – yep, itself and eight feet of ground surrounding its trunk. I did drive right on the campus of the University of Georgia (UGA), which was America’s FIRST state chartered university dating to 1785. Cool campus. I just wish the University would do archaeology before they build things, then they wouldn’t destroy all the information from the past contained in those sites or find any “surprises” like that cemetery. What a great role model UGA COULD BE for universities and everyone across the state and country. I mean, really Diary, if a BUS can figure that out, why can’t a 230 year old university understand that archaeological sites are non-renewable resources that contain unique and important information about our past?

During the conference I took Corey McQuinn on a jaunt to a nearby elementary school to visit the students. But from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, it was all work! Well fun work, of course. That nippy Saturday morning SEAC, in conjunction with our very own Society for Georgia Archaeology (SGA) sponsored an archaeology fair outside the Classic Center (Figure 1). The fair included a lot of archaeology booths with hands-on things for archaeologists and the public to do (Figure 2).

Figure 1. Here I am outside the Classic Center in Athens getting ready for my big day!

Figure 2. My view of the booths in action! Archaeology volunteers and the public unite!

Not only was I there, along with my inside and outside activities, but the University of Georgia’s Center for Applied Isotope Studies had a booth where kids could earn a Jr. Archaeologist Badge. Visitors could see a collection from the early 20th century African American campus of Fairview at the Georgia Historic Preservation Division’s booth. Georgia State University showed off its MARTA collection of artifacts documented during some of the archaeology for the construction of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority projects. Georgia Southern University shared information about its Camp Lawton Archaeological Project, which located and recorded remains of a Civil War prison in Millen, Georgia. The University of North Georgia booth included its volunteer and student engagement program in archaeology. Visitors could try out the Traveling and Teaching Trunks at the booth hosted by the University of West Georgia, Antonio J. Waring, Jr. Archaeological Lab. So many things to see, touch, and do!! (Figures 3, 4, 5, and 6)

Figure 3. Joey and Tammy overseeing outside activities and the SGA publications table.

Figure 4. Betsy shows off my interactive palynology matching game!

Figure 5. Here’s another view of the action. Corey’s on the left. I really like that guy!

Figure 6. P.T. and Tammy showing off some of SGA’s fabulous publications, Early Georgia and Frontiers in the Soil!

I got to tell you, Diary, visitors at this event were a savvy group, indeed! Many members of the public already knew about science and how important scientific study is for our world. And many of them also knew some things about archaeology! Of course, all those archaeologists at the conference already know WAY MORE about archaeology than I can ever hope to know. But it was fun to see how they enjoyed the way I presented archaeology in my games and exhibits on the bus and my activities on the tables outside (Figures 7, 8, 9). I was especially proud when the archaeologists who are also specialists in public outreach came on board and said nice things about me (Figure 10).THEY appreciate how important it is to get the word out to the public about archaeology in an exciting and memorable manner! Archaeologists are a fun and crazy group!

Figure 7. Learning about traditional stone tools!

Figure 8. Everybody liked the exhibits inside me!

Figure 9. The event was bustling throughout the day!

Figure 10. A smile of approval! They like me, they really like me!

MY crazy group helped me set up and worked the crowds. They included P.T. Ashlock, Erika Carpenter, Rita Elliott, Tom “I don’t need no dumb alarm clock” Gresham, Tammy Herron, Corey McQuinn, Joseph Roberts, Betsy Shirk, and Stefanie Smith. Thank you all! And thanks to my new friend who helped, Karen Dolores Medina-Lomba.  And thanks to my all-star backup support crew including Dan Elliott, Gisela Weis Gresham, Lee Herron, Leslie Johansen, Joel “Rubberband” Jones, and Tom Lewis. And thank you to helping hands that I may have overlooked in the frenzy! You are the best! I can hardly wait to go to a future SEAC, where I may see little boys and girls who have grown up and become archaeologists!

Figure 11. I had fun Athens! Bye SEAC! Until next time!