Abby and CoastFest 2018

October 8, 2018

Dear Diary,

I hope you don’t think I’ve been ignoring you. After all, you can keep up with my whirlwind schedule on my very own Facebook page. Just type in “ArchaeoBus”! I do like to write to you from time-to-time though, as we have such a long-lasting relationship and I know you love to hear from me.

I bet you are thinking, “Abby is going to tell me about CoastFest again.” Well you are right. But this year’s festival (the 24th one) on Saturday was new and different! It was at the Mary Ross Waterfront Park in Brunswick, Georgia. Turned out that this was a perfect spot – easy to see, located in downtown Brunswick, and right on the water. And speaking of water, they sure like to give lots of names to the same water! The part that flows by the park is Fancy Bluff Creek, which becomes Oglethorpe Bay and merges with the East and Turtle rivers, then turns back into Fancy Bluff Creek before flowing into Saint Simons Sound, and then FINALLY into the Atlantic Ocean. Phew! All looks like the same water to me, but what do I know, I’m only a bus. (An exceptional bus, of course.)

Diary, I got to learn about Mary Ross. After all, it was the least I could do since I was sitting in her park this year. Mary was an exceptional woman, researcher, and historian (born 1881- died 1971). She got a Master of Arts (MA) degree from Berkeley way back in 1918, when few women were getting college degrees and even fewer earned graduate degrees! Mary’s work became controversial after co-authoring a book about Georgia’s debatable lands. Curious? Check out that interesting historical side line at Mary survived the controversy and went on to do some amazing primary research translating really OLD Spanish documents held in Spain that shed light on the early history of the Spanish mission settlements in Georgia and Florida. And equally important, Diary, copies of the 1,000 Spanish documents that she translated and all her notes got saved and are now in the Georgia Department of Archives and History, so anyone can study them! Now we’re talking! Boy, that Mary Ross sure did make a massive contribution to history and as a result, to archaeology as archaeologists have been trying to find and study those mission sites! You know, Diary, I can relate to making massive contribution to knowledge.

But where were we? Oh, yeah, Nancy B. and the fine folks at CoastFest gave me a premiere spot at the park among the 70 environmental and historical booths at CoastFest this year. (Obviously it is in their best interest to showcase yours truly.) I was strategically located adjacent to the parking lot and about midway in the park, with my two best sides easily viewable to all who passed. Of course, more than 9,000 visitors to CoastFest this year didn’t PASS, but surrounded the tent delightfully trying out the hands-on educational materials. They also patiently waited in the line to get on the bus, to see me in all my glory and experience my exhibits and cool activities. Diary, not to be bragging or anything, but there was a constant line to see me for the first four hours of the six hour festival!

I had some wonderful helpers this year. Big thanks go out to them! Some of my favorite archaeology/anthropology graduate students from Georgia Southern came back to work with me again, Colin Partridge and Rhianna Bennett. They introduced me to a new student friend of theirs, Christian Hicks. All of them engage visitors so well! Brings a tear to my windshield wiper ducts. Several college professors wanted to work with me, too! Dr. Jared Wood and Dr. Matthew Compton of Georgia Southern-Statesboro Campus jumped right in with their archaeology knowledge. Dr. T. Kurt Knoerl, at Georgia Southern University-Armstrong Campus also was a whiz at helping visitors understand my educational activities.

Old friends from the Golden Isles Archaeological Society (GIAS), a chapter of The Society for Georgia Archaeology, returned to help. Elizabeth Murphy, Vinnie Miller, Charlie Lewis, and Mary Jo Davis all did their best to help visitors learn about archaeology through my unique activities. Thanks GIAS president Ellen Provenzano for recruiting volunteers! Other friends who came by to give moral support and to demonstrate how activities worked included Inger Wood and Violet Wood. Lauren Compton helped with the puzzling puzzle, as did Eli Compton, who also worked hard assisting my helpers in the pack up at the end of the day.

And last but not least, my handler Veronica was greatly assisted by P.T. Ashlock. He rode all the way to the festival with me and back, and helped set up and break down my gear, and worked all day. I’m glad I didn’t break down on them! And speaking of traveling, my regional coordinator Jenna Pirtle and another of my partners in crime, Scott Morris both of New South Associates, drove me south from Stone Mountain. (I’m going to assume that they didn’t REALLY want a break from me, but knew how much I was needed at the festival.) And a last shout-out, this one to Tammy Herron for making all the arrangements for me to be one of the star attractions at CoastFest! Thank you one and all! See you all next year, same bat time, same bat channel (if my celebrity status doesn’t put me in Hollywood!)  —Yours Truly,

Abby the ArchaeoBus

Figure 1. Dr. Jared Wood does the “SO HAPPY TO BE HELPING ON THE ARCHAEOBUS” dance as crowds swarm onboard!

Figure 2. Visitors to the ArchaeoBus stream pass helpers Charlie Lewis (left) and Vinnie Miller (right), before checking out the tent activities.

Figure 3. Violet Wood (left) demonstrates in sand to Inger Wood the proper way to make Native American pottery designs.

Figure 4. Eli Compton, Lauren Compton, and Dr. Matthew Compton help puzzle enthusiasts understand what broken ceramics can tell archaeologists.

Figure 5. Dr. Kurt Knoerl shares with exuberant visitors how Native American pottery was made and decorated.

Figure 6. Mary Jo Davis and Colin Partridge answer thoughtful questions from an inquisitive visitor studying the array of Native American stone tools.

Figure 7. P.T. Ashlock explains how grinding stones and nutting stones functioned, as a visitor feels the weight of one.

Figure 8. Charlie Lewis sits ready to field questions about furs, gourds, and other things that don’t survive on archaeological sites.

Figure 9. Christian Hicks and Rhianna Bennett help budding archaeobotanists identify seeds, pollen, and phytoliths that can tell about past environments and plant domestication on sites (photo courtesy of Matthew Compton).

Figure 10. Visitors try their hand at using a rim chart to determine the size of their broken dish, as Elizabeth Murphy (far end of table) and friend look on.

Figure 11. Goodbye CoastFest! See you next year!