Abby Visits Carnesville, Georgia

I had my first event for Spring 2019 on March 25th in Carnesville, Georgia. I had a great time sharing archaeology with students at Franklin County High School.

Abby and Franklin County High School Students


Franklin County High School Students learning about archaeology

Abby and SEAC 2018

Dear Diary,

I am now rested from my recent, exciting visit to the second largest city in Georgia! Yep, that would be Augusta, Georgia, located just across the Savannah River from South Carolina. As it was my first visit to Augusta, I was happy to learn more about it. Did you know, Diary, that Augusta was named after Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha? She was the mother of British King George III. (Yeah, the one that many American colonists came to loathe.) But at the time Augusta, Georgia was established in 1736, no one was thinking of revolting against Great Britain and becoming independent. Anyway, Diary, Augusta has a rich past, beginning with Native Americans from at least 12,000 years ago, through its colonial history and more recent past.

Augusta sits on the fall line, the place where the flat coastal plain meets the hilly piedmont. The fall line helped attract Native Americans to the environment’s diversity. It also attracted European settlers to use the falls along the rivers for powering grist, saw, and textile mills, and for other industries. Towns such as Augusta that were established along the fall line could prosper from shipping, as the fall line was the highest point upstream that large vessels could travel. Goods had to be removed at this point and loaded onto smaller water craft or wagons, which entailed many support services and businesses. This helped Augusta become a main market for goods as well as for the unfortunate trade in enslaved Africans and African-Americans. Many of the enslaved were sent into the piedmont areas north of Augusta to work cotton plantations. Both the American Revolution and the American Civil War touched Augusta. During the latter, the town housed the main powder works for the Confederacy. Today Augusta is known for the Masters Golf Tournament that it hosts annually, the U.S. Army base Fort Gordon, and as the home of legendary singer James Brown.

But really, Diary, I did not venture to Augusta JUST for its interesting history. Nope. I was on a mission. You see, The Southeastern Archaeological Conference (SEAC) invited me back to its annual meeting, which happened to be in Augusta in November of this year. Apparently I was so popular at the SEAC meeting in Athens two years ago, that they wanted me back again! AND, it was the 75th meeting of SEAC – a momentous occasion that required the presence of yours truly! Of course I can understand why they wanted me there, but nonetheless I was humbled by the invitation.

It was grand to see archaeologists again and some of my old friends. I had a primo spot at the James Brown Blvd/9th Street Circle, adjacent to the Marriott Conference Center and the Augusta Riverwalk (Figure 1). It doesn’t get any better than that, does it? I have to say that being so colorful; I really stood out against the brick buildings (Figure 2). It was a chilly, but thankfully sunny day for my many helpers who manned the four tables of interactives outside (Figures 3, 4, 5). Thanks to all of them including, Rhianna Bennett, Beth Gantt, Tom Gresham, Karen Medina-Lomba, Lori Thompson, Jenna Tran, Lauren Walls, Anne Dorland, Will Britz, Jared Wood and my old handler Veronica. And thanks to the anonymous hardworking folks who also volunteered. Jenna Tran, Susan Olin, and Scot Keith helped me get to Augusta and back, which is no small feat! Important ground support was provided by Joel Jones, Kathy Mulchrone, Gisela Weiss Gresham, and Dan Elliott. And special thanks to my hostesses and host Karen Y. Smith, Tammy Herron, Keith Stephenson and the other fine SEAC folks for inviting me and ensuring key logistics, and thanks to the Marriott staff for assistance!! And a shout out to our raffle winner, Ashley Wilson, who won copies of Frontiers in the Soil archaeology cartoon book and teachers manual, and assorted archaeology journals. Congrats, Ashley! Thanks to Amanda Thompson, Keith Stephenson, Dan and Rita Elliott, and The Society for Georgia Archaeology for making the raffle possible.

In closing, I must say that SEAC participants, homeschoolers, and the Riverwalk passers-by all gave me high praise (Figures  6, 7 ,8 ). Diary, I don’t think they were just being nice! Modesty prevents me from telling you all the fabulous things they said about my activities and good looks. Suffice it to say, I think they enjoyed the experience (Figures 9, 10). I sure did enjoy my visit to Augusta and another outstanding SEAC! Let’s hear it for archaeology!

Figure 1. Here I am, Abby the ArchaeoBus with my tables of activities, between the trees and soothing fountain.

Figure 2. I sure make the building less drab, don’t I?

Figure 3. Decoding palynology, one pollen grain at a time!

Figure 4. Are they puzzled by the sherd puzzle?

Figure 5. Hands-on activities next to the Augusta Riverwalk.

Figure 6. Recreating stamped pottery designs.

Figure 7. Visitors get a little assistance with the botanical boards.

Figure 8. Nothing beats a heart-to-heart conversation about archaeology at the ArchaeoBus!

Figure 9. Checking out the archaeo-astroturf near the entrance.

Figure 10. Who says learning can’t be fun?

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!

Abby the ArchaeBus Enters the University of South Carolina

March 8, 2018

Dear Diary,

I had SUCH an exciting Saturday two weekends ago in Columbia, South Carolina I can hardly wait to tell you all about it! First, I got to travel to another state, adding a third state to my resume of Georgia and Florida. Two of my New South handlers, Jenna Pirtle and Scott Morris drove me from Stone Mountain to the Columbia office of New South Associates where they dropped me off (Figure 1). I got to rest there overnight (because it is a tiring drive of over three hours on roads I’ve never ever traveled).  A thanks and shout-out to Natalie Adams Pope, Executive Vice President of New South for inviting me to spend the night in your parking lot. Second, I got to go to yet another university! You realize, Diary, this is the THIRD university that I have been invited to present at in the past few years (University of Georgia, Armstrong Atlantic [at the time], and the University of South Carolina). I do hear talk occasionally of receiving an honorary degree … ahem…








Figure 1.

My trek to the University of South Carolina (USC) was due to an invitation from the Archaeological Society of South Carolina (ASSC), who was holding its 50th Anniversary and wanted yours truly, Abby the ArchaeoBus to be the main attraction.  An excellent decision, I might add. Diary, did you know that the Society for Georgia Archaeology (SGA) is like a sister organization to ASSC? Well, like a 30-year older sister! SGA was started in the 1930s and ASSC began in the 1960s. Both are excellent advocates of preserving and studying fantastic archaeological sites and doing public outreach about them. ..  which comes back to me, of course!

Dr. Keith Stephenson (he’s not the kind of doctor that operates on you; but a doctor of intellect and philosophy and all that stuff). He’s an archaeologist and Director of the Savannah River Archaeological Research Program through the USC, and the current President of ASSC. Dr. Keith helped get me a great location in front of Gambrell Hall on the USC campus. Yup, I drove right past the barricades and onto the pedestrian walkway, where no ArchaeoBus has driven before. I do have to admit I looked pretty stunning there and the landscaping complemented me nicely (Figure 2).








Figure 2.

Diary, as I tell you this entry it is the worldwide Day of the Woman. That is so appropriate because Gambrell Hall was named after Dr. Mary Latimer Gambrell. She was the president of Hunter College in New York City back in the 1960s. Mary was the little sister of E. Smythe Gambrell, an Atlanta attorney who donated the $1 million to construct the steel building in 1976 in her honor, two years after she died. As an ArchaeoBus, I also must inject that the limestone on the front of the building came all the way from Indiana! Guess they didn’t like any of the fine rocks in South Carolina, huh?

My old handlers, Veronica and Tammy H. set me up, with some help from Real Dan who also rode shotgun from the parking lot to USC. It warmed my radiator to see them all again (Figure 3). One of their old friends, Virginia Pierce came out to help, too (Figure 4). She is pretty neat because she was an archaeologist for years and now is a special archivist librarian person; archaeology and books – both things I can relate to. I got to make some new friends who staffed my activities throughout the day. Most of them were students working in the Applied Research Division of the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology at the university. That division is directed by archaeologist Dr. Karen Smith (she’s one of those fancy intellectual doctors, too!)  Hey, I wonder if I could become one of those. Hmm “Dr. Abby the ArchaeoBus”. I like the sound of that! After all, I know lots about archaeology and I had thousands of books about all sorts of things when I was a book mobile… Oh, uh, sorry Diary. As I was telling you, Dr. Karen was cool because she lined up all these wonderful Anthropology students to work with me, including Sarah Christenbury, Johnny Dodge (I love his sweaters!), Abby (what a fantastic name!) Geedy, Caroline Hall, and Lillian Ondus. Amanda Douglass also came out to help. She works in the same division, but is not a student anymore. All the Applied Research Division folks and other helpers were very friendly and enthusiastic and smart (Figures 5, 6, 7). They tried so hard to get anyone who walked by to climb aboard and to try my many hands-on activities. I think they must be very good students and can’t wait to see them when they become full-time professionals! Thank you all, and thanks to my handlers for helping! It was fun to see passers-by and the ASSC members when they took a break from their conference to check out my archaeology educational bling (Figures 8 and 9).

Figure 3.

Figure 4.

Figure 5.

Figure 6.

Figure 7.

Figure 8.

Figure 9.

In closing, Diary, I have to say I had a swell time in South Carolina. Maybe the Archaeological Society of South Carolina and the Society for Georgia Archaeology can work together more often to share with residents and visitors all the amazing information about the archaeological sites in those states. I mean after all, the organizations are sisters!


Abby goes to CoastFest December 21, 2017

Dear Diary,

OK, Diary, here is your fall riddle…

What has 7,700 people, snakes, cannons, hamburgers, fish, art, 18th century colonists, kayaks, hawks, free things, AND archaeology? You are right, it is CoastFest!

Now that fall is drawing to a close, it’s the perfect time to tell you about one of my favorite fall events. I know you remember that I am invited every October to CoastFest, hosted by the Georgia Department of Resources in Brunswick, Glynn County, Georgia. Well, to be honest with you Diary, I am not sure they could have it without me. I mean, yeah they have lots of cool stuff, like our immediate festival neighbors – the taxidermy animals and deer (looking like a deer in the headlights, if you know what I mean), and the swimming pool full of kayaks, and the magician performing under the tent. But is it really a festival without an ArchaeoBus? Fortunately, I cleared my busy schedule just to attend, so CoastFest could go on for its 22nd year. I send a big shout out to New South Associates’ Scott Morris and Susan Olin, who got me to the coast in time for my star appearance, and to Jenna Pirtle for helping with logistics! Hooray!

I had my place of honor just outside the festival grounds, attracting people to the gates. My old handlers, Veronica and Tammy H. set me up in record time. I tell you Diary, it was like homecoming working with them again! And then other helpers showed up throughout the morning, like old and new volunteers from the Golden Isles Archaeological Society, Mary Jo Davis, Elizabeth Murphy, Vincent (Vinnie) Miller, and Kay and George Ellis. In addition, four energetic graduate students worked with me all day. Kelly Westfield from Armstrong Atlantic University, and Rhianna Bennett, Drew Antonisse, and Colin Partridge all from Georgia Southern University made the trek down here JUST to help show me off to festival visitors! They all did a grand job of sharing my fun interactives with kids and adults, while secretly teaching everyone important things about archaeology and preservation. With graduate students like this, I feel better about the future of archaeology and the world!

Diary, I only worked 8 hours today, but in that period, all those volunteers put in over a week of time, working 54.5 hours just to share me with the public. It sure feels good having groupies like that keeping me center stage! Between 9 am and 4 pm, 7,700 men, women and children came through the CoastFest gates! Yep, another successful CoastFest, thanks to yours truly. Diary I will leave you with these photographs below to enjoy until next CoastFest.

Figure 1. Discovering socio-economics through puzzle pieces.

Figure 2. Getting a helping hand at identifying seeds, pollen, and phytoliths from archaeological sites.

Figure 3. All hands on deck, inside the ArchaeoBus!

Figure 4. For $10,000 (or was it a free archaeology poster?) can you spin the wheel and answer this question?

Figure 5. Soft pelts and hard rocks, Native American artifacts and archaeology to explore.

Figure 6. If you think all the interactives under the tent are cool, you should go inside the ArchaeoBus!

Figure 7.Tools for Native American pottery decorating.

Figure 8. Step right up and try your hand at pollen analysis!






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!

October 15, 2016

Dear Diary,

Whew! I barely escaped Hurricane Matthew. I was still down on Georgia’s beautiful coast the week following the annual CoastFest celebration in Brunswick when the hurricane headed that way. Fortunately, my friends and handlers got me out of harm’s way just in the nick of time! (Thanks Jen, Scott, Real Dan, and Veronica!) But enough about my harrowing escape from the jaws of danger…

What I really wanted to tell you about was my fun time at CoastFest. This is my, oh, maybe sixth or seventh year attending the fantastic outdoor festival that the Georgia Department of Resources has been sponsoring since 1995! It started like, when I was two years old and still a bookmobile! Of course, I couldn’t attend until I got older and became the ArchaeoBus, when I could share all my exciting hands-on activities about Georgia archaeology with everyone. Back in 1995, 200 people attended the first festival. This year in 2016, there were 8,012 visitors! I think they all came to see me. Well, OK, maybe 12 of them got too busy on the rock climbing wall or handling the snakes, but I am SURE the other 8,000 tried out all my interactives on the bus and played the archaeology games under my tent. I know because I was almost as tired as my handlers and volunteers.

Check out these photos that my handler, Veronica took of my helpers and visitors at CoastFest 2016. I think the visitors had as much fun as me!

Figure 1

Figure 1. A few of my battle-hardened handlers and volunteers ready for the onslaught of 8,000 visitors. (Left to right: Tammy Herron, Dan “Real Dan” Elliott, Mary Jo Davis,and behind the pole, Joseph Roberts.)

Figure 2

Figure 2. Let the games begin! Tammy and Mary Jo help with Native American archaeology activities.

Figure 3.

Figure 3. Two visitors discover Historic Archaeology, Underwater Archaeology, and all kinds of archaeology!

Figure 4

Figure 4. Joey encourages visitors to touch various animal pelts and other items that don’t survive under the ground in archaeological sites.

Figure 5

Figure 5. Wow, they are acing the electronic quiz! I haven’t heard the buzzer once!

Figure 6

Figure 6. Two future scientists not only study the deer bones, but actually READ the label about them!

Figure 7

Figure 7. Harrison Ashlock demos a wooden pottery paddle while manning the Native American pottery station. Behind him, P.T. Ashlock helps visitors explore stone tools. To his left, Toby Ashlock and Dan Elliott assist visitors with matching games about seeds and plants.

Figure 8

Figure 8. Toby and Dan help a visitor mend artifacts to learn about diet, economic status, and trade.

Figure 9

Figure 9. Caroline Rock stands ready to assist delighted bus visitors.

And speaking of fun, I can hardly wait for my appearance at the Southeastern Archaeological Conference in Athens, Georgia. At the risk of sounding immodest, I will be the star of the Georgia Archaeology Faire, which will have lots of other archaeology activities too. The fair is free and open to the public on Saturday, October 29, 2016, from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. I will be set up for visitors of all kinds. I, Abby the ArchaeoBus, am personally inviting all the adults, college students, and children in the Athens and surrounding areas to come out and try out all my educational games. And I am equally excited to strut my stuff with the archaeologists of SEAC–always a cool crowd! So come visit me. Tell ’em my diary sent you. See you in Athens!

June 29, 2015

Before I jump into my busy summer season, I just HAVE to tell you about my spa day this past winter and early spring. It will be therapeutic to share this with you. I was totally rehabilitated – mechanically and cosmetically during my spa retreat this past winter and early spring. I have to admit, after a hectic year, I was feeling a bit tired and run down. But now I feel like a new ArchaeoBus!

Veronica put me in the Bird House Spa and boy did I get a total makeover – from under the hood down to my wheels! Ahhhh, what a relaxing treat! First my buddy J.R. looked me over and fixed a lot of my chronic complaints. Nothing like a secure tail pipe to make you feel good again! J.R. rehung my cabinets that had gotten all whackadoodle when I had a bout of serious indigestion quite a while back, so now they can open without scrubbing. He also fixed the motor and lights on my underwater exhibit (my second best feature, you know).

Figure 1 J.R. gets to work repairing my cabinets.

Photo 1 J.R. gets to work repairing my cabinets.

Here local guest inspectors Agnes and Rene’ examine the first stage of my spa treatments. Fortunately, they gave me high marks all around. I understand, however, that they flunked a box truck younger than me only last week. Phew, I was lucky!

Figure 2. The inspectors approve of my upgraded underwater exhibit.

Photo 2. The inspectors approve of my upgraded underwater exhibit.

Then I went to the Doctor Mechanic and he and his assistants spent weeks replacing and repairing my mechanical parts and changing my fluids and filters. I started up on the first try after that and have been purring like the proverbial kitten. )

Figure 3. Boy, those doctor mechanics did every test imaginable.

Photo 3. Boy, those doctor mechanics did every test imaginable.

I got a thorough inside cleaning before Veronica took me to get BRAND NEW SHOES! Hooray! You know I went window shopping for shoes a few years ago when I was at the Savannah Mall with the Armstrong Anthropology Club, but nothing seemed to scream “me”, if you know what I mean. Well when I was in the spa, I got not one, not two, but THREE new pairs of shoes! Thank goodness someone had my size! Veronica and her guest co-pilot “calm as a cucumber” Agnes took me to the tire place and got me fitted with six of the most gorgeous treads you have ever seen. I’ll be dancing down the highway now!

Figure 4. Unlike most of Veronica's copilots, this one was quite calm.

Photo 4. Unlike most of Veronica’s copilots, this one was quite calm.

Well, Diary, after I got all those new shoes, I couldn’t go around Georgia in the same drab old outfit, could I? So Veronica gave me a brand new coat of lovely moss green paint. It looks so much better than the outdated peachy color I wore when I was little. I think it brings out the tones in my exterior wrap, don’t you?

Figure 5. My new wardrobe of green paint.

Photo 5. My new wardrobe of green paint.

After a bit of accessorizing with new safety features, I was definitely ready mechanically and cosmetically for the road and excited to do more gigs around east Atlanta. Get ready Stone Mountain, here I come!

October 28th, 2014

Guess where I went on October 4, 2014? Brunswick! No, not Brunswick, New Jersey. And no, not Brunswick, Maryland. Not even Brunswick County, Virginia, and certainly not New Brunswick, Canada (although that would have been quite exciting!) No, Diary, I returned to Brunswick GEORGIA, for another exciting year at CoastFest! As you may remember, Brunswick is a coastal city about half the distance between Savannah, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida. Diary, did you know that Brunswick, Georgia was one of colonial Georgia’s early European settlements? There was a plantation there by the 1730s and a lot of people living nearby in Frederica. Of course, Native Americans lived throughout the Brunswick area for thousands of years before European explorers and missionaries came to the Georgia coast.

Well, even though I have been to Brunswick many times, there were still things I did not know, like why would you name a town after a kind of stew? Come to find out, it isn’t named after the stew at all!

Neat fact number one…Brunswick, Georgia is named after a place in Germany called the duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg. That is a place where the ancestors of Great Britain’s King George III lived. When Brunswick was settled, the colonial Georgians honored their King George by naming the town after his ancestral homeland. (Diary, that was back when it was cool to be a British colony and about 40 years before the colonists revolted in the American Revolution.)

Cool fact number two…Brunswick is at the westernmost point of the Atlantic seaboard, called the “Georgia bight”. Put another way, you can’t go ANY further west on the Atlantic Ocean! How wild is that?

Sad fact number three…there are four major toxic waste sites (so toxic they are on the Superfund list) in the Brunswick area. These sites were created when companies irresponsibly contaminated the area with their wastes. The toxic sites are: Brunswick Wood Preserving, LCP Chemicals site, Hercules 0009 Landfill, and the Terry Creek Dredge Spoil Areas. The poisons from these sites have gone into the soil, creeks, and rivers, hurting the wildlife. Scientists discovered that bottlenose dolphins feeding in those creeks had the highest concentration of PCBs (a deadly chemical) of any mammal in the entire world! How sad that some corporations have tainted the beautiful marshes here and sickened the animals for centuries to come! I hope that some of the very smart and inquisitive kids I met at CoastFest will become active in trying to save our environment from horrible pollution like this. Maybe they will also grow up to be scientists and civic leaders.

And speaking of CoastFest, this was the 20th anniversary of that fun environmental and history festival. (You know, yours truly has been going to CoastFest for YEARS!) In fact, this year my friend Nancy B. (she is a Big-Wig with CoastFest and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources [DNR], put me in a premiere spot at the festival’s entrance gate. There I had lots of space to spread out. The drummers welcomed me in the morning (well, I guess they were actually welcoming everyone, but they were standing right by ME) and in the middle of the day when it got pleasantly warm I could look nearby and see the giant swimming pools of kayakers.

Photo 1. Here I am on the left, next to my tent of fun activities and nearby all those people!

Photo 2. Preparing for the onslaught, Dan rolls archaeology posters for prizes, and Tammy and Mac make sure all is ready.

Photo 3. Oh my, look at all the people heading my way!

Photo 4. Billy oversees restocking supplies for activities. (Photo courtesy of Mary Jo Davis)

I had lots of handlers this time. My friends Luke and Lauren (hey, that sounds like a soap opera on TV!) from New South brought me all the way down from Stone Mountain through a tremendously scary storm the day before CoastFest. It was raining and windy and dark and thundering…it was so bad I almost lost my air conditioning cover on my roof! But cool Luke kept me on the road and out of the ditches. Lauren followed as a good safety backup, which made me feel much better

Saturday at CoastFest new and old friends showed up to help me work the crowds. My old handler energetic Tammy H. came back again with some great educational displays, and my mentor and handler Veronica and my true and quirky friend Real Dan came to help too. Old and new CoastFest friends from the Golden Isles Chapter of The Society for Georgia Archaeology showed up to assist, including Billy Brice, Mac Carlton, Jack Caldwell and Mary Jo Davis. Thanks guys!! I made other new friends who helped me from Savannah, including Evelyn Shealy, from the Anthropology Club at Armstrong Atlantic State University and archaeologist John Brannen. I hope they all had as much fun as me!

Photo 5. The audiences from the stage tent behind Lauren came over before and after the shows to try out some of my archaeology activities.

Photo 6. John got even the youngest visitors interested in archaeology!

Photo 7. Luke welcomes guests inside for more hands-on learning.

Photo 8. A visitor playing the “spin the wheel” game thinks about an answer to Mary Jo’s archaeology question to win a poster prize.

Diary, can you believe that 9,495 people came to CoastFest this year???? That was record attendance. I was so tired by 4 pm that I was sure most of them visited me! Not only was I tired, but I was worried that when I got back on the road my AC cover would fly off, since it was loosened by the storm. But I met a new friend from DNR named Brad A. who was SO VERY nice! He climbed up on my roof and put a whole lot of new screws around my cover, securing it in place. Whew, I felt better immediately!

Photo 11. Mac poses under the ArchaeoBus Tent and the colorful Society for Georgia Archaeology banner. (Photo courtesy of Mary Jo Davis.)

So, Diary, you can see why it took me a few weeks to write this entry. I was tired! But word on the street is that I get to go to the spa this winter for some much needed rejuvenation. If that is true, I will keep you posted!

June 18th, 2014


It’s always a great feeling to get asked to come back to a wonderful library like the Mt. Zion Public Library, and that is exactly what happened! The folks over in Mt. Zion just couldn’t get enough of this archaeoGAL last year, so theirs truly rolled on over their way yet again! This time I got to share my knowledge of archaeology with some FANTASTIC kids at the Mt. Zion Public Libraries Summer Reading Program!

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Not only did we get to play around outside, but my New South crew played some fun games with the kids inside, where they got to learn how archaeologists observe and study artifacts. The kids analyzed objects like pennies and t-shirts to learn about what types of details archaeologists look for in artifacts. I’m sure they were also excited to just be inside, because I was feeling the heat outside! Unfortunately I couldn’t get inside to cool off because I was a little too roBUSt! We could tell that we had some budding archaeologists on our hands, with all of the great observations and conclusions they made!

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The kids and their parents were eager to learn about all of my fun tidbits of knowledge! It was great to go back out to Mt. Zion and I could really feel the love! They knew how to make a girl feel special!

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May 23rd, 2014


What a way to kick off the summer of 2014! I took a trip with my awesome New South crew down to Senoia, Georgia! Senoia was settled by a large group of folk that traveled down from Newberry, South Carolina. They brought with them people of all sorts of trades, and you can tell immediately when you see how beautiful this little town is! You can also tell by how smart and intrigued the children were with all of my cool games and exhibits!

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As we were rolling through this beautiful historic town, my New South crew and I were noticing that a lot of the town looked fairly familiar…. That was when we found out that Senoia was actually Woodbury in the hit AMC show The Walking Dead! How cool is that! I always knew I should be a television star! Though this was one of the main areas where they shoot this post-apocalyptic zombie thriller, these kids were anything but zombies!

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They were rocking through my archaeology quizzes, and soaking up all the knowledge we brought along with us! What a great time we all had with the children and parents of Senoia!

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May 6th, 2014


I am SO excited to tell you about my March trip to Savannah. Academia and window shopping at the same time — what more could you ask for?

Well, you know I have been to Savannah several times. This time, three of my regular batch of handlers (the Abbyites) from New South chauffeured me from Stone Mountain to Savannah. And I even got to see my old handler, Veronica, who I just know missed me terribly. On this trip, I revisited Armstrong Atlantic State University (AASU) AND hung out at the Savannah Mall. How cool is that?

Figure 1. The Abbyites clowning around with me. (600x450)
Figure 2. AASU Anthropology Club members direct the set-up of a new activity table. (600x450)

The AASU Anthropology Club and instructors (Barbara Bruno and Laura Seifert) asked for a command performance by yours truly. (I hear they are considering me for an honorary degree!) They gave me my old place back, right in the heart of the campus. I saw lots of old friends there and encountered many new ones. In fact, I met several entirely new classes of students. Fifty students from Godley Station Elementary School came by to try out my games and activities. They already knew a lot of things about archaeology, but I think they learned even more. Then a polite group of a dozen students from Cabrini Elementary came to see me. In between all that excitement, I interacted with two different groups of interested college students from AASU. I gotta tell you, Diary, my engine was whirling between fourth grade to college and back! After a brief lunch, eager homeschool students showed up for some fun and learning. In between, we had curious pedestrians come to see me. Wow, what an exciting day at AASU! The Anthropology Club members (several of my old friends, you know) did a jam-up job and added some new anthropology activities under the tent. (I still think I could have made a super-neat sand painting with my tires, if only they had let me…)

Figure 3. Here I am all gussied up and ready for my first visitors! (600x450)
Figure 4. Busy, busy visitors under the activities tent. (600x450)
Figure 5. Taking the archaeology challenge quiz. (600x800)

Diary, if that wasn’t enough excitement, the next day they took me to the Savannah Mall. Fittingly, I got a primo spot right next to the main mall entrance! They set up my activities in the courtyard there and I was ready for action. I don’t mind saying that mall customers were surprised and delighted to see me. They came on board and check out the activities before and after shopping. A lot of kids saw me when they went inside the mall for the art contest. I was really glad they got to have a good time with me and didn’t even have to make a purchase! Even the media came by to see me! Thanks to my friends at the mall who were very helpful. Even though I worked really hard all day, I did get to do a bit of window shopping. I was hoping to find two pairs of cute new shoes, but I couldn’t see the tire store from my perch. Oh well, maybe next time. They hardly ever have my size, anyway. Thank you AASU, Abbyites, New South Associates, and Savannah Mall for making my trip so successful. I can barely wait to visit Savannah again!

Figure 6. Hey look at me, right in front of the Savannah Mall! (600x450)
Figure 7. Shoppers stopping in at the courtyard next to the ArchaeoBus for fun learning. (600x450)
Figure 8. Local Savannah television coverage of me! Psst, hey, look up! (600x450)
Figure 9. Here I am in the background with one eye on the courtyard and the other peering through the mall windows. (600x450)

September 23rd, 2013


Whoosh! That summer went by fast! I visited so many amazing libraries throughout the metro-Atlanta area this summer, and now I know why they call it HOTlanta! Even though the weather is starting to cool down, I am heating right back up with more programs here for the fall! The New South crew and I got to kick it off by heading out to McDonough, to visit some of the students out at Oakland Elementary!

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These were some smart kids! They are all part of the S.A.G.E. program, and we could all tell why. They had already been studying up on their archaeological knowledge, and they knew what they were talking about! But I was there to teach them a thing or two with some new fun archaeology games, and they were a HIT!

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Of course, all of the kids loved seeing the fun ArchaeoBus activities that I brought with me. I got some pretty good reactions out of them!

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What a great time with a fantastic bunch of kids we had! We still have a couple more school programs planned here in McDonough, so bring on the students!

July 22nd, 2013


I went out on another little adventure today! I was invited out to Marietta to Harry’s Farmers Market for a Food Truck Rally! While all of the food trucks were serving up tasty eats, I was serving up some archaeoKnowledge, and, shucks, were these folks hungry!

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We also got to meet some other pretty nifty people there! I was really excited to get to meet the Marietta Derby Darlins! Many of you may not know this, but I have always wanted to be a roller derby gal…ever since I was just a little archaeoCar.

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We also got to meet Shantel Khleif for Operation Celebration! Operation Celebration is an effort to provide support, hope and resources for families in need in the Atlanta area. It was great to meet her and learn about the great things that they are doing, like building backpacks for an entire inner-city 6th grade class! If you would like to get in touch with the, email them at

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Thanks so much to Matt Courtoy and Harry’s Farmers Market for having me out! My New South crew and I had such a great time with all the nifty people at the Food Truck Rally!

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July 17th, 2013


My New South crew and I went out on another adventure on Wednesday, July 17th! We got to go visit the fabulous kids at the Clayton County Headquarters and Fairview Libraries! First we headed over to the Clayton County Headquarters Library, where I found out that some scenes from Gone With the Wind were filmed. I got archaeGooosebumps!

The wonderful librarians set us up in a nice spot in the shade, which made it great for the kids to come out and play some of our outdoor activities! One child even found a new use for some of our furs!

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Of course the kids had a great time playing around with the games inside as well! They were all over answering some tough archaeological true/false questions, and seeing how an archaeologist sees things.

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Next up, we drove over to the Fairview Library in Henry County. One of the original settlers in Henry County was Jesse Johnson, who was the great-grandfather of Lyndon Johnson, the 35th President of the United States of America. It was a scorcher of an afternoon, but the kids were beating the heat to come out and have some fun with archaeology!

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The kids really enjoyed reading all of the information I brought with me on the bus! I guess that makes sense, seeing how we met them at a library!

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We had so much fun out at these two fantastic libraries! Only 3 more to go to wrap up my summer library tour!

July 16th, 2013


I made a little surprise visit to the wonderful kids over at the ART Station’s Summer Arts Camp! The ART Station is in Stone Mountain, and is an arts center that showcases the talents of local Atlanta area artists. It actually used to be an old trolley barn back in the early 1900s, where it was part of a short-lived interurban electric car line that would run through Atlanta, connecting different areas of the city. So it was fitting that I was there connecting people to the fascinating world of archaeology!

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These kids are part of the Summer Arts Camp over at the ART Station, and gosh were they bright! They got every question on my true/false quiz! They really knew their archaeoFacts!

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We had such a great time at our little impromptu visit! Thank you to the great folks over at the ART Station for letting us pop by!

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July 10th, 2013


Well I ventured out to west Georgia last Wednesday! My New South crew and I suited up, and headed out to the Mt. Zion Public Library! On our way we passed by the McIntosh Reserve, home to William McIntosh, a famous Creek Indian chief. His father was Scottish-American, and apparently he fought in a kilt! I didn’t see any kilts in Mt. Zion, but the folks at there sure knew how to treat an ArchaeoLass… that’s me!

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Our tour around this area wasn’t over, as we headed to the Ephesus Library in Roopville! It was a little rainy, but the kids over at the Ephesus Library were full of smiles and sunshine!

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What an enthusiastic bunch of kids. You could even say that some of them were “shocked” with excitement!

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Some kids played the interactive games multiple times. They all really liked peering through the exhibits I brought on the bus with me! What a splendid time we all had!

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June 28th, 2013


Well that’s a wrap folks…for the Gwinnett County Public Library System, that is! I had a great past three weeks of going out to some fantastic libraries in Gwinnett, and learning about Gwinnett’s rich history. Did you know that the county was actually named after Button Gwinnett, the Georgia representative to the Continental Congress that signed the Declaration of Independence? I sure didn’t!

The first library my New South crew and I went out to was the Collins Hill Public Library in Lawrenceville, and gosh were there some fun kids!

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The kids in Collins Hill were really getting into all of the games that I brought along with me. They really wanted to learn about archaeology, because it was a scorcher outside!  But despite the heat, we had over 200 kids show up to have some archaeo-fun-in-the-sun!

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Last, but certainly not least, were the fantastic kids over at the Centerville Public Library in Snellville. I got the best quote over the summer from a young seven year-old boy, who after playing all of the interactive games looked at his mom and exclaimed “Mom, whoa… just whoa!”  I don’t think they had ever seen an ArchaeoBus blush before, but I just blamed it on the sun….

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What a great group of kids to end our Gwinnett County stint with.  I think all of us were ready to “Dive In” to the underwater archaeology exhibit to get out of the heat! We all had such a great time with all of the kids and parents that came out to see me, and I think it was pretty obvious how much they enjoyed me!

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June 21st, 2013


My New South crew and I got to tour a little more of Gwinnett County on Friday, June 21st! Our first library was the Buford Public Library, and it was packed with eager kids, ready to learn about the fascinating world of archaeology!

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In the late 1800s, Buford was known for its leather production, and was nicknamed “The Leather City.” Well I didn’t notice much leather at the library, but I sure did notice how much everyone was enjoying themselves!

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Next up, we traveled over to the Duluth Public Library. Did you know that Duluth was ranked the 26th Best Place to Move, by Forbes magazine? Well they must have been right, because this was the most diverse crowd my crew and I have seen yet! I heard over eight different languages, all talking about how wonderful I was of course!

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Everyone really came out to see what I was all about, and boy were they impressed. They really enjoyed diving into the underwater archaeology exhibit, as well as all of the other fun interactive games that we brought along. I was amazed at how many kids got my true/false questions correct about archaeology. These kids must have really dug into reading, because they knew their stuff!

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June 18th, 2013


I’ve been busy, y’all! On Tuesday, June 18th, I rode over to the Stonecrest Library. Librarian Amanda Lindsay showed us their recently built library, and gosh was it amazing! Of course, the building wasn’t all that was amazing about the Stonecrest Library…. I am talking about the fabulous kids, of course!

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The Stonecrest Library is located in Lithonia, and Lithonia actually means “city/town of stone.” The name makes sense! The children had a rock solid will to learn, and they really had a great time with me, and my New South crew!

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The next day, we visited the Tucker–Reid H. Cofer Library. Tucker used to be just a railroad stop, but I guess a lot of people decided to stop there, because it is bustlin’ with folks now!

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Tucker is a young up-and-coming city, just like the wonderful kids that we met on our visit out! The kids and parents were a ton of fun and really enjoyed learning what archaeology is all about! What a great place, with some pretty fantastic people!!!

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June 15th, 2013


Well, I had a bit of a memory lapse and forgot to fill in one of my diary entries from late March—please forgive me! I believe the date was March 29th to be exact.

I have had a really busy Spring making it hard to keep track of all my adventures. I wanted to share this special stop with you though.

After I went to college at Armstrong State University in Savannah, I headed out on the open road again for a trip to the Georgia Welcome Center on US Highway 301 in Screven County. Did you know that this Visitor Information Center is the oldest one in Georgia? The center opened on April 20, 1962, and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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“Georgia On My Mind Day” was being held there, so I thought it might be cool to teach the folks in the area a little bit about archaeology! A lot of the school children that visited with me throughout the day said that they had a great time. Actually, I’m not sure who had more fun—me or them. One of the youngsters thought I was so cool that he tried to buy me for $10.00!

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Throughout the day, I got to meet re-enactors from the War Between the States (aka The Late Unpleasantness) representing the Washington Light Artillery. They fired cannons and muskets and wielded swords during demonstrations. I also saw re-enactors from the colonial period and met a guy in Native American attire who crafted his own canoe and tans hides, too! Mr. Steve can make bows and arrows, stone knives, cordage, and lot of other things that people once used in everyday life many years ago. I sure had the pleasure of meeting a lot of interesting people, including the Mayor of Sylvania. Mrs. Margaret thought I was pretty cool—and I think she is awesome, too!

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Tammy Herron, Maggie Needham, and George Wingard were my handlers for the day. They work for the Savannah River Archaeological Research Program ( and had loads of fun teaching visitors about archaeology, too! And, boy oh boy, did we have visitors! According to Mrs. Ann, Assistant Manager of the Visitor Information Center, 236 school children from Screven and surrounding counties were registered to visit and learn with me throughout the day! This number does not include all the other folks from the community that showed up for the event, so whew did we have a busy day! At times, we were swamped!

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Did you know that there are various “Georgia On My Mind Day” events held at the various Georgia Visitor Information Centers throughout the state? Be sure and check the calendar for a similar event in your area by visiting this webpage. You sure can learn a lot there and meet some very interesting folks along the way.

I wish to thank Mrs. Ann, Mr. Robert, and Mrs. Dot for inviting me to Screven County—I had a really great time spreading the news about Georgia archaeology!

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June 14th, 2013


Well Friday, June 14th, was a big one folks! I got to head on out to Gwinnett County to visit two wonderful libraries!

First, I went out to pay a visit to the wonderful librarians at the Dacula Public Library. It was such a gorgeous day, and the children were out in full force to soak up some archaeo-knowledge. Kids of all ages came out and it was great to see them having so much fun in the sun!

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Dacula is home to the oldest buildings in the metropolitan Atlanta area, and it was great to be around such rich history. Dacula is also home to some pretty intelligent kids as well! Me and my New South crew had a great time, playing all of the fun and interactive activities that I brought along for the kiddos!

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Next, we drove over to the Five Forks Public Library. The heat was turning up so we moved some of my off-the-bus activities inside, to keep everyone cool. What a turn-out we had! And, all the librarians were so helpful with keeping everything organized and making sure that everyone got to get the full archaeological experience.

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All-in-all, we had over 300 kids come out through the entirety of the day, which left me exhausted, but feeling extremely fulfilled. It was great to see so many kids and parents coming out to learn about the wonderful world of archaeology!

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June 12th, 2013


Last week was a whirlwind of fun, but this little bus has to keep on truckin’…or BUSIN’ in my case! My crew suited up on Wednesday, June 12th, and took a little drive around Stone Mountain, to visit the amazing kids and librarians at the Hairston Crossing Library! I met librarians Fran Weaver and Sharon Deeds, and gosh were they gracious hosts! They really showed me some southern hospitality!!!

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It was a scorcher outside, but much like the famous Stone Mountain, the kids at Hairston Crossing didn’t take the opportunity to come out and learn about the wonderful world of archaeology for GRANITE! Just look at all of them!

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What a fantastic time we all had at the Hairston Crossing Library. The library was just recently renovated and it looked beautiful…almost as beautiful as me!!! No wonder they had so many smart and enthusiastic children!

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June 6th, 2013


The New South crew and I suited up yet again and headed out to Johns Creek on Thursday, June 6th. We traveled out to the Ocee Library to meet Librarian Karen Kennedy, and she and the wonderful folks in Johns Creek sure knew how to make an ArchaeoBus feel special! I got to be the kick-off for their Summer Reading Program, and everyone was out to see me! I mean, just look at them all!!!

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Johns Creek is a pretty young and up and coming area, and all of the wonderful kids sure proved it! They even had a snow cone truck to keep everyone nice and cooled down, while I turned up the fun with all the exciting activities for the kids to play.

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Then, I got to head out to Powder Springs that following Saturday and meet the wonderful kids at the Power Springs Library! Librarian Tara Simpson asked me to come on out, and I am sure glad I did! There were some pretty adorable kids out there!

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These kids and their parents really came out to learn and have a blast! They were even willing to crawl to come and see me! We all had so much fun with them!

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June 3rd, 2013


Whew! What a great start to the summer! The theme for the Georgia libraries’ summer reading program is Dig Into Reading, and gosh was I thrilled to be asked to travel around and teach children about the wonderful world of archaeology! Plus I have a crew this summer on my travels. And don’t they look snazzy in their ArchaeoBus shirts! Of course, nobody can look better than me, but hey, you can’t beat the original!

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Our first stop on our tour of libraries was in Newnan in Coweta County, where I got to pay a visit to the wonderful kids and adults at the A. Mitchell Powell and the Central libraries. Newnan is known for its beautiful architecture and it didn’t disappoint. I really wanted to get a picture of me with the statue of General Daniel Newnan down by the courthouse. He was a soldier and later became Georgia Secretary of State and a United States Congressman BUT duty called so we headed out to the libraries. We met Librarian Machelle Hill who was a big archaeology enthusiast, but I was even able to teach her a thing or two!The crew and I had such a great time! About 130 folks came out to “dig into” ArchaeoBus activities and some children convinced their parents to let them come twice! They really liked reconstructing pottery and the interactive exhibits inside were big hits. I liked Newnan and I think Newnan liked us!

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Next stop—Doraville in DeKalb County! I read that this place was once a sleepy farming community. Can’t tell that by looking at it today! We arrived at the Doraville Public Library and got an enthusiastic welcome from Librarian Joanne Lancaster. My crew and I really enjoyed our visitors there. Let me tell you, those kids really knew their stuff!

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My New South Associates crew were sunburned but happy at the end of our first week’s adventure. We visited two great Georgia cities, met interesting people, and got to talk about my all time favorite topic—archaeology. What a great start to what is sure to be a fantastic summer for my crew and me!

March 18, 2013


Hey, guess what? I went to college last week! Yep. I was a regular ol’ co-ed. Just hanging out with my friends, having lots of academic discussions, and shootin’ the breeze! My handlers, Veronica and Morris* took me to Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Georgia. I was there all day and four entire classes of college students came out to see me!

The college crowd adores me!

They were taking various anthropology and archaeology classes. It was a lot of fun. I think they learned a lot about archaeology that supported what they were studying in class.

Archaeology lab work is intriguing!

And a lot of other people came by to see me, too, like homeschool students, art students, members of the community and people who were just walking by me. Veronica said that it was part of a grant that Armstrong Anthropology and Archaeology Instructors Barbara Bruno and Laura Seifert got from the university to do a program called “Digging Savannah”. (Check them out on the internet at Apparently, I was just part of the program that included a series of archaeology speakers over a period of several months and even an App for mobile phones that will teach people about archaeological sites in Savannah. Of course, not to be bragging or anything, but I imagine I was the best part of the Digging Savannah program. (Sorry David Hurst Thomas, I’m sure everyone liked your talk a whole lot! But you know, you are a person, and I’m this big, colorful bus with buttons and hatches and games and things….)

My handlers said my appearance was very successful. I figured as much because I counted over 200 people that came out to see me and everyone had a great time trying out all my activities. I want to thank my handler, Morris, for helping get me ready for all those students. He is very nice (and not nearly as fussy as Veronica!) And thanks to all those wonderful helpers from Armstrong Atlantic State University Anthropology Club, students, and especially Ms. Bruno and Ms. Seifert! Hey, maybe one day I can get an honorary degree from the University…. Well, Diary, I’m in the middle of another BIG project. I will write to you soon about that.


* Pseudonyms—Abby rarely gets her handler’s names correct!
Photos courtesy of Laura Seifert.

March 13th, 2013


I’m off to SAVANNAH!!! With the weather warming up, I can’t help but be excited about a fun road trip and feeling the cool breeze coming off the Savannah River!

Leaving Stone Mountain I had a bit of a ROCKY start when one of my tires went out (they’ve been feeding me well here at New South Associates), but I am back on the road!

This trip is exactly what an ArchaeoBus needs to get whipped right back into prime teaching shape! I can’t wait to visit the students at Armstrong University next week to help share the wonders of archaeology!

I will also be making an appearance at the Georgia On My Mind Day on March 29th at the Georgia Visitor Center in Sylvania!

I will be in the Savannah area through the end of March, so if y’all see me crusin’ the streets, don’t be afraid to say hey!!!

Don’t worry Stone Mountain, I will be coming back your way in April, and ready to ROCK!

ArchaeoBus leaving stone mtn for coast

December 12th, 2012


I did it! I made it back! I made the long journey back to beautiful Stone Mountain! Goodness gracious I forgot how big this mountain was! It is after all the largest exposed granite rock in the world. Who knows, I may get up to the top this time! I hear there is a sky lift that they can hook me up to….

ArchaeoBus on Stone Mountain night

When I was here for Archaeology Day over the summer I knew this would be a great place to spread the word about the fun and importance of ARCHAEOLOGY!! I am so excited that New South Associates invited me back to strut my archaeological stuff and educate kids and older folks all over the Stone Mountain/East Atlanta/Dekalb County area!

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New South Associates has graciously invited me to stay with them through the summer, which is great for me. To be around so many people that are so knowledgeable and excited about archaeology as I am is fantastic! They were all so excited to see me…they really know how to make an ArchaeoBus blush.

ArchaeoBus at New South people

I’ve already met some of my new handlers, who seem as excited as I am. Diary, I can’t wait to see some of these fine folks in action helping me to teach the wonders of archaeology! Don’t take this opportunity for GRANITE! HA!

* Email your request for ArchaeoBus information by clicking here.

October 16th, 2012


I AM a star!! I AM a star!!!

Move over Time Team America…. The Society for American Archaeology (SAA) has my number!

Yep, guess who is on the main webpage of the SAA website? Yours truly, Abby the ArchaeoBus!

SAA is a huge organization made up of more than 7000 professional archaeologists from North, South, and Central America! SAA also has a committee and volunteers who specialize in public archaeology and outreach, which is EXACTLY what I do! How perfect is that?

The mission of the Society for American Archaeology “is to expand understanding and appreciation of humanity’s past as achieved through systematic investigation of the archaeological record. The Society leads the archaeological community by promoting research, stewardship of archaeological resources, public and professional education, and the dissemination of knowledge.”

And me on the SAA website, what a coup!

I just want to thank my friend Tobi B. at SAA for seeing my star potential!

Check out my photo on the SAA website here.

Oh, gotta go, I think my agent is calling!

ArchaeoBus on SAA home

October 6, 2012


Another CoastFest under my belt. You should have been there, Diary.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources sponsors CoastFest every year in Brunswick. They set up this massive festival right next to the beautiful marshes. Visitors enter the free festival and get to do all sorts of fun, hands-on activities about the natural and cultural environment of coastal Georgia.

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Some of the many dozens of activity tents at CoastFest.

We had our usual spot, between the cool state parks fort people and their roaring cannons and Jim Sawgrass’ Native American tent. This year, though, my motor was humming all day to the beat of new neighbors—the African Drumming tent! On my other side, colonial cricket games kept me dodging balls. Thank goodness they didn’t break my new windshield!

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Psst. Hey, I’m back here, behind the Native American tent!

But really, all this excitement aside, I was there to show people how fun and exciting archaeology can be, and how important it is to preserve sites! So once my handlers and many volunteers got me set up and put up our tent and all the hands-on activities, we were ready to greet the thousands of CoastFest visitors heading our way.

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Let the games begin!

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Everyone wants to see me!

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Hey guys, they are only matching games…they won’t hurt you!

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Standing room only!

Even cowgirls love archaeology! Until my next CoastFest rodeo, goodbye Diary!

October 4th, 2012


I came THIS close to being a movie star!!

Let me tell you all about it, including the journey, which was as exciting as the destination.

I know you’ve heard of Public Broadcasting System’s (PBS) Time Team America and how that television show was filming an episode in Millen. The team was there at Camp Lawton, where archaeologists have discovered the site of a Civil War prisoner of war camp. The team got a lot of archaeologists together who are experts at remote sensing. (Diary, that’s when they use all these high tech tools like ground penetrating radar and other gizmos to see underground and help determine where they will excavate.) Well after they gathered all this cool information, they started excavating and found two palisades that surrounded the camp! You’ll see all of this on the show when it airs in 2013. (It takes a long time to make a TV show!)

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The film crew shoots a segment about one section of the palisade, located at Magnolia Springs State Park.

So what does this have to do with me being a movie star, you ask? Well, my friends at The LAMAR Institute took me out to Camp Lawton. One of them, Real Dan, had helped make the original discovery and then was one of the remote sensing experts gathering archaeology data recently. He, Veronica, and Sunny took me to Camp Lawton to see what new discoveries had been made and to give me a marketing opportunity and a chance at stardom!

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Veronica drives, Sunny rides shotgun, and Real Dan provides commentary during our trip.

We had a nice drive from Effingham County northwest to Millen. We saw some friendly-looking men in funny white striped pants and orange jumpsuits picking up litter on the side of the road. They waved back to Veronica. And then Diary, we drove through Paradise! Yep, if you don’t believe me you can see the photograph Real Dan took to prove it. Funny, Paradise didn’t look exactly like I pictured it would. We drove some more and went right by this cool old farmhouse that is for sale to be moved. It is at the base of this impressive hill called Paramore Hill, which is one of the highest, if not the highest, points in southeastern Georgia! (Wheeze, wheeze—oh excuse me, I still get out of breath when I remember riding up that hill!) I felt kinda sorry for the forlorn farmhouse, because sometimes being relocated takes a little getting use to.

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Passing by the prison bus.

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Cruising through Paradise.

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Old farmhouse in Jenkins County.

Diary, you can see that the journey to Camp Lawton was an adventure in its own right. It was quite exciting to cap it off with a visit to the actual Civil War archaeological site. It is hard to imagine that in 1864 more than 10,000 Union prisoners suffered tremendously in this makeshift camp. Today the site sits partly in what is now the Magnolia Springs State Park and partly in the Bo Ginn National Fish Hatchery. It is a fittingly beautiful spot to the memory of those who suffered here and elsewhere on both sides of the atrocious American Civil War. I know a little about that because when I was a bookmobile I had quite a few books about that horrible part of the country’s history.

Now the story of Camp Lawton is being unveiled and told through archaeology. Many people will learn about it through the Time Team America program. I am sure that the Time Team America crew really wanted to film me as well, but they were on such a tight schedule they couldn’t come over to meet me. I hope that by admiring me from afar they didn’t mess up the filming. So while I might not be a star today, you just never know what may happen to tomorrow—just like in archaeology, you never know what the next shovel will uncover or the next document will reveal!

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Here I am, overlooking the frenzy of archaeological activity and television filming at Camp Lawton.

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The latest discoveries from the remote sensing and excavation work make newspaper headlines.

August 6, 2012

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Welcome to Fort Daniel.


While touring this spring, I added yet another fort visit to my list! This time I got to check out Fort Daniel, where the “Fort Daniel Colonial Faire” was in full swing. Fort Daniel dates to at least 1813 or 1814. It was built during the War of 1812, to help protect Georgia’s interior from British attack.

I was working the fair, of course, but had a good view of the activities. I parked at the entrance to the site (as a colorful beacon to welcome guests, no doubt!) My friend Tammy Herron sent these photos to me to share with you, Diary. The fair coincided with Georgia Archaeology Month as well as the Spring Meeting of The Society for Georgia Archaeology (SGA). (I have to plug the SGA whenever possible; after all, the Society is my family!)

Can you believe that there is actually a fort in urban Gwinnett County, Georgia? When we drove there, I thought Veronica was lost (that’s her natural state, but I digress…). Anyway, Veronica drove me past fast food restaurants, gas stations, subdivisions of houses, until we pulled into a driveway. Believe it or not, the fort was right behind a house! Of course, you can’t see the fort above the ground, but lots of it still exists below the ground, which is where archaeologists come in. One archaeologist, Jim D’Angelo has been working with other archaeologists and the public to excavate parts of the fort. The Faire was a chance to show SGA members, area teachers and students, and visitors some of their discoveries.

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Students work with archaeologists to excavate a small unit at the site.

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Jim D’Angelo (wearing the hat) talks about one of the excavation units at Fort Daniel.

Visitors had an opportunity to go to different booths to see artifacts uncovered at the site, learn about colonial life, see archaeological excavations, get a site tour, trowel and sift soil with archaeologists, and try hands-on activities at my tables and inside the bus.

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Visitors could even buy a souvenir at the trading post.

Seeing Fort Daniel right in the middle of one of Atlanta’s metropolitan counties was quite a nice surprise and seeing people try to preserve it was the best part of all. Now I have visited Fort Daniel, along with Fort Hawkins and Fort Frederica. I feel fortified!

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My handlers, Bitsy and TG enjoyed helping people try my activities under the nice shady trees.

August 5th, 2012


I am so thrilled!! I can see 20/20 now! My cataracts got removed. Yippee!! Diary, did you know that cataracts are the leading cause of blindness around the world? We are very fortunate in America to have cataract surgery so readily available to so many. I didn’t think I would be so lucky, but out of the blue I got a very special eyesight guardian that paid for my cataract surgery.

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This was just one of several bad cracks and bullet holes in my lenses!

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The red outline shows just how long this one crack was.

I had been driving around for years, not seeing too well at all. In fact, I can’t remember how long I have had cataracts, but I do know it was before I became the ArchaeoBus (back when I was a bookmobile). I thought I might my cataracts removed, or at least new glasses, when I got all gussied up as the new ArchaeoBus. Unfortunately, after that there wasn’t any money left for the operation.

This past June, however, I got a fantastic present. Southern Research, Historic Preservation Consultants funded my cataract surgery and I got brand new lenses!! In both eyes!! I’m so excited that I can see now. (And let’s be honest, I think it actually enhances my natural beauty.)

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One of my new lenses waiting to be placed.

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I got a little nervous when I saw the tools they were going to use…I mean suction cups, really?

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The doctor was very nice and after a few tries he was able to find the right replacement lenses.

All I can say is, “Thank you, Southern Research!!” Who would have thought an archaeology and history company would help me like that? I mean, Southern Research does archaeology projects all over Georgia and other places, too. In spite of that, Southern Research took the time and spent the money to help me so that I can continue to help Georgians learn about the importance of archaeological sites.

Veronica (one of my handlers) says my old cracked lenses was a safety issue for people driving me. She is the first to admit how much prettier I look, in addition to how much safer it is for me to be on the road. Just look at the last of the photos (below) my handler TG sent (he was the one who called the eye doctor). You just have to see me in real life to appreciate my new lenses; my eyes definitely sparkle now! Thanks so much to Southern Research.

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La la…I only have eyes for you…la la.

August 7th, 2012


Hey, do you know what a monadnock is, Diary? It’s pronounced “muh-nad-nok”. It’s a “isolated hill of bedrock standing conspicuously above the general level of the surrounding area. Monadnocks are left as erosional remnants” because they are so hard. (Thank goodness I still have the Encyclopedia Britannica with me from my old bookmobile days!)

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Georgia has its very own monadnock, right in…appropriately enough…. Stone Mountain! (I think I see a connection!) Stone Mountain is the largest exposed granite rock in the world (but not the tallest). Stone Mountain is 1,683 feet tall and its circumference measures more than five miles at its base.

You might be wondering why I am telling you all of this. My many travels this spring took me to Stone Mountain. While I didn’t actually ride all the way up to the top (wheeze… wheeze… I kinda get outta breath just thinking of that…) I did get to go to a festival very near the mountain at the campus of the archaeology & history company called, New South Associates. They had a wonderful line-up of events for their Archaeology Day, which coincided through no mere coincidence, with Archaeology Month sponsored every May by The Society for Georgia Archaeology.

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Archaeologist Scot Keith (he’s the one pointing with authority!) supervises an excavation.

Visitors got to excavate with archaeologists, make Native American pottery, experience atlatals (spear throwers that Native Americans used), eat hot dogs and goodies, and take home archaeology bracelets and temporary tattoos. Boy Scouts even got a chance to work on their Archaeology Merit Badge!

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Boy Scouts from Troop 27, Johns Creek, (left to right) Jackson Mills, Andrew Coco, Calvin McCurdy, and Davis Forney complete the requirements for their Archaeology Merit Badge. Patrick Severts from New South Associates demonstrates pottery techniques.

Well, even though they had a fantastic line-up of activities, obviously they needed a big gun with some celebrity sway to really get the public’s eye. Yep, enter me, Abby the ArchaeoBus.

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Here I am (not really my best side showing) with my friend Pam Enlow, who was helping visitors with my ceramic puzzle and ethnobotanical boards.

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Visitors peer into “Pepper’s Ghost.”

Diary, Archaeology Day was popular, with 150 people coming to play and learn! The kids and the adults had a great time participating in all the activities. They tried out all my table-top interactive activities under the tent and then came inside for more hands-on fun.

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My new friends Pam Enlow and Lain Graham pose for this photo with me, while my old friend Al Vegotsky busily works the crowds.

One of the neatest things, though, was meeting a fellow mascot! See my picture of Captain Jack? (New South sent me all these lovely pictures for my scrapbook.) That is Captain Jack H. N. Stapler, official New South Associates’ Office Mascot! He and I became fast friends since we have so much in common. We are both mascots for our organizations. People always come up and want to visit with us. And we are both cuddly. Well, OK, I’ve never actually been called soft and cuddly, but I’ll bet Captain Jack has!

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Captain Jack keeps me company on his perch on top my tallest bus cabinet.

What an exciting day I had in Stone Mountain with all my new friends at New South, including Mary Beth Reed, Julie Coco, Al Vegotsky, Joe Joseph, Scot Keith, Pam Enlow, Lain Graham, and my special IT buddy who helped hook me up, and all the other staff there! Thank you all! I sure hope I can come back and visit Stone Mountain again. Goodbye! Goodbyen Captain Jack!

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Goodbye, Captain Jack.

July 31, 2012


Sorry I haven’t written in a while. You know how it is in the summer when you are out of school, you just want to hang out and relax…no homework…no science projects…no papers to write…

Veronica says we should get ready for the school year, though, so I thought, “What better way to get back in practice writing than to write in my diary?!” So, Diary, let me tell you about my fantastic spring and early summer. (I had so many adventures I will probably need to take several diary entries to share them all with you.) Here is the first of my latest adventures.

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I love to park next to the blockhouse replica at Fort Hawkins! It is so historic (and it doesn’t hurt that it makes my multiple tonnage feel petite!)

In May, I returned to one of my regular haunts, Fort Hawkins in Macon. I know you will remember, Diary, that this is the cool fort on one of the tallest hills in Macon. In fact, I think I told you about Fort Hawkins twice, so I won’t repeat myself except to describe my latest visit there.

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Real Dan explains our latest discoveries to visitors.

The archaeologists with The LAMAR Institute returned to the fort for some quick, but important work. They were hoping to find evidence for where the northwestern blockhouse of the fort once stood. I wondered why they chose the spot they did to excavate, because there sure wasn’t ANYTHING there above ground. Clearly, there was no building now standing where they were excavating, between the fence and the road.

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Archaeologists and volunteers excavate specific areas of soil called features.

Then I heard Real Dan and Veronica talking about how they hoped to find the blockhouse because they would be digging in an area aligned with the palisade, that is, with the ditch that held the fence that encompassed the entire fort. I was still a bit confused until I heard them and the other archaeologists get all excited a few days later. Apparently, the soil that the blockhouse once stood on had been removed when the road was built. The archaeologists figured out where the building stood; however, because they found the end of the palisade ditch where it would have stopped next to the blockhouse wall. How exciting!

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Joneszie takes a break from using the total station laser transit to talk with visitors.

Of course, there is a lot more to archaeology than just making exciting discoveries. The archaeologists have to make extremely accurate maps showing where everything (like the blockhouse and the palisade) is located and where they excavated. To do this, they use a laser transit like the one in the picture. Joneszie (the guy on the right) is a really good archaeologist who, unlike many archaeologists, can also wield a mean transit! Here he does a little public outreach (another thing archaeologists do a lot) and explains what the archaeologists are doing at the site.

Another transit person on the site while we were there was a REAL surveyor (not just an archaeologist using survey equipment!) He worked very hard and helped the archaeologists by putting permanent markers in the ground so that they can always find their site grid. He also gave them some important pointers about their transit.

Speaking of visitors and public outreach….well, not to be boastful or anything, but that is what I, the ArchaeoBus, do best! I mean, I didn’t just go to Fort Hawkins to park and look pretty all day. I was there to work! In the gallery below are a few of my work photos.

And speaking of friends… who turned up to help but my old friend, David Farrier. And speaking of old friends, here’re to two of my three BFHF (Best Fort Hawkins Friends), with their backs to the camera, of course!!

Where’s Echo?

Click on gallery photos below to enlarge and show captions. Abby’s BFHF are in the final gallery photo.
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April 30, 2012


Y-a-w-n….Ahhh….Y-a-w-n….Ooh, sorry Diary! I’m just waking up. I’ve been resting in south Georgia for the past few months after a busy fall 2011. In fact, I was just dreaming about my last big gig I did…last fall at the Georgia National Fair in Perry, Georgia. It was so fun remembering it in my dream, that I wasn’t ready to wake up! My dream was exactly like what happened in real life…there I was, parked RIGHT INSIDE THE NORTH GATE! (Talk about your high-status real estate! Apparently, they really appreciate me at the fair!)

Over half a million visitors came to the fair, the majority of them right through that gate! There were tons of kids, and families, and grown-ups that came to see me. The purple-haired lady and her friend from Middle Earth came to see me between shows. A famous Georgia legislator and his wife and family couldn’t resist visiting me, either!

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Even the GBI (that’s the Georgia Bureau of Investigation) came to see me! I think they liked the part about how burials have clues that can tell archaeologists all about a person’s health, wealth, status, religion, physical characteristics, and sometimes even when and how they died. There were times when I was actually surrounded by a crowd of fans!

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I worked 12 days straight! That’s all day and most of the night, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Whew! So you can see why I needed to rest for several months afterward.

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Even a few days of rain didn’t dampen my spirits! But Diary, I have to admit the smell wafting from the Swine and Goat Shed didn’t always mingle well with the funnel cake and corn dog aromas! At least the goats smelled as clean as they looked!

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I got to see some of my old handler friends at the fair, which was a lot of fun! And Diary, I also made a bundle of new friends at the fair! Some of these were visitors and some were new “handlers”. These handlers not only helped guide visitors through my exhibits, but also were fun and friendly! Wow, what a dream! But now I’m rested and ready to go again!

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Note: Abby neglected her diary a bit since last fall, but clearly the fun and crowds at the Georgia National Fair have haunted her!

November 29, 2011


I made an encore performance in mid-October at the Georgia Council for the Social Studies Conference in Athens, Georgia. You probably remember that I went to the conference last year for the first time. At the risk of sounding conceited, I have to admit that they must have liked me, since they asked me back again! And this time, I got a coveted spot in “the horseshoe” parking lot, right next to the front door! My handlers*, T.G., and Veronica set me up, putting my table-top activities right inside the doors in the lobby.

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Here’s my VIP spot right in front of the Classic Center entrance!

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Here I am keeping an eye on my handlers manning the table top activities inside. Note my lovely banner “shades” keeping the sun at bay.

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My handlers, Bitsy and Veronica stand ready to answer questions from the onslaught of teachers at the conference.

It was very chilly during my stint, but I didn’t mind so much because I got to see some old friends and make new ones. I always love the teachers because they appreciate me and read all my exhibit text and instructions and they aren’t afraid to try out all my hands-on activities. In fact, they seem to relish the chance to try them. And Diary, do you know that they are really smart?! Those teachers know a lot more than most people about archaeology! The best part was hearing a lot of them say things like, “I saw you last year but had to come back and see you again”, or telling their friends, “Hey come check out the ArchaeoBus; it was here last year and it’s really something!”

And of course, it was especially cool making new friends this year when teachers visited me for the first time. My most favorite visitors were the student teachers who were so young and eager and enthusiastic about teaching and learning. It reminded me of myself when I was a young bookmobile…but that is ancient history!

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T.G. and I listen to an enthusiastic educator.

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Here’s a close-up of my view from the parking lot.

* Handler’s Note: Abby thought it best not to use real names in many cases, especially when referring to her “handlers”—those people responsible for driving her and administering programs.

November 28, 2011


One of the events in my whirlwind fall tour was a charity auction sponsored by The Society for Georgia Archaeology. I was the featured “public outreach” vehicle (ahhem … no pun intended).

The auction was in Athens, Georgia on October 22 at the Terrapin Brewery. I was busy sitting next to the entrance welcoming everyone, but I got to hear the excitement inside where the big silent auction was set up and the live auction commenced.

What a lively commotion it was! The best part was that the money from the auction was going to fund public archaeology outreach, through SGA’s Endowment Fund.

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Part of the crowd inside the brewery.

I counted several hundred people go through the doors! Young people, students, older people, even dogs! Lots of dogs! Mind you, I like dogs, that is, dogs that don’t “like” my tires, if you know what I mean….

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Over 130 silent auction items generated interest.

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Eager bidders begin to sit in anticipation of the live auction.

I heard a lot of people saying how much fun the event was on their way out.

November 27, 2011


In my continuing account of my epic fall escapades, I will regale you with exciting tales about my visit to a REAL archaeological dig!!! Can you believe it? I actually got to go to a dig for the very first time ever after showing people about archaeology all these years! Yep, there I was at the summit of a hill, probably the tallest hill in all of Macon, Georgia, at the site of Ft. Hawkins. In fact, I got to sit right next to the replica of one of the fort’s block houses for an entire week in late October.

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Here I am, up-close and personal with the cool blockhouse replica at Ft. Hawkins! [Photo courtesy of Echo Halstead Burrell.]

(Figure 1, Caption, “Here I am, up-close and personal with the cool blockhouse replica at Ft. Hawkins! [Photo courtesy of Echo Halstead Burrell.]”)

Diary, you may not be aware of this, but Fort Hawkins is, as my pal Marty Willett likes to say, “a forgotten fort on a forgotten frontier of a forgotten war”, uh, hmm, I think I got that right. I’ve forgotten how many forgottens there were (sorry, Marty!). Anyway, Diary, you get my point. It’s a super site that not many people know about, in spite of its historical significance. I mean, President Thomas Jefferson established the fort in 1806. And that famous Indian Agent Colonel Benjamin Hawkins was at the fort and used it as a post to trade with Native Americans. In fact, Ft. Hawkins sat right in the middle of the frontier, on the Federal road that led from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans. You can find out more about Ft. Hawkins online here. And there I was, me, Abby the ArchaeoBus, right on that very spot, like a sentinel on a hill, like an archaeology beacon in the night, like a…well, you get my drift.

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I picked the absolute best time to be at Ft. Hawkins, because if it wasn’t enough to be surrounded by that amazing history, there was an archaeological dig going on, tours by school kids, and a Halloween Party. The dig was phenomenal. Real Dan, who is president of The LAMAR Institute (and the husband of one of my handlers) was running the LAMAR Institute dig for the Fort Hawkins Commission. The Society for Georgia Archaeology provided some support for the project, hence my presence! Real Dan had several archaeologists working with him, along with a lot of volunteers from Macon and all around the country. I found out more about The LAMAR Institute and its work there online here. The photo at right shows Real Dan at work with a crew of archaeologists and volunteers on the dig. [Photo courtesy of Echo Halstead Burrell.]

I got to see the archaeologists uncover two huge sections of palisade walls. Well, at first I didn’t know what they meant when I heard them say “walls”, because it was just dirt deep underground. But then after listening to them every day I realized exactly what they meant. They found all these spiffy clues in the dirt—like round stains in the soil where posts erected in 1809 rotted, and rectangular stains around the posts that showed where soldiers dug trenches to place the posts. So I got it! The round and rectangular stains WERE the walls, or at least what was left of the wooden posts that made the palisade and the trench around it! Boy, who would have known that dirt could tell you so much about the past if you know what you are looking for and how to record it scientifically!

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Some of the crew excavates these cool palisade post stains. Boy that red clay sure looks hard to dig! [Photo courtesy of Echo Halstead Burrell.]

So if that wasn’t enough excitement, my friends Marty (who I mentioned already) and Echo Halstead Burrell, who are the best friends of Ft. Hawkins, set me up every day so that kids and adults could visit me at the site. They were very nice to me and treated me so well there. Echo took these photographs I am showing you, Diary. The students from a nearby Montessori school came by on two days and had a great time visiting me, touring the site, and watching the archaeologists work.

ArchaeoBus FtHawkins 2011 inside bus

Marty keeps the students captivated with some of my hands-on bus activities. [Photo courtesy of Echo Halstead Burrell.]

Then, my last night there, Marty and Echo threw me a great party! (Well, they pretended like it was a Halloween party, but I knew it really was in my honor.) It was really fun because a lot of the kids and their families in the neighborhood around Ft. Hawkins came to visit and got to see me. They also got to roast marshmallows, get candy treats, tour the blockhouse and hear stories around the campfire. It was fun to watch them and the campfire felt quite cozy. You know, it was my best Halloween ever!

ArchaeoBus FtHawkins 2011 pumpkins

Some of my Jack-o-lantern friends sit nearby me for the party. [Photo courtesy of Echo Halstead Burrell.]

November 26, 2011

I promised to tell you all about my big fall adventures after I rested a bit. In this entry, I simply must tell you about my trip to Florida in early November and about meeting Tommy! It’s the first time that I ever traveled out of the state of Georgia! And not only did I get to go to Florida, but I got to go to a big regional archaeology conference called SEAC, which stands for the Southeastern Archaeology Conference. It was in downtown Jacksonville this year. Well, Diary, it was quite exciting as I was highlighted on a flyer in the program packets and this guy who was heading up the conference (I think I heard his name was Kenny Sassyman*) even mentioned my name at the conference business meeting! While I didn’t actually attend the conference (I mean, I understand the basic concepts of site seriation and the ritualism of hoes as well as the next bus), I was one of the presenters at the conference’s Public Archaeology Day.

The Public Archaeology Day was arranged and sponsored by the Florida Public Archaeology Network folks (that’s FPAN, you know) at the Museum of Science and History. My handlers*, Veronica and Ashcroft, had me stay outside the building and they hung up my banners so that traffic coming from the big blue bridge and downtown could see me. While it was quite chilly and overcast, a lot of energetic people came out to visit. Some were archaeologists and some were residents of the Jacksonville area.

ArchaeoBus 2011 SEAC buildingI got to set up here next to the Museum of Science and History.

ArchaeoBus 2011 SEAC bridge

My banner on the corner attracted bridge and downtown traffic.

ArchaeoBus 2011 SEAC exhibit experimenter

Dee Dee Joyce and her friend try my ethno-botanical boards.

ArchaeoBus 2011 SEAC trio inside

Ashcroft talks to two Jacksonville area residents.

But Diary, I simply MUST tell you about Tommy. He is so c-o-o-o-o–l! I first heard about Tommy when Veronica came back outside. She went in the museum to check out all the different ways the FPAN folks and others in Florida have been doing public archaeology outreach. Veronica was telling Ashcroft all about Tommy the Tortoise.

ArchaeoBus 2011 SEAC Archaeo Cart

Tommy the Tortoise Archaeo Cart. Isn’t he SO handsome?!

Apparently he is an incredibly handsome Archaeo Cart. And, Diary, we have SO MUCH in common…he has a shipwreck; he goes to schools and events; he has hands-on activities…just like me! Diary, I think we were made for each other. And Tommy has other endearing characteristics. He has an entire set of drawers full of activities and he even has a TOUCH SCREEN! And, Diary, his title is “Junior Archaeologist”! I am so impressed. Ever since I left Jacksonville, I can’t help but think of Tommy all the time. I hope I get to work with him again. I do hope I get to see him again… Veronica said he talked about me on his blog. I wonder what he said. I wonder if he likes me.

I just have to thank my new FPAN friends for bringing Tommy and I together! Thank you Rae, Roz, Becky, Amber, Jeff, and Sarah!!!! I’ll never forget the day I first met Tommy.

ArchaeoBus 2011 SEAC four outside

Ashcroft (far left) visits with my new FPAN friends, Jeff, Roz, and Becky.

*Abby often gets names a bit mixed up, and always uses an alias for each of her handlers.

November 8, 2011


It’s been AGES since I wrote you, but I know you will understand when you hear just how busy I have been. You’ll never believe the big adventures that have happened to me in the past six weeks. Fireworks, a dig, shrimp and grits, the big rigs, and LOVE!

I’m so excited to tell you all about it, but there is so much to tell that I will have to recount each thrilling adventure to you separately, as you will want to carefully savor them vicariously.

First, I will tell you the latest thing that happened, just this past Sunday. And Monday. And Tuesday. Well, I was coming back from Jacksonville, Florida (a little sunny skies and relaxation works wonders for us gals, you know). Anyway, it was a lovely Sunday morning and I was back on the open road again when all of a sudden I began feeling sorta colicky and really run down. In fact, I felt as I had hardly any energy left and was pretty hungry. I felt so bad I had to stop and pull over on I-95.

ArchaeoBus Fall 2011 diary on roadside

Parked on the edge of I-95.

My handlers, Veronica and Real Dan were a bit vexed, and urged me to keep going, but I just couldn’t. Meanwhile, all these uppity big rig 18-wheelers were speeding by me and not the first one stopped to help! Well who needs them, anyway? They have a few too many wheels for their britches, if you know what I mean.

ArchaeoBus Fall 2011 diary busy traffic

18-wheelers speeding by on the Interstate.

By that time Veronica and Real Dan called an ambulance for me, but when it arrived it wouldn’t take me. Then they called Dr. Andy who came out with his nurse Bobbie.

ArchaeoBus Fall 2011 diary help arrives

Bobby and Dr. Andy come to my rescue.

ArchaeoBus Fall 2011 diary hood up rescue

I feel bad when my hood has to be raised on the side of the Interstate!

They replaced my fuel filter and I didn’t feel colicky any more. Whew! But I was still feeling pretty bad. Veronica felt sorry for me and she called a different ambulance and after a while it carried me up the highway to something called a Weigh Station.

ArchaeoBus Fall 2011 diary being towed away

I hate when I am sidelined on the highway—AND parked by a wrecker.

All the trucks had to come here and be weighed. And I’m thinking, “Like I don’t feel sick enough already, and I wasn’t humiliated enough when the first ambulance refused to carry me because I was too big, and now they are going to WEIGH me???” You have no idea how relieved I was when they waved me through without having to get on the scale. (It’s not that I’m heavy, I’m just big-framed, you know.)

Anyway, the next day Dr. Andy came back and fixed me right up. (BTW, Real Dan, I won’t hold what you said—about my value as scrap aluminum—against you. Not this time, anyway.) I made it home without too much trouble and now I am relaxing after a schedule that would make any celebrity envious. I’ll tell you all about it in my next letter, Diary—including the cutest guy I met at the Museum of Science and History in Jacksonville!

If Abby could caption her diary entries, this one would be I-95 blues.

Step right up! Help at the 2011 Georgia National Fair


Volunteers Tom Gresham (left), Allen Vegotsky (center), and JC Burns (right) prepare an interactive display table for the 2010 Georgia National Fair.

Come One, Come All! Step Right Up! Be an exciting part of the Georgia National Fair!

The Society for Georgia Archaeology is now recruiting volunteers to present Abby the ArchaeoBus at the Georgia National Fair. The ArchaeoBus is a fun mobile classroom and museum containing hands-on interactives inside and out. The 2011 Georgia National Fair in Perry runs from Thursday, October 6 through Sunday, October 16.

No experience is necessary, but volunteers must be dedicated to the ethics of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA). [SAA requires that archaeological sites and artifacts be excavated under supervision of professional archaeologists using accepted scientific methods and standards. Artifacts are not sold or kept, but placed as a collection with a museum or university.]

We currently are recruiting volunteers for all days and time slots. Fair hours are 8am to 10pm, which means setup begins at 7am and breakdown starts in earnest at 10pm. Shifts generally run from 7am-3pm and 3pm-11pm (with a break for food-funnel cakes, sausage and peppers, corn dogs, BBQ chicken, fried pickles, of course!). While working one or more shifts will be greatly appreciated, we understand that not everyone can work those allotted times.

Click here to email Rita Elliot (or call her at 912.826.5214) to make your reservation or if you have questions. Don’t delay as the slots will fill up fast! Volunteers will receive a free ticket for each day a shift is worked, along with a wonderful experience and exciting stories to regale friends in years to come.

Come work the fair and learn its inner secrets—be the carny that you’ve always dreamed of being for a few days! Join the elite society of the Abby the ArchaeoBus Fair Crew, the few, the proud, the Abbyites!

Read stories about the 2010 Georgia National Fair by clicking here.

November 15, 2010


The ArchaeoBus at the Georgia Council for the Social Studies annual state conference in Athens.

As promised, I will tell you about another October first for me. In late October I went to the Georgia Council for the Social Studies annual state conference in Athens, Georgia. Look at the cool location they gave me. Several of my handlers came with me, including TG, Bitsy, Michaelo, Veronica, Charlotte, and Tareesa. My friend Chadley, who helps out in a pinch, brought us supplies. They arranged me in a quite pleasing layout.

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I have to tell you, Diary, these teachers were sharp! They got more correct answers on the games and quizzes than the general public usually gets. (Makes you feel good, doesn’t it?!) AND guess what the teachers did…they actually READ the instructions on everything. Can you believe it? I mean, my handler Veronica is always going on and on about how no one reads my labels. She had to close her mouth this time!

I have to admit I was a little, hmm, nervous about having all those teachers come see me. I thought they would be like Miss Snevilous, a teacher who would come aboard when I was a bookmobile. She was cranky. But all the teachers at the GCSS were super nice and even fun! They laughed with each other when doing my activities and they said so many nice things about me. It’s a good thing I am a verbal learner. I can remember most of what is said when I hear it. One teacher said I was, “A wonderful way for students to understand the past through tactile, visual, and verbal activities.” And another said, “This is a great idea for students to relate to the curriculum.” Gee, I might even forgive ol’ Miss Snevilous after all this. I think the teachers liked the ideas and free things, too. (They are a lot like archaeologists.) Teachers got free posters, little packs of the Three Sisters seeds, chances to win that colorful “Frontiers in the Soil” book and teachers guide, and the web site address that features not only me, but lots of free things to download.

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Oh, Diary, I almost forgot to tell you the best thing. Yours truly, was on the cover of the conference program! Yep, this 46 page program had my picture on the cover (well, OK, it was the back cover, but that’s still a cover, right?) It told all about me and invited teachers to come see me in the plaza. I can only assume that I am more photogenic than I realized, because lots of teachers came. I think I might like teachers after all. Even ol’ Miss Snevilous. Maybe she was just having a bad day.

November 13, 2010


Whew!! I am just recuperating from a wild October! First there was CoastFest in Brunswick, where record crowds visited me. And halfway through the month I went to the Festival at Indian Springs. That was really fun and different. After that I went to a teacher’s conference in Athens, but I will save that for my next diary entry.

Today I want to tell you all about the crazy Georgia National Fair in Perry. As you know, Diary, this was the very first time I went to the fair. I knew it was going to be a big deal when I heard that 26 volunteers would be working with me during the eleven days of the fair! (Not to sound conceited or anything, but it seems everyone wants to work with me.) It was fun to meet them all. They are very different, but all were nice to me and tried to take good care of me at the fair.

But now for the real story…. There I was on a nice big green lot—downwind from the petting zoo and the camel rides, within earshot of the timber saws, and across from sea lions Kim and Rosie in the Sea Lion Show. I’m not sure why they didn’t put me on the main stage. But hey, I can hold my own with the competition, even Kim and Rosie!

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Well, for fourteen hours a day, what seemed like virtually everyone on the planet traipsed through me, looking at my exhibit panels, pushing my buttons, and interacting with all the hands-on activities inside and outside. I loved it! Mostly because they truly appreciated me and all the things I was trying to teach them. Emmy said she loved me! So did James and Amy’s children. Little Barbara said “This was very exciting.” Young Sarah was thrilled to see me because she wants to be an archaeologist when she grows up. A teacher said “What a great exhibit. As a teacher it has opened my eyes to a lot more lessons.” I heard a lot of educators saying that they didn’t know you could use archaeology to teach all sorts of subjects and higher order thinking skills. (Whatever that means. But I think it must be a good thing.) Mason was a nice young man and he said, “Thank you for bringing this to Georgia, the knowledge was great, thank you again!!” I could go on and on, but modesty prevents me from doing so.

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Diary, I think I’ll just give you some of my flash thoughts after 154 hours of interacting with visitors at the fair…smiling faces…neon ferris wheel lights at sunset…the smell of funnel cakes frying…little children laughing…my nervous handlers at their opening shifts…my handlers relaxing as they interacted with the public…the savory smell of BBQ…a child intent on completing all the ceramic puzzles (even the hard ones) before leaving…curious visitors peaking in my doors…parents delighting in bus activities with their children …the incessant sound of the music from the sea lion show…sticky fingers…the buzzer sounding as adults missed the answers on the true and false game…the giant clock tower…children asking to stay longer to play with me… the explosion of fireworks at the end of a long day….

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I survived the Georgia National Fair 2010. What a ride!!

September 26, 2010


This is absolutely THE BEST NEW SCHOOL YEAR EVER!!!!!!!! I can hardly wait for October. On October 7 I am going to star in the CoastFest activities in Brunswick, Georgia. Not to brag or anything, but they really liked me there last year. (You may remember, Diary, I told you all about it last year.)

Anyway, as if that wasn’t enough excitement, get ready…are you ready…you are NEVER going to believe this…are you sure you’re ready??? OK. I am going to the GEORGIA NATIONAL FAIR!!! Check out the fair here.

Can you believe it? I get to go for the entire 11 days! I leave to go to Perry (that’s where the fair is, in Perry, south of Macon) on October 7 and stay until October 17! I have to get up really early because my handlers start setting up at 7:30 in the morning! That’s because the fair opens at 8 a.m. And I get to stay up really late-until 10 p.m. every night. The fair made me a special place by the South gate of the fairgrounds.

I don’t expect all 416,000 people who visited the fair last year to stop and see me. Probably only 415,998 or so…I hope they are nice and not too rough on me. I will try to show them some really cool stuff about Georgia archaeology.

In fact, my handlers are arranging something VERY special for the fair. In addition to all my regular activities, I will have three special ones about agriculture for the fair. Yeah, I know, that’s what I said. Agriculture??? I am suppose to be about ARCHAEOLOGY! But then I overheard my handlers talking about how archaeologists know all about agriculture, even about the kinds of plants Native Americans used thousands of years ago! Archaeologists get more out of the soil than just artifacts. They study pollen, seeds, and other plant parts to learn what people were planting, eating, or living near. I will even have some activities about archaeology and agriculture for visitors to do, especially for the school kids who will come see me during their field trips to the fair as part of the “Stories of Agriculture”.

My handlers made this flyer for the fair to give to all the school kids and their teachers. But all I can think about are funnel cakes, the racing pigs, pickle dogs, fireworks, funnel cakes, live music, and did I mention funnel cakes?

You would think I would deserve a break after eleven, 14-hour days at the fair, huh? Well, I heard that the following weekend I am going to the Indian Springs Festival near Macon. But surely after that you would think I get some quality R&R, huh?

Apparently, however, I am going to a place where hundreds of teachers will visit me, since they will be getting this flyer about me. Eeeek! I mean, I’m not scared or anything…I’m sure the teachers going to the Georgia Conference on the Social Studies in Athens on October 28 and 29 will just LOVE me. But you know how it is…all those teachers milling around. They will probably find a typo on me, or expect me to know all the answers to their teacher-questions. I guess its pay-back for skipping school all those days to go to the fair!

Well, wish me luck! I’ll have lots to write once I get a break in November.

June 2, 2010


I spent the week at Fort Morris, and was all refreshed and ready for my very FIRST Junior Ranger Program! (La, la, la…I wanna be a Junior Ranger, Put my summer in minimal danger, sound off 1-2, sound off 3-4, bring it on down now, 1, 2, 3, 4…la, la…)

There were 21 Junior Rangers today, in two sessions. They were very smart for little people**. The Junior Rangers couldn’t wait to climb on board and check out my interactives.

Outside, Veronica* let them watch an onscreen slideshow presentation loop showing all kinds of archaeology sites in Georgia and a lot of things archaeologists do “behind the scenes”. Then, the Junior Rangers got to imagine themselves archaeologists 200 years from now, and analyzed “old” artifacts. They made good notes about their artifacts.

They even got to study animal bones to learn about people’s diet, environment, and the kinds of animals they raised or hunted.

This photo shows my new Junior Ranger friends standing next to me. The non-little people are Fort Morris Staff, volunteers, and friends (Arthur, Debbie, Amy Leigh, and Carol). My new Junior Ranger friends were very nice and I wouldn’t be surprised if someday after years of college scientific training and working with professional archaeologists, one of them comes back on board as a real archaeologist!

* Handler’s Note: Abby thought it best not to use real names in many cases, especially when referring to her “handlers”—those people responsible for driving her and administering programs, and to some people she meets in her travels.

** Handler’s Note: Abby means “young people; children”.

May 29, 2010


No one TOLD me that May is Archaeology Month in Georgia! No wonder I am exhausted! This is my third appearance this month and I have yet another one scheduled in a few days. Note to self—rest up next April!

Today I was one of the attractions at Fort Morris State Park, in Liberty County, Georgia. The map shows this Revolutionary War fort, right next to the colonial town of Sunbury. Diary, have you ever seen the earthworks from a fort that was used by American Patriots in Georgia? You can see them at Fort Morris. I like this place because it is off by itself. Even though I wasn’t facing it, the park has a lovely view of the marsh. (Veronica* parks me with absolutely no regard to my feelings, but what is best for what she calls “visitor flow”. Fine!)

So I was parked there, happy as a clam, waiting for visitors when all of a sudden…Boom! Boom! BOOM!!!

I thought I was gonna lose a tire! I’ve never had a backfire from my muffler that loud! Turns out they were shooting rounds of muskets and then topping it off by firing a big cannon! It was great for all the visitors listening to the presentation before the firing, but geeze, I wish they could have rung a little bell to warn me.

Oh well, I almost got used to it after four hours. Here are some photos of a few of my visitors. Ms. P*, Real Dan*, and Veronica* had the pleasure to work with me today.

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* Handler’s Note: Abby thought it best not to use real names in many cases, especially when referring to her “handlers”—those people responsible for driving her and administering programs, and to some people she meets in her travels.

May 22, 2010


Five days off between my last stint and today, when I went back to my second home of Ft. Frederica. You may recall I spent last spring parked at the fort while I visited school children there and in all the Glynn County elementary schools with Mrs. P*.

Well, I got to go back to work the Ft. Frederica Archaeology Festival. (Of course, I couldn’t help but be the star of the show.

I hope I didn’t take away everyone’s attention from all the other interesting stations they had set up under tents.)

Kids and families and adults at the festival learned about all the different parts of archaeology and got to try their hands at different activities under the tents. Here are some photos so you know what I’m talking about. The left one shows my side view all day. And, in the right photo, it’s ok fellas, I don’t bite, you can come in.

I was parked under a nice shady oak tree, right on the grounds of Fort Frederica, which is a neat historical and archaeological site. It was a colonial town founded by General Oglethorpe. He built a fort around the town to protect the settlers and soldiers from attack by the Spanish who lived in Florida at the time. Apparently everyone in the 1730s and 1740s—the Spanish, French, and British—all wanted to own North America and each tried to do so by taking pieces of it. I think I remember seeing some books about it on my shelves, back when I used to be a bookmobile. Archaeologists actually excavated at Ft. Frederica in the past. Today it is one of America’s National Parks.

Anyway, I was parked there, surrounded by all this history, when all of a sudden during the day TWO archaeologists came on board. One of them, Dr. Honor Kamp* actually excavated at Ft. Frederica!! He knew all about some of the settlers that lived there—what they ate, what they did for a living, how they got along with their neighbors in the 1700s, and what happened to them! Then, later, another archaeologist, Real Dan*, came by who did a big archaeological survey just next to the grounds of Ft. Frederica. He was showing visitors how archaeologists use a ground penetrating radar machine to see underground.

(Real Dan is not one of my handlers, but he helps me a whole lot. I think it’s because he is married to Veronica*, who is one of my handlers. So he feels compelled—or gets drafted—to help.) Anyway, it was so cool that these archaeologists who had worked right there years ago, were checking ME out! I even met some of Dr. Honor Kamp’s students, who were just learning how to become archaeologists. They will need lots of practice before they can run projects.

Diary, I will leave you with a few more photos of my old and new friends at Ft. Frederica.

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* Handler’s Note: Abby thought it best not to use real names in many cases, especially when referring to her “handlers”—those people responsible for driving her and administering programs, and to some people she meets in her travels.

May 17, 2010


Guess where I went Friday and Saturday?

To Albany, Georgia. That is in the southwestern part of the state.

I am starting to travel soooo much, I am going to mark each place I visit on a map.

It took four and a half hours to go from near Savannah to Albany. I breezed along the back roads, going through lots of quaint towns. (I love to do that because people always stare and point at me. Do you ever feel like someone is watching you?? But I get used to all that fame.

I think one day I should be in a parade, like a big Mardi Gras parade! No papier mâché floats for me. No sir. Just Abby in all her finery. The real thing. Uh, oh, where was I?…)

Anyway, I tooled around Albany until Saturday when I went to Chehaw Park for The Society for Georgia Archaeology Spring festival. Here is a picture of it.

I got to see all sorts of people making pottery and stone tools and baskets and things the way Native Americans use to do thousands of years ago.

It was pretty cool. Except I feel sorry for all those people in the past who didn’t have buses. My great-great-great granddaddy was a wagon and he got pulled around by a horse. But that was back in the day. I, however, am very independent since I have my own eight-cylinder engine. (After all, who wants to follow behind a horse all day, if you know what I mean.)

I like to learn about the past, but I sure wouldn’t want to live in it all the time! Archaeologists have the right idea, it’s much more fun to study it than to live it.

April 21, 2010


Over the past year or so, I have begun my new life in earnest, although SGA had me for awhile before I achieved my celebrity. The first year after SGA got me, I spent at the spa. There I got my colorful new “wrap”. A fab artist/designer named JCB did a custom design just for me. I am unique! There is no other ArchaeoBus and no one that looks like me!

Here I am in a glamour photo showing the new me! Note the before…

…and after shots.

Aw man, another butt shot!

Just because archaeologists are always bending over to dig (and consequently getting butt shots in their photos) doesn’t mean they have to do that to me, too! (Oh, uh, by the way, does this wrap make my butt look big??)

Meanwhile, at the spa, I got a tonic for my insides. They cleared out all my library shelves and built exciting archaeology exhibits. Here’s a pic of the fabricator, JR, building my exhibits. (They do say beauty comes from within, right?) One of my handlers, Veronica*, did the exhibit designs. She’s a bit of a nut, but I like her pretty well. She always tries to think of hands-on archaeology activities that people can do with me and new things I can show off. Sometimes, though, I think she drives the other handlers crazy (especially Real Dan*) with her schemes!

So, Diary, just to catch you up to speed, after the christening I spent a good bit of time in Athens with my handler TG.* That was nice because it gave me a chance to get use to the new me in my old stomping grounds in Clarke County. And TG not only treats me well, but he keeps me sparkling clean! He also helps get funding so I can go places and visit people.

Then in the fall of last year I got to go to CoastFest all the way in Brunswick, Georgia! Even though ALL 7500 people visiting the festival didn’t come see me, you can tell by this photo that a lot of them did.

I can always tell when they are having fun and learning a lot about archaeology. Once in Brunswick, I met another of my handlers, Mrs. P*. She is a real teacher who teaches kids about archaeology, but she knows not to dig up sites with them, since she is not an archaeologist. Ms. P took me to sooooo many schools in Glynn County, Georgia and I met lots of 4th graders and a lot of adults, too. I did that all the way through this spring.

Well, now you know about me, Diary. I will tell you about things I do from time to time, but for now I will rest because I hear that I will be traveling again soon!

* Handler’s Note: Abby thought it best not to use real names in many cases, especially when referring to her “handlers”—those people responsible for driving her and administering programs.

April 8, 2010


Since this is my very first entry, I should probably introduce myself, although I am sure you have heard of me by now.

I am Abby, the ArchaeoBus! I know you will want to learn a bit about my fascinating personal history. I was born in 1992 and grew up to be a library book mobile. It was quite fun to travel around Athens/Clarke County, Georgia bringing books to people. I even had some books about archaeology. Those were my very FAVORITE books of all the books I carried on my shelves. How exciting, I thought, to be an archaeologist! To travel the state and not just read stories about the past, but to uncover them; to learn new stories not found in books!

Then one day I overheard the librarian ladies say how much they would miss driving me around. It turns out that they didn’t need a book mobile anymore. And then the best thing you could ever imagine happened to me…

An archaeologist named TG* learned about me and he and a friend, Michaelo, figured out a way for The Society for Georgia Archaeology to buy me (at much less than I am really, really worth!) from the Clarke County Library System. Apparently someone at SGA named Veronica* wanted an archaeology bus for years. I was going to become an archaeologist!! (Well, not really, because we all know that it takes years of university science training and supervised experience to be a real archaeologist.) But I was going to help archaeologists! And travel ALL OVER the state of Georgia doing so!!

I was christened Abby on May 16, 2009. These photos show the big party SGA gave me. Look at all my guests! There was a drum roll and my unveiling, and a kazoo band and a cake with my picture and little pink party favors and door prizes… It’s hard to be a celebrity, but I think I handle it quite well. I did get sick after leaving the christening. A good SGA Samaritan said it was my alternator, but I think it was just all the excitement from the party.

* Handler’s Note: Abby thought it best not to use real names in many cases, especially when referring to her “handlers”—those people responsible for driving her and administering programs.

Where in the World is Abby?

SGA_ArchaeoBus_portraitAbby, the ArchaeoBus, has had a busy summer and fall. Summer found Abby enjoying the Athens library scene, where she shared more than archaeology books with library patrons. Tom Gresham delivered informal programs as he brought Abby to the Athens Regional Library and the Oglethorpe County Library. ArchaeoBus Outreach Specialist Kathy Mulchrone ably assisted Tom in the latter program. Kathy, ArchaeoBus Outreach Specialist Teresa Groover, and Rita Elliott prototyped the formal program at the Athens Regional Library. This allowed them to consider changes and improvements to the program content and delivery methods. Thanks to Kathy and Teresa, and to Tom for his ongoing efforts on this project. We also appreciate the Athens Regional Library’s continued support of the ArchaeoBus and the interest of the Oglethorpe County Library and many others throughout Georgia.


Figure 1. Throngs visit the ArchaeoBus.

By October Abby was ready for a visit to Georgia’s coast. She made her debut in Brunswick at the 11th Annual CoastFest, sponsored by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Abby played to standing room only crowds as she sat adjacent to The Society for Georgia Archaeology booth (Figure 1). Both the bus interior and SGA’s outside interactives under the tent fostered a large and heartwarming display of intergenerational learning between children, parents, and grandparents, and between scouts and their leaders (Figure 2). Abby was available for 7,500 visitors at CoastFest.


Figure 2. Abby appealing across generations.

Abby is back in school now under the firm hand of Ellen Provenzano in Glynn County, Georgia. Since mid-October Ellen has taken Abby to two schools. This includes Sterling Elementary School, where 115 4th graders and 8 teachers participated in informal programming, and Altama Elementary School, where 86 4th graders, 7 teachers, and 2 administrators interacted with Abby. Ellen has also brought Abby to Fort Frederica National Monument for several hours of programs reaching 34 visitors of all ages, and to the Golden Isles Archaeology Club with an attendance of 15 adults. Ellen is making Abby do extracurricular work, and has her scheduled to visit an additional three to four schools in Glynn County before the end of the year. At that time, Ellen and Rita will do a final prototyping of the formal program for middle school students using the new materials and content created from the first prototyping session in Athens. A big thank you to Ellen, who has already reached 267 students with Abby and will likely engage another 300 in the next few weeks!

Abby’s increasing success would be impossible without the help of several dedicated individuals. A huge thanks to volunteers Tom Gresham and Ellen Provenzano. The phrase “working tirelessly” does not even begin to sum up their endeavors. Appreciation also goes to Kathy Mulchrone and Teresa Groover for their work. The ArchaeoBus Committee continues to stand on alert to help as needed. A handful of “guardian angels” have graced us with their help at the most opportune moments this past year. This included Steve Hoyt who rescued a despondent Abby (and driver Tom) on the side of the road in Macon when her alternator broke. Thank you Steve for your speedy mechanical abilities and your much appreciated generosity! And speaking of saving…Tony Shore has saved untold numbers of potentially twisted ankles by building sturdy steps for visitors to use to exit the bus. We appreciate Clay Helms’ electrical work involving the much needed hefty power cord for the bus. Our programs are benefitting from the donations of Native American replica pottery and tools made by Brian Floyd and Scott Jones. Starr Wright appeared exactly when needed to help solve a significant technology issue in the nick of time. Thanks to all of Abby’s guardian angels! Another set of individuals who form the loose coalition known secretly as the ArchaeoBus Spouses Support Group (Dale Provenzano, Gisela Weis, and Dan Elliott) are thanked for their long-suffering through bus rides and car/bus drop off schedules, late night and weekend work assignments, dead batteries, absentee spouses, jammed locks, and blown bulbs!

Abby’s year in review includes: the construction of her interior infrastructure, exhibit creation and installation, mechanical repairs and upgrades, development of the formal program (including hands-on activities) for middle schoolers, development of Teacher Guidelines and associated resource materials for the SGA web site, and writing the initial draft of the administrative manual and guidelines. Abby was not finished until May of 2009. In spite of this, she still managed to reach 8,492 people, primarily through informal programs.


Figure 3. ArchaeoBus funding sources.

Figure 3 is a chart showing the breakdown of all funding sources to date (2007–2009). Currently, all but approximately $5,000 of this has been spent in a successful effort to take the vehicle from a bookmobile to a 21st century ArchaeoBus. We give a resounding cheer of thanks to all of our sponsors and funders for their much appreciated financial support. This includes The Georgia Transmission Corporation, BestBuy, The Council on American Indian Concerns, The Georgia Council of Professional Archaeologists, Southern Research, and Mr. and Mrs. Carleton Crabill, Jr.. Some funds were earmarked, such as the BestBuy grant for technology and certain funds for programming. The Georgia Transmission Corporation made two contributions, the first for the vehicle “wrap.” SGA also provided a second infusion of funds this past May.


Figure 4. ArchaeoBus expenses.

How were these funds, totaling just over $20,000, allocated? As Figure 4 depicts, almost $6,000 has gone into the purchase of the vehicle, inspections, repairs, maintenance, and a large chunk to insurance. Just under $5,500 was spent on the prep and wrapping of the bus exterior. Just over $4,000 went to the construction of the bus interior and the fabrication and installation of the exhibit. A total of $4,000 has been spent on technology. The smallest portion of expenditures to date has been spent on programming, totaling just over $1,000.

Insurance and maintenance will continue to be a large piece of the pie. The wrap, interior and technology are complete, so we expect no huge expenses in this arena in the near future. Our smallest area of expenses, programming, is the very reason the bus exists. And now that we have the vehicle remade and repaired, we look forward to throwing our time, energy, funding, and resources into programming and expect that a year from now, programming will be most of the pie!

During the past six months with few attempts to solicit venues, we have exposed 8,500 people to the Archaeobus and archaeology. We expect to reach much larger numbers when we begin a concerted effort to deliver both formal and informal programming next year.

You may wonder about Abby’s New Years’ Resolutions. She resolves to be even busier in 2010 as she rolls into extensive programming. Abby will wrap up her coastal visit in January and return to Athens where she will be available for formal programming to 8th graders in the public private, and parochial schools of Athens-Clarke County. Throughout the year she will also visit non-school venues for informal programs. Abby may even venture to the capitol steps in Atlanta, so Georgia’s state lawmakers can meet her and discover Georgia archaeology. Track Abby on this website and see if she keeps her resolutions in 2010!

Abby (aka Abby, the bus, the bookmobile) is christened

Archaeobus D

Archaeobus I

Archaeobus H

Archaeobus J

With the crash of a champagne bottle over her fender, a new green bough laid upon her, the cadence of a drum roll, and the suspenseful unveiling of the tarp, Abby the ArchaeoBus was officially christened. Over 70 guests participated in the historic event during the spring Archaeology meeting in Macon on May 16, 2009. The gray skies and rain throughout the day did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm, and only served to give Abby a fresh bath prior to her debut. The showers ended just in time for the big event. As part of the ceremony, guests won door prizes and participated in a rousing kazoo rendition of “The Raiders of the Lost Ark” theme song. This was followed by an array of pink refreshments, including a cake with Abby’s likeness. Guests also had an opportunity to tour the inside of the bus and see the new exhibits and storage spaces. Thank you to all who attended!

Special thanks go to the many people who made the event successful. This includes Ellen Provenzano (wedding and special events coordinator extraordinaire); Betsy (I can get you a personalized yummy cake at a bargain rate) Shirk; champagne specialist and multi-tasker Tom Gresham; drummer Dean Wood (did I hear he played with the Stones before Slant Six?); unveiler, kazoo lead, and all around groupie Dan Elliott; official bough-layer Dennis Blanton; Abby button makers Tammy Herron, Betsy Shirk, Carolyn Rock, Jamice Meschke, Jim Langford (“HOW many buttons are we making???”); and the many photographers of the event. Stay tuned as the ArchaeoBus Committee and SGA Board review and finalize the guidelines for Abby’s work.