Archaeologists have two specialized terms for large-scale buildings and building-complexes: monumental architecture and civic-ceremonial architecture. One is descriptive. The other refers to function. Consider the activities that happen in the monumental architecture of modern times, and what insights this gives you for examples from the past.
Tag: archaeology beyond Georgia
In an article in the Fall 2011 issue of Early Georgia (vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 173–200), Scot Keith discusses evidence for long-distance trade and exchange in Middle Woodland times (from about 350 BC to AD 650), using data from the Leake Site, near Cartersville. Members of the SGA in 2011 received that issue of Early Georgia as a benefit of membership. Join the SGA, and you will receive the current volume of Early Georgia!
Do you geotag your digital photographs? North Carolina archivists have determined the geographic location of myriad photographs and other historical materials that illuminate the history of the Blue Ridge Parkway, then put scans of those materials online for researchers to browse. Read more about Driving Through Time: The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina in the full story.
Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to travel in North America with an early European adventurer? Read Joyce Rockwood Hudson’s Looking for De Soto: A Search Through the South for the Spaniard’s Trail (published in 1993) and you will learn what it was like to try to trace the route that Hernando De Soto and his entourage took through southeastern North America in 1540. Mrs. Hudson and her husband, then UGA professor Dr. Charles Hudson, set out to retrace and verify the route of the De Soto expedition in 1984.
In 2005, Charles C. Mann’s 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus appeared on bookstore shelves, and still is selling well in a paperback edition with a new afterword. Mann’s book focuses on what the New World was like prior to the arrival of the Columbus expedition in 1492. Mann offers enough information for you to envision what you would have seen if you could have flown over the Western Hemisphere in AD 1000. What he writes about may be a bit (or a lot) different from what you learned in school about his subject.
The November GAAS meeting will feature David Smith and his discussion of Mesoamerica. Caves in Mesoamerica have always had ritual, supernatural, and mystical connotations—rich sources of cultural material. David visited a remote area of the state of Oaxaco in Mexico where he and a friend video-taped the contents of a cave in the culturally and geographically inaccessible Mazateca Indian area. The site, known as Blade cave, is approximately 350 km southeast of Mexico City and was discovered by American spelunkers in 1985; it was undisturbed.
The origins of agriculture is one of the major topics of the field of archaeology. The journal Current Anthropology has just published an issue dedicated to this topic, called The Origins of Agriculture: New Data, New Ideas. The issue’s twenty-two articles can be accessed for free. An article by Bruce D. Smith considers the origins of agriculture in eastern North America, in particular the seed plants squash (Cucurbita pepo), sunflower, sumpweed (Iva annua), and lambsquarters/pigweed (Chenopodium berlandieri).
While volcanoes are undeniably destructive, they can aid archaeological tourism by preserving ancient homes and settlements. We discuss the case of AD 79 Roman Herculaneum, formerly on the Bay of Naples, Italy, and offer a few photographs.
Ever wonder what an Indian mound was like in the late eighteenth century? In the mid-1770s, natural historian William Bartram traveled through what is now Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. He described his adventures in a 1793 volume Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, the Cherokee Country, the Extensive Territories of the Muscogulges, or Creek Confederacy, and the Country of the Chactaws…. He describes a special round building the Cherokees used for important group activities. His architectural description gives a good idea of what careful archaeological excavation may reveal of a building like this.
The Greater Atlanta Archaeological Society October speaker is Curtis Headrick, long time member of GAAS and a dedicated student of Central American cultures. The program will be at Fernbank Museum of Natural History on Clifton Road, just north of Ponce de Leon and will begin at 7:30pm.
This Weekly Ponder considers what archaeological resources are, and what it means to conserve them, using two examples. Earlier this month, the Secretary of the Interior awarded a 2011 Partners in Conservation Award to the Camp Lawton Preservation Team, which has been working to investigate and conserve this recently rediscovered Confederate prisoner of war camp that’s near Millen. The second example is the joint effort by The Israel Museum in Jerusalem and Google to put digital images of the Dead Sea Scrolls online; five are now accessible.
Around this time last year, as I prepared to board a plane and begin my MA program in the United Kingdom, I began to ask myself if the complication and expense of continuing my education in the UK was really worth it. Could these folks with their “sophisticated” accents, meat-pies, and flat ale really give me some deeper insight into the nature and value of archaeology?
The oldest Egyptian mummy in the Western Hemisphere will be part of an exhibit at Emory University’s Michael C. Carlos Museum. The mummy is more than 4000 years old. It is one of about 120 objects from that age in the Emory exhibit. The exhibition will shed light on ancient Egyptian rites and rituals regarding the afterlife.
The talk will cover Dr. Jeffrey Glover’s recent archaeological investigations at the ancient Maya port site of Vista Alegre. Located along the north coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, the work of Glover and colleagues is shedding light on this little known section of coastline.
A June 2011 report called The State of America’s National Parks warns on page 25 “that cultural resources in the National Park System—considered the most important to our country’s heritage—are in serious trouble. In fact, these places and collections are being maintained in a condition well below the level that the National Park Service itself has deemed appropriate.” The report concludes on page 27 that the reason this has happened is that “[t]here simply aren’t enough qualified and trained people overseeing the parks’ cultural heritage.” Given the many National Park System properties with an historic or archaeological slant in Georgia (e.g., Ocmulgee National Monument and the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site), are you surprised at this situation?
When we consider the long tale of our human past, how important are major disasters? Consider the recent earthquake/tsunami in Japan. Consider the impact of the 2005 hurricane season on the Gulf of Mexico, especially Hurricane’s Katrina and Rita. Also, consider a hinterland place like Georgia’s own Sapelo Island, and the hurricane of 1898. What choices do people face after a disaster? What are their options if they emigrate? What must they do to stay?
Consider this…you live in a world without cell phones, without cars, or even bicycles or horses to ride. You walk if you want to go somewhere. People living in the places you know about live in scattered, small villages and hamlets. So, if you want to communicate with someone who lives several villages distant, how do you do it? Think about this and then click over to the full story.
Why are archaeological resources vandalized? Consider the two examples in the full story, one from the Macon area, and login and tell us your thoughts.
The Northwest Georgia Archaeology Society will hold a meeting Thursday, March 10th, 2011, at the Etowah Indian Mounds Site near Cartersville. The lecture presented by Dr. Nick Honerkamp of the University of Tennesse at Chattanooga is Creek and Cherokee at Chattanooga’s Moccasin Bend Site. Located at the toe of Lookout Mountain, Moccasin Bend is one of America’s most unique and scenic archaeological sites—located at a significant geographic and geologic crossroads.
The Savannah River Archaeological Research Program (SRARP), a division of the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, conducts archaeological research on and around the US Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site. The SRARP has recently added several downloadable PDFs of publications about archaeology to their website.
Dr. Zachary Hruby, of Georgia State University’s Anthropology Department, discusses briefly what being a visiting professor is like for him. His research area is Ancient Maya and Mesoamerica. He is enjoying Georgia and hopes to stay for the long haul.
The Greater Atlanta Archaeological Society will meet Tuesday, March 8th, at 7 PM for its regular monthly meeting. The program will feature Georgia State University visiting lecturer Dr. Zachary Hruby who will discuss his research regarding lithic technology, epigraphy, and iconography of the Ancient Maya and Mesoamerica.
GSU alum Lee Berger will present From Georgia Southern to Africa—The Pathway to the Discovery of the Most Complete Early Humans in History at Georgia Southern University’s Carol A. Carter Recital Hall in the Foy Building on Saturday, February 12, 2011, at 6:30 PM. The event is free and open to the public.
A recent story on the Apple website describes how archaeologists working at the famous site of Pompeii, near Naples in central Italy, have been using iPads to record detailed excavation data, using “off-the-shelf” software. While using the iPads in the field reduces post-fieldwork data-entry time, this story asks you to consider the potential drawbacks of using a tablet computer in the field instead of pencils, erasers, and graph paper.
Get out your calendar and plan a trip to a national park on a fee-free day in 2011. Details are in the full story.
Look into your crystal ball. What do you think the greatest challenge is to archaeology in the media? Zachary Nelson argues in the November 2010 issue of The SAA Archaeological Record, the newsletter of the Society for American Archaeology, that the profession’s greatest challenge is…read the full article and see!
CW Ceram’s Gods, Graves, and Scholars: The Story of Archaeology is a famous but dated book on archaeology, that for years was one of the few serious books on the subject that many people had read. Ceram thought that the practice of archaeology was both romantic and scholarly. In fact he wrote, “Yet in truth no science is more adventurous than archaeology…”. Contemplate this and more that Ceram wrote….
Take a look at the black-and-white images in Cyrus Thomas’s famous book Introduction to the Study of North American Archaeology, which was published over a century ago (you can download it for free). Thomas includes images of stone sculptures recovered from archaeological sites in Tennessee. Study these figures, and consider other sculptures of human images. What can you learn from these comparisons?
Time to plan a road trip to Russell Cave. You’ll see mountains, navigate woodsy trails, and experience the strange change to sound that happens when you are in a cave. What a great place to think about what it’d have been like to live a thousand years ago—or more!
Believe it or not a study of moose bones is illuminating about the incidence of osteoarthritis in humans. Bioarchaeologist Clark Spencer Larsen believes that moose data from Isle Royale in northern Michigan helps understand osteoarthritis rates in 16th-century native peoples from Georgia.
Ten years ago, archaeologists raised the submarine H.L. Hunley from where it had been resting since February 1864. HeraldOnline’s Brian Hicks reports on the latest research and plans for what he calls “the first successful combat submarine in history.”
Are you interested in visiting a castle? There’s a thirteenth-century fortress under construction in northern Arkansas that opened in May. Well, the construction site opened. Planners say it’ll take thirty years to finish the stone complex.
In summer 2010 archaeologists began the field research for a three-year study of the lands around Stonehenge, on the Salisbury plain west-southwest of London. Almost immediately they made a game-changing find—the remains of another henge-like construction a mere one-thousand yards from Stonehenge itself! The full story has an artist’s reconstruction and satellite images of the new find.
World Trade Center workers revealed a long-buried ship in black mud on July 13, 2010. Archaeologists have been working to record the timbers before they dry out and crumble. Follow the link in full story to a New York Times story with details and pictures. The small picture here is from a Fred R. Conrad photograph in the Times story.
Many of us have probably been thinking about impacts of the oil washing ashore on coastal archaeological resources—but what about underwater resources like shipwrecks? An AP story from early July notes that BP has hired an archaeological firm in the face of concerns about the effects of the spill on terrestrial and underwater archaeological resources.
What is Atlanta’s Emory University’s Michael C. Carlos Museum’s connection to the ancient site of Ur in Mesopotamia? What was Ur’s famous temple, the ziggurat, like nearly a century ago? Read the accounts of two men who traveled with an expedition to Egypt and the Middle East and visited that Babylonian/Sumerian city in 1920. How are their accounts similar and how do they differ?
Members of the SGA are often interested in historic maps. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has debuted an online resource called North Carolina Maps with digitized versions of more than 3000 historical maps, including Sanborn Fire Insurance maps.
In a simple operation, you can use Google Earth software (free!) to overlay historic maps with the modern landscape. Here we demonstrate how informative this operation can be using the British Library’s online copy of a 1562 historic map by Spanish cartographer Diego Gutiérrez. We just examine North America’s southern Atlantic coastline, including the Georgia bight.
On Saturday, May 16th, 2010, the Jones Archaeological Museum at the 320-acre Moundville Archaeological Park reopened after a two-year, $5 million renovation. The Moundville site is in Alabama, south of Tuscaloosa. Moundville is a multi-mound civic-ceremonial community dating to the Mississippian period.
The archaeological remains near modern Coolidge, Arizona, now known as Casa Grande Ruins National Monument became the USA’s first archaeological reserve in 1892. The roof protecting the large three-story ruin known as Casa Grande was built in the 1930s. The ruin is constructed of locally available caliche. Read more about the architecture at this stunning site, and of the remains that spread beyond the limits of the preserved area.
The Society for American Archaeology recently announced that their newsletter, The SAA Archaeological Record, published five times each year, is available in a new format for reading online beginning with the 2010 issues, and also is downloadable. The March 2010 issue includes several articles that discuss the roles of women in the prehistoric North American archaeological record.
World-traveler Ted Conover argues in his new book that roads are our most extensive human artifact on earth. Travel routes can persist for centuries. Judging by historic footpaths, Georgia’s prehistoric peoples tended to follow ridges, avoiding swamps and stream crossings. We know from the asssortment of artifacts found that ancient peoples traveled to places far away or traded with people who came from far away (like the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts, and deep in the continental interior). What do we know of those travel routes and footpaths? How, for example, did peoples of the Leake Site, in northwest Georgia, cross the terrain and interact with peoples of far-flung places where Swift Creek-style decorated ceramics have also been found?
Dr. Jim D’Angelo will give a presentation on examples of Cro-Magnon and later cave art, at the monthly meeting of the Gwinnett Archaeological Research Society, a chapter of the SGA, at its meeting on Thursday April 8. The meeting starts are about 7 PM with the program beginning at 7:30 PM. Jim recently returned from a visit to Spain and was fortunate enough to visit a Paleolithic cave, which he will discuss.
Across the Southeast, before Europeans arrived, Native Peoples prized the wood of a tree that inhabited only a small portion of the vast interior of the North American continent. The tree is commonly known as the osage orange. The fruit of this tree looks like a lumpy bright green to yellow-green softball. The tree is thorny, too. Read the full story to learn why North American archaeologists ponder this strange species.
NAGPRA stands for the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. NAGPRA is a federal law. In March 2010, NAGPRA has been in the news three times….
You might not agree with the order given, but some of the blogs in this list, “50 Best Blogs for Archaeology Students,” may interest you….
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has recently released a report called American Bison: Status Survey and Conservation Guidelines 2010. The report discusses the current status of American bison (Bison bison). You may be interested in a discussion of the history of the bison that is included as background for the report’s focus on conserving the species and the ecological restoration necessary to accomplish that for this large herbivore.
This Weekly Ponder considers artifacts and context, defining and discussing how archaeologists use these terms and what that means for interpretation of artifacts—and sites. The Ponder goes on to consider the context of the Shroud of Turin, which will be on display in spring 2010, in Turin, Italy.
The Florida legislature established the Florida Public Archaeology Project in part to do outreach. Among the materials they have posted online are books of hands-on archaeology activities for teachers. Although FPAN is oriented toward Florida, many of their activities can be used or adapted for use in Georgia classrooms. The books are free and downloadable.
Dr. Vincas Steponaitis will deliver the keynote address at the 36th Annual Conference of the Archaeological Society of South Carolina (South Carolina’s version of the Society for Georgia Archaeology) on Friday, April 9th, in the Business School Auditorium, Room 005, on the University of South Carolina campus in Columbia. Read more about this meeting, and the call for papers, in the full story.
The Society for American Archaeology recently announced that their newsletter, published five times each year, is available in a new format for reading online beginning with the 2010 issues, and also is downloadable.
Perhaps you watched Steve Jobs and other Apple people introduce the iPad on 27 January 2010…. Fans of archaeology might have noted that one of the major demonstrations, of the program Keynote, used the topic “Seven Wonders of the World,” which focused on selected archaeological sites. What does it mean that they chose an archaeological topic to punch their high-profile product introduction?
Historical archaeologists can use data from archival records, which are unavailable to archaeologists working with prehistoric data. How does that make a difference? This issue is examined using notes made by French historian Alexis de Tocqueville in 1831 in a letter to his mother, which has only recently been published in English translation.
Quick: what is the only installation built by the United States military during the settling of the interior of the continent to protect Indians from Indians (rather than settlers from Native Americans)?
In mid-December 2009, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the National Park Service is awarding $46.5 million in historic preservation grants to 59 states and U.S. territories. However, nine states will receive more than $1 million each, leaving just under $35 million for the other states and non-states. Georgia’s piece of this historic preservation pie? Read the full story for more details.
Archaeologists, like specialists of all persuasions, employ jargon, or a specialized vocabulary. Sometimes the jargon clarifies matters, and sometimes it conveys a particular bias. Those not familiar with the jargon may not recognize the implied meaning inherent in certain terms. This story examines the phrase “Old Europe,” recently used to title an exhibit at New York University. [Photo by Marius Amarie and published by the New York Times here. Figure is referred to as 'Thinker' and came from Hamangia, Cernavodă, and dates to 5000-4600 B.C. Its curation number is 15906 at the National History Museum of Romania in Bucharest.]
The Savannah River Archaeological Research Program is seeking information about prehistoric metavolcanic stone quarries in the Carolina Slate Belt Region in South Carolina. As this map shows, the Carolina Slate Belt Region is prominent in the Carolinas, and extends southward into Georgia.
Read the full story for a discussion about what recent ecological reconstructions based on fossil pollen, charcoal and dung fungus spores tell us about the end of the Ice Age in interior North America.
If you want to have coffee in an historic eighteenth century coffeehouse, you can now do so! The drinks that are offered are tea, chocolate, and, of course, coffee!
R. Charlton’s Coffeehouse at Colonial Williamsburg is a new building now open for business!
What insights into our current agricultural and food production dilemmas can we get from prehistoric Native American practices? Check out David J. Minderhout and Andrea T. Franz’s article, “Native American Horticulture in the Northeast,” discussed here.
Sgt. Ronald Peters, a geospatial analyst whose hometown is Fort Lewis, Washington, with Multi-National Corps – Iraq C-7, has been mapping the archaeological sites of Iraq in his spare time.
Examination of the regions of the world shows that not all are similarly easy to traverse on foot or via waterways—and coastlines—as ancient peoples would. Yet, people exchanged goods and information via networks that spanned great distances. Compare the European and Southeastern North American regions with these concepts in mind.
John H. Blitz doesn’t mince words. Answering the question who built the mounds at the famous Mississippian settlement next to the Black Warrior River at Moundville, Alabama, Blitz writes: “We don’t know” (page 4). Nevertheless, Blitz presents a useful summary of the settlement, research relevant to interpreting it, and the history of how it came to be the 320-acre Moundville Archaeological Park in a new book.
Even a cursory examination of cross-cultural data indicates that around the globe, in many societies, peoples with many belief systems have built structures important to them on high places. In addition, the structures are often unusually tall when compared to residential buildings. Indeed, important buildings are often tall, large, or both. Why?
Quick: where in the world is the largest concentration of Bronze Age graves?
Can’t you just guess that they might be threatened by development?
Researchers have new geomagnetic dates for Achulean-style hand axes from two sites in Spain that indicate earlier use of those tools in Europe than previously known. Earlier dates were known for Africa and Asia, until this report. The question, then, is: did the tool-makers arrive from the south (from Africa directly) or from the east (following around the Mediterranean Sea).
A crew of students lead by Diana Greenlee of the Department of Geosciences at University of Louisiana at Monroe tested buried circles in the plaza area of the famous Poverty Point site in northeast Louisiana this summer and was able to date the features they tested. This important civic-ceremonial site dates to the Terminal Archaic and is open to the public.
The Society for American Archaeology, a national organization with over 7000 members, is concerned about Senate Bill 409, which would swap some federal lands for other property. The SAA is concerned about the loss of protections to archaeological sites on the lands that will pass out of federal ownership.
Every once in a while news about the archaeology of southeastern North America is reported in mainstream publications. In June, the New York Times includes a report on carvings found on the wall of a cave in southeast Kentucky which may be an extremely early version of Sequoyah’s Cherokee syllabary. The final syllabary had 85 characters, each representing a syllable.
Peoples with material culture common across the North American Southeast lived even farther north than the area around Criel Mound, in western West Virginia. Even if you’re most interested in Georgia’s archaeological past, you can best understand it in a regional context….
Dick Brunelle has revealed the answer to the challenge he posed to readers almost two months ago, since no one logged in and submitted the answer. He asked people who made a brick he saw in LaGrange with “LACLEDE KING” stamped on it. As a tease, he noted: The brick is more closely related to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, than it is to covered bridges in Georgia. Ed. note: You must read the full story; it’s wonderful!
Identify the maker of a brick GAAS and SGA member Dick Brunelle found and photographed at Hills and Dales, the Callaway family plantation near LaGrange, and shown in the picture to the left.
Dick even gives two hints to make this puzzle easier….
David Macaulay is an author and illustrator who has written many interesting books. One of my favorites is Motel of the Mysteries, published in 1979 by Houghton Mifflin (Boston). The book is now out of print, so I always look for a copy at yard sales and flea markets—and every once in a while I’m [...]
The Archaeological Society of South Carolina’s annual Fall Field Day will be held on October 25th at Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site in Summerville, South Carolina. Dorchester offers a wonderful setting to discover the past. Its tabby fort ruins and the brick bell tower of St. George’s Anglican Church set a historic atmosphere, and its [...]
Pictured left to right: Joe Joseph, Rochelle Banks (TRC-Houston), SHA Conference Chair Howard Higgins (TRC-Albuquerque), Mary Beth Reed, Jim D’Angelo, and Barbara Garrow. The Society for Historical Archaeology and Council on Underwater Archaeology held their annual meetings jointly in Albuquerque, New Mexico this past January, co-sponsored by TRC. Papers examined the interface between archaeology and [...]
Initial view of dugout canoe in 1970. In late December 1970, I assisted the Broward County Archaeological Society in the location, recovery, and restoration of an abandoned, twelve and a half foot long, cypress dugout canoe. It became the primary display in the small museum the group maintained for public education. My friend Keith Hunt [...]
In September 2006, Leake Site Principal Investigators Scot Keith and Dean Wood took a trip to Indiana in order to conduct research into the Mann site, a Middle Woodland Hopewell site located in southwestern Indiana. This site is notable due to the presence (and abundance) of Swift Creek complicated stamped pottery, as well as sand [...]