Fall is always an exciting time of year for archaeologists across the state as we gear up to celebrate Pennsylvania Archaeology Month each October! I know it’s a bit early, but I didn’t want anyone to be caught off-guard come October 1st.
Pennsylvania Archaeology Month
What started as Pennsylvania Archaeology Week in November 1991 grew into this month-long celebration in 1996. More than 20 years later the event is going strong with numerous Archaeology Month activities occurring in different parts of the state. This is complemented by International Archaeology Day, which was established in 2011, and will be held on October 21st this year.
These events provide an important avenue for us to raise awareness and public interest in archaeology. A series of workshops, lectures, demonstrations, and public digs will cover a broad range of topics, cultures, and time periods in archaeology. For anyone interested in archaeology, preservation, or Pennsylvania’s heritage, the activities scheduled for October will offer a great way to learn about ongoing research and exciting new discoveries!
- Several chapters of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology (SPA) are holding special events and lectures during October. You can visit their website for more information.
- The Section of Archaeology at the State Museum is continuing to excavate at Fort Hunter until October 6th.
- The 2nd annual archaeology workshop in western Pennsylvania, focusing on experimental archaeology, will be held on October 7th at Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village.
- The Philadelphia Archaeological Forum is hosting the program: Explore Philly’s Buried Past! on October 7th.
- The Department of Anthropology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania is hosting an Archaeology Open House on October 21st.
- Newlin Grist Mill in Delaware County is holding one of their public archaeology days on October 21st.
- The Annual Workshops in Archaeology will focus on ethnicity and are hosted by the State Museum of Pennsylvania on October 28th.
As part of Archaeology Month, CRGIS archaeologists will be hosting site recording tables at the workshops on October 7th and 28th. Site recordation is an important part of preserving, protecting, and learning from the archaeological record. If you have any new sites to record, this will be the perfect opportunity.
SHPO Archaeological Survey and Outreach Program
Of course, the work of recording sites is not restricted to the month of October… it happens year-round! New sites are usually reported to us by cultural resource management (CRM) archaeologists, universities, and SPA members. Rather than simply waiting for new sites to come to us, the SHPO has launched a new program to encourage proactive site recordation and updates to the Pennsylvania Archaeological Site Survey (PASS).
Specific goals for the Archaeological Survey and Outreach program include:
- Increasing site recordation outside of CRM projects by reaching out to museums, SPA chapters, universities, and any other persons or organizations with an interest in Pennsylvania archaeology
- Working with local and regional historical organizations that are not traditionally focused on archaeology, to help them record their archaeological resources and manage collections
- Updating PASS records and site boundaries for known sites so that CRGIS better reflects the current state of knowledge
- Creating a bibliographic database within CRGIS to capture the wealth of information that has been published in journals, books, websites, documentaries, and student research papers
- Developing a program to survey and record new sites in under-surveyed areas by working with new and existing partners
- Continuously providing education about the importance of archaeological recordation and preservation to a wide variety of audiences
All of this information will feed into CRGIS, helping to keep it a dynamic tool for research, planning, and resource management.
The program kicked off this summer by focusing on university outreach with visits to eight university-related projects and field schools. These visits provided exciting opportunities to learn about new discoveries, collect information for PASS updates, and speak with students—our next generation of Pennsylvania archaeologists! Field schools visited this past summer included Kutztown University’s excavations at Historic Stoddartsville, University of Maryland’s joint preservation/archaeology field school at Eckley Miner’s Village, IUP’s continued work at Historic Hanna’s Town, and a CRM-style field school held by West Chester University.
In addition to university outreach, the Survey and Outreach Program teamed up with our interns and western region archaeologists to survey and update four CCC camp sites located in the Allegheny National Forest. Using phone-based GPS, we recorded and photographed surface features and general site locations to flesh out the PASS records. Back in the office, we overlaid historic aerials with the GPS data to derive new site boundaries for CRGIS.
The PASS files now contain over 25,000 archaeological sites, so updating the site records is a momentous task. However, through continued outreach, use of GIS and mobile data collection on site visits, and updates from the archaeological community, we work every day to enhance our understanding of Pennsylvania’s rich archaeological heritage.