Last fall the State Museum of Pennsylvania hosted their annual workshop in archaeology entitled Hidden Stories: Uncovering African American History through Archaeology and Community Engagement. The theme was born out of the acknowledgement that African Americans are vastly underrepresented in the historic record and the representations that are present are typically unfairly biased.Continue reading
Category: Pennsylvania Archaeological Council (Page 1 of 2)
It’s that time of the year again! Time to report and reflect on another successful year of archaeological site recording efforts throughout Pennsylvania. In 2021, over 300 new archaeological sites were recorded by cultural resource management (CRM) projects, independent and university research projects, Society of Pennsylvania Archaeology (SPA) members, and long-time avocational archaeologist.Continue reading
October is Pennsylvania Archaeology Month! Every October, events and programs are held across Pennsylvania to celebrate the commonwealth’s deep past.Continue reading
The Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (PA SHPO) is seeking a Historic Preservation Specialist to serve as a Review Archaeologist to work between disciplines and advance SHPO priorities. This position is ideal for a detail oriented and flexible preservation professional with a knowledge of state historic preservation programs.Continue reading
For the past several years, PA SHPO archaeologists have issued an annual report – known as the PASS Report – detailing the ongoing efforts to record Pennsylvania’s archaeological sites.
Despite 2020’s many challenges, over 280 new archaeological sites were recorded thanks to cultural resource management (CRM) projects and continued contributions from independent research projects, members of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology (SPA), and long-time avocational archaeologists.Continue reading
Pennsylvania’s communities are filled with special and meaningful historic places and spaces that add value to our lives and offer comfort and stability during these challenging times. Now more than ever, it is important to stay connected to our communities.
Today’s Spotlight: Ira BeckermanContinue reading
The Society at 90: Celebrating the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology’s 90th Year with a Look at the Present and the Future!
This Archaeology Month, we are celebrating the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology’s 90th year. As part of that celebration, we are taking over the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office’s Blog for two weeks. Last week we looked at how the society was founded, and this week we are going to see what the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology (SPA) looks like today. For those of you who are curious about archaeology, want to learn more, and would love the opportunity to get involved with the SPA, this blog post is for you!Continue reading
Yep, you’re reading that right: the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) does archaeology! Continue reading
October is Archaeology Month, and what better way to kick it off than with five good reasons why archaeology matters.
Like most artistic, cultural, and educational institutions, we are challenged to demonstrate the public value of what we do. Very often this takes the form of an economic impact statement, but we should not lose sight of the numerous other ways in which history, archaeology, and preservation enhance our lives and communities.
Archaeology, in particular, is difficult to measure in terms of financial impact. In fact, the very concept seems to contradict one of our basic tenets, which discourages the monetization of archaeology and affirms that the true value of archaeology lies in its ability to teach us about the past.
Archaeology Matters – Small Book, Big Message
Trying to think about the bigger picture (an Archaeology 101 elevator pitch), I was inevitably reminded of a book I read in grad school. In Archaeology Matters: Action Archaeology in the Modern World, Jeremy Sabloff makes the compelling argument that archaeological research and methods can address modern, real-world issues such as environmental degradation, sustainability, warfare, and urbanization. While this sounds like your standard “learn from the past” argument, Sabloff suggests that archaeologists can (and should) use their research to actively engage with modern problems, create practical solutions, and inform policy decisions. Classic examples in this vein include the Tucson Garbage Project and recent archaeological studies of homelessness.
Our own public benefit lab
Of course, not all archaeology has to address contemporary political topics or issues of world-wide significance to be of value. For Pennsylvania Archaeology Month, I’d like to explore a few of the reasons why Pennsylvania archaeology matters and to highlight some of the ways Pennsylvania’s archaeological community is making an impact:
Pennsylvania has a cool history – Pennsylvania has a fascinating and deep (pun intended) history that covers 16,000 years of human activity! This ranges from the earliest-known Pennsylvania occupation at Meadowcroft Rockshelter, to the development of pottery and plant cultivation in the Woodland period, to 20th century industries. So much of what we can learn about Pennsylvania comes from the archaeological record, but once it is destroyed, that learning is lost forever.
Archaeology provides a multi-disciplinary education – Archaeological methods draw on skills from a wide variety of disciplines in order to document, identify, analyze, and interpret the past. As such, archaeology students can develop skills in math, chemistry, physics, geography, archival research, drawing, and GIS, just to name a few. For a major that is traditionally placed in the humanities and social sciences—it can get pretty “sciency!” These skills (and the critical thinking that goes along with them) translate nicely into most other fields and are a valuable part of a well-rounded education.
Helping veterans transition to civilian life – The past ten years have seen the emergence of veteran archaeology programs, which help to rehabilitate military veterans through participation in archaeological research. This type of partnership is mutually beneficial to the archaeologists and veterans alike, as the skillsets and team approach from both worlds are complementary. Ongoing research at Fort Ligonier in Westmoreland County has started incorporating the contributions of veterans from American Veterans Archaeological Recovery and Team Rubicon.
Bringing to light the experiences of under-represented populations – It is well-recognized that contact-period and historical archaeology helps us understand the experiences of population groups that are often overlooked in written history, but it is a message that bears repeating. With its focus on material remains, rather than just written documents, archaeology has done a tremendous amount to highlight alternative narratives and little-known historical events, and to meaningfully connect the past with present-day descendant communities. Research at Pandenarium, a 19th century freed African American village in Mercer County is just one recent example.
Archaeology is a gateway to local history – The best archaeology projects involve some kind of public outreach—whether including public volunteers in the work or sharing what we’ve learned with the local community. The ability to see the past through features and ruins on a site, or to touch an everyday object that has not been handled in thousands of years, provides all of us with a fresh and tangible connection to the humans who walked before us. Public archaeology is a powerful way to connect local communities with their own history, as was demonstrated by the public outreach efforts of the I-95 improvement project in Philadelphia.
How can I be involved?
At its heart, archaeology is a public, collaborative effort. There are many ways to be involved, whether recording new sites or volunteering alongside professional archaeologists. If you’re interested in learning more, the following websites will point you in the right direction:
- Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology: http://www.pennsylvaniaarchaeology.com/
- Pennsylvania Archaeological Council: http://www.pennarchcouncil.org/
- This Week in Pennsylvania Archaeology: http://twipa.blogspot.com/
October is Archaeology Month!
Archaeology Month is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology, Inc., and the Pennsylvania Archaeological Council.
Its purpose is to increase awareness of the important historic and prehistoric archaeological sites in the Commonwealth. These sites are part of the heritage of all Pennsylvanians. Everyday, archaeological sites are destroyed. We hope that through the Archaeology Month events, more Pennsylvanians become aware of this part of our history and work to protect our endangered resources.
Unless otherwise noted, all events are free and open to the public.
Arkhaios Film Festival, Frick Fine Arts Center, University of Pittsburgh, October 5, 6, 7, 2018 (Poster)
Arkhaios Film Festival, Frick Fine Arts Center, University of Pittsburgh, October 5, 6, 7, 2018 (Schedule)
Arkhaios Film Festival, Frick Fine Arts Center, University of Pittsburgh, October 5, 6, 7, 2018 (Synopsis of Films)
Third Annual Workshop in Archaeology; Technologies in Archaeology and How These Have Helped Expand our Knowledge of the Past. Saturday, October 13, 2018. Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village, Avella
There are numerous websites where you can find further information about archaeology in Pennsylvania.
At the beginning of May, I promised we’d provide a recap of the #31for31 social media campaign to celebrate Preservation Month across Pennsylvania. If you missed a post on our Facebook page or in our Twitter feed, no worries! You can see it, and the rest of the month’s content, right here. Don’t miss the big announcement covered in the May 31st post! Continue reading