The cool weather this week has reminded many of us that fall is on its way and the warm days of summer will soon be behind us. With the beginning of fall comes an abundance of public programs for archaeologists across the Commonwealth and especially for those employed at The State Museum of Pennsylvania. One might wonder why archaeologists with the State Museum are writing a blog for the Bureau for Historic Preservation, how are the two related? Both of these entities are bureaus within the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) and both are responsible for the protection and preservation of our archaeological resources. Archaeologists with the Bureau for Historic Preservation serve as the review agency for ground disturbing projects; their role is in protecting and preserving archaeological sites. Staff of the museum, preserve the archaeological resources recovered as the result of an archaeological investigation. Both of these bureaus play an important role in sharing our archaeological heritage with citizens of the Commonwealth and the archaeological community.
For the past seven years archaeologists from the PHMC have conducted an archaeological investigation in the fall at Fort Hunter Mansion and Park. This historic property is located about 5 miles north of Harrisburg and was the location of an important supply fort during the French & Indian War (1754-1763). The commission has a long history of investigating forts from this period, and its nearby location provides an opportunity to engage the public in this project. For many people the opportunity to visit an archaeological investigation in their community where they can speak with archaeologists and learn about their findings holds an intrinsic value. This exchange provides for a better understanding and appreciation of the significance of these resources. This public outreach program is only one of the many activities conducted as part of Archaeology Month in Pennsylvania. For those readers who are located close to Harrisburg, excavations are currently under way and will continue through October 11th. To follow the progress of this investigation visit the blog maintained by the archaeologists of the State Museum, This Week in Pennsylvania Archaeology.
October is designated as Archaeology Month which is an opportunity for archaeologists from across the Commonwealth to bring into focus the benefits of archaeology to the general public. The Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology serves as the parent organization for much of this programming. This organization is comprised of professional and avocational archaeologists who join together to provide lectures, exhibits and open visitation at archaeological investigations. Individual chapters of the Society will offer programs either within your community or at nearby venues. Please check the SPA website and plan to attend one of these valuable programs.
The State Museum staff will also offer additional programming during this time which will include a book signing and lecture focused on the recently published book, Shovel Ready, on October 4th with Dr. Bernard Means and curator Janet Johnson. Federal relief programs during the Great Depression enabled archaeological investigations throughout the Commonwealth and provided jobs for many unskilled laborers. This Learn at Lunchtime program includes free admission between 11:00 and 1:30 at The State Museum of Pennsylvania and an opportunity to view some of the artifacts recovered during these excavations.
The annual Workshops in Archaeology program is offered on November 16th this year and provides a series of presentations focused on the period from 1775-1865. Archaeological investigations conducted at sites associated with this challenging era from the Revolutionary War through the Civil War are sure to enlighten the public on the value of archaeology in understanding this volatile period in our nation’s history. The theme for these workshops will continue into the beginning of the year with an exhibit at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show from January 5-12, 2014. An artifact display and exhibit will highlight the archaeological research presented at the Workshops in Archaeology. As mentioned earlier, public outreach and the desire to engage the community in preserving our archaeological heritage is the motivator for much of our activities here at the PHMC. We hope that you will seek one of the programs offered either through the State Museum or the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology and learn more about your archaeological heritage.
Janet R. Johnson, Curator, Section of Archaeology, The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. Responsibilities focus on the curation and management of nearly five million artifacts from throughout the Commonwealth representing 16,000 years of occupation. I have participated in site investigations in various capacities over the past 20 years, conducting research, preparing exhibits and publishing on a variety of topics. Research into archaeology conducted in the 1930’s by the Historical Commission resulted in a chapter in the recently released publication, Shovel Ready, Archaeology and Roosevelt’s New Deal for America, 2013, edited by Bernard K. Means. My specific areas of interest have focused on the Contact period and the influence of European trade on native lifeways.