Archaeology Graduate Students Sweep Poster Awards at Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology

Posted on 4/19/2012 9:49:00 AM

Three poster presentations by graduate students in the M.A. in Applied Archaeology program won first, second, and third place awards at the 83rd annual meeting of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology in Clarion, Pa., on April 14, 2012.

First Place

First Place Poster

The first-place poster, by Jason Espino (right), Seth Van Dam, Ashley Brown, and Marion Smeltzer, was titled “Archaeological Prospection of the Hatfield Site, a Monongahela Tradition Village in Washington County, Pennsylvania.”


An archaeological prospection survey was undertaken at the Hatfield site in November 2011. In total, 28 subsurface anomalies were identified through magnetic susceptibility, magnetic gradient, and ground-penetrating radar methods. Several of the anomalies resulted from modern activities at the site, including agricultural plowing and previous archaeological excavations. However, a number possibly represent prehistoric cultural remains pertaining to a Monongahela tradition component at the Hatfield site, including two pit features, six dwellings, and a house ring zone. The size and arrangement of dwellings as well as the spatial layout of the house ring is consistent with typical Monongahela tradition villages. If the anomalies indeed represent a section of a village, it would encompass an estimated area of 1.7 to 2.27 acres (0.69-0.92 ha). In addition, a composite anomaly to the south of the Hatfield site may represent a second village covering an area of 0.25 acres (0.1 ha).

Second Place

Second Place Poster

The second-place poster, by Callista Holmes, Andrea Boon (right), Glen Henson, Laura Kaufman, and Sarah Mousettis, was titled “Geophysical Survey of the Historic Cemetery in Salisbury, Pennsylvania.”


The town of Salisbury, Pa., was founded in 1795 by Joseph Markley, a son of German immigrants. Locally and simply known as “the old cemetery on the hill” (Ashley Brown, personal communication), the Salisbury Union Cemetery was the first cemetery in the town. Known graves in this cemetery date to almost 200 years ago, with the most recent graves that remain dating as far back as the first decade of the 20th century (Salisbury Historical Society n.d.). Due to the old age and limited upkeep of the cemetery and the possible exhumation of some graves, it is recognized that there are numerous unmarked graves located within the cemetery. Through the performance and analysis of the geophysical surveys discussed above, it was hoped that unmarked graves could be located, differences between graves of different ages could be identified, and the best type of geophysical instrument for this type of survey could be identified. In order to achieve these goals, three grids were surveyed within the cemetery area using a GSSI SIR 3000 GPR, a MALA X3M GPR, and a Geoscan Fluxgate Gradiometer FM256. Based on the data collected up to this point, it is difficult to identify and locate any unmarked graves, suggesting that more work is necessary to achieve the goals of this project.

Third Place

Third Place Poster

The third-place poster, by Mike Whitehead, Ryan Spittler, Justin Daley, and Ryan Clark (all in photo at right), was titled “Geophysical Survey Results at Old Smicksburg Park, Indiana County, Pennsylvania.”


This report presents the results of a geophysical investigation conducted at Old Smicksburg Park, Indiana County, Pennsylvania. This project utilized a ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey and a magnetic gradiometer survey to locate and map subsurface features within four historic town lots. These lots were vacated in the late 1930s due to a large flood control effort by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which condemned nearly two-thirds of the town’s total acreage and over half of its buildings. The objective of this investigation is to promote a greater level of knowledge of the site’s historic alteration processes, and to demonstrate that geophysical survey methods can effectively locate and map structural features at historic archaeological sites. This investigation generated evidence of several structural elements of Old Smicksburg, including two churches, two houses, and numerous other features. We anticipate such information will be beneficial for future scientific research endeavors.

Additional Posters

Two other posters by IUP students were also presented at the conference. These were:

  • Renate Beyer, Randy Kuhlman, Eric Ptak and Sara Rubino: “Geophysical Investigations at Hanna’s Town 36WM203—Examination of Proposed Lot Boundaries and Evidence of the Historic Town”

    This report presents the results of geophysical investigation conducted at Historic Hanna’s Town site 36WM203 in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. The objective of this investigation was to use geophysical methods to locate previous excavation and early colonial settlement patterns and further test the lot boundary hypothesis set forth in a report titled “Settlement Boundaries and Lot Placement at Old Hanna’s Town” by Fryman and Eddings (1985). Two methods were used for the investigation: Ground penetrating radar (GPR) and magnetometry. A 2,500-square-meter grid was investigated. The area investigated was open field with a slight slope. The southern half of the grid was covered in unmowed grass which did not interfere with collection, but did slow it down. The GPR data showed recognizable features, but the survey area was heavily disturbed and insufficient to try locating historic structures which would help answer the lot boundary question.
  • Lydia DeHaven, Meghan Pace, graduate students, and Beverly Chiarulli: “Investigation of the Squirrel Hill Site”

    IUP’s Anthropology Department has been involved in a long-term investigation of the Johnston site, the type site of the Johnston Phase of the Monongahela culture. While current research continues on the Johnston site, investigations have started on the Squirrel Hill site (36Wm25), a Johnston Phase Site listed on the National Register of Historic Preservation. With funding from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the first stage of the project has been a systematic survey of the site using geophysical technologies to determine the internal arrangement of the village and locations for the collection of samples for botanical analysis and radiocarbon dating. Our goals are to gain a better understanding of the internal organization of the Squirrel Hill site as well as its relationship with neighboring communities.

All of the posters discuss geophysical investigations of archaeological sites. The first four were originally produced during a course in the Fall 2011 semester on Archaeological Geophysics taught by Beverly Chiarulli.

Department of Anthropology