Ten graduate students from the Anthropology Department participated in poster or paper presentations at the Society for American Archaeology annual meeting in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 19–22, 2012.
Laura Kaufman, Renata Beyer, Michael Whitehead, Amanda Snyder, Lydia DeHaven, Sara Rubino, Marion Smeltzer, Meghen Pace, and Ryan Splitter participated in a poster session: “Recent Investigations in Western and Central Pennsylvania.” In addition, Andrea Boon and faculty member Sarah Neusius presented a paper on recent faunal analyses from the Koster site, and Calistra Holmes presented a separate poster on her research of an analysis of a model for identifying shipwrecks.
“New Approaches to Interpreting Koster Faunal Assemblages”
Abundant faunal remains were recovered from the various horizons at Koster. Currently additional analyses of materials from the Early Archaic Horizon Eleven are being conducted and incorporated with the work of earlier researchers. These analyses contribute to the debunking of old ideas about the simplicity and uniformity of Early Archaic peoples in the Midcontinent. Koster faunal remains also are being incorporated into efforts to build a large regional faunal data set from the interior Eastern Woodlands in conjunction with the Digital Archaeological Record. This dataset will allow rigorous explorations of changing human choices concerning animal usage across time and space.
“Modeling Magnetic Signatures of Sunken Ships: 1750–1900”
With the use of geophysical equipment such as a marine magnetometer, the process of finding sunken ship sites has become more effective. However, distinguishing magnetic anomalies of shipwrecks from general debris has proven difficult for underwater archaeologists. Through intensive research of wooden ship construction, including the amount of ferrous materials used in construction, variations in the magnitude of magnetic anomalies for different ships can be identified. With this information, it is possible to develop a model that will allow archaeologists to identify the size and age range of a sunken ship through a magnetometer survey.
Presentations in the poster session “Recent Investigations in Central and Western Pennsylvania” included:
“What Difference Does Fifty Years Make? The Comparability of Johnston Site Faunal Assemblage”
The Johnston site has become an important Middle Monongahela site, as it remains the type site of the Johnston Phase for the Monongahela tradition. First excavated by Don Dragoo in 1952, and since 2005 by Indiana University of Pennsylvania, two large faunal assemblages are available for study from the site. In order to use these assemblages to address questions of subsistence and site occupation, their comparability must be assessed. Examination of degree of fragmentation, breakage type, and weight suggests there is variation between the assemblages. Nevertheless, integrating data from both assemblages provides a fuller picture of animal use at Johnston.
“Digitizing Historic Hanna’s Town: Translating Legacy Data into Digital Data”
Historic Hanna’s Town (ca. 1770–1800) has been the site of intermittent archaeological investigations for more than four decades. These excavations, both professional and amateur, have produced nearly a million artifacts, approximately 15 linear feet of notes and artifact catalogs, and many maps. Recent efforts to make this data more accessible have included entering artifact information into a relational database and the construction of a GIS. While the project is in its early phase, this poster presents the initial methodology and challenges encountered and is intended to elicit comments while the methods are still flexible.
“Stuck in a Rut: The Search for Historic Forbes Road”
Forbes Road was commissioned in 1758 to allow a surprise attack on the French. It was later used as a major conduit for settlers heading west through the Allegheny Mountains. Although some sections of Forbes Road have been preserved, its exact course through Historic Hanna’s Town is unknown. The 2011 IUP advanced field school at Hanna’s town attempted to locate a segment of the original Forbes Road. Excavations revealed cultural material and features dating to the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, with traces of late 18th century material, and one feature possibly indicative of a wagon rut.
“A Closer Look at the Lower Liebhart Site”
The Susquehannocks traded with the Swedish the most during the Swedish peak, followed by the English and the Dutch. Eventually, however, the Swedes were defeated in 1655 and the Dutch in 1664 (Ward 1938, 130 and DeJong 1974, 27). The defeat of the Swedes and the Dutch were close enough in time to the occupation of the Lower Leibhart site, where there should still be some items from trade with those countries. The Susquehannock were not trading much at this time due to an economic and political decline (Kent 1993, 379); hence, the artifacts should be the most necessary/important items, assuming they could not get resources in other ways.
“Reconstructing the Inaccessible Past”
Historical moments and places are now being recreated and shared through virtual world platforms. A virtual world is an Internet-based, simulated environment where motionable avatars, graphic images, and 3D models represent people, places, and objects. In this presentation, the Laurel Hill /Brown farm is created in a virtual world platform. The farm, established in 1790 and occupied until the 1960's, was the site of an antebellum community of former slaves. Because of its inaccessibility, the area has been virtually reconstructed to show the landscape, buildings, and stone marking the graves of Civil War colored troops.
“Investigation of the Squirrel Hill Site and Other Late Prehistoric Sites in the Conemaugh Watershed in Western Pennsylvania”
While IUP archaeologists have investigated the Johnston Phase of the Monongahela culture since 2005, the focus of current research is to establish the occupation history and cultural affiliations of the Squirrel Hill site, a village not investigated since the 1950's. This investigation began with a geophysical survey designed to define the internal arrangement of the village and to identify areas for test excavations to collect samples for analysis and dating. While our results are not complete, we have a better understanding of the internal organization of this village as well as its relationship with nearby communities.