A SEAC Dive Team Preview!

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(Left to right) Jeneva Wright of the NPS Submerged Resources Center, Cassity Bromley Chief of Resources, Gulf Islands National Seashore, and Charlie Sproul of the SEAC dive team sitting on the deck of the Submerged Resources Center’s vessel, Cal Cummings, preparing to investigate another underwater anomaly.

The Southeast Archeological Center Dive Team regularly gets called out to help on projects with the Submerged Resources Center (SRC). Earlier this summer our dive team helped out SRC on a project at Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Charlie Sproul is a SEAC Museum Specialist by day and a SEAC Diver….also by day…sometimes both on the same day! He recently returned from participating in another collaborative project at Dry Tortugas National Park.

More on these and other underwater archeological investigations to come!

Thanks Again to the Byrd Hammock Summer Field School Volunteers!

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As the Byrd Hammock Summer Field School draws to a close we would like to take this opportunity to once again thank our volunteers for all of their help and willingness to brave heat and bugs.

Were you part of the Byrd Hammock Summer Field School?

We’d love you to hear about your experience! Comment below or on the Southeast Archeological Center’s Facebook page or Twitter @NPSSEAC!

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Have you read the article about the

Byrd Hammock field school in the Wakulla News ?! 

Or maybe you’ve read the article and seen the video about the Byrd Hammock field school from the Tallahassee Democrat !

For some more technical information, why not check out Claire Elizabeth Nanfro’s Florida State University Anthropology Master’s Thesis on the Faunal Remains from the 1968 excavations at the site here !

What are Faunal Remains, you say? Learn about it here!

Don’t forget to comment below…

#seac2740 Cowpens Battlefield Survey

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Battle of Cowpens by Charles McBarron

Have you been following Southeast Archeological Center archeologists’ survey at the Revolutionary War site of Cowpens National Battlefield on Twitter or Facebook

The park is located in Cherokee County, South Carolina, near the town of Chesnee. The battle was a significant link in a chain of disasters in the South that ultimately led to the final British defeat at Yorktown, Virginia.

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Project Archeologist Michael Seibert hamming up a selfie while metal detectors are hard at work.

Project Archeologist Michael Seibert has been keeping us updated as they conduct shovel testing and metal detecting surveys in what they believe may be the location of Morgan’s Camp based on historic documents.

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Local visitors learn about the project and battlefield archeology from SEAC archeologist Jessica Fry.

The survey is part of the Regionwide Archeological Survey Plan for the Southeast Region and will assist the park in their Section 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) requirements. The survey will also provide Section 106 of the NHPA for any possible future park additions or alterations to the survey area. The location of the camp will enhance the parks ability to interpret the battle, providing a more complete narrative to the visitors.

The Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War, especially in the backcountry, was essentially a civil war as the colonial population split between Patriot and Loyalist, often pitting neighbor against neighbor and re-igniting old feuds and animosities. Both Patriots and Loyalist organized militias, and engaged each other often. The countryside was devastated, and raids and reprisals were commonplace.

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General Daniel Moore

From 1779 through 1780, British redcoats came south en masse. They captured Savannah, Georgia, then Charleston and Camden in South Carolina. In the process, they defeated and captured much of the Southern Continental Army.

Into this conflict, General George Washington sent the capable Nathanael Greene to take command of the Southern army. Against military custom, Greene, just two weeks into his command split his army; he sent General Daniel Morgan southwest of the Catawba River to cut supply lines and hamper British operations in the backcountry and “spirit up the people.”

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Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton

General Cornwallis, British commander in the South, countered Greene’s move by sending Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton to block Morgan’s actions. Tarleton was only twenty-six, but he was an able commander. He was both feared and hated, particularly for his actions at the Battle of Waxhaws, during which he continued the fight despite Continental Army’s attempts to surrender. According to lore, his refusal of surrender and pleas for quarter led to the derisive term “Tarleton’s Quarter”.

These events set the stage for the Battle of Cowpens, January 17, 1781. The battle took place in the latter part of the Southern Campaign and towards the end of the American Revolution and has become known as the turning point of the war in the South, part of a chain of events leading to the Patriot victory at Yorktown.

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1786 Map of the Cowpens area

Prior to the battle, Morgan and his men were camped near Thicketty Creek to the south of the Broad River. On the afternoon of January 16, 1781, Morgan learned that Tarleton was only six miles away. Morgan broke camp and departed for Hannah’s Cowpens where he prepared for battle, commanding a force of a little over 900 hundred men. The location of Morgan’s Camp remains unknown.

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Metal detectors and archeologists search of Morgan’s Camp in the woods

The large number of static troops preparing for the upcoming fight with British forces would have left a significant archeological signature. The soldiers, biding their time before the next day’s battle, would have either intentionally or unintentionally left a range of artifacts from buttons, insignia, carved bullets, munitions, and cooking utensils among other items. Similar artifacts have been recovered from Revolutionary and Civil War camps by archeologists and amateur metal detectors (Harris 1987:210).

According Michael’s facebook page:

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Fired rifle/pistol ball (left) and fired musketball (right). Notice the difference in size.

“Cowpens Survey 2015: After 2 days and 14 acres of metal detecting later: 2 tablespoons, 4 chains, 6 wrenches, 2 angle iron fragments, 1 5 gallon tin lid, 12 pipes/tubes, 2 tent stakes, 9 bull ets/cartridges, 1 padlock, 1 cap gun, 20 shotgun shells, 1 Sergeants Insignia, 2 hand grenade fuses, 1 pencil, 2 lighters, 5 bed springs, 66 assorted wire, 1 shovel spade, 13 iron sewage pipe fragments, 1 coffee pot, 31 car parts, 1 plastic flower, 7 modern buttons, 1 lawnmower handle, 1 spoon, 52 nuts/bolts, 83 tin cans, 74 pull tabs, 75 wire nails, 43 bottle caps, 21 strap iron/aluminum, 17 glass fragments, 150 beer cans, 50 aluminum foil, 51 modern coins, 1 zipper pull, 1 walkman, 46 unidentified, 13 household fixtures, 60 tractor parts.

Oh and 24 musketballs (among other historic artifacts yet to be counted)”

SEAC archeologists will be at Cowpens until the end of the month. Stop by and see how the project is going #FindYourPark.

If you make it out, give us a shout on Twitter @NPSSEAC #seac2740 or Facebook!

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With baited breath, SEAC archeologist Eric Bezemek waits to see what the metal detector has found

Check out Michael Seibert’s interview on 15 Questions with an Archeologist !

This isn’t SEAC’s first visit to Cowpens National Battlefield. Learn a bit about the 2012 project here !

Reference:

Harris, Charles S. 1987 Civil War Relics of the Western Campaigns 186-1865. Rapidan Press, Box 74, Mechanicsville, Virginia.

Artifact of the Week: Beads

Beads come in all shapes and sizes, oh and material! The material a bead is made out of can give you clues to the time and place the bead was manufactured as well as the people that used them.

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This picture shows a variety of shell beads from Big Cypress National Preserve. These were recovered during a 1978 project that was done at the park.

#ArtifactoftheWeek #SEACCuration @BiscayneNPS

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Workshop Held By Southern Revolutionary War Sites

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The text in this story is directly quoted from the article written By Ginny Fowler that appears on InsideNPS.gov August 12, 2015 

“Workshop Held By Southern Revolutionary War Sites

On July 24th and July 25th, the Southern Campaign of the Revolution Parks Group, consisting of Kings Mountain National Military Park, Cowpens National Battlefield, Ninety Six National Historic Site, and the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, and the Southeast Archeological Center (SEAC), hosted a workshop for battlefield scholars and volunteers to discuss the future role of historical and archeological research within the group of parks, their role in the community, how to engage the community in partnerships with the NPS, and how the NPS can assist them with research goals and heritage preservation.

Led by John Cornelison of the Southeast Archeological Center, the participants heard world-renowned battlefield archeologist Dr. Douglas Scott’s presentation on “Shot and Shell Tell the Tale,” an introduction to archeology. Dr. Larry Babits gave an overview of the Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution, Scott Butler spoke about the Battle of Waxhaws, and Kristen McMasters of the American Battlefield Protection Program talked about Military Terrain Analysis. The group then set archaeological goals for the Southern Campaign of the Revolution Parks Group, which included identifying and evaluating resources, identifying unknown sites, assessing how to locate resources, and rapid publication of results, even if they are incomplete.

The participants decided that their joint mission would be to highlight the importance of the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution in the overarching theme of American Independence by linking local, county, state, and national resources into a national network. They will accomplish this by developing the initial framework to study, celebrate, and better understand the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution.

Additionally, Michael Siebert from SEAC spoke about the upcoming archaeological investigation at Cowpens National Battlefield. On the last three weekends of August, archeologists, researchers, and volunteers will be continuing investigations on the Battle of Cowpens. The primary goal for the project is to confirm and define the battle lines from the 1781 battle. Secondary goals include the location of General Daniel Morgan’s camp and where the British dead may have been buried after the patriot victory.

Following the completion of the field work, the archeologists will take any recovered artifacts back to SEAC in Tallahassee where they will be analyzed, cataloged, entered into a geographical information system, and examined with a portable x-ray florescence machine to determine the composition and source of the object. To follow the archaeological project on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, search for the hashtag #SEAC2740.”

Archeology Day at SciGirls Summer Camp

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Excited about tooth eruption at Station 2

National Park Service archeologists from the Southeast Archeological CenterAlexandra Parsons, Kathryn Miyar, Satin Bowman, Megan Suzann Reed, Julia Aleszczyk, Hillary Conley, and Shabria Williamston – recently spent the day at the SciGirls summer camp at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (MagLab) and co-hosted by WFSU in Tallahassee, Florida.  SciGirls is a two-week summer camp for girls entering 6-9th grade.  The camp is designed to inspire middle and high school girls to pursue careers in science. For the last three years, SEAC has spent a day at the camp teaching the girls about archeology.

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Lessons in excavation techniques at the mock archeological site

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Screening for cultural material at the mock archeological site

To get the day started, we gave a brief lecture about the basics of archeology, the process of doing archeological research, and the types of scientific techniques we use to study the past.  We set up a scenario that a [fake] archeological site at the MagLab had been looted.  In the scenario, two people were apprehended at the site; artifacts and human remains were found in their vehicle.  The girls headed outside to document the mock archeological site.  They recorded evidence of illegal digging, used a mathematical formula to calculate the volume of excavated dirt, photographed evidence, and collected artifacts on the surface of the “site.”  Everyone then went to the laboratory, where the girls visited four workstations.

At Station 1, SciGirls conducted preliminary analyses on the artifacts: ceramics, stone tools, and faunal remains.  Using a ceramic type collection, they identified the ceramics and time periods of site occupation.

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Analyzing artifacts at Station 1

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Learning about long bones at Station 3

At Station 2, the girls used tooth eruption patterns to identify the ages of subadult human remains (all the human remains are reproductions of real skeletons).  They also examined the confiscated artifacts to determine where they came from and when they were made.

At Station 3, the girls learned about the human skeleton.  They learned some of the differences in the skull and pelvis of males and females and learned how to determine the minimum number of individuals present (MNI).

At Station 4, the girls looked at some real artifacts, learned about different types of archeological research, and discussed how looting effects what we can learn about a specific archeological site and the past in general.

The girls were excellent scientists and asked really great questions about methods, research, and how we know what we know about the past.  One girl even said she might like to be an archeologist.  We are grateful to the MagLab for encouraging girls to participate in science and for allowing us to work with a great group of girls every year.

Girls in the Tallahassee area who are interested in participating in the SciGirls Summer Camp should visit:

https://nationalmaglab.org/education/k12-students/summer-camps/scigirls-summer-camp.

Check out interviews with SEAC archeologist Dr. Alex Parsons and learn more about her zooarcheological research !

Check out Shabria Williamston’s blog post on her experience as a SEAC summer intern!

Geology student turned GIS intern on building maps at SEAC

Hi I am Sarah, or probably more well known around the office as “Guy Prentice’s daughter.” I am a GIS, or Geographic Information Systems, Intern. GIS is, in simple terms, the creation of virtual maps. GIS has a wide range of applications from the plotting of Fruit Bat Movements to the locations of houses for sale in a neighborhood and their specs. As an intern for the National Park Service I have a range of tasks that involve working on maps for different purposes for various national parks. A few of the things I have done during my time here include obtaining soil maps for Blue Ridge Parkway for site prediction modeling, plotting the locations of historic monuments in Vicksburg for future virtual site tours, and the mapping of house lots in Fort Frederica that identify who owners were in the mid-16th century.

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Amherst County in Virginia is one of the 30 sum counties that the Blue Ridge Parkway passes through. The different colors represent different soil types

A very important report required for every park is called an archeological overview and assessment. Among other things it includes maps of various kinds that help understand where sites and potential sites are located. One of my jobs was to produce some maps to include with site forms to send to North Carolina’s state files. Another was downloading soils maps for counties that Blue Ridge Parkway passes through to see if known sites correspond with certain soil types. In addition to soil maps, I also located and downloaded geology maps for similar reasons, and then adjusted the colors of each unit to illustrate the different soil and rock types.

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The Entire Area of Vicksburg National Park, Each yellow dot represents the location of a monument that I mapped in the GIS.

My work on Vicksburg is by far one of the most tedious jobs I have had. The plotting of monuments involved recording about 1500 points on a map, each one marking where a historic monument is located, and recording from digital copies of old maps made in the early 1900’s what each monument was called and what it was for. Sometimes the quality of the old digital maps is poor and reading the labels is next to impossible, but once you finally figure out what a label says it feels like confetti is raining down upon you as you cry “27th Indiana Artillery! YES!”

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These are the lots I mapped for Fort Frederica. Each is the same size (60 x 90 feet) and the location of where the actual lots were in 1736. The graph on the right displays the info I input including owner, ward, and lot number.

Fort Frederica has been one of my favorite projects to work on and not just because I got to read tidbits like how the first church leader of the settlement impregnated his maid and then fled the town (Reverend Thomas Norris you scoundrel!).  Founded in 1736, Fort Frederica is one of Georgia’s earliest towns, and it is so cool to be able to plot the actual location of a person’s house and read the information about the person who lived there about 280 years ago.

As my time as a SEAC GIS Intern nears its end I am disappointed that I couldn’t have done even more, but I am also proud that something I helped to create will be in reports and websites. I am also grateful for the experience and training that will surely help me as a geologist when I graduate.

Also, check out Guy Prentice’s interview on 15 Questions with an Archeologist !!

SEAC crew spent a day SciGirls summer camp

Last month the SEAC crew spent a day with the SciGirls summer camp, held at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida. SEAC set up a mock dig and lab exercises that included analyzing artifacts and examining casts of human skeletal remains. The SciGirls learned about archeology, field methods, analysis techniques, and types of archeological research. They did an excellent job at the dig and in the lab!

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http://ow.ly/i/ceIhy http://ow.ly/i/ceIhl http://ow.ly/i/ceIhW http://ow.ly/i/ceIif http://ow.ly/i/ceIl6 http://ow.ly/i/ceIjC @SciGirls @TrowelBlazers