My name is Michelle and I am the current intern at Southeast Archeological Center and these blog post follow my experiences as an intern. This particular post concerns my time working with the National Historical Landmarks & External Contracts division, recently renamed however still currently referred to by the previous name on the SEAC website.
I thankfully got the chance to work with this division due to perfect timing. During my stay at SEAC I have become one of the many in Innovation Park (the corporate park where SEAC is stationed) to escape from sitting at their desks for 8 hours to walk a quick loop around the park, which conveniently works perfectly as a break. I typically join the Curation division when they take their walk/break and on this particular chilly January morning, as we were leaving to begin our mile long journey we ran into the National Historical Landmarks & External Contracts division as they were loading their GPR equipment into the vehicle and heading out to the field. As they were driving away, I mentioned to one of the fellow walkers in our group how I had never used GPR equipment and that I would really like to get the chance to one day gain experience with the technology. Within seconds Cat, the IT specialist at SEAC and core member of the Curation walking group, called the division and just like that, I was going out in the field the next day to try out my skills with the GPR. While I must say that pushing the machine is a bit of a workout and making sure that the distance is properly recording can be a bit stressful, it was amazing to finally use subsurface technology in the field! Following that day, I worked with the division two more weeks, separated by two weeks spent with NAGPRA and Applied Sciences (which I will discuss in another post). I spent the majority of my stay with National Historical Landmarks & External Contracts regaining my shovel test skills, which had dwindled since my field school days. However these were not your ordinary positive or negative shovel tests. These shovel tests were essentially 30 x 30 cm test units with 10 cm levels. Understanding how much to dig with a shovel and only a few millimeters of wiggle room was tricky but when you find an incredible artifact embedded in the wall 40 cm down a shovel test, I can tell you from personal experience that you are extremely relieved that you didn’t chop it in half with your shovel! Overall, this was my first time working on a prehistoric archaeological site in Florida and the artifacts found from just completing shovel tests were crazy exciting! Many times I think about my past experiences and interests and I wonder whether my heart lies in prehistoric or historic archaeology. My time with National Historical Landmarks & External Contracts reminded me of how much I enjoy the mystery behind prehistoric archaeology and just how much there is to still learn and question!