Day of Archaeology in the Southeast

Happy Day of Archaeology, folks! Social media have brought to my attention that today is a day for archaeologists all over the world to share what it is that keeps them busy on the day-to-day. As stated on the official Day of Archaeology website: “The project asks people working, studying or volunteering in the archaeological world to participate with us in a “Day of Archaeology” each year in the summer by recording their day and sharing it through text, images or video on this website.  The resulting Day of Archaeology project demonstrates the wide variety of work our profession undertakes day-to-day across the globe, and helps to raise public awareness of the relevance and importance of archaeology to the modern world.”

So, fellow Southeasternists, how are you spending your Day of Archaeology? While I think it is no coincidence that this event takes place in the summertime, when many of us can report on rad, in-progress field work, such is not my luck this year. Rather, my day of archaeology this Friday, July 11, will be spent at the computer (probably with a cat, intermittently), where I hope to make some progress on a handful of projects that are no less the bread-and-butter of archaeology for a young researcher in the field.  These include:

(1) Making a couple of phone calls to research collaborators, in order to close out an existing project and make plans for a new one

(2) Putting together a powerpoint presentation on Old World domestication for this fall’s intro to archaeology course.

(3) Finalizing an abstract for the Cherokee Archaeology Conference in September.

(4) Tackling a nearly-due article review.

(5) Locating, reading, and taking notes on an article or two related to new project, mentioned above.

(6) Brainstorming about a blog post that explores some archaeo method/theory — taking SEAC-U back to our roots!

(7) If I’m being honest, probably heading to the bar around 5 for a beer or two. I mean, it is Friday after all, and I am an archaeologist.


My cat Pisgah -- "helping" me do computer-based archaeology since 2008.

My cat Pisgah — “helping” me do computer-based archaeology since 2008.

In truth, if today is like most days, I will start several of these things, maybe finish one or two, and save the rest for later. My typical days of archaeology pull me in several different though not entirely unrelated directions. To date, I have enjoyed this blend of activity, since it keeps me from getting bored and often results in fresh ideas inspired from one arena (say, an email with a colleague) that I can apply to another (e.g., a lecture scheduled for the fall).

OF COURSE, I do revel in those days of archaeology when I am in the field. Are any of you folks in the field? I hope if you are (or if you aren’t!), you will share what your day of archaeology looks like in the comments — or on the official Day of Archaeology website, if you are so inclined. Full disclosure: on of my main goals in posting about my fairly ho-hum day in the office is to encourage my awesome Southeastern friends and colleagues to share their summer 2014 field/lab/etc. adventures, in order that I (and other readers, including the public!) might live vicariously through you. Hopefully I can return the favor next field season!


2 comments on “Day of Archaeology in the Southeast

  1. dover1952 says:

    Hi Alice. To the best of my recollection, I was doing absolutely nothing archaeological on July 11, 2014. That may have been the day I had to take my son to a doctor’s appointment in Lenoir City, Tennessee, which pretty much shot the whole day.

    I had the following notation in my field journal for July 8, 2014:

    This day was excellent for fieldwork. The sun was shining brightly, and ambient air temperatures were warm but not insufferably hot. Work was begun at approximately 2:30 p.m.

    Parcel No. 07001, located immediately east of Smith Cemetery No. 1, is owned by the WCW Land Company in Oliver Springs, Tennessee. It contains 0.41 acres of land, and the owner lives at 138 Dale Avenue in Oliver Springs. On the two USGS topographic maps (Windrock Quadrangles – 1936 and 1946), a historic era house or large outbuilding is shown immediately east-northeast of Smith Cemetery No. 1. The purpose of the fieldwork today was to identify the location of this structure on the ground surface of Parcel No. 07001 and examine it for visible remains of a building foundation and the presence of historic-era artifacts that might provide some clues about the type of building that was once present.

    In 1936 and 1946, the building in question was sitting on land that sloped downwards to the north of this parcel. When current Highway 62 was constructed after World War II, the associated excavation and grading created a relatively steep soil high-wall on the side of the highway next to Parcel No. 07001. A comparison of the two USGS maps, the current Anderson County land parcel map, and a recent aerial photograph make it clear that this building sat partially on Parcel No. 07001 and partially on long-missing soil outside the north parcel boundary. In other words, if the building were still present, half of it would be on Parcel No. 07001, and the other half would be suspended in mid-air above the Highway 62 easement.

    Summer vegetation was high on Parcel No. 07001. For safety reasons, the soil high-wall area along Highway 62 and the north edge of this parcel could not be examined in the field. A few small areas on the south side of Parcel No. 07001 were relatively free of high vegetation. No historic-era foundation remains or artifacts (e.g., bricks, broken window glass, nails, domestic ceramics, etc.) were observed on the ground surface in these open areas. It was concluded that post-World War II construction of Highway 62 required the razing of this old building. The fieldwork for the day provided no clues as to what kind of building was present or how it was used.

    It ain’t much—but some days are like that.

  2. The DINAA (Digital Index of North American Archaeology) team posted an article about our project indexing and linking primary archaeological data (15 states and growing so far!) on the Day of Archaeology website:

    There were a lot of great postings… the organizers did an excellent job in making archaeology more accessible to the public. Probably the funniest was ‘Game of Stones’ on archaeology in Ireland, but the Day of Archaeology gives a glimpse at how research is going on around the world.

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