SAA 2014 Highlights

Austin, TX -- Scene of most recent archaeo-gathering

Austin, TX — Scene of most recent archaeo-gathering

Last week, many of our SEAC Underground contributors were in Austin for the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. To my infinite sadness, I was not among them (though, on the plus side, I got to volunteer on the Cane River Archaeological Project instead, taking advantage of the kind of perfect spring weather that I am fairly convinced only exists in the Blue Ridge Mountains). But, to my infinite gladness, archaeologists harnessed the power of social media, so I was able to follow along with some sessions from many many miles away. Thanks to everyone who tweeted away and tagged the heck out of #SAA2014, #southeastarch, and (most endearingly) #bigdirty.

Now that you’re back, anyone want to elaborate on your favorite paper/poster/session? What really stood out to you, and what do this year’s SAAs tell us about current and future directions in archaeology, especially in the Southeast? Please post in the comments!

And, if you are looking for some reading material, take a gander at Blogging Archaeology, a free e-book that debuted at an SAA session on blogging in archaeology. We at SEAC Underground will be taking a close look at this as we strategize the evolution of this blog in the coming months. Thanks to Doug Rocks-Macqueen, Chris Webster, and all the contributors for giving us so much to think about!

Blogging Archaeology e-book = rad

Blogging Archaeology e-book = rad


Images from Wikimedia Commons, Doug’s Archaeology.


Live, on Twitter… SEAC Underground!

Friends, Southeasternists, Countrypeeps,

Per the previous post, we’ve now got our own Twitter “handle” (at least, I think we do… I’m barely sure what a “handle” is, but I think it means “account”). We’d also like to encourage any fellow Twitter/Facebook/social media-users to embrace the hashtag #southeastarch for the sharing of tweets, links, etc. that fit the bill of interest.

SO! Please find and follow us on Twitter at @SEACundergound — there, we’ll be posting links to our own blog updates, as well as links to other news stories, other blogs, etc., relevant to theory, method, and practice in Southeastern archaeology. Keep coming back to the WordPress site for our full length ramblings on the state of theory in the field, ethical implications of archaeological research, and everyone’s favorite rock jocks.

Mississippian panther pot serving as our current Twitter photo. Truly, this is an awesome pot. #catsforever

Mississippian panther pot serving as our current Twitter photo. Truly, this is an awesome pot. #catsforever

For those of you who may just be discovering our little online project, here’s the 411 from our “About” page:

“This blog first started as a series of conversations between graduate students who were just simply interested in what others were doing. Those extended conversations then became the catalyst for a SEAC symposium, which was organized almost entirely using a group Facebook page. There, we posted abstracts, solicited ideas for who to invite as discussants, and shared comments and papers relevant to our research. After the symposium was over, we again polled our cadre of grad students to see what we wanted to do next. A common request was for some sort of online presence, and thus the idea for this blog was born.”

I should emphasize here that SEAC Underground is not officially affiliated with SEAC (the Southeastern Archaeological Conference), beyond the fact that I’m pretty sure all of our regular contributors are members. In other words, the opinions expressed on our blog and on Twitter don’t necessarily reflect the views of the wider organization. Instead, this is a clearinghouse of what we find interesting, what is distracting us from finishing our dissertations, and what appears to be generally going down in southeastern archaeology.

If/when you find us in the Twitterverse, you’ll note that our current profile includes two photos that, in my mind, capture some of the awesomeness of Southeastern archaeology. As for their attribution, the cover photo was snapped by me on  truly absurd roadtrip from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Baton Rouge, Lousiana for the SEAC meeting in 2012.

Guess that mound!

Guess that mound!

Meanwhile, our current profile pic (shown above) comes from Wikimedia Commons, and shows a “ceramic of the Underwater Panther, from the Mississippian culture, 1400 – 1600, found in Rose Mound, Cross County, Arkansas, US. From the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, New York.” No one should be remotely surprised that I chose a cat-like artifact for this picture. That said, if you have better ideas, send them our way (post them on Twitter, or in the comments, or something!), and if they are (1) awesome and (2) have a proper attribution, we can switch it up!

And, in the meantime follow us! And tag #southeastarch! The SEAC meeting only comes once a year, but thanks to the interwebs, and blogs, and Twitter, we can keep the archaeo-fun going all year round. Join the party!

These are a few of my favorite blogs

Obviously, the title of this post should be sung, Julie Andrews style. Tis the season, or something.

But in all seriousness, science blogging has been in the press a lot lately. Even as these stories demand that we confront the good, the bad, and the ugly of the medium, recent events have highlighted that blogs are increasingly important hotbeds of real and valuable discourse on the state of the field(s). There are lots of sweet archaeology blogs out there these days that prove exactly this point. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Bone Broke: If you’ve paid attention to the job market this year, you have probably realized that bioarchaeology is where it’s at. On her blog Bone Broke, Jess Beck, Phd candidate at the University of Michigan (and, full disclosure, close personal friend and wedding cake baker extraordinaire), offers sound advice for analyzing skeletal materials and cogent takes on bioarch-y current event. Her tips and tricks for siding a calcaneus (the right one looks like a lowercase “r”) and id-ing the pisiform (it looks like a tiny, non-fuzzy bison) provide a terrifically user friendly complement to the standard bone manuals. The sharp prose and accompanying illustrations also make the it a fun read. In short: it’s not just for osteologists, but for anyone interested in the ins-and-outs of data collection, ongoing debates at the intersections of archaeology and biological anthropology, or anatomically labeled pictures of Thor.


Thanks for this Jess Beck, American hero.

Archaeology, Museums, and Outreach: Based out of the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa and the University of Memphis, Robert Connolly’s blog is a boon for anyone looking to learn more about engaging the public in archaeology. Connolly posts include reports on a variety of different cultural heritage projects, reflections on the role of volunteers in museums, and recently, ideas on how to use digital resources in the classroom. It’s always inspiring but never preachy, and offers lots of good ideas for reaching the variety of folks that might be interested in what we do.

Ohio Historical Society Archaeology Blog: Though more focused in scope than the above example, its clear that Brad Lepper and company will never run out of things to cover in their blog for the Ohio Historical Society. Updated almost daily, this repository of Ohio archaeology highlights recent publications, ongoing field and collections-based research, and efforts recognize and preserve Ohio’s remarkable archaeological heritage. Plus, one of their contributors carved a jack-o-lantern in the shape of the Adena pipe, and that is radical.

The Adena Pipe (Ohio's State Artifact) and its pumpkiny doppelganger, carved by OHS volunteer Sara Nuber. Huge.

The Adena Pipe (Ohio’s State Artifact) and its pumpkiny doppelganger, carved by OHS volunteer Sara Nuber. Huge.

Rather than expanding my own list, I’m curious — what are your favorite archaeology blogs? Please recommend some readings, folks!