Friday, January 20, 2012

FSJ Archaeologists in Baltimore!

Hey folks, Emily here! Just got back from the amazing city of Baltimore … As so many of you know archaeologists at Fort St Joseph understand the importance of sharing their findings with the public of southwest Michigan. Also essential is sharing information with other archaeologists in the field. To facilitate this undertaking, we must attend conferences every year so that the archaeology community at large can learn about the complex colonial history of our region. One such conference is the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA), the largest international meeting devoted to the material culture of the recent past. Held in Baltimore, Maryland this year, at the beautiful downtown Marriott Waterfront Hotel, the SHA welcomed over 1300 historical and underwater archaeologists from around the world to share their work, engage in current debates, and tour the sights and sounds of this thriving waterfront city. Fort St Joseph archaeologists were on hand, along with some of our alum, to take part in this annual event.

One of the sessions at the SHA was entitled “Archaeology of Michigan: Papers in Memoriam of Charles Rinehart” created by former FSJ archaeology graduate students Andrew Beaupré and Andrew Robinson. Graduate student, Ian Kerr, wrote a paper for this session, which I then presented, about the recent notable finds of this year’s FSJ field school. The conference attendees were just as excited about our newly discovered post hole and foundation wall as we were! This paper also concentrated on the new lead bale seal and triangle drop ear bob. Other French colonial archaeologists pay particular attention to what happens every year with the work conducted at Fort St Joseph to better understand what may be taking place at their own sites.

FSJ principal investigator and former secretary for SHA, Dr. Michael Nassaney, presented a poster this year discussing racial issues within the organization and the field itself. Always aware of how his work affects the greater public, Dr. Nassaney strives at teaching students and colleagues alike how to be culturally sensitive and more inclusive when conducting the history and archaeology of others. Dr. Terrance Martin, Chair of Anthropology at the Illinois State Museum and our FSJ zooarchaeologist was also present contributing multiple papers on the usage of animal bones including one entitled “Fur Trapping and its Zooarchaeological Signature: An Example from the Midwest.”

An SHA conference would not be complete without tours of the host city. Archaeologists, given a backstage pass with local researchers, visited numerous places around the state of Maryland. Some tours included the capitol of Annapolis, historic Mary’s City, the Monocacy National Civil War Battlefield, Frederick Douglas’ boyhood home, and the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum. We made sure to attend the Public Archaeology Expo at Fort McHenry, the birthplace of our national anthem and a critical site during the War of 1812. The Expo featured a variety of displays on local community service learning endeavors, including posters and interactive activities.

The SHA in Baltimore did more than inform the field of current programs and digs. There was much networking for students, new technology to sample, and books on hand for sale. Also for purchase was the newly printed ACUA/SHA calendar revealing award winning photos from last year. Gracing the month of March is a photo taken at FSJ by our previous photographer Jessica Hughes. And of course pub-crawling through local watering holes was a must, especially Max’s Taphouse in the historic Fell’s Point neighborhood, with 140 rotating drafts, 5 hand-pumped cask ales, and a collection of 1200 bottled beers in stock! Past and present FSJ Public Archaeology Coordinators LisaMarie Malischke and Kelley Walter could be seen dancing to Lady Gaga at the end-of-conference hotel party, and former FSJ archaeologist Andrew Robinson could be seen up and down everywhere with his camera given his role as official SHA photographer.

Overall, these conferences are an important effort in maintaining communication in the field of archaeology for students, professors, and professionals in this line of work. In the end, the SHA helps all of us at Fort St Joseph get motivated to jump back into the Niles community with fresh ideas. Next year the SHA conference will be held in Leister, England, and you can bet we will be there to represent Fort St Joseph, our little four flags post in the corner of southwest Michigan!

(Captions for photos top to bottom:

View of Baltimore from our hotel room at the Marriott. Photo by J. Godfrey

Archaeologists roaming the streets in the historic city of Annapolis, MD photo by E. Powell

FSJ archaeologists and alum in Baltimore (left to right): Sarah Hooker, Jayne Godfrey, Kelley Walter, Emily Powell, Dr. Michael Nassaney, Andrew Beaupré, Cathrine Davis, Lisamarie Malischke, Andrew Robinson .. missing Dr. Terrance Martin, Erica D’Elia … photo by A. Robinson)

J Emily Powell

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