SHPO on a Hippo!


You may be chuckling to yourself or asking ‘what on earth is a SHPO?’.  A SHPO is a State Historic Preservation Officer, which was created by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.  Every state has a SHPO and a SHPO Office.  They oversee the compliance efforts of all federal agencies (i.e. BLM, NRCS, NPS, Forest Service), as well as private companies receiving federal funding.  They are there to help ensure that we make a good faith effort in recording, reporting, protecting, persevering, etc. cultural resources.



ArchInk/ Inktober Prompt: Layers

I think a lot of folks assume that archaeologists do only one type of archaeology throughout their lifetime, but for many archaeologists their career varies from one type to another.  For example, I’ve been a grad student, federal archaeologist, teacher, shovel bum–the whole gambit.  And, within that, I’ve done Cypriot, Classical, Southwestern (US), and Western (US) archaeology.

Archaeology Inktober 2019: Oct. 1 ‘Material’


Catching up on my Archaeology Inktober Prompts.  This is the first thing that popped into my head when thinking about ‘material.’  We all wish we could get into the heads of those who leave behind the artifacts we study, to get beyond the material record.  Sometimes that’s possible with descendant communities, who carry a wealth of knowledge from their ancestors, and/or from written records, but so much of prehistory and history is limited to just the things we find.  Something we find breathtakingly beautiful may have been considered butt-ugly when it was created.

This years prompts:


Radiocarbon Dating

I created this cartoon for the ‘What’s Up, Archaeology?’ blog!

What's up, Archaeology?


What’s radiocarbon dating all about?  It’s one of the most popular ways of figuring out the age of an archaeological site using organic material (i.e. a living thing at one point, like a tree or ear of corn).  So, bone, charcoal, cloth, artifacts made from organic material or the material itself can (hypothetically) be dated.  How does this work?  The amount of Carbon 14 in no longer living organic material decays at a steady rate (a half-life) over time; the smaller the amount of C-14 left in the material, the older the sample is.  It is incredible how this method can date sites that are 40,000 years old!

Unlike dendrochronology, radiocarbon dating does not provide a specific year to date an archaeological site, but a range of years which are calculated with fancy mathematics and physics well beyond my understanding (i.e. I just hear ‘bleep bloop fancy words blah blah…

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Palimpsest Palooza


Did you know that Pompeii is an excellent example of temporal and spatial palimpsests? Fancy pantsy.

What on earth is a palimpsest?  Something having usually diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface.  So, Pompeii has both temporal (time stamped/era/period) and spatial (same location and related) palimpsests, since the city is essentially a time capsule.  Alright, you may now carry on with your day.