ArchInk 2021, Day 2: The Best Rubbish

Response to ArchInk prompt, The best rubbish.  Cartoon image of 1930s deodorant/footcream tube (i.e. one of my favorite artifacts observed).  There's an advertisement for this saying "Mary is beautiful but dumb because she does not realize she she smells poorly." Lather Up!

My response to the ArchInk prompt, “The Best Rubbish.” This is one of my favorite historic artifacts I’ve observed while surveying, a small pink tube of women’s underarm and footcream deodorant from the 1930s. I went down a rabbit hole of advertising for these products from that time and they are horrendous! Who knew a lack of deodorant could shipwreck marriages? Make a woman dumb? And so much more! There’s a wonderful article by Sarah Everts in Smithsonian Magazine about how advertising companies tried to convince women they smelled bad and needed their products: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/how-advertisers-convinced-americans-they-smelled-bad-12552404/.

ArchInk 2021, Day 1

Comic in response to ArchInk prompt "Uncommon Ground," showing an archaeologist easily finding artifacts and features in the southwest USA, while having a much harder time in the grasslands/plains of the USA.

Here’s my contribution for Day 1 of Archaeology Inkotober 2021, the prompt being “Uncommon Ground.” The transition from one’s specialty area to another can feel a bit jarring at times. Yes, the process of analysis is similar across the board when it comes to ceramics and lithics, recording structures, etc. but actually being able to find said artifacts can be tough. I had gotten so used to my high desert environments, where there’s a field house, pueblo, or crazy huge artifact scatter every few meters, that moving to an area requiring shovel tests to see if anything–anything at all–was on the landscape, was a hard shift. But, no matter what, no matter where, there’s archaeology if people were there.

SHPO on a Hippo!

SHPO_3

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.

Archaeology Inktober 2019: Oct. 1 ‘Material’

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:

Inktober2019

Artifacts Galore: Lab Day!

Check out my other posts on the ‘What’s Up, Archaeology?” blog!

Here is the full text: 

When I was in college, oh so long ago, we focused primarily on the traditional aspects of archaeology without doing much in the way of hands-on activities; anything of that sort was left for fieldschool.  Most of the students in the introductory archaeology courses were planning on majoring in the field, and so fieldschool was a requirement, so it’s not surprising methods and artifact analysis were left out.  But, I’m a hands-on kind of learner.  The more I can see, touch, and interact with, the better I will remember it.  If I solely learned about lithics and the process of creating stone tools in class/from books without learning flint knapping or working with collections of flakes, cores, and tools, I don’t think I would be able to recognize tools and such in the field as quickly or with as much accuracy.  That being said, I still drone on about theory, formation processes, the history of archaeology and the like in my courses, but I try to have a hands-on aspect as well.  After covering dating methods, I set up a large dendrochronology (see the post on tree-ring dating) master sequence on one of the walls and handed out tiny tree ring ‘samples’ that my students had to match up to the sequence.  They had to figure out when the tree started growing, when it was cut, and how many wet and dry spells occurred.

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What I hope my students see: the artifacts from this ‘site’ are from an established village. There’s groundstone, so agriculture may be present. There is a variety of pottery types, as well as lithic materials, so there may be trade.

This past week I covered the different types of artifacts typically observed in the material record, like stone tools and pottery.  I raided type collection for all kinds of artifacts to set up small mock archaeological sites in my classroom; each site even had it’s own context!  I wish we had the time to set up mock sites outside, but this was just going to have to do.  So, I set up three prehistoric sites, two historic sites, and one trick (got to keep students on their toes).  Some of the sites had to be created with photographs of historic artifacts, but I think they got the idea across.

 

 

 

 

 

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Lab questions for each ‘site.’

More than anything, I wanted my students to think about what artifacts can tell you about a site, like what people ate or trade networks.  And, how the lack of artifacts may indicate looting.  Context is key—for artifacts to have meaning, we have to know where they were located.  Then, we can generate a narrative for what happened in the past.  That’s why I included a photograph of a rather famous looter’s basement, who had artifacts piled to the ceiling.  A couple of students came up to me, saying, “but this isn’t a site! What’s the context?” and we had a nice chat about whether or not you can actually learn anything from something completely out of context.

What's up, Archaeology?

When I was in college, oh so long ago, we focused primarily on the traditional aspects of archaeology without doing much in the way of hands-on activities; anything of that sort was left for fieldschool.  Most of the students in the introductory archaeology courses were planning on majoring in the field, and so fieldschool was a requirement, so it’s not surprising methods and artifact analysis were left out.  But, I’m a hands-on kind of learner.  The more I can see, touch, and interact with, the better I will remember it.  If I solely learned about lithics and the process of creating stone tools in class/from books without learning flint knapping or working with collections of flakes, cores, and tools, I don’t think I would be able to recognize tools and such in the field as quickly or with as much accuracy.  That being said, I still drone on about theory…

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