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:

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.

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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