Currently viewing the category: "Digging into Archaeology"

As a recent archaeology grad stuck in the never ending search for my first job, I’ve been on a mission to refine my resume by volunteering with local archaeology projects. I came across the Herring Run Archaeology Project on Facebook a few weeks ago and jumped at the opportunity to get involved. I am so glad that I did.

Lisa Kraus and Jason Shellenhamer started the Herring Run Archaeology Project in 2014, with the mission of connecting people with the past through archaeological discovery. Over the last three years, they have been working with groups of volunteers and students in Herring Run Park in Northeast Baltimore, 

excavating the remains of the Eutaw Manor House and Farm, a residence of the Smith and Hall families in the 18th and 19th centuries. Last year, they also identified the likely residence of John Broad, a former indentured servant and one of the earliest European residents of the Baltimore area. This site dates from about 1680 to 1740, and is the oldest historical site in the city.

The project offers volunteer opportunities for their ten-day field season each spring, and lab work in the fall, winter, and spring. The project is open to people with all levels of experience.

While they only needed volunteers to label artifacts excavated last spring (before they begin this year’s excavation), I and the other volunteers were able to see the variety of artifacts uncovered at Herring Run. As we labeled pot sherds, bits of brick, and broken glass, we also discussed each of our backgrounds and why we chose to volunteer with the project. From PhD

and master’s students to archaeology enthusiasts, we all came to volunteer because we care about our local history and want to be involved with is discovery and preservation. We were a group of strangers who, because of our shared interest in archaeology, came together to learn from one another.

The project is small, and runs entirely on volunteer efforts, but has already started to change the way people think about both the park and the community, and about the importance of Baltimore’s archaeological heritage. The city’s parks likely contain hundreds of important sites like the Eutaw Manor House and Farm, or John Broad’s early colonial settlement, but there has been no serious effort, to date, to explore and document those resources. The Herring Run Archaeology project hopes to foster an interest in the study and protection of all of Baltimore’s archaeological resources, and to involve the public in the study of the past.

For more information about the Herring Run Archaeology Project and how to volunteer, please visit or contact




About the author: Sophie Lange is an intern at AITC and a recent graduate of Durham University where she received a MA in International Cultural Heritage Management. Sophie currently works for a government contractor on an immigration project, but she tries to get involved with as many local archaeology projects as possible. That way, she can keep her archaeology skills as sharp as her Marshalltown trowel.


Archaeologists and historic preservation specialists work together to preserve, share, and protect our nation’s cultural resources. Although associated most with historic buildings and sites, historic preservationists also strive to preserve and interpret structures or districts which reflect elements of archaeological history. In the following entry, Ms. Christy presents the site and its history, why we preserve and interpret, and how this relates to archaeology.

Site History and Background:

Front view of George Walton’s home, aka ‘Meadow Garden’

Meadow Garden, a quaint farmhouse sitting incongruously in the middle of downtown Augusta, Georgia, was once the home of George Walton, a man who served his country in a variety of capacities ranging from Revolutionary War patriot to senator, governor, and signer of the Declaration of Independence. The home of Walton was purchased and turned into a museum by the Georgia State Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in 1901, as they recognized the cultural significance of the property. The fate of this place could have been just another disappointment in a long line of historic properties neglected or demolished, but thanks to the DAR and the good work of historic preservation specialists, the house remains a valuable part of the community.

Why Preserve and Interpret?

But why preserve a building, a landscape, or archaeological site? How does the preservation of cultural heritage enhance lives? What are we actually preserving, but an old building? These are questions many visitors ask, and by taking a look at Meadow Garden (which to many is just an old building), we can show the public why we preserve and interpret the site..

Parlor room or ‘best’ room—first room when you enter front door, where guests would have been received in

When the DAR decided to buy Meadow Garden they did more than preserve a building. They saved the story of a man who fought for American independence. As a result, visitors are able to walk through a historic landscape- the yard Walton worked in, the room he slept in— spaces which are somehow imbued with a living, breathing memory of their own. They are able to step outside of themselves and into the the physical manifestation of private imaginings of the past, an experience that which cannot be replicated in any other way except to be there and immerse oneself.

The preservation and interpretation of Meadow Garden not only engenders the imaginings of Walton’s life, but also the time period as a whole. This is done through the use of guided tours, which take visitors through the landscape and the house, where period-appropriate furniture and objects are on display. It is this combination of the landscape, house, and objects, as well as the the story-telling abilities of interpreters, that provoke feelings of understanding about the past and transports visitors back to the Revolutionary period. We would not know George Walton as a man, statesman, soldier, patriot, without the preservation of his house and the surrounding grounds.


Preservation and Interpretation in Archaeology

Tree in the center of the 1-acre property

Archaeologists also strive to preserve and interpret their findings for the education and enjoyment of the greater public. Similar to buildings, objects found in excavations tell us a story about the past and the people who used them. For instance, what is believed to be a plow harness was found in an excavation at Meadow Garden. This plow harness provides insight into the day to day lives of those at Meadow Garden and presents other questions as well. What role did the farm play in the political, social, and economic life of George Walton? And it is not just artifacts that bring the past to life, but also the structures and landscapes. Take for instance the Roman Forum, which through various interpretive methods provokes a feeling of actually being in Ancient Rome, even though it is only falling columns and other dilapidated structural elements which remain. The same is true for Meadow Garden, which evokes its own sense of the colonial period by being uniquely placed in downtown Augusta. It is an isolated one acre property right in the middle of an industrial block of buildings, so it inevitably causes people to ask “What is a farm-house doing in the middle of downtown?” This is such a good starting point to get people interested in historic preservation.

Objects found in an excavation (part of a larger landscaping project) conducted on Meadow Garden property last year.

The first thing I tell people who visit the house is the fact that the city developed around the house, not the other way around, and without its preservation (through the work of archaeologists, curators, and other preservation-minded individuals ), we wouldn’t have this neat little place for people to find out about George Walton, his history, the history of the state of Georgia, and U.S. history during the Revolutionary War period.

Although further excavations at Meadow Garden will no doubt uncover more stories and shed further light onto the use of the property in general, a voice has already been given to those whose stories would otherwise have been left untold. As a result, Meadow Garden remains a hidden gem of the past, sparking the imagination of the public and engendering a spirit of conservation. And it is this spirit that we need in a world where historic preservation remains an unknown to the majority, where properties are neglected and mismanaged, and the stories of the past turn to dust.


The Georgia State Society—National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) currently own the Meadow Garden and have, in one form or another, owned the property since 1901. For more information on Meadow Garden and Georgia State Society NSDAR, please check out, our Meadow Garden page on Facebook, or the Georgia State Society-NSDAR Facebook page.


Maranda Christy on front porch, standing beside the National Park Service commemoration, received in 1982

About the author: Maranda Christy, a graduate of the University College London (UCL) with a Master’s degree in Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies, works as the director and lead historic preservation specialist at Meadow Garden.





A student discovers a pottery sherd in the "Archaeology Site-in-a-Can" activity

A student discovers a pottery sherd in the “Archaeology Site-in-a-Can” activity

“Look at what I found!” the girl beamed, holding her artifact up high for the picture.  She discovered the small redware sherd in the dirt as she excavated in the “Archaeology Site-in-a-Can” activity during the Maryland Emancipation Day Celebration at Oakley Cabin African American Museum and Park.

“What do you think that artifact was used for?  Who might have used an artifact like that?” prompted Montgomery Parks’ Archaeology Volunteer, Valerie Hall.

Greg McKee, an Archaeology Volunteer, talks about tin smithing

Greg McKee, an Archaeology Volunteer, talks about tin smithing

Next to the “Archaeology Site-in-a-Can” a mother helped her daughter steady her nail so she could tap a heart design into a piece of tin.   Greg McKee, another Archaeology Volunteer, described how people used pierced tin for keeping the bugs out before they had window screens.  Archaeologists have found pie-safe tin fragments in 19th century archaeological sites in the area.  Archaeology Volunteer Carole Fontenrose talks with a girl about how the children who lived at Oakley Cabin played with clay marbles just like the ones the girl just made.

Inside, a small display of 19th artifacts found during excavations at Oakley Cabin complements the children’s activities.  Visitors contemplate the bones, shells, tobacco pipes, ceramic sherds and nails, drawn by the glimpses these objects provide into the past.

Visitors mingled around the cabin sipping hot cider, sampling corn bread made on an open hearth by Parks Interpreter Lisa Berray and listening to the blues strummed and sung by Rick Franklin & Friends.  The highlight was the reading of Maryland’s November 1st, 1864 Emancipation Proclamation by Ben Hawley, a re-enactor of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment B Company.

Lisa Berray demonstrates open hearth cooking

Lisa Berray demonstrates open hearth cooking

For twenty years, Montgomery Park historians, interpreters and archaeologists have come together at Oakley Cabin in Brookeville, Maryland the first weekend of each November to celebrate Maryland’s Emancipation Day.  Many Marylanders have come to know their state’s history in recent years due to the on-going efforts of Parks Museum Manager Shirl Spicer and the persistent advocacy of a small grass roots community.

Recognizing that many of Maryland’s citizens thought its enslaved people were emancipated in President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, the community set out to educate and set the record straight.  This small grass roots community consisting of the Friends of Oakley Cabin and the Underground Railroad, began a letter writing campaign to Governor O’Malley in 2008, asking for November 1st to be recognized as the official day of celebration of the freeing of the slaves by the state of Maryland.

The group wanted to recognize Maryland’s unique history.  The group’s letter writing campaign was followed by an appeal to the delegates for the Montgomery County District where Oakley Cabin is located– which did result in a sponsored bill.  Unfortunately, that bill ultimately died in committee.

Not one to give up, Ben Hawley sparked State Senator Karen Montgomery’s interest and she sponsored a bill that was accepted and then made into law in 2013 just in time for Maryland’s Emancipation Proclamation’s 150th Anniversary (the Sesquicentennial).[1]  The effort took longer than the actual Civil War!

Valerie Hall talks to students about excavating

Valerie Hall talks to students about excavating

Archaeologists have long recognized the importance of using archaeology to educate students and the public about our shared heritage.  The Society for American Archaeology’s Principles of Archaeological Ethics encourage all archaeologists to undertake public education and outreach while the Society for Historical Archaeology states that archaeologists have a duty to encourage education about archaeology.[2]

We know that archaeological education provides touchstones to the past—

Teresa Moyer, in “Reaching Out,” describes reaching out with maps, documents, artifacts and other objects to ‘hook’ students by transforming the tangible resources into stories that hold and capture them.  Archaeological interpreters use concepts such as tangibles, intangibles, universals and opportunities. Ceramics, tin and clay marbles can come alive with imagination. In the process, such programs can create a “safe place” for talking about issues with roots in the past that students face today”[3]

This year’s Maryland Emancipation Day at Oakley Cabin brought the past to the present—Visitors smelled and tasted the open-hearth cooking, heard the guitars plucking and listened to the words of the a Capello spirituals sung while hearing the …



WE, the people of the State of Maryland, grateful to Almighty-
God for our civil and religious liberty, and taking into our
serious consideration the best means of establishing a good
Constitution in this State for the sure foundation and more
permanent security thereof, declare:

ARTICLE 1. That we hold it to be self evident, that all men
are created equally free, that they are endowed” by their
Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life,
liberty, the enjoyment of the proceeds of their own labor, and
the pursuit of happiness.[4]

The Lower Eastern Shore Community College A Capella Singers performing at the event

The Lower Eastern Shore Community College A Capella Singers

Rick Franklin and Friends Band performing at the event

Rick Franklin and Friends Band








For more about Montgomery Parks Archaeology:

For more about Oakley Cabin Events:


Written by: Heather Bouslog

About the author: Heather Bouslog is the Co-Lead of Montgomery Parks Archaeology Program. She is the senior archaeologist who leads the archaeology camp, volunteer program and  public education program for Montgomery Parks Archaeology.


[1] Maryland Emancipation Proclamation Backstory courtesy of Susan Soderberg 2016

[2] Society for American Archaeology,; Society for Historical Archaeology,;

[3] Teresa Moyer 2007 “Reaching Out: Archaeological Interpretation for Education” in Archaeology for

Interpreters: A Guide to Knowledge of the Resource. Archaeology Program by Heather A. Hembrey and Barbara J. Little, National Park Service, Washington, D.C,

[4] Archives of Maryland On-Line, Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention


On the 1st of October, in the pouring autumn rain, a group of local residents, farmers and landowners from the village of Bagendon, in the Cotswolds UK, teamed up with archaeologists from Durham University working on a project called Resituating Europe’s First Town’s (REFIT). The aim of the project is to explore how different types of stakeholders (farmers, residents, local business people etc.) use and understand their local landscapes through interviews and engagement events. For this particular event, with help from Past Environment expert Mike Allen, the group investigated the stories about past land use and environmental change that are hidden in Bagendon’s soil. Using hand augers, everyone had a go a taking and analyzing soil cores and learnt just how much information we can glean about the past from changes in soil type to even the tiniest snail shell or burnt seed remains.

Mike Allen explains the principles of augering

Mike Allen explains the principles of augering













It was a great opportunity for people with different interests and knowledge related to the landscape, both past and present, to meet and share their views on the ways in which human and environmental action can change the shape and quality of the land beneath our feet. To learn more about the event and how it changed participants perceptions of the local landscape, please check out the video below:

The workshop built on positive responses to the REFIT project’s ‘Love your Landscape’ event which was held at Greystones Farm (Salmonsbury oppidum) earlier in the year, in which visitors were able to take part in varied events from Iron Age cooking to exploring a modern robotic milking machine in order to better understand similarities and differences in land use over time. The REFIT project hopes to offer more events like this in the future as a novel way of engaging people with the time-depth and changing nature of their local landscapes.

Children have a go at taking their own soil cores

Children have a go at taking their own soil cores











Written by: Dr Gemma Tully
About the author: Principal Tutor MA Museum and Artifact Studies and Post-Doctoral Research Associate, REFIT Project in the Department of Archaeology at Durham University. Please take a look at the REFIT website for more information and all the latest news. Dr. Tully can be reach via phone at 01913 341566 or via email at


In October 1774, Peggy Stewart, a Maryland cargo vessel, was burned by colonists in retaliation to Britain’s boycott on tea imports. The story begins in February 1770 with the arrival of the brig Good Intent to Annapolis from London. At this time, colonists were boycotting the current Britain tax of the Townshead Acts. The custom collector in Annapolis did not allow the goods to be taken ashore until the taxes were paid; the colonists refused to the pay the taxes on any goods. The merchants in stubborn refusal sent Good Intent back to London. Because of ships like Good Intent refusing to remove their merchandise, Britain repelled taxes on everything, except tea.

During the summer of 1774, Peggy Stewart left London loaded with 2,320 pounds of tea disguised as linen. When Peggy Stewart arrived in Annapolis on 14 October 1774, the owners were notified of the need to pay taxes on the tea. The colonists again refused to pay the taxes, yet feared a repeat of what happened with Good Intent. After public meetings were held over the future of Peggy Stewart, the colonists elected to burn the ship. On 19 October 1774, Peggy Stewart was moved to an open spot and burned to the waterline. This event became known as the “Annapolis Tea Party,” and cemented the history of Peggy Stewart as an important event in the American Revolution.


The burning of Peggy Stewart (Francis Blackwell Mayer 1896)

The remains of the wreck laid where it was burned, until it was discovered by the U.S. Navy. It now lays on the reclaimed land below Luce Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. The story of Peggy Stewart shows the one of the many ways shipwrecks are caused and how each individual wreck has its own story.

What is Underwater Archaeology?

Underwater archaeology is simply archaeology conducted under any body of water. It includes various types of sites, from shipwrecks like Peggy Stewart and other vehicles to sunken cities and submerged landscapes of our past. It is linked closely with maritime archaeology, which focuses specifically on human interaction with the sea, lakes and rivers through the study of associated physical remains found in and around bodies of water.

The field began in the 1950s when George Bass started excavations on a Mediterranean merchant ship found off Cape Gelidonya in Turkey. Although such underwater sites had previously been excavated, Bass was the first to take terrestrial excavation techniques underwater. The entirety of the wreck was mapped in accurately to one another and the excavations followed the typical standards of stratification and extensive care.

After Bass’ work in the Mediterranean and the development of better technology for finding submerged sites, the field took off in the 1980s. The finding of R.M.S. Titanic sparked more interest in the field. Discovered in 1985 off the coast of Canada, Titanic enchanted the public across the world to understand what cultural remains lay beneath the water. This interest had been furthered by the major treasure hunting expeditions that led to the discovery of Spanish treasure ships, like Atocha in the Florida Keys. The mix of legitimate archaeological excavations and incredible treasure hunting finds brought shipwrecks into the public eye and expanded the discipline of underwater archaeology.

Bow of R.M.S. Titanic with lights cast by James Cameron submersible, 2001 (Walden Media 2001).

Bow of R.M.S. Titanic with lights cast by James Cameron submersible, 2001 (Walden Media 2001).

Since the 1980s, underwater archaeology has exploded and developed new technologies to find more sites throughout the world, including in the Chesapeake Bay region like Peggy Stewart. Everything from pirate ships to World War II submarines to full cites and battle lands have been found, explored, and occasionally excavated to understand how they ended up on the seafloor, and what these sites can tell us about that period of history.

Water has always been a major source of transportation and life throughout human history. Cities initially sprang up on waterways and seas. Trade was conducted across it and migration required it to get to unknown places. The sea always brought adventure and occasionally brought tragedy and devastation to those who did not make it to their destination. This is why we study the remains left underwater—to understand why our ancestors traveled across the ocean, what happened while they were on it, and what their adventures and tragedies means for us today.


Written by: Allyson Ropp

Allyson Ropp is a Master’s student at East Carolina University in the Program in Maritime Studies, learning to become a maritime archaeologist. She is currently finishing her thesis and beginning her job search in the archaeological field.

It has been a little over a year since I’ve been involved with Archaeology in the Community and it has been chock full of teachable moments. Unfortunately, I did have to take a sabbatical during the winter months, but I couldn’t wait to get back in action with Dr. Alexandra Jones and the other interns at AITC.

I am also working a full time job which often makes me reminisce about the days that I would accompany Alexandra to the “Archaeologist for a Day” programs. Then, I remembered my first educational program…

On July 8th, 2015 I attended my first Archaeologist for a Day program expecting to take photos and videos for social media purposes, but boy was I wrong! I began my morning by getting lost on my way to the recreation center where the program was being held, but I arrived on time and set up the beautiful mock dig pits we had built a week before. I was shocked by the number of children in the facility. Their ages ranged between 5 and 12 years old.

Everything was set and I began taking photos of the artifacts we used. Then Dr. Jones said it:

“You’re giving the ‘Intro to Archaeology’ lecture to the 5-7 year olds.”

Uh. Excuse me? … Am I qualified for this?


I knew why she was asking. There was no way we could fit all of the students in one lecture. I was nervous as hell – especially because I hadn’t even seen Dr. Jones’ normal lecture for the program. Alexandr had no doubt that I could do it and after four years of college classes, papers, and research, I must’ve learned something, so I went for it!

Bringing a little archaeology picture scrapbook to the back room with me, I recited all the fun “Intro to Archaeology” facts I remembered from the numerous courses I took in college in the simplest way I could. Of course, half the little ones thought archaeology was all about dinosaurs and the recent release of “Jurassic World” didn’t help my case. I anxiously sped through the lesson and archaeology scrapbook and I ran out of things to talk about while waiting for Dr. Jones to finish her more complex program. It was definitely awkward for a bit. Eventually, we pulled out a book of maps and talked about the different sites all over the world and where they would like to visit.

When the “lecture” portion was over, all of the students gathered for the “mock excavation” part of the program. I finally got to sit back and watch Dr. Jones do what she loves. Needless to say, she was much better at it than I was! During this time, I took photos. Then, I noticed the students were completely engaged and excited. The little ones couldn’t keep their hands out of the dig pits and were thrilled when they found the artifacts within their units. After the digging process, we analyzed the artifacts as a group and the students were proud to show off what they learned during the lecture.



Indeed, I did get to teach again and it worked out much better that time around! I do miss heading out to those “Archaeologists for a Day” programs now that I am working. It’s great meeting new, passionate kids every week and knowing that we may have inspired at least one child to pursue a career in the sciences.

Written by: Solai Sanchez

About the author: Solai Sanchez is a marketing intern at AITC and enjoys it because it combines her love for archaeology and marketing. Solai graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in archaeology at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Soon after graduating she began interning at Archaeology in the Community. During her year with AITC she has assisted with youth programs, traveled to Belize with Dr. Jones, and spent most of her time working on marketing campaigns for the non-profit. She is currently working at Catholic University of America as an administrative assistant at the law school.

This is a success story in the making. Specifically, this is a story about a small farming village in Jamaica, and about the development of a community based research agenda there. This is also the story about how a group of people from different backgrounds came together, as fellow students of history, and how we united in friendship and solidarity. This is our story and we are writing it together. We are Nicole Ferguson, an eco-heritage tour guide in Flagstaff, Jamaica, and David Ingleman, an anthropology graduate student at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC). We became friends and research partners several years ago, when David was a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Flagstaff.

David Ingleman, standing with community member Kenute Cameron at the community welcome sign.

David Ingleman, standing with community member Kenute Cameron at the community welcome sign.

Flagstaff, a community of about 1,100 people, is located in Jamaica’s Cockpit Country—a rugged and trackless landscape typified by karst topography. Flagstaff was founded about three centuries ago by a group of self-emancipated African descendant people, called Maroons. Historically, Flagstaff had several names. The Maroons originally named their community Kojo Town, after their leader. From their mountain enclave in Kojo Town, the Maroons fought and won a war against their British enslavers, resulting in the Peace Treaty of 1739. During the treaty negotiations, the British renamed the community Trelawny Town, after the Governor of Jamaica. After decades of peace, war again erupted in 1795. Following the Second Maroon War, the Maroons were deported from Jamaica, first to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1796, and then in 1800, to Freetown, Sierra Leone. After the deportation, the area was occupied by British military units and renamed Maroon Town Barracks. They positioned the British flag on a high point, which could be seen from long distances; after emancipation, the barracks closed and the community became known as Flagstaff. Many Sierra Leonean Maroons and their descendants eventually returned to Jamaica and some decided to reoccupy their ancestral homeland in the Cockpit Country. Now the Maroon flag, as well as the Jamaican, Nova Scotian, and Sierra Leonean flags fly over Flagstaff.

Like its modern name, Flagstaff’s landscape was shaped largely by the 19th-century British military occupation of the area. Artifacts dating to this period, including ceramics, pipe stems and bowls, buttons, glass bottles, and ammunition, are visible over much of Flagstaff. Many farmers have artifact collections, which we, working through the Cockpit Country Local Forest Management Committee (CCLFMC), have begun to identify, document, and catalog. In addition, some of the infrastructure constructed during this period is still in regular use, including many of the roads and paths, a swimming pool carved into the limestone bedrock, a limestone-entombed well, and several cut-limestone building foundations, which still support occupied superstructures. The former parade ground is now the football and cricket field and is known as Garrison Park.

Nineteenth-century British army badges, collected by farmers in Flagstaff, Jamaica.

Nineteenth-century British army badges, collected by farmers in Flagstaff, Jamaica.

In contrast, Maroon heritage sites are identified primarily through oral tradition and associations with natural landmarks; interestingly, few if any artifacts have been observed on the surface of these sites. Nevertheless, the modern inhabitants of Flagstaff literally walk in their ancestors’ footsteps and tell their children vivid stories about what took place in Flagstaff centuries ago. The herbalists of Flagstaff are well known for their medicinal treatments, which is another legacy of their long association with the land.

The rich cultural heritage and biodiversity of Flagstaff also has excellent potential for sustainable income generation. The CCLFMC recently launched the Flagstaff Heritage Tour and Trails Project, which guides visitors on three eco-heritage tours of the community: the Maroon Trail, Dragoon Hole Trail, and the Cemetery Trail. Visitors take in spectacular views, as well as learn about the local heritage and ecology from Flagstaff residents, including Nicole. The tourism product in Flagstaff encourages meaningful interaction with the local residents; visitors are invited to sample the local cuisine, enjoy traditional music, and purchase sustainably made handicrafts, and fresh, organic produce.

The management of heritage resources in Flagstaff, though intellectually rewarding, is both difficult and expensive. Experience has taught us that heritage management requires both local and scholarly expertise, as well as friendships that can span continents. Facebook helps too. For example, many adults in Flagstaff migrate internationally to find work, which leads to reduced inter-generational transmission of oral histories, amongst other problems. In response, the CCLFMC initiated an oral history documentation project, sponsored by the Commonwealth Foundation and the British Council. Nicole, David, and Kenute Cameron, a Flagstaff elder, recorded interviews with more than 70 Maroons and Maroon descendants in Jamaica and Sierra Leone ( This effort resulted in a documentary film titled “Kojo’s Legacy: Rekindling the True Spirit of Our Ancestors,” ( which was Nicole, David, Kenute, and Michael Shaw, the President of the Flagstaff Heritage Tour and Trails and member of the Trelawny Town Maroon Council co-wrote and co-directed.

Kenute Cameron measuring features of a well dating from the Maroon Town Barracks phase, which still serves its original purpose

Kenute Cameron measuring features of a well dating from the Maroon Town Barracks phase, which still serves its original purpose

As the population of Flagstaff continues to grow, and the number of households increases, archaeological resource management is also becoming an increasing concern. Unfortunately, virtually no archaeological work has ever been conducted there. In the face of these challenges, several community organizations have joined together to co-sponsor the Flagstaff Community Archaeology Project. Pending permit approval, the first phase of the project will entail a four-week excavation and artifact analysis at the site of a 19th-century British married soldier’s quarters, in preparation for construction of the Flagstaff Community Centre. The Centre is located on the edge of Garrison Park, which was formerly the Maroon Town Barracks parade ground. Archival records suggest that married soldiers and their families at Maroon Town Barracks lived in a row of wattle and daub “huts,” located in the approximate location of the Community Centre. Because no contemporary married soldier sites have been previously excavated in the Caribbean, and the historical record offers few clues about whom the soldiers married, or what daily life was like for married soldiers and their families, this site is considered to have great research potential. The field crew for this project will include David, Nicole, Kenute, and four other volunteers from Flagstaff. Though we are optimistic about and dedicated to the success of this project, the heritage resources in Flagstaff are world-class treasures and should be of concern to everyone. That is why we are asking you to become a partner in the preservation of Flagstaff’s heritage, to visit us in Jamaica, or to make a donation to our Kickstarter campaign (

Written by: Nicole Ferguson and David Ingleman

About the authors: Nicole Ferguson resides in Flagstaff, Jamaica, where she is an active member of the Cockpit Country Local Forest Management Committee (CCLFMC) and a tour guide for the Flagstaff Heritage Tour and Trails. In 2011 Miss Ferguson traveled to Freetown, Sierra Leone as part of the Trans-Atlantic Maroon Connection Project. She will participate in the Flagstaff Community Centre Archaeology Project in August and September 2015 as an excavator and lab assistant.

David Ingleman is an anthropology doctoral student at the University of California Santa Cruz, and the director of the Flagstaff Community Archaeology Project, in Flagstaff, Jamaica, and the President of Friends of Jamaica Peace Corps Association. Before attending graduate school, David worked as a professional archaeologist for several years in the United States. From 2008-2010, David served as an environmental business advisor in Peace Corps-Jamaica.

I really had no idea what to expect when I decided to become an archaeologist. There weren’t any guidebooks back then and I didn’t know anyone who was already an archaeologist. Other than my mother, not too many of my family members supported my decision. They were all worried that I wouldn’t be able to get a job. Or, they thought I’d be captured by rebels in some jungle somewhere and would never be heard from again.

None of that stuff happened.

There is no straight-as-an-arrow, tried-and-true path to becoming an archaeologist. Most of us attend college, getting our first taste of archaeological fieldwork and research in the process. After college, we typically find jobs in the cultural resource management industry as consultants, at a museum, or at a university. A Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology, History, American Studies, or a similar field is usually the base level of education for a job in archaeology in the United States. Individuals that want to do archaeology as a career should plan on getting a graduate degree (either a Master’s or PhD) because this is required to move up the ranks in the archaeology industry.

In addition to excelling in school, there are three tips I recommend to everyone who tells me they want to be an archaeologist:

1) Think about what you want to get out of life. Will archaeology help you fulfill those goals?— This is a pretty general recommendation, but it is absolutely essential that every aspiring archaeologist think about how this career path will help them live a more enriching life. Will archaeology make you feel better about your place in the world? Will you be happier doing archaeology as a volunteer or as a paid employee? Do you have aspirations of being wealthy and having the finest material things? We are all in pursuit of happiness and contentment in life.

We all want to have a job that helps us realize that contentment, but not everyone will realize happiness by doing archaeology as a job. Not many people can be happy digging a hole in the ground in 100+—degree heat collecting tiny fragments of broken glass or sifting through thousands of pages of text in a library somewhere looking for a single reference to a single event on a specific day 200 years ago. Also, archaeology doesn’t always pay well. It is unlikely that you will be able to sport Prada purses or drive a BMW while working an entry-level archaeology job. That’s part of what it means to be an archaeologist. Would that kind of work make you happy? For most people, archaeology is a better hobby than career.

2) Are you willing to go against the flow?— Archaeologists are not created. We are born this way. Almost all the archeologists I know have wanted to do archaeology since they were a child in preschool or elementary school. Most of us didn’t take our first archaeology class until we were in college, over a decade after archaeology first piqued our interest. This means we remained interested in ancient Roman ruins, Native American pueblos, and Egyptian tombs for over a decade before we actually had a chance to learn about those things in school. Every archaeologist needs to think about what it is about archaeology that got her/him interested in the first place. What made you decide you want to be an archaeologist? The motivation that got you started in the first place will keep you going in the long-run when times get tough and you start thinking about throwing in the trowel.

If you want to become an archaeologist, you will also have to overcome criticism and misguided suggestions from friends and family. Oftentimes, we let well-intentioned advice from our peers, parents, and friends guide our actions. This frequently keeps us from pursuing our dream jobs, like archaeology, in order to follow a less ambitious career path. It’s also hard work to become an archaeologist. You will need to finish high school and earn an undergraduate college degree before you can get your first entry-level position. It is also very likely that you will have to go back to school and earn a graduate degree at some point in your career if you want to break through the proverbial “glass ceiling”. All of that takes drive, endurance, and perseverance. It can also cost a lot of money to get a job that doesn’t pay much until you make it to management-level positions.

All along the way, folks will tell you to go a different path towards jobs that are likely to pay you more money. But, that’s not why you’re trying to become an archaeologist. You will have to make decisions contrary to what society, friends, and family tell you in order to achieve your ultimate goal. You will need to steadfastly hold on to your dream and always believe it is possible.

3) Do a Knowledge-Skills-Abilities (KSA) Assessment— Do you have the skills it takes to become an archaeologist? If not, what will you have to do in order to attain those skills? Do you know what those skills might be? A KSA will help you answer these questions.

A KSA is an informal analysis that will help you recognize the skills you currently have, identify those that you do not yet have, and figure out a strategy for closing the gap between what you already know and what you need to know. For the purposes of this assessment, knowledge includes things you may have learned from a book, school, or the internet. Skills are the ways you have already used this knowledge. Abilities refers to skills you have mastered.

For example, at some point, you probably learned how to write a report in English class. Hypothetically, you may have used your report-writing skills while working at a pizza delivery company to write a damage assessment report when one of your co-workers accidentally backed a company truck into the side of a building. If you had written dozens of damage assessment reports while working at that company, you could safely say damage assessment report-writing is one of your abilities.

Conducting a KSA that would help you figure out what it takes to be an archaeologist is relatively simple. Any aspiring archaeologist can visit the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook and check out the general duties of being an archaeologist. You can also Google “archaeology jobs” and see what skills and abilities employers are asking for in their job postings. Once you’ve identified a suitable job description, you can do a simple KSA to see what skills you will need to acquire in order to qualify for a job in archaeology.

We must stress:

You can become an archaeologist if you really want to. There are thousands of us in the world and there will be thousands more in the future. Archaeology always needs more dedicated practitioners because there is no end to what we don’t know about our past. There is no end to exploration and the expansion of knowledge. If you want to become an archaeologist, do not be dissuaded. I believe everyone that really wants to become an archaeologist will achieve that dream.

Written by: Bill White

About the author: Bill White is a husband, father, author, and PhD Archaeology student at the University of Arizona. He has been getting paid to do archaeology since 2004. Currently, he is the Research Publications Director of Succinct Research and blogs at the Succinct Research Blog.

“When I grow up, I’m going to be an archaeologist.” That’s what I said when I was 4-years-old. “Or, an astronaut.” My mother replied; “That’s fine, son. You can be whatever you want to be.”

When I was just entering Junior High, I remember telling my literature teacher I wanted to be either an archaeologist or an astronaut when I grew up. Half-jokingly, he said I should “shoot for the stars.”

When I was just about to graduate from high school, I was discussing the results of my aptitude tests with my school’s guidance counselor. She was describing some of the optimal career paths that would utilize my best skills: architect, politics, bus driver— all fine jobs, but I already knew what I was going to do.

I stopped her short “I’m going to be either an astronaut or an archaeologist,” I told her. I’d already taken and scored high on the ASVAB and was planning on going to flight school with the Navy. Archaeology was my backup career. She chuckled. “Those aren’t real careers,” she said. “Nobody plans on doing archaeology or being an astronaut. They just kinda slip into those jobs.” She could read the disappointed look on my face and tried to cheer me up. With a broad smile, she said, “Maybe you should consider a career more suited to your skill set? Architecture is an excellent field that would probably suit you well. And, it pays pretty good money.”

Her attempts to placate me didn’t work. When I got home, I told my mom what the councilor told me at school. My mother looked me in the eye and said, “Baby, don’t pay her no mind. If you wanna be an astronaut, you go right ahead and be an astronaut. And, if you want to be an archaeologist, I’m fine with that too.”

Just before I signed the Navy’s enlistment papers I found out that I’m an inch-and-a-half too tall to be an astronaut. So, I went to college to become an archaeologist. That was almost 20 years ago.

You’re going to need grit if you want to become an archaeologist

Archaeology isn’t a career path for the faint of heart. It is an extremely rare job. According to the United States Department of Labor, in 2012, 0.000023% of Americans (just 7,200 persons) were anthropologists or archaeologists. That means less than two hundred thousandths of a percent of all Americans are archaeologists! Just for comparison, there are more professional musicians/singers (167,400 individuals), actors (79,800), dancers/choreographers (25,800) or professional athletes (14,900) than there are archaeologists.

Despite our small numbers, archaeologists in the United States do some pretty incredible things. Most archaeologist work as environmental consultants, making sure construction projects don’t destroy cultural resources like archaeology sites and historic buildings. Consulting archaeologists look for archaeology sites, assess historic buildings, write reports, and consult with government agencies and businesses. A small number of archaeologists work as university professors, researchers, for non-profit organizations, and in museums. Archaeologists in these jobs have a smaller fieldwork component, but spend a greater portion of their time interacting with the general public and students.

It’s not quite like the movies, but, no matter where you work, archaeology can be grueling. Fieldwork can be physically demanding and dangerous. We work in remote places, dangerous neighborhoods or countries, and treacherous environments. More than half of our job involves either researching (reading, giving presentations, and collecting and interpreting data) or writing (reports, articles, book chapters, grant applications, ect.). Needless to say, you will need to be intelligent, hone your writing skills, pay attention to detail, have great stamina, and be highly motivated in order to forge a fruitful career in archaeology.

While the job can be tough, you will be greatly rewarded if you are tenacious enough to act on your dream of being an archaeologist. History is made based on archaeological discoveries. The way people feel about themselves, their country, and their ancestors is partially based on the information collected by archaeologists. As an archaeologist, you will have a chance to see things that have been lost for centuries. Archaeologists are adventurers. In my career I’ve helped discover archaic Native American houses, 4,000-year-old arrowheads buried beneath 18 feet of sediment, bottles of poison discarded by millworkers more than 100 years ago, chain links that bound African American slaves, and George Washington’s dad’s wig curlers. I’ve gotten to work in rocky deserts, marshy tideflats, temperate rainforests, semi-tropical jungles, and on the slopes of some of America’s tallest mountains.

The best part of being an archaeologist is the connections you make with the communities in which you work. People love archaeologists because we help explain the mysteries of what it means to be a human being. Our discoveries provide a link between the past and present. We also collect information that can guide the future of humanity. It may be tough being an archaeologist, but the job is rewarding.

Attaining a career in archaeology is a lot like becoming a professional athlete

Professional athletes are lionized in American society. They were among my role models when I was growing up and I continue to be impressed by their skill and ability. While there are thousands of aspiring professional athletes out there, those that have made it to the pros are definitely blessed. They’re also dedicated and probably didn’t listen to all the folks that told them they’d never make it.

I’m not a professional athlete, but the drive, determination, and dogged pursuit of goals is characteristic to all professional athletes. It’s not only “God given” talent that makes the difference between a professional athlete and an amateur. The pros are the best because they’ve given 100% effort toward their goal, every day of their lives until they made it. This is very similar to the way most archaeologists ended up attaining their dream job. We eat, drink, sleep, and breathe archaeology— constantly honing our craft and learning more about our field. There is a big difference between the people I meet that tell me they always wanted to be an archaeologist and the select few that actually are archaeologists. It’s the same difference between a professional athlete and an amateur.

You can become an archaeologist if you really want to. There are thousands of us in the world and there will be thousands more in the future. Archaeology always needs more dedicated practitioners because there is no end to what we don’t know about our past. There is no end to exploration and the expansion of knowledge. If you want to become an archaeologist, do not be dissuaded. I believe everyone that really wants to become an archaeologist will achieve that dream.

Written by: Bill White

Bill White is a husband, father, author, and PhD Archaeology student at the University of Arizona. He has been getting paid to do archaeology since 2004. Currently, he is the Research Publications Director of Succinct Research and blogs at the Succinct Research Blog.


I’m here today to talk about the ways that community archaeology hits home – for me, quite literally. My dissertation has focused on my own family’s Homeplace, a farmstead in southeastern Illinois dating from the early 19th century to the present. I’ve been working on this site since 2010, and our project has included oral history collections, documentary research, and two field seasons of excavation. I’ve always been interested in collaborative archaeological projects, and it is working on this particular site that has really driven home for me how important community engagement really is.

My ancestors came to Illinois when it was still the frontier, before the land was cleared, before statehood, and before the civil war and Jim Crow would drastically change the racialized social landscape for Free Black communities. They came as Free People of Color from South Carolina via Kentucky; they fought in the war of 1812 and afterwards stayed to establish some of the area’s first forts and churches. They sent for their families and built their farms, and by 1875 over 400 acres in Bond Township were owned by Free Black Farmers.

The history of Free People of Color before the Civil War is often, like their legal status, ambiguous, hard to find, and sometimes controversial. For me, archaeology presented a way for the descendants and stakeholders of our community to learn more about the lived experiences of our ancestors; and about the ways that they may have negotiated their liminal status as Free People of Color in a way that enabled them to continue living and farming on their homeplaces in a time when so many people’s lives were being displaced and disrupted.

I was told this history growing up, and I knew our folks had a deep history in the area, and it was partly this sense of the richness of histories like ours, histories that usually aren’t written and recorded, that led me to pursue a career in historical archaeology. I knew from these experiences that there is so much more to history than what becomes the written narrative, and to me archaeology has always felt like another way to tell these stories.

The author during the excavation of her homeplace

The author during the excavation of her homeplace

It wasn’t always my plan to work in my own community, at least not right away. It took some inspiration and prompting from others in the community before I was ready to embark on an archaeological project there. At the time of the project’s inception, I was a second year graduate student, thinking aloud to my family that I’d need to find a project to focus my PhD dissertation on. I was explaining what it is that I do as an historical archaeologist to my family, when someone chipped in: “That’s all very interesting, so when are you going to bring that work back here? We’ve got a lot of history here.”

It had occurred to me that our site was interesting and perhaps even unique, but I’ll be honest, I was quite intimidated by the prospect of working on my own family’s history. As we delved into documentary and oral historical research, trying to settle on which site would work best for an archaeological investigation, I did begin to worry and wonder about what, if anything, we might find. As archaeologists we know that the work we do has an impact on the people who’s history we study, in order to explore this relationship more fully, I decided that part of my dissertation work would be to compare my views and experiences with the site as an archaeologists with my feelings about the site as a descendant, and see how those were similar or different. This aspect of working on my own ancestors’ history, alongside other descendants and community members highlighted for me the ways in which archaeology not only shapes people’s narratives about their pasts, but also creates a moment for communities to remember and tell their own stories.

As we excavated, volunteers and community members who helped out on the site would find artifacts, and identifying and discussing these objects would often trigger memories and stories about the homeplace. Lost marbles would prompt memories of different games folks had played on the porch as children, and of the cousins and neighbors who visited and took part in these games. It was here that I realized that so much of the storytelling that becomes archaeology happens not just in the ways in which we write about the past, but the ways in which communities remember their past through the objects we excavate, in the moments that we pull them from the earth.

For me, these memories and moments were just as important as the excavation itself, both as an anthropologist interested in the ethnography, and as a young descendant hungry for stories of the ancestors I’d never gotten the chance to meet. Working in my own community has highlighted the ways in which archaeological investigation is it’s own moment for memory-making and storytelling; and if we recognize and engage with our communities in these moments, our understanding of the pasts become far more meaningful.

Written by: Annelise E. Morris

Annelise E. Morris is a  PhD Candidate at the University of California, Berkeley in Anthropology, focusing in African Diaspora Historical Archchaeology. Her research interests include: ideas of race and processes of racialization, social inequality, materiality, articulations between racialization and capitalism, processes of history and memory, and public and community archaeologies.