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Florida Anthropology Society Annual Meeting

Hi all,

I have been getting ready for the FAS meeting. It is being held towards the beginning of May in Avon Park, which is somewhere near Sebring.

Anyways, I am presenting a ridiculously long-title paper called: A preliminary study of the midden burials from the Spanish River Complex, and their potential application to questions concerning status in pre-contact southeast Florida. Oh, and I mean the paper’s title is ridiculously long, the paper itself should fit in the required 15 minutes, and it has turned out to be kind of interesting. Comparing the closely associated midden burials to the mound burials, it is clear that life expectancy is always greater in the mound population, and with the exception of the first cohort the survivorship is also greater in the mound. Looks like decent biological evidence of differential status expressed in different burial locations to me!

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Update and Cradle of Christianity Exhibit Brief

Hello all,

Let me see, what has been going on? After two weeks of straight work I decided to take a few days off due to family commitments (birthdays, Easter, etc). We had this month's GCAS meeting, which went well. We have a big exhibit opening soon, but I cannot mention anything about it just yet. TRUST ME, it is (or at least it was) BIG. My family also took a trip down to Fort Lauderdale to see the Cradle of Christianity exhibit at the Museum of Art. If I have time I will post an in depth review, but it was a good exhibit. It ends in the middle of April, so if you want to see it you need to go quickly.
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Life Tables

Hello all,

I am still extremely busy, working on the paper I am presenting at the FAS conference. I took today off from doing the osteological work to confirm that I could still do the required math for the life tables. What are life tables? Basically, for this type of investigation they are an important tool for paleodemographic analysis that includes things like death rates, survivorship, and life expectancy (FYI, more general information can be found on the Life Tables entry in Wikipedia). So, was I able to remember how to do them? Yes, but only with quite a bit of arduous and tedious effort. Essentially, I had to use a combination of old college notes, various books and articles, along with reviewing a bunch of online sources. Still, at least now I am confident that once the last bits of data are collected, I can do the required math for proper analysis.
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Quick One Again

Hello all,

Unfortunately, this is another quick update.

The Gold Coast Anthropological Society (GCAS) had our tour of the Ft. Lauderdale Historical Society two Sundays ago. It was an extremely good day out, and I think we all learnt something new about the history of South Florida.

We also did some activities in celebration of Florida Archaeology Month (FAM) at the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) library. I gave a lecture about The Prehistory of Southeast Florida in the morning and evening, along with a hands-on workshop in the afternoon. Everything went well, except that I forgot to bring calipers for measuring (plastic) human bones. Luckily, the FAU Anthropology Department allowed me to borrow a pair.

I am trying to finish up the work on the Boca Weir site, ready to present at the Florida Anthropology Society (FAS) annual meeting in May. In addition, I am attempting to bring together funding to carbon date this midden material, along with some items from an adjacent mound. Once this is done, I should be able to publish this data.

Speaking of publishing, I sent off the new version of my current article. This one addressed the issues raised by peer-review. I am still waiting to hear if there are further comments from the editors.

I am still waiting to hear about my application to the Ph.D. Comparative Studies program at FAU. If that does not come through, I may try to turn my dissertation topic into a book.

Once I have finished working on the paper presentation for the FAS conference, I may have more time to fully update.
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Brief Updates

Hello all,

Very quick updates.

I have re-submitted the article following the peer-review comments. It merely needs to go through a second pass with the editor, fix any remaining problems, and then it should be ready to be published.

I have sent in the abstract for the FAS conference. In-other-words, I need to have all the research done, get the write-up finished, and be ready to be presented by May.

Both Florida Archaeology Month exhibits have been installed and look good. The folks over at the FAU Library added some greenery to the installation, which now looks even better. So, I took more photos.

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Quick Update and Florida Archaeology Exhibit at the FAU Library: Photo Gallery

Hello all,

I have been extremely busy. In the last two weeks I have put the finishing touches on the exhibit at the Children's Museum, been involved with the opening event at the Kid's Museum (photos coming soon), built and installed the exhibit for the FAU library, continued working on the Spanish River Complex project ensuring that it is far enough along to send in an abstract for a paper presentation at the FAS conference on that same subject, and I have been working on the editor's and reviewer's notes on my article, which need to be resubmitted by March 19th if there is a hope of making the next issue. If I have time I will update with more specifics on each of these items. Until then, here is the photo gallery of the Florida Archaeology exhibit at FAU's Main Library.


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First, I had to finish construction of the mounts and signage. I did not stick the stands to the backs of these items beforehand, because I wanted to see how everything worked in the case.


Next up, everything had to be put in the case, arranged, and finalized. The image on the right shows the final set-up.


With this being a library, books were also important. So, next to the case the library staff put up a couple of bookshelves with volumes on Florida Archaeology. They also added a guest book, and I am looking forward to reading the comments.


In these three shots you can see close-ups of each section of the case. Going from left to right is loosely moving from the oldest material to the more modern.


Finally, a close-up of the pottery boards, and one more shot of the entire exhibit.
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FAU Library Exhibit--Signage

Hello all,

I have some good news, but first some background

One of the primary reasons behind my agreement to do two exhibits on the Prehistory of Florida for the upcoming Florida Archaeology Month (FAM) was the notion of getting ‘two for one’ on a few factors. While going through the boxes of archaeological artifacts, pulling two pottery sherds instead of one is obviously an easy task. Another reason was (I hoped) I could utilize similar signage for each exhibit. Thereby, significantly reducing the workload. Infact, the writing aspect was the hardest part, the actual going through the archaeological archives was fun.

The good news, I have just finished editing the drafts for the signage of the FAU Library exhibit, and 90% of it was a straight ‘cut and paste’ from the text I wrote for the Children’s Museum installation. Now, I realize I am still up at 2am working, but without having to do significantly more writing for the signage, I can actually go to bed soon.

Oh, and if you click on the FAM website (see the link two paragraphs above), and search for events in Palm Beach County. Well, those three things that come up are our events. Hope to see you there (unless you do not live in South Florida, because then I think you have a good excuse for not coming).
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Chimps and Spears

Hi all,

I found this article quite intriguing. The implications for Hominin Evolution are obvious, but the problem is wooden tools would not survive in the record. However, the possibilities for theoretical reconstruction are limitless. Indeed, with modern chimps observed utilizing such a vast tool kit, maybe we need to redefine what truly makes humans, well human. Additionally, the dividing line between the Australopithecines and Homo is getting downright blurry. Maybe it is time to move Homo habilis over to the other side and start our genus with Homo erectus. Afterall, it is at that point that we jump from being four feet tall to six feet. Then again, the more controversial answer has already been proposed by some folks (I am thinking Jared Diamond here). Moving the Chimpanzees, and hence all the common ancestors we share, into our genus. This could get a little confusing, what with such animals as Homo troglodytes, Homo afarensis, and Homo robustus. Right now I would settle for the former, but I find the latter concept fascinating for what it says about us (modern humans) in relation to the rest of the planet.

BBC NEWS: Chimpanzees 'hunt using spears'

Chimpanzees in Senegal have been observed making and using wooden spears to hunt other primates, according to a study in the journal Current Biology.


Read the original at BBC News or Read More HereCollapse )
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Children’s Museum Installation

Greetings all,

I spent today at the Children’s Museum of Boca Raton installing the new exhibit: the Prehistory of South Florida. All went quite well, and I think the kids are going to like it. There are some ‘wow’ pieces that should visually interest people. However, there is also quite a bit of text. Infact, there is probably more text than 95% of kids are ever going to read. However, if only 1 in 20 learn something; fantastic…

The opening event is this coming Sunday. The only thing that needs to be finished between now and then are four information/visual posters.

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First up, the bigger case, when it is empty and then when it is full. This one focuses more on paleontology, but many of these animals were hunted by the Paleo-Indians.


Here are some close ups on that case. I know children are going to like some of these fossils. Also, I have an atlatl, to remind people of the earliest Floridian hunters.


Second, we have the smaller case, which focuses more on archaeology.


With this close up, you get an idea of each level. I tried to tell a specific story on each shelf: 1) Faunal Material, 2) Tools, and 3) European Contact.


Along with the two cases, there are a few other things that come with this exhibit. On the left, the folks at the Kid’s Museum put together a selection of books for the kids to read. In the middle, a saber-toothed cat with its own hat. And, on the right, three boards to hand around to the kids for them to touch and compare.


Finally, here is everything together. As I said above, the only thing missing are the four posters. Those will be put in on Sunday.
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Finishing Projects and Sebring Dig Photos

Greetings all,

I have been slowly finishing all the various projects I have been working on. Obviously, the Darwin Day presentation is done, as that day happened a few weeks back. I have completed an article called Historical Archaeology and the Stranahan Stores. This will be printed in the Ft. Lauderdale Historical Society’s newsletter and will advertise the little exhibit we put in there last year. I have finished mounting all the artifacts and writing all the text for the signage at the Children’s Museum of Boca Raton. Most of the text from that exhibit will be ‘cut and paste’ into the signs for the exhibit at the FAU library. No point in reinventing the wheel. I also have many of the artifacts for that exhibit pulled out of the collection; they just need to be mounted.

The main project remaining is the investigation of material from an archaeological site on the coast. Longtime readers should remember a few months back when I posted photos of a trip to the site. The plan is to finish the work, and present the findings at the upcoming FAS annual meeting. Once I get feedback at the conference, I hope to write another article for The Florida Anthropologist.

Of course, once these various things are finished, there are always new projects and events to work on. Although, I hope to hear soon if I have been accepted into the Ph.D. program at FAU. If that is the case, I will have to adjust my schedule. Rather than concentrating on events, I will need to work on original research on the archaeological collection. My hope is to have a significant portion of the osteological material at least preliminarily studied for usage in my dissertation. If I do not get into this program, the same research will be undertaken, but at a slower pace. My hope is that our Anthropology Department at the museum will become a central resource for human osteological study in South Florida. Although, due to time, funds, and the like, it will take a number of years to get everything truly researched and established.

Finally, here are the pictures from the dig over in Sebring.

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It took us about 3 hours to get up to Sebring. Because we still wanted to have a good day’s work in the field, we left at 6am in the morning.


Next up, you can see us consulting the maps, parking the van, and finally disappearing into the brush. In the photo on the left, you can see my fellow archaeologist's Robert and Rudy. And, on the photo on the right, can you find the blue van?


We were working in a variety of different environments on this site, and we had to track through them all. We had to deal with open plains, thick underbrush, and even a water feature.


It is amazing how quickly your fellow archaeologists can disappear into the wilderness. Oh, and it being Florida, despite being winter, it was hot and sunny.


Interestingly enough, a lot of our ‘work’ on this day was walking between the shovel tests. However, we did do some actual archaeology, as you can see. We dug 11 of these shovel tests, but we found nothing. Oh, and in the very last photo I decided I should be in at least one shot, so there I am.