UWF archeology staff and students win national award
By Josh Newby, UWF Newsroom
Underwater dives, lost relics and sunken Civil War- and World War II-era vessels may seem like the components of a high-budget adventure film, but for nine students and three staff members in underwater archeology at the University of West Florida, it comprised 16 days of their summer.
Each time an oil and gas company wishes to lay pipeline, drill a well, or conduct any operations in the Gulf of Mexico, federal underwater archeologists within the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) are charged with regulating this work to insure no historic resources are damaged or destroyed in the process.
Often, BOEMRE staff contract additional archaeologists from private companies and/or Universities to investigate sites that are identified from these surveys. In the case of this project, BOEMRE contracted with Tesla Offshore, LLC., for environmental modeling and site investigations, and Tesla in turn partnered with UWF's Archaeology Institute in the Division of Anthropology and Archaeology to assist in the exploration of unidentified wrecks in the Gulf offshore of Louisiana and Texas.
Diving fieldwork began Aug. 11, 2010, and included students from the underwater archeology program. The team, consisting of Tesla Offshore personnel, BOEMRE representatives and UWF personnel, was presented with six primary targets and five potential secondary targets. These included vessels ranging in dates from the Civil War and War World II casualties of U-boat operations to more recent fishing and oil and gas service providing vessels.
"The primary goal was to determine if any of these sites were eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places," said Gregory Cook, faculty supervisor of the UWF team and research associate in the UWF Archeology Institute, who has participated in more than 1,000 dives in his career. The team placed weighted surface marker buoys on each plotted location, then assessed the sea floor using a sonar bottom tracking device to verify the presence of each vessel. Cook and Fritz Sharar, UWF's Dive Safety Officer, generally conducted the first dive on each site.
"We did that first dive to locate the target, and then establish if there were any safety concerns and figure out our priorities in recording the site," said Cook.
Eric Swanson, one of the graduate students involved with the project, was thrilled to participate and said the experience was invaluable to his education and career. He was even able to use the experience as a topic for his master's thesis.
"I've learned so many things through this project that I wouldn't trade for anything, including practices that I hope to continue through my future academic and professional careers," said Swanson. Other students that participated were Aleks Adams, Daniel Haddock, Mercedes Harrold, Sarah Linden, Andy Marr, Bill Neal, Wes Perrine and Jake Shidner.
The 16-day expedition ended up yielding more than just an invaluable experience. The project was selected for a Department of the Interior Partners in Conservation award, and Cook, Sharar and Norine Carroll all received certificates for the award. Della Scott-Ireton, director of the Florida Public Archaeology Network's Northwest Region, also received a certificate for organizing public outreach relating to the project. On Sept. 21, 2011, Cook traveled to Washington, D.C., along with representatives from BOEMRE and Tesla Offshore, LLC., to receive the Partners in Conservation Award from the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar.
"The award recognizes the combination of the scholarly and practical aspects of this project," said Cook. "The students all played as equal a role as anyone, and I'm very proud of them. The award is a very pleasant surprise, and I think it speaks to the strength of our program in maritime archaeology."
"As a graduate student, opportunities like this not only help my future in understanding the dynamic and rewarding experiences associated with the field of maritime archaeology, but also make me extremely proud to be a part of a university that strives to include us in these incredible projects," said Swanson.
“CSI: UWF” - Field School Teaches Students How to Research Bones
By Josh Lyons, University Marketing Communications
Transforming the campus into a mock scene straight out of the hit television show “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” the University of West Florida Department of Anthropology will offer a unique, hands-on course this summer. The Forensic Anthropology Field School, a course that teaches students how to successfully and efficiently find and handle skeletal remains, will be held May 11 through June 12.
“Our field school focuses on field techniques for discovery, documentation and recovery of human skeletal remains,” said Joanne Curtin, associate professor of Anthropology. “Students learn proper search, mapping and excavation techniques. They also learn field photography, reporting and presentation skills.”
As part of the field school, two study skeletons have been buried on the UWF campus. The students were provided with a mock scenario in which someone killed and buried two people in the woods at UWF. The suspect confessed to the murders and burying the bodies, but cannot recall exactly where the bodies were buried. The forensic anthropology students are tasked with locating, mapping, photographing, excavating and reporting on the skeletal remains.
“The course gives students hands-on experience practicing a variety of skills essential to forensic anthropology,” said Curtin. “UWF is one of a few institutions in the United States to offer a field school of this nature.”
In addition to the on-campus exercise, students in the course will also have the opportunity to conduct research at St. Michael’s Cemetery in downtown Pensacola. The students will investigate and conduct test excavations of a suspected mass grave in the cemetery. UWF archaeologists have identified a few subsurface anomalies at the cemetery that they believe may be connected to the yellow fever plague that swept through Pensacola during the 19th century. Although no one has confirmed with certainty on what may have happened, Margo Stringfield, researcher with the UWF Archeological Institute, has a theory.
“Margo (Stringfield) suspects that when the epidemic swept through Pensacola, the residents may have made a mass grave and buried all of the victims in one place.” said Curtin. “The students will have the opportunity to work in the cemetery and assist in finding out if the anomalies are indeed part of a mass grave.”
The UWF Anthropology Field School is open to all majors, but is especially recommended for anthropology majors specializing in biological anthropology. Prerequisites for the course include “Biological Anthropology,” “Principles of Archaeology” and “Human Osteology” with a grade of “C” or better.
By Megan Tyson, University Marketing Communications
Resurrecting Spanish history through the archeological study of Northwest Florida's beginnings, University of West Florida scholars and students have continued to put pieces of the past together and also recently played a part in welcoming King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sophia of Spain to Pensacola as part of the city's 450th Anniversary Celebration.
Dedicated to the exploration of Pensacola Spanish connections, UWF plans to continue to explore the city's waterways and historical sites for archaeological finds. The soon-to-be-built Vice Admiral John H. Fetterman State of Florida Maritime Museum will showcase finds from both "Emanuel Point I" and "Emmanuel Point II," a second Luna shipwreck discovered by UWF in 2006. Full story
She was in a biological anthropology class when a professor held up a bone and told the details of a woman’s life based off the analysis of that bone. It was at that moment when Kate Spradley, assistant professor at the University of West Florida, realized what she wanted to do with her life – learn how to read bones.
A newcomer to UWF, Spradley, along with Joanne Curtin, associate professor of Anthropology and Archaeology, will help initiate the first forensic anthropology field school that will be offered during the summer semester. Spradley is currently teaching “Introduction to Anthropology” and “Introduction to Biological Anthropology.” Her research focuses on documenting changes in the physical form of the human skeleton over time and whether these changes are the result of genetic and/or environmental influences. She conducts research on sex and ancestry identification standards for use in forensic and historical settings, using two-dimensional and three-dimensional data. Currently, she is using a portion of this data to help trace the geographic origins of early enslaved Africans to specific areas within West Africa.
Even after collecting the data of more than 1,500 skeletons from all over the world and having the opportunity to work on the Kennewick Man, the roughly 9,000-year-old human skeleton discovered in Washington State, Spradley admits that she is still learning from her students.
“They really keep me on my toes,” said Spradley. “Always asking lots of questions, reading science articles and journals, students seem a lot more sophisticated these days with information more readily available than when I was in school. Information is now just a mouse click away.”
In addition to her work at UWF, Spradley has been collecting data in Guatemala and Arizona for her scholarly research and hopes to create identification criteria including sex and ancestry for individuals who are considered Hispanic. Currently, forensic anthropologists have criteria and reference collections based on American Black and American White groups from known skeletal collections, in which they can gage identifying their ancestry or sex. However, since there are no reference collections for Hispanic individuals, forensic anthropologists are unable to identify these remains.
Spradley received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in anthropology from the University of Arkansas and her doctorate from the University of Tennessee. She will give a lecture, “Forensic Anthropology and All That Remains,” hosted by the UWF College of Arts and Sciences and the John P. Daniels Center for Heritage Studies as part of the “SPLASH! Downtown” lecture series, Nov. 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the J. Earle Bowden Building, located at 120 Church St. in Historic Pensacola Village. The event is free and open to the public.
UWF Archaeologists Discover Second Oldest Shipwreck in the U.S.
By Megan Clark, University Marketing Communications
It was the last week of Archaeology field school in the summer of 2006 when two University of West Florida students found a few stones lying on the floor of Pensacola Bay and thought there may be something more. That’s all it took for John Bratten and Gregory Cook, both maritime archaeology professors at UWF, to look further and find that they had a lot more on their hands than a few stones. UWF publicly announced that after several months of evaluation, the shipwreck in Pensacola Bay formerly known as “Target 17” is the remains of one of the colonization ships of the Tristan de Luna fleet that sank in Pensacola Bay during a hurricane in 1559.
After extensive renovations following the destructive effects of Hurrican Ivan, the Arcadia Mill Archaeology Site and Museum just to the north of Pensacola has finally reopened. Arcadia is one of the oldest industrial sites in the Southeast. Built in the late Spanish colonial period (1817) and burned in 1855, this water-powered industrial complex had a sawmill, grist mill and slave-labor textile factory before the Civil War. Arcadia has been developed for the public and is handicapped-accessible. Arcadia House has a wide variety of artifacts on display associated with saw milling and cotton cloth production. The site is deeply wooded with trails which include a swinging bridge over Pond Creek and a long, beautiful boardwalk over the levees which leads visitors to the unique sandstone masonry foundations and old textile plant floors.
The site is open from Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, contact site director Monica Beck at (850) 626-3084 or email@example.com.
The Florida Public Archaeology Network recently moved into its new home in the renovated historic Louisville and Nashville Railroad (L&N) Marine Terminal on Main St. in Pensacola. The second floor of the building houses the offices of the Florida Public Archaeology Network Coordinating Center (Executive Director Dr. William Lees, Office and Grants Manager Cheryl Phelps) and the Northwest Regional Center (Regional Director Dr. Della Scott-Ireton, Outreach Coordinator Mary Furlong). The second floor also features a conference room, the office of the Pensacola Archaeological Society, and a class room. The lower floor includes a large exhibit space and an archaeological lab that will be used for University projects, volunteer projects, and education programs. The exhibits, which are currently under development, will include a “Road Map to Florida Archaeology” where the story of Florida’s prehistoric and historic cultures will be told. The "Road Map" will feature various archaeological sites and museums in Florida that are open to the public for a more in depth understanding of Florida archaeology. Interested in visiting the new facility? The L&N is open weekdays between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm.
For more information, visit www.flpublicarchaeology.org.
Unearthing Pensacola, the first coffee table book about the archaeology of Pensacola and the surrounding area, was released on December 15, 2006. Written by Dr. Judy Bense, chair of the UWF Anthropology Department and Director of the Anthropology/Archaeology Division, and illustrated by Nancy Miller, exhibit designer and event planner, the book is full of beautiful illustrations of artifacts, archaeological sites and maps. Each photo is accompanied by concise explanations that provide a deeper understanding of Pensacola's rich archaeology. Included in the book are sections on Hawkshaw, a 2,000 year-old Indian site in downtown Pensacola, the 1559 Tristán de Luna shipwreck in Pensacola Bay, the three Spanish colonial presidios - Santa María, Santa Rosa and San Miguel - and the many archaeological remains of water-powered sawmills and gristmills in Northwest Florida.
"The book brings archaeology to life with colorful images and easy to read text designed for all ages," said Bense. "This book illustrates the wonderful things and rich history of the Pensacola area that have been unearthed by UWF archaeologists." Unearthing Pensacola is based on Dr. Bense's long-running daily radio series on WUWF 88.1 FM of the same name. "Over the years, the radio segment has received a number of positive responses from our listeners," said Sandra Averhart, producer of the radio series. "It's been a hit with newcomers to Pensacola, as well as long-time residents, who enjoy hearing interesting historical information about the city."
To order Unearthing Pensacola or for more information, contact the Archaeology Institute at (850) 474-3015.
The University of West Florida Archaeology Institute, St. Michael's Cemetery Foundation of Pensacola, Pensacola Archaeology Society and the Florida Public Archaeology Network will present the third in a series of cemetery preservation workshops from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, October 6.
The workshop will be led by Dean DeBolt, director of Special Collections, UWF John C. Pace Library, at the Florida Public Archaeology Network Centre, 207 E. Main St.
The seminar will focus on how to research historic cemeteries and those interred in them.
The workshop is free and open to the public; however, it is geared toward representatives from area not-for-profit cemeteries and family cemeteries, as well as larger for-profit cemeteries and professionals who provide services to cemeteries.
The workshops are designed to bring together the people responsible for managing cemetery resources in order to address common problems and concerns while looking for solutions.
Previous workshops focused on document management, appropriate cleaning methods and vandalism. Details: 474-3015.