Tag Archives: archaeology

Some updates! (It’s been awhile…)

24 Apr

First off, as a continuation of my last post a long time back… My finished abstract:

Recent studies at the regional and national levels show how the earliest inhabitants of the Americas, also known as Paleoindians, were spread across the land by looking at the distribution of projectile points and other associated artifacts dating to between 11,500 and 9000 years BP (before present).  However, there is still much to understand about Paleoindian and subsequent Early Archaic site distributions because the existing data is insufficient to truly understand the lifeways of these first inhabitants.  Several reasons partly account for the paucity of the data base.  First, early sites are few in number and difficult to find because they are frequently represented by single finds of distinctive projectile points.   In addition, many regions have poor documentation of most sites in existing databases.  Finally, few systematic research efforts have been undertaken in many areas with the intention of locating sites from this time period.  Thus, a wider range of sites needs to be identified before we can truly understand the lifeways of our earliest inhabitants.  This project proposes to develop the existing database of Paleoindian/Early Archaic sites with the objective of generating a predictive model of Paleoindian/Early Archaic settlement in a portion of west central Michigan.  The study area will include Allegan, Kent, and Ottawa counties, a region where few sites have been recorded.  Paleoindian and Early Archaic site distributions will be compiled by utilizing publications on artifacts (primarily projectile points) from these two periods and State of Michigan Archaeological Site File records.  These existing sources will be supplemented with information from landowners, artifact collectors, and historical societies which constitute a relatively untapped resource and will be the most important in discovering the patterns of Paleoindian/Early Archaic land use for the study area.  Through these methods, it will be possible to establish a comprehensive database of known locations of sites in these three counties which will become the basis of a predictive model that can be tested by systematic survey. Maps of the site locations will be created and compared to environmental and other features to develop a testable predictive model. This model will be a valuable resource for future inquiries into early settlement and adaptive strategies in the region and also can be used to identify new sites in the future.

Yup!  That’s what I’m doing starting in May.  It’s pretty exciting now that it is getting closer.  I recall being ready to strangle the nearest person while writing that whole proposal out.  All I have left for this semester is two take-home finals and one in-class final to do.  Then, I have a week of a break that my SO and I will be off to visit our families on the other side of the state (and maybe some friends). 

Monday, May 9th there is a kick-off luncheon for McNair Scholars students and mentors.  Pictures taken for the journal and website and all that fun stuff.  I am already setting up appointments to look at artifacts, have finalized my list of museums to contact for setting up the artifact identification days, and started making my lithic recording forms.  Now, as this all draws nearer, I’m getting that much more excited.

My typical McNair week:
Monday —  GRE (Verbal) study class: 9:00am-10:30am; Wellness seminar 10:45am-12:00pm
Tuesday —  Graduate School Research and Application Preparation(GS-RAP) class: 9:00am-11:15am; Toastmasters meeting 11:30am- 1:00pm
Wednesday — GRE (Math) study class: 9:00am-10:30am; Yoga: 10:45-12:00pm
Thursday — GS-RAP class: 9:00am-10:45am; McNair Meeting: 11:00-1:00pm

… Every week save for practice GRE exams, 5-,10-,15-minute presentations, and the McNair conference in Buffalo.  Check out the links if you want to know more about what each one of those things is.

Critiquing an Abstract

11 Mar

 Recent national and regional research into the distribution of Paleoindian projectile points has produced some initial patterning data. However, there is still much to be discovered related to distributions and criticisms include a lack of data from certain counties and a failure to collect data from non-academic sources. Data will be compiled by utilizing state records of sites with Paleoindian components, gathering data from landowners and artifact collectors, and adding it to the known academic publications on Paleoindian projectile point distributions in Allegan, Kent, and Ottawa Counties of Michigan. Through this, a comprehensive database of these artifacts and a distributional map will created and analyzed for patterning and statistical probabilities of the locations of further sites will be generated. These tools will be a valuable resource for future inquiries into Paleoindian settlement and adaptive strategies as well as locating new sites with which more information can be gathered to further understand the Paleoindian period in Michigan.
Word Count: 156 / Word Limit: 300

– – – – –

What do you understand about the above statement, what do you absolutely not understand, and what do you think could be made more clear?

I’m gonna break this down now to explain it. A self-critique of my own abstract if you will. I hope to be able to flesh this out to make it understandable to many people without intrinsic knowledge of the subject matter.

– – – – –

Recent national and regional research into the distribution of Paleoindian projectile points has produced some initial patterning data.

There have been recent studies at the regional and national levels to show how the earliest inhabitants of the Americas, also known as Paleoindians, were distributed across the land by looking at the distribution of diagnostic styles of projectile points.

However, there is still much to be discovered related to distributions and criticisms include a lack of data from certain counties and a failure to collect data from non-academic sources.

However, there is still much to be discovered related to Paleoindian distributions because current studies are largely incomplete due to a lack of data from certain states and counties  long with a wider ranges of sources for the data needs to be considered.

Data will be compiled by utilizing the resource of state records of sites with Paleoindian components, gathering data from landowners and artifact collectors, and adding it to the known academic publications on Paleoindian projectile point distributions in Allegan, Kent, and Ottawa Counties of Michigan.

The study area will be the Allegan, Kent, and Ottawa Counties of Michigan.  Paleoindian distribution will be compiled by utilizing known academic publications on Paleoindian projectile points and State of Michigan records of sites with Paleoindian period components that may or may not have been studied and published.  Landowners, artifact collectors, and historical societies are a relatively untapped resource and will be the most important in discovering the patterns of Paleoindian land use for the study area.

Through this, a comprehensive database of these artifacts and a distributional map will created and analyzed for patterning and statistical probabilities of the locations of further sites will be generated.

Through these methods, it will be possible to establish a comprehensive database of known locations of Paleoindian projectile point discoveries in these three counties.   Futhermore, a distributional map of the find locations for artifacts will be created and compared to known sites.  Statistical probabilities for further sites can be generated with these data.

These tools will be a valuable resource for future inquiries into Paleoindian settlement and adaptive strategies as well as locating new sites with which more information can be gathered to further understand the Paleoindian period in Michigan.

More information can be gathered beyond this study to even further understand the Paleoindian period in Michigan. These tools will a valuable resource for future inquiries into Paleoindian settlement and adaptive strategies.  They can also be used to identify new sites and better understand where probable sites are located.

Overall, the new abstract comes to 262 words, with which I am much more pleased.  I also feel it is much more descriptive and explanatory.  Though really, this is just me.  I would appreciate any feedback.  (Also, a few minor touch-ups were made on this final one with word use, etc. as I fit it all together.

– – – – –

There have been recent studies at the regional and national levels to show how the earliest inhabitants of the Americas, also known as Paleoindians, were spread across the land by looking at the distribution of diagnostic styles of projectile points. However, there is still much to be discovered related to Paleoindian distributions because current studies are largely incomplete due to a lack of data from certain states and counties long with a wider ranges of sources for the data needs to be considered. The study area will be the Allegan, Kent, and Ottawa Counties of Michigan. Paleoindian distribution will be compiled by utilizing known academic publications on Paleoindian projectile points and State of Michigan records of sites with Paleoindian period components that may or may not have been studied and published. Landowners, artifact collectors, and historical societies are a relatively untapped resource and will be the most important in discovering the patterns of Paleoindian land use for the study area. Through these methods, it will be possible to establish a comprehensive database of known locations of Paleoindian projectile point discoveries in these three counties. Futhermore, a distributional map of the find locations for artifacts will be created and compared to known sites. Statistical probabilities for further sites can be generated with these data. More information can be gathered beyond this study to even further understand the Paleoindian period in Michigan. These tools will a valuable resource for future inquiries into Paleoindian settlement and adaptive strategies. They can also be used to identify new sites and better understand where probable sites are located.

Lost in Translation

27 Feb

I know I have a few readers, my site stats say so.  My readers are probably just my friends, but you’re all lurking!

And after a long-winded phone call the other night with a close friend, I realized that most of you unless trained in archaeology have no idea what I’m talking about with most of the terms I use.  This is something I really don’t want.  I want to be able to communicate with academics and people so far from the discipline that they don’t even know what a projectile point is, much less a Gainey point made of Upper Mercer chert found in association with a netsinker (of which is not possible, for those who -don’t- know,  aka all of you most likely).

So I need you guys to tell me what’s up and where I’m losing you.  I need to know where I’m being too wordy or not explaining enough.

Honestly, writing for grants and such is a big part of my future both in grad school and my professional life.  I’ll need money that comes from grant providers who many have next to no experience dealing with my field or specializations and I need to be able to communicate to them what I want to do and why it is important. 

Will you all help me out?  Maybe go back to a post or a few which you didn’t really understand and tell me, or keep me on my toes in the future.  You’ll be helping me out gratuitously. 🙂

Writing a Research Proposal

23 Feb

My research project is fully decided.  I will be holding artifact identification events at local museums and historical societies and recording where the Paleoindian/Early Archaic projectile points were collected, as well as examining state records for Paleoindian components in sites in the Allegan, Ottawa, and Kent counties.  These data will be compiled into a comprehensive database and a distributional map created.  Hopefully altogether, statistically probable Paleoindian sites with be able to be identified.  Time permitting, these data will be analyzed through GIS technologies and perhaps submitted to PIDBA.

Onward to the research proposal.

Cleverly enough, I scheduled it so that I can write a research proposal and use the same information for my Archaeological Methods proposal.  Now, because its a cross-discipline scholars program, the people at McNair have issued a proposal template.  Jan has given us the assignment in Methods to base it off of some NSF proposals.  These are great, truly to see the format, style and flow.

However, for someone who has never written anything like this before it can be quite a hard task.

I’m having trouble stating my research question, writing an abstract, and planning a budget.  The only thing that isn’t troubling me thus far is the literature review, which is really a glorified research paper stating the background of the subject of the research, as in what has been done before.

Well, I still have a few weeks.  Right now I have to concentrate on midterms, papers, and exams for classes that are all due in the upcoming week.  Wish me luck!

Holcombe Beach – Paleoindians in Macomb County

25 Jan

Historic Marker for the Holcombe Beach Site

As I gather data and sources for my literature review, I stumbled upon something rather exciting.  I already knew of Holcombe Beach as being the source of name for a specific type of Projectile Point.  What I didn’t know is that it is practically in SO’s parent’s backyard — just a few miles away from their house.  What else I didn’t know is that its now a baseball park with some stands and diamonds pretty much over the top of it.

On one hand, I’m rather excited.  On the other, I feel that its kind of tragic that the only significance given to this site is the random chance that they might stumble upon the historic marker, which is a bit dated in language in my opinion, but hey at least there is one.

Strangely enough I had a dream last night that my Archaeological Methods class took a field trip to this site (all the way across the state of Michigan) becuase the original excavators never finished one of the units so we were going to!  And we found so much and it gained so much popularity the Macomb County officials decided to tear down the baseball park and build a museum to catalog the county’s rich history from Paleoindian settlement all the way to the present.   And it was a glorious museum with labs and amazing exhibits.  Macomb County has a couple non-government museums opperating through tour fees and/or donations — but nothing like this.

This little website about Holcombe Beach, not by any government, is all that we get for now.  Perhaps we’ll see some changes in the future — until then, I can have my nice little dreams.

And its only the first week!?

15 Jan

That is folks.  Only the end of the first week and I already wanted to drop at least one of the classes, if not more.  Which ones?  I barely remember, it was probably all of them at some point.  After all, I have 16 seperate class sessions to attend per week plus independent study and McNair.

Okay, all this talk of McNair!  What is it? McNair Scholars Program “is designed to prepare undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. McNair participants are either first-generation college students with financial need, or members of a group that is traditionally underrepresented in graduate education and have demonstrated strong academic potential. The goal of the McNair Scholars Program is to increase graduate degree awards for students from underrepresented segments of society.”

Yeah, I pretty much took the whole paragraph… but there’s a lot more to it.  I have to go to career seminars, public speaking meetings, yoga and stress management sessions, GRE prep, writing workshops for Cirriculum Vitae, personal statements, etc, and oh… I forgot to mention the 20+ hours per week of independent research, publishing findings, and presenting said findings in multiple venues including at a national conference.  The yoga makes sense now.  Hey, at least I get a stipend and research budget.

My research topic is due soon, and a complete research proposal for all of this is due in March.  I’ve started to compile, what Jan wants to be, a nearly complete bibliography of all research done with Paleoindians in Michigan.  On top of my previously mentioned work load of classes.

Today was my first McNair career seminar.  In which we were handed a lot of papers, told to take some personality/interest tests at home and bring the results to next weeks session.  We did do one in the meeting – Myers-Briggs.   Hey, guess what!  I’m an INTJ, just like I already knew.  Hmm…

As for now… I’m either going to go do some Anthro Theory reading and perhaps take some notes for the weekly journal assignment for that… or go play Harvest Moon: Animal Parade.  (And I wish I knew I needed to save a carrot for the Winter and Rob Frost.) 

On that note, I’ll leave you reflecting upon this image:

I didn't make it... but I like it. 🙂

And they’re off the starting line!

11 Jan

So there we have it.  The first day of classes began today, which included all four of the ones I am taking this semester.  Yup, long day.  As an overview:

– Archaeological Methods sounds like its going to be loads of fun.  We’ll be analyzing artifacts from Blendon Landing, a mid 19th century logging town that I excavated as part of field school last summer and already helped to present at Michigan Archaeology Day in Lansing, MI.  Continuation looks nice on CVs and applications for Grad School, I hear. 🙂  We’ll also be creating our own research proposals, looking into statistics used, and reading The Early Mesoamerican Village by Kent Flannery. Woohoo!  Oh, and bonus, taught by Jan.

– Environments and Cultures of the Great Lakes is a lot of reading and quite interesting.  Some nice information on environment, geology, and prehistoric cultures of information seems to be where the class is head.  Kind of my specific interests all rolled into one.  Jan teaches this one, too.

– Anthropological Theory, well, the professor leaves a lot to be desired and therefore makes it a bit easier grade in the class overall (because really, who finds videos for theory?).   Seems like pretty light reading, though fairly fast-paced.  I guess discussion is going to be important but most of the work is turned in online.  The class is being divided into 6 groups for a book-reading project:  Ethnology/Ethnography, Archaeology, Non-human Primates, Paleoanthropology, Linguistics, and Biological Anthropology.  Guess which one I chose?  There is a book list online already, but I still need to look through that.

– Now Chemistry, this is a re-take for me, mainly due to 5crs worth of a D not sitting well for me.   However, the grading system seems a little easier this time around as well as a much more forgiving and helpful professor.  I took the Structure Learning Assisstance (SLA) section, meaning I meet an extra two day for one hour each with a glorified tutor in a class setting with other to go over in more detail and really drill it in.  It didn’t work last time I took it, but we’ll see this time around – maybe someone different can help more.  I did well in the lab last time, so I think I can pull that off again.  I’m confident in getting a higher grade, but that’s really just because I know I’ll work harder.

I’m also doing ANT 399 – Independent Reading.  I’m basically doing a lit review for the summer project, now if I can just get that whole McNair thing figured out…  Jan let me borrow some books (which I almost lost today – eek!) to look over, then realized that it might not be so much a lithics project that I’m doing nor in my main area of interest (Northwest Coast).

Also more pertaining to McNair, talked to Jan (my mentor, advisor, and professor) today about McNair Scholars Program things.  I just wanted to start brainstorming about things but wanted to get a feel of how much work is too much and how much is too little… turned into more talking about areas of interest rather than how big to dream.   Now I have to compose a list of things that interest me, and we can decide on things from there.  Guess we’re talking more about that Wednesday… Friday is my first career seminar for McNair.

My Brainstorming? Well…

Coastal Archaeology
– site preservation issues, wet site preservation vs erosion/rising water levels
– subsistence strategies in coastal regions
– tool technology

Glacial Changes
– refugia
– coastal migration
– changes in settlement/subsistence strategies
– paleoenvironment reconstructions, changes over time
– adaptations to environmental changes at Pleistocene/Holocene boundary

Tools/Technology
– lithics
– fishing implements / emergence of marine-based subsistence
– bone tools:  terrestrial vs marine, uses and types; fishing tools; large sea mammal bones

Coastal Migration
– tools: lithics, etc
– site location, refugia, recognizing potential coastal sites
– marine-based subsistence key in coastal migration?
– glacial changes: ice retreating; isostatic rebound; effects on site location and subsistence availability
– Archaic populations on Pacific Coast in relation to Paleoindians/Potentional Pre-Clovis populations

I suppose for now, these are my areas of interest.  Now, developing a research project based around something up there.  Oh, and working around the fact that my favorite professor/advisor/mentor for this project is wholly Processual… and well I’m on Modernity Leave.  Hmm…  Well, I suppose my research questions aren’t that specifically postmodern.  My anthropological theory is certainly postmodern, but my archaeological? – I guess I’ve just been influenced by Jan a bit. Maybe. 😛