Friday, January 8, 2010

Archaeology Exhibit at the 2010 Pennsylvania Farm Show

For most years since 1980, there has been an archaeology exhibit at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show. This year is no exception. It is a great opportunity to show off recent research such as our work on prehistoric archaeological sites or our experimental archaeology or special topics such as Native American farming. The theme of this year’s Farm Show exhibit is “Archaeology through the Pennsylvania Trails of History”. The exhibit will feature the results of significant archaeological investigations at sites maintained by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), and it will use these sites to illustrate the value of archaeology to our own society.

At a time when some in the public are questioning the benefits of archaeology and the value of our historic sites, we think this exhibit will provide some answers.

The Pennsylvania Trails of History is a visitor’s guide to the historic sites operated by the PHMC. The exhibit will consist of a large map depicting the Trails of History and featuring significant PHMC sites where archaeology has been conducted. Artifacts from these sites will be displayed in two exhibit cases.

The featured sites are Graeme Park, Drake Well, Eckley Miner’s Village, Old Economy and Ephrata Cloister. Each will be used to demonstrate how archaeology benefits our society.

The accompanying brochure details the significant findings at these sites and the value of archaeology. This brochure should be a great addition to the PHMC series.

Archaeology benefits society in four ways:
1) Archaeology provides a heritage for those who do not have a written language. It is our only record of the past prior to writing.
2) Archaeology, along with the written record, provides a more balanced description of the past compared to the biased written record alone.
3) Archaeology descriptively paints a picture of how people once lived and provides a tangible connection to our past.
4) Archaeology identifies long term patterns on how and why cultures change so that we can better plan for our own future.

The exhibit cases will contain artifacts from each of the five properties featured on the banner.
Of special note is the glass trumpet, excavated at Ephrata Cloister. The actual artifact is very fragile and we only have a life size picture as a proxy exhibit.

As in years past, the dugout canoe will be at the Farm Show for the children to sit in and imagine paddling down the rivers of Pennsylvania during prehistoric times.

While the children are enjoying themselves, staff will engage the adults in a discussion of the value of archaeology and the need for the protection and enhancement of archaeological resources. Our mission is to make the public more aware of the rich archaeological heritage preserved in Pennsylvania and that this heritage is threatened by modern development, urban sprawl and governmental indifference.

Robert Winters, a Native American re-enactor and lithic technologist will provide demonstrations on stone tool manufacture and display skillfully replicated Native American ornaments and tools. It is a wonderful opportunity to get up close and personal with Native American technology. Bob has been a favorite at the Farm Show for many years.

The exhibit is a cooperative endeavor by the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology, Inc. (SPA), the Pennsylvania Archaeological Council (PAC), the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC).

Considering the devastating budget cuts to the PHMC and the elimination of grants to non-profit organizations such as PAC and the SPA, public outreach is particularly important this year. Every effort will be made to make the public aware of these cuts and what they mean to Pennsylvania’s archaeological and historical heritage. For example, public education is going to be increasingly difficult without grant programs for the non-profit organizations. Travel for school programs or field research has been reduced and in some cases eliminated. Plans for new exhibits have been cancelled and the maintenance of existing exhibits has been reduced. Many historic properties have been closed and these are the tangible remains of Pennsylvania’s heritage.

The Farm Show runs from 9:00 am on January 9th to 5:00 pm on January 16th. The exhibit will be located in the northeast corner of the main exhibit hall, the same location as in previous years. It is a spectacular cultural event, so please come, participate and enjoy the great food. It’s a fun experience for the entire family!

For more information, visit or the Hall of Anthropology and Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania .

1 comment:

  1. this will definitely be a stop for me while at the farm show!