Friday, May 3, 2013

Reflections as internship comes to a close

This week we welcome a guest blogger to our growing list of blogs and delay the return to our journey across Pennsylvania’s archaeological landscape by county. The Archaeology Section has been fortunate to have two interns this semester, Krissy Kramer from Shippensburg University and Sean O’Hara from Elizabethtown College. Both of these students have done a fantastic job with their various tasks and projects and we appreciate their dedication and contribution to the “team”.  Please take this opportunity to read about Sean’s experience with the Section and if you are a student, think about joining us in the future for an internship.

My name is Sean O’Hara. I am a senior Anthropology/Sociology major at Elizabethtown College and will be graduating this May. For my last spring semester I interned with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Section of Archaeology located in Harrisburg. I hope after graduation to find a job in research, data management or an analyst type job. After taking a yearlong intensive research class in the Anthropology/Sociology department and writing over a dozen research papers as an Anthropology major, I became really interested in doing a research oriented, internship program.
                The first few weeks of my internship were spent helping Dr. Kurt Carr with his research on Paleoindian fluted point sites by creating data tables for his analysis. I gathered up a series of reports that he was using and collected information on the number of tools and their respective lithic material type. Using this information I created tables of Pennsylvania sites with fluted points and other tools, such as endscrapers, that the Paleoindians used. The sites ranged in size from only a few dozen tools to thousands of stone tools.  Some of the reports contained tables, but others required careful reading and recording of the tool quantities. Attention to detail was important to make sure that I did not repeat any numbers when a report didn’t include a table. 

intern Sean O'Hara crunching the numbers on the computer for Dr. Carr

I also helped Dr. Carr review his list of Paleoindian sites in Pennsylvania and clean up the database. This took several days to thoroughly review and required comparison with research databases and site recording data in the Cultural Resources Geographic Information system (CRGIS).  This exercise was important to insure that the analysis was based on accurate figures.  As expected, this was a time consuming undertaking that Dr. Carr hadn’t been able to complete given the demands of his schedule.  It was during this project that I noticed that the physiographic codes for the sites were wrong.  Due to a change in data codes in the GIS system, it became apparent that some of our data was using both the old and new codes. Consequently, this required conversion of the codes and data alignment between the two systems. 
intern, and soon to be Elizabethtown College gradutate, Sean O'Hara cataloging an artifact collection in the State Museum of PA's archaeology lab
  I assisted Janet Johnson with some research on early bottle seals. She had two old glass bottle seals that required identification. I started off by taking pictures of them, and then tried to identify the writing on each. One of the seals had a clear picture so it did not require much of an effort. The seal had a “B” in one corner, a picture of a distiller, and a “2” in roman numerals in another corner. The “B” was the easiest to identify, the “roman numeral 2” however took a bit of work to identify. Janet and I looked at it under a magnifying glass and a microscope to try and figure it out. At first we thought it was an “H” but the middle of the “H” after a time made us think otherwise. The picture of the distiller threw us off at first but the device looked familiar to me. I looked it up online and realized it was a distiller. I had seen it before when I was a chemistry major. I spent the rest of the day looking up which company could have made it. Janet knew that it had to have come from the 17th or 18th century. My research into this did not turn up much, just that the letter and number represented the model number. Sadly, I could not find the name of the company.

Glass bottle seal reasearched by intern Sean O'Hara

Throughout my internship I performed a wide variety of other jobs such as data entry, cataloging and I even got to do some field work at Fort Hunter in the middle of last winter, but research was by far my favorite. Overall, my internship here was a great experience. I met and worked with a great bunch of people and learned a lot. I hope this experience will help me in the future especially since I will be graduating soon and will need a job. I had the opportunity to do a wide variety of tasks but I really enjoyed doing the detailed research. I would recommend interning at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Section of Archaeology to anyone interested in the field of archaeology or anthropology. Thanks to everyone whom I had the pleasure of working with for a wonderful and memorable experience.

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

1 comment:

  1. I was interested to read Sean O’Hara’s blog on his internship, which would have been something I would have enjoyed at his age. I write to correct his conclusion on the engraving of the glass bottle seal, which is not that the letter and number reflected a model number or the name of a company. The initials and motif on the seal can be described as "B M flanking a Still, surmounting a furnace, within a beaded border". The detached seal is probably 17th century, with iridescent and degraded green glass. The two cross-members of the initial ‘M’ are unclear from the website image. It is probable that the original bottle can be associated with The Still tavern where a large number were in evidence in London between the years 1649 and 1672. (London Signs, Bryant Lillywhite 1972, p 519). The two initials represent the tavern keeper and the bottle will have been taken by a visitor from London or elsewhere in England to the colony. A search of the trade tokens issued from a Still tavern produce none where the initials match the initials on this seal fragment. Although a majority of the taverns were known as The Still, The Golden Still was known in Little Britain, Holborn and Wapping, Ye Still at “Pvddle Dock”, The Still and Barrel in Fetter Lane, Ye Still and Juniper Tree in Drury Lane, The Still and Swan in “Ye Minories” and The Still and Tobacco Roll in “White Chappell”. I hope this helps clarify your important discovery and would welcome a higher resolution image for my records if that were possible. Kind regards
    David Burton, Tunbridge Wells, England