This week in Pennsylvania archaeology we are visiting some old friends and familiar collections. At the end of last week a few of the Section of Archaeology staff set out toward Milford, Pa, where they spent two days conscientiously packing up, long time collector and educator, Bill Leiser’s artifact collection from several eastern Pennsylvania sites. Mr. Leiser is a retired middle school science teacher, who collected on sites in the Upper Delaware River Valley for over 50 years and has spent time in his retirement continuing to educate students on prehistoric life in Pennsylvania and the importance of archaeology and record keeping.
Mr. Leiser with a reconstructed pot and stone tools from the Santos site.
Mr. Leiser discussing site information and artifacts with staff member as we work to safely bag and box up the artifacts.
Mr. Leiser is a dedicated and knowledgeable avocational archaeologist who has devoted a lot of his time to excavating, curating and sharing his collections. Working alongside other avocational archaeologists such as David Werner, William DeGraw and a former student of Mr. Leiser’s- Fred Assmus these men honed their excavation and mapping skills. Fred Kinsey who was a curator with the William Penn Memorial Museum (now the State Museum of Pennsylvania) and later at the North Museum at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, provided guidance to these former members of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology, Lenape Chapter 12. Bill gleaned invaluable knowledge on recording and mapping sites and continued to keep detailed records on his own excavations. You may remember from previous blog posts (, , and ) these other members of Chapter 12 have also donated their collections to the Section of Archaeology, which included most of the Zimmermann site (36Pi14) artifacts. Thanks to Mr. Leiser’s donation we believe we have completed our acquisition of all of the available Zimmermann site collection, which as has been mentioned in previous blogs is a large, well-documented site due to the efforts of Mr. Werner, Mr. Leiser, Mr. DeGraw and Mr. Assmus ( ).
A few of the Zimmermann site artifacts in Mr. Leiser’s collection.
One of the many shelving units and cases that Mr. Leiser safely kept his collections.
Along with excavating and collecting at the Zimmermann site, Mr. Leiser also collected on numerous other sites. Some of these other sites include the Santos site (36Pi37 and 36Pi02) and the Ludwig/Pitman site (36Pi19), both of which are large multi-component sites with numerous artifacts covering a large span of time. As he learned from the Zimmermann site, Mr. Leiser continued to take copious notes, create maps of the excavation units and organized the artifacts in such a way that he retained the unit and level information for each one. It is this extensive work that lends to these collections true value as exceptional research sources and great tools to furthering our understanding of the history/prehistory of this region.
Example of some of Mr. Leiser’s notes and maps for the Santos site.
Example of how Mr. Leiser kept artifacts organized by site, unit and level.
Bill and James with a few artifacts from the Santos site.
With the help of Bill and his son James, archaeology staff were able to safely pack and transport Mr. Leiser’s collection to The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Section of Archaeology. We will begin to process Mr. Leiser’s collection into our cataloging and inventory system. This process allows us to prepare the collection for future researchers. The inventory process encompasses current point and ceramic nomenclature facilitating an opportunity to further comparative research into these recently acquired collections from the Upper Delaware. We thank Mr. Leiser for his hospitality, diligence and efforts to help preserve these all-important pieces of our past.
Dr. Kurt Carr will be sharing research related to the recently reprinted book Indian Paths of Pennsylvania, Paul Wallace, 2018, this weekend at the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum
Archaeologists understand the importance of sharing our research with the community and offer a variety of venues for avocational and professional archaeologists to present their findings. Every spring there is a flurry of conferences available for the general public to attend and share in these discoveries. For those who would like to attend, the Middle Atlantic Archaeological Conference (MAAC) is being held in Ocean City, Md this year from March 21st – 24th. For the program and other additional information on the meeting please visit the website here:. Online registration is closed, but walk-in registration is available.
Another opportunity to hear about the archaeology of Pennsylvania is the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology (SPA) annual meeting being held in Uniontown, Pa on April 5th – 7th. For additional information please visit the SPA annual meeting website at:. We hope to see you at one of the spring meetings or at one of the speaking engagements of our staff. Please take some time to read about the archaeological heritage of our commonwealth and the lessons that archaeology can provide for the future. Follow the example of Bill Leiser and his friends to record archaeological sites that you may know about. Remember this is your heritage and it is our duty as citizens to strive to preserve the past for the future.