Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Don't miss the 92nd annual meeting of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology!

The 92nd annual meeting of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology will be held at the Comfort Suites in Dubois, PA this weekend, April 14th – 16th , 2023.  As in past years, this three-day event promises to inform attendees across a wide range of interesting archaeological topics.

In conjunction with the Society’s annual meeting, the Pennsylvania Archaeological Council (PAC) will convene to discuss ways to address the looming shortage of archaeologists entering the Cultural Resource Management (CRM) profession. Expected energy and transportation infrastructure projects on the horizon will require a new generation of archaeologists, and in numbers, to meet the demand. To that end, the PAC is sponsoring a casual mixer Friday evening to introduce students considering a career in CRM to meet professional archaeologists, consulting firms, state agencies, and other industry stakeholders with an eye on the future.

Anticipated presentations at the meeting with direct connections to the State Museum of Pennsylvania’s Section of Archaeology include an update on recent AMS dating of organic artifacts from Sheep Rock Shelter (36HU0001). Long curated with the Section of Archaeology, the artifacts from Sheep Rock Shelter have been the subject of previous TWIPA posts such as: Huntingdon County is the Home of Rock shelters and Iron Furnaces from our county series; K is for Knife, featuring the incredible bone handled knife found at Sheep Rock Shelter from our archaeology through the alphabet series; and of course, Excavations at Sheep Rock Shelter (36Hu1). 

Squash seeds, Corn cobs, and husks from Sheep Rock Shelter, 36HU0001. Collections of The State Museum of Pennsylvania

Additionally, this regionally significant archaeological site will be highlighted and honored with one of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s iconic blue and yellow historical markers this fall. Renewed interest in old collections, coupled with enhanced analytical techniques that ultimately broaden our understanding of the past is the affirmation of the work of a curator of archaeological collections, and the Sheep Rock Shelter collection is an excellent example of that effort.

Speaking on the curious semi-subterranean features found on Pre-Contact village sites referred to as “keyholes”, the State Museum of Pennsylvania’s Jim Herbstritt will provide a deep dive into his decades long research into these archaeological phenomena. Construction methods, possible functions for, and cultural clues about these enigmatic features will be explored through ethnohistoric accounts, systematic excavation, and artifact analysis, as well as insight gained during experimental reconstructions.

Saturday evening’s lectures will conclude with this year’s keynote speaker, archaeologist Dr. Timothy Abel. Dr. Abel will share his findings working with AMS (accelerated mass spectrometry) dating of late Pre-Contact period (1200 – 1600 AD) Iroquoian settlements in northern New York state. New refinements in the dating technique employed can both “tighten” but also potentially upend existing chronologies, with implications that reach far beyond the targeted study area.

Student poster session from 2022 meeting

The weekend’s events are rounded out by a juried student poster session, bookroom, and a silent auction benefiting the efforts of the Society.  The Society is a group of dedicated professional and advocational archaeologists who promote the study of  Pre-Contact and historic archaeological resources in Pennsylvania and neighboring states.  It works to promote scientific research and discourages exploration which is deemed irresponsible in intent or practice. Membership is open to all who agree with these basic principles and Chapters located throughout the Commonwealth provide activities in support of the State Society.  Included with membership is the journal Pennsylvania Archaeologist and quarterly newsletter.  The Society’s annualtrip this year is the Archaeology of Civil War Battlefields and sites, June 8-11, 2023.

Many of these dedicated members of the Society choose to curate their collections to insure the preservation of the archaeological record represented in their collection. The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Section of Archaeology would like to thank Mr. Michael Kotz for his generous artifact donation.  Collected all from one site in Washington County the artifacts represent the Archaic through Late Woodland time periods, and include numerous nutting stones, (36WH1160), and bifurcated points (Archaic) through triangular points (Late Woodland). This collection provides researchers with an opportunity to further examine procurement and processing patterns in this corner of southwestern Pennsylvania.

Please continue to follow us on this blog to learn more about what is happening in archaeology around the Commonwealth and check out The State Museum’s Facebook page for activities of the museum and view our on-line collections on the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission website

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

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