Behind the Poster

Whether at an Archaeology Month event or at your local library, you may have seen a copy of the 2014-2015 Nebraska Archaeology Month poster. Posters are the primary means for promoting a state’s archaeology month program, inviting citizens to participate in and learn more about their local archaeology.

Print

While a general theme of Celebrate Nebraska Archaeology has guided Nebraska Archaeology Month over the last couple years, our 2014-2015 poster titled ‘Passages Through Time’ was more specifically focused on the archaeology of Western migration and Nebraska’s recent settlement. The poster’s intent is to emphasize the various methods of investigating the past used by Nebraska archaeologists today, including traditional excavation and artifact analysis as well as modern survey methods and remote sensing techniques. Combined, archaeologists are discovering new aspects of the archaeological record that have long gone unnoticed.

Print

Designed by Graphic Designer Erin Colonna, the 2014-2015 poster centers around an image created from Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data showing wagon ruts and the remains of Alkali Station, a major trail facility used by travelers on the Oregon and California trails, the Pony Express, the transcontinental telegraph, and the frontier army. In 2012, this site, located near Ogallala, became the focus of the National Park Service’s Archaeological Prospection Workshop, which is dedicated to the use of geophysical, aerial photography, and other remote sensing methods as they apply to the identification, evaluation, conservation, and protection of archaeological resources around the U.S. Using collected LiDAR data, a digital elevation model (DEM) of the area was created as shown, depicting a 3D representation of the ground surface with any objects or vegetation removed.

The images appearing in the top right and bottom left of the poster feature Oregon Trail related collections at Scotts Bluff National Monument in Nebraska. Artifacts can tell us much about the people who left such materials behind, including where they came from, what activities they were engaged in, and even when they passed through. For the collections from Scotts Bluff, we can learn about the diverse group of people including Native Americans and emigrants on the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails who used the landmark for travel, camping, settlement, and more!

Print

Finally, the image in the bottom center of the poster shows the systematic metal detection survey of an 1865 battle near Cedar Creek on the Overland Trail. This site, believed to the location of the Rush Creek battle of the American Indian Wars, was discovered in 2008 by a group of students in the University of Nebraska – Lincoln’s Summer Field School in Archaeology, led by Dr. Doug Scott and Dr. Peter Bleed. In 2009, the researchers and 10 additional students further explored the site via a metal detector survey, finding more than 225 artifacts that helped to define the site, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011. Although metal detectors have not always been positively associated with archaeological sites, the use of metal detectors as an archaeological tool has increased considerably since the 1980s, particularly at historic battlefields such as Rush Creek. These surveys have demonstrated that nearly any site containing metal artifacts can benefit from the use of metal detectors (Connor and Scott 1998).

Having highlighted a very important period in Nebraska History and presented a number of the methods available for archaeological research, the 2014-2015 NAM Poster still only covered a very small portion of the past in Nebraska. In 2016, we are hoping to depict another aspect of Nebraska Archaeology and we need your help to come up with a new concept! Submit any ideas you may have for our next Nebraska Archaeology Month poster– share your favorite sites, photos, and/or themes with us by sending an email to NebraskaArchaeologyMonth@gmail.com so we can decide where to focus next. Otherwise stay tuned as we unveil the poster in the New Year!

In Memoriam: Gayle F. Carlson

The archaeological community has again lost a great archaeologist and friend this year with the passing of Gayle F. Carlson. He will be greatly missed.

D2007-00-400

Gayle at the Duck Creek Site (25NH88) in 2007

Gayle F. Carlson passed away in Lincoln Nebraska on November 15, 2015 and lived most of his life in Nebraska. Following service in the U.S. Navy, he received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In 1967 Gayle began employment at the Nebraska State Historical Society as its Highway Archeologist. Gayle remained at the Society serving as Research Archeologist and State Archeologist until his retirement in 2011.

Carlson’s depth and breadth of archeological research in Nebraska and surrounding states was impressive. Although he is known for work in many facets of archeology, his efforts with the early settlement period is particularly notable. He directed excavations, studied collections from, and wrote technical reports and published articles and books on many important sites such as Ft. Atkinson, Ft. Robinson, Rock Creek Station, Engineer Cantonment, and Ft. Sully. These endeavors have not only contributed significantly to material culture studies of Great Plains settlement and military frontier complexes, but also to architecturally and historically accurate reconstructions such as those of the Cheyenne Outbreak and 1887 Adobe Barracks at Ft. Robinson; the Barracks, Powder Magazine, and Council House at Fort Atkinson; and buildings at Rock Creek Station. In the course of working on historic period projects, Gayle became particularly well-known for his detailed yet careful and conservative use of archival information such as maps, journals, diaries, records, newspapers, and photographs. Carlson also has made lasting and significant contributions to a clearer understanding of Native American archeology from 8000 years ago until the 1800s.

While any list of Carlson projects and publications would be rich, diverse, and quite lengthy, his contributions to Nebraska archeology are even more far-ranging through the impact he made on his many professional friends and colleagues. Gayle was the voice of experience and widely known as the ‘go-to guy’ on anything involving Nebraska archeology. He warmly and enthusiastically welcomed questions and discussions from students and archeologists young and old on topics ranging from theory to “what kind of arrowhead is this?” He was far more patient than most of his colleagues when asked by curious members of the general public visiting an excavation; “How do you know where to dig?” “How much is this stuff worth?” or “What tribe of Indians lived here?” Finally, his knowledge of the history and oral tradition of Nebraska archeology as a profession, was encyclopedic. Nebraska archeologists, students, and the interested public are all fortunate for the life and career of Gayle Carlson. It resulted in a vastly richer and more interesting understanding of Nebraska’s archeological record, than had he chosen a different career path.

by Rob Bozell

gayle award

Gayle received NAPA’s William Duncan Strong Award in 2013. Pictured here with Rob Bozell and Cynthia Wiley.

 

D2007-00-41

Gayle with the Duck Creek crew in 2007.

 

It’s a wrap for Archaeology Month 2015!

Congratulations on celebrating another successful Nebraska Archaeology Month! This really is a statewide effort and the energy and time contributed is appreciated!

Governor Pete Ricketts kicked off this year’s celebration on August 12 as he proclaimed September to be Nebraska Archaeology Month 2015! Representatives from the Nebraska State Historical Society’s Highway Archeology Program, the National Park Service’s Midwest Archeological Center, and the Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office attended the proclamation and presented Governor Ricketts with a copy of the Nebraska Archaeology Month Poster.

Governor's Proclamation 2015

The Nebraska Archaeological Society (NAS) put together another successful Nebraska Artifact Show at the Seward County Fairgrounds. Once again, federal and state archaeologists were present at booths with free information on archaeology and educational opportunities for children. Phil Geib, an archaeologist with the Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office, joined other flintknappers in demonstrating how people created various chipped stone tools. The NAS also awarded two memorial scholarships to local university students studying archaeology!

Planned events began in earnest at the beginning of September and filled the month with opportunities to learn about archeology. A special shout-out to Rob Bozell, Highway Archeology Program Manager at the Nebraska State Historical Society (NSHS), who headlined SIX different events! The archaeological community is grateful for the time commitment that Rob made and his dedication to furthering the archaeological interests of Nebraskans. Also, kudos to Courtney Ziska, an archaeologist with the NSHS Highway Archeology Division, for her work in securing multiple grant and funding sources to help defray the costs of speakers’ travels in the state and other event expenses. Courtney has also worked to put together nebraskaarchaeology.org, which has enabled the Nebraska Association of Professional Archeologists to more effectively communicate events, publications, and other information related to Nebraska Archaeology and the celebration of Archaeology Month. Many other people worked hard to make this month a success, and the space here is not sufficient to individually thank them all, so a HUGE thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s Archaeology Month by sponsoring and setting up events, presenting about archaeology, and getting the word out to others – this year’s success is yours!

Of course, a special thanks also goes to our financial sponsors: Humanities Nebraska, the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation, the Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office, the Nebraska State Historical Society Highway Archeology Program, the Nebraska Park Service’s Midwest Archeological Center, and the Nebraska Archaeological Society. Nebraska Archaeology Month would be impossible without your contributions!

After another successful year, it’s time to look ahead to September 2016. Let’s keep the momentum going! 2016 promises to be an unusually busy year for archaeologists in Nebraska, as Lincoln organizes the 74th Annual Plains Anthropological Conference in October, the National Park Service celebrates their Centennial, and Nebraska begins its celebration for its Sesquicentennial in 2017!

With so much happening across the state, the Archaeology Month Committee will be looking for help in putting on another great month’s worth of events in 2016. Fresh faces are needed to assist with tracking event demographics, writing press releases, organizing events… any sort of participation in the planning of Archaeology Month is welcome! If you are interested in helping out, please send an email to nebraskaarchaeologymonth@gmail.com!

Ft. Atkinson Walking Tour

Nebraska Archaeology Month aims to engage professional archaeologists and the citizens of Nebraska in activities showing the archaeological richness of our State in order to encourage a new generation of archaeologists and give citizens a greater appreciation of archaeological site stewardship. Nebraska is a special place and contains spectacular archaeological resources. Thank you for helping to share these resources and archaeology throughout the world!

Geophysical Research on Sod Houses Draws Interest in Custer County

Last Friday, NAPA member and UNL Graduate Student Erin Carr presented her graduate research on the geophysical analysis of three Custer County sod house sites to community members and high school students in Broken Bow, Nebraska. The event was sponsored by the Custer County Historical Society and Museum with cooperation from Broken Bow Public Schools.

Carr’s research, part of a larger Digital Homesteading preservation project led by Dr. LuAnn Wandsnider, involves the geophysical investigation of homestead sites in an attempt to relocate sod house footprints (in this instance, a footprint indicates the physical signature of a sod house that remains even if no visible evidence of the structure exists on the ground surface). She has conducted gradiometry and resistivity surveys on sites of varying levels of disturbance, with the aim of establishing a standard for identifying sod house footprints in future surveys and research, as well as determining whether such footprints disappear from the material record with particular degrees of disturbance. Based on her findings to date, even with continuous disturbance of a site from agricultural activities, a footprint for the sod house structure can still be located using geophysical methods, indicating that such sites, albeit ephemeral, may still prove to yield information via archaeological research.

Custer County residents are excited about the results of Carr’s research, and the larger digital preservation project, with their established connections to their homesteading heritage, particularly through the well known photographs of Custer County homesteads by Solomon Butcher. Fortunately, those interested in reading a final report on Carr’s findings will not have to wait long – her thesis research will be posted online following her defense, which she hopes to complete this December. Visit the Anthropology Department Theses page on digitalcommons.unl.edu for access to this thesis, and other recently completed theses, as they are posted.

UNL Graduate Student Erin Carr with an FM36 Fluxgate Gradiometer during fieldwork

UNL Graduate Student Erin Carr with an FM36 Fluxgate Gradiometer during fieldwork

Explore Archaeology at the Durham!

LostEgyptHeader

Have a future Archaeologist or Egyptologist in the making? Don’t miss the last two weeks of the Durham Museum’s Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science exhibit in Omaha! This exhibit, open until September 6th, allows visitors to learn about archaeology and the work of archaeologists, including how science changes over time as new techniques are developed and new information is uncovered. Visitors will have the chance to explore how mummies, artifacts and other material remains contribute to our scientific understanding of past cultures. Using hands-on challenges, authentic artifacts and guidance from archaeologists, Lost Egypt shows how modern science and technology can reveal the mysteries of Egypt, its culture and its people.

While Nebraska isn’t known for mummies or pyramids, archaeologists here use many of the same tools and techniques that an archaeologist in Egypt may use as they explore the past. This exhibit is a great way to begin celebrating Archaeology Month!

To learn more about the Lost Egypt exhibit and programming, visit the exhibit page at www.durhammuseum.org/experience/exhibits/!

Donna C. Roper Receives the William Duncan Strong Award

The Nebraska Association of Professional Archaeologists is pleased to announce that Donna C. Roper has been presented with the William Duncan Strong Memorial Award in honor of her outstanding contributions to the field of Nebraska Archaeology.

donna_roper_photo

From the award nomination:
“At the 2013 Plains Conference in Colorado, banquet speaker Doug Bamforth was discussing some idiosyncratic aspect of Plains Village chronology and remarked “and if Donna is right, and Donna is always right…” Bamforth’s quip is clear testimony to just how important Donna Roper has been to Central Great Plains archeology.

Donna is from Oneonta, NY (no, that’s not Oneota) where she received her BA in History followed by an MA in Anthropology from the University of Indiana and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1975. She stayed on in Columbia until 1980 before working for Gilbert-Commonwealth out of Michigan until 1991. Since 1992, Donna has been in Manhattan, Kansas as Research Associate Professor with Kansas State University and also working as a private consultant and independent researcher. She has been a member of NAPA since its early days and served in various capacities on the Board of Directors and as long time co-editor of Central Plains Archeology. Most recently, Roper has been instrumental in forging closer ties between NAPA and PAK (Professional Archaeologists of Kansas).

Roper’s depth and breadth of archeological research in Kansas, Nebraska, and surrounding states is impressive and her publication record far exceeds any of our colleagues in the region. An estimate of Donna’s publications to date include: 2 edited books, 8 book chapters, 62 articles in professional journals (including American Antiquity, American Anthropologist, Plains Anthropologist, Central Plains Archeology, Kansas Anthropologist, and Current Archaeology in Kansas), 8 book reviews, 27 major CRM contract monographs, and nearly 200 shorter compliance reports. Much of her compliance work over the years has been in the Republican River basin for the Kansas-Nebraska Office of the US Bureau of Reclamation. The extent of her publication record, in addition to her involvement with public programs including the Kansas Archeology Training Program, Becoming an Outdoors Woman, and public presentations throughout the region, clearly demonstrate the importance she has placed on sharing her knowledge and passion for archeology with her colleagues and the public alike.

Although she is known for work in many facets of archeology, her efforts with the Plains Village period is particularly notable. Her contributions stem from new excavations conducted under her direction, examination of many curated museum collections, rigorous attendance and participation at conferences, keeping abreast of the literature, and perhaps most importantly engaging in serious thinking outside the box. Her most outstanding achievements are a sharper understanding of the Central Plains tradition and post-contact Caddoan (Pawnee in particular) villagers. Specifically, Donna has contributed great detail and understanding of Pawnee ancestry, Central Plains tradition origins and demise, earthlodge construction and use, hunting expeditions and hunting camps, use of ethnohistorical information, and pots and potters. Her most recent research passion has been mass re-analysis of radiocarbon dates and development of dating criteria for building a more accurate Central Plains tradition chronology.

The NAPA community owes a great deal to Donna Roper’s passion for central Great Plains archeological method, theory, practice, interpretation, and dissemination of information. No other archeologist working today is more deserving of the William Duncan Strong Award than Donna Roper.”

-Submitted by Rob Bozell and Courtney Ziska, Nebraska State Historical Society with CV and bibliographic information provided by Lauren Ritterbush and Brad Logan, Kansas State University

On behalf of NAPA, thank you Donna for everything you have contributed to Nebraska Archaeology, and the field of Archaeology as a whole!

393907 NEB

Governor Pete Ricketts proclaims September 2015 as Nebraska Archaeology Month!

On Wednesday, August 10, Governor Pete Ricketts officially proclaimed the month of September 2015 as Celebrate Nebraska Archaeology Month! Archaeologists from the Midwest Archeological Center and the Nebraska State Historical Society attended the proclamation signing ceremony, and were able to distribute Nebraska Archaeology Month posters to the Governor and to each of our state senator’s offices in the Capitol Building.

As the proclamation states, we encourage everyone to promote preservation of our heritage and increase awareness of the state’s history by participating in activities planned for the month! Check out the 2015 Events page to find events happening in your area!

proclamation

proclamation3

proclamation2

Sold Out Crowd for Nebraska POW Camp Archaeology Tour

Last weekend, NAPA member and archaeologist Allison Young presented her graduate research on Nebraska’s Indianola Prisoner of War Camp to a sold out crowd as part of the Buffalo Commons Storytelling weekend. The event, which featured a ‘History’s Mystery’ bus tour to the POW Camp site, proved to be a highlight of the weekend, with a second bus added to accommodate the interested and engaged audience.

The Indianola POW camp was established in 1943 as one of four base internment camps located in Nebraska. In 1944 it became one of the few designated camps in the country that would house pro-Nazi noncommissioned officers. It functioned as such until 1945 when the camp was shut down and the prisoners were repatriated. The camp was later used by the Bureau of Reclamation for employee housing through the 1950s, at which time the land was sold and has since been used for farming and ranching. Young’s investigation of the site focused on exploring the camp’s adherence to the Geneva Convention of 1929, and included metal detection survey and traditional excavation techniques. The completed thesis research is available to be read here.

Allison Young graduated with her master’s degree in anthropology with an emphasis on professional archaeology from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln in 2013. She is currently the park archaeologist of Ozark National Scenic Riverways in southeastern Missouri, where she resides with her dog Hank.

MCC POW 1 MCC POW 2 MCC POW 3 MCC POW 4 MCC POW 5 MCC POW 6