2019 October - Reconstructive and Experimental Archaeology Conference (REARC), USA - Abstracts

Papers

Student Perspective on Printing the Past: SC in 3D
Victoria Peck and Morgan Condrey
vlpeck@coastal.edumecondrey@coastal.edu

Printing the Past: SC in 3D is a collaborative project between Coastal Carolina University students and faculty with the Horry County Museum. The project involved the creation of an exhibit that highlights accessibility through the use of 3D printed artifacts from the museum’s collections. 3D printing and scanning technology were used by the students and faculty to create size and design accurate models of the artifacts that would be able to be touched and experienced by visitors to the museum. The 3D printed prehistoric, historic, and natural history artifacts came together to make the story of Horry County accessible. This innovative project brings about a way of interacting with artifacts that considers the needs of those who cannot experience museums in a traditional manner. We aim to highlight the experience and skills gained through the process of exhibit creation while discussing our own thoughts and feelings throughout the project.

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Sea-level Rise and Native American Shell Middens from the Late Holocene to Modern Day
Billie Rogers
barogers@coastal.edu
 
Beginning 4,000 years ago, sea levels stabilized after years of rising due to melting ice and glacial forebulge subsidence. The rising sea created new saltwater marshes that took many years for organisms such as shellfish and saltwater plants to colonize. The stabilization of these marshlands most likely increased the value of their resources to Native Americans who lived around these areas. Shell middens and rings have been found along the southern east and gulf coast of the United States. Previous research has examined the use and reason for the locations of these rings. However, using shell midden sites at Hobcaw Barony, South Carolina as a case study, this project will move to the present day and examine how modern sea-level rise, weather events, and king tides affect the current state of shell middens. This will help us further understand the impacts of climate change related events on coastal archaeological sites.

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3D Scanning and Printing for Archaeology: “Printing the Past: SC in 3D”
Carolyn Dillian and Katie Stringer Clary  
mclary@coastal.edu, cdillian@coastal.edu

Working with students in our upper-level archaeology and history courses, we collaborated with the Horry County Museum, Conway, South Carolina, to create a 3D scanned/printed exhibit that used best practices of universal design to increase accessibility to archaeological and historical collections for audiences with visual disabilities and sensory processing differences. Using 3D scanning and printing technologies, we created a hands-on exhibit, accompanied by braille, large print, and audio narration, that allowed our target audience to explore these often sensitive materials through touch. This allowed the Museum to reach individuals who otherwise may not benefit from artifacts housed in display cases with printed panel text. Students used 3D scanning and printing technology, created interpretive materials, and researched best practices for people with disabilities; and museum professionals learned about the process and its benefits through presentations at regional conferences. Here, we explain our methods and their application for archaeology, museums, and outreach.

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Waites Island, South Carolina: Shell Modifications from Pottery
Allison Cappello
aecappell@coastal.edu

Numerous amounts of Mercenaria mercenaria shell discovered within the same area of shell-scraped late archaic ceramics on a prehistoric site at Waties Island South Carolina. This has raised a fascinating question: is there a distinctive modification left on M. mercenaria after its use for ceramic creation? Researching to find the answer by experimenting with M. mercenaria shell on the sand tempered clays and microscopically identifying any modifications left on the shell, we can hope to find an answer. By defining the modifications, we can hopefully determine shell tools used in the past and identify them in the future.

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Vlogging the past: making the stone age digital
Tim Messner
messnetc@potsdam.edu

As practitioners of the past, we have a responsibility to disseminate our findings to the scholarly community and the public. To many researchers, conferences and publications provide the only avenue for accomplishing this task. This presentation highlights the value of Vlogs in experimental archaeological research to expand public outreach and scholarly engagement. I introduce the idea of developing a digital segment within conference proceedings. To highlight these points, I showcase a VLOG segment called: Beaver (Castor canadensis) teeth as tools? This Vlog examines the utility of beaver incisors for adze work. Experiments were conducted using a variety of incisors in an antler socketed adze. Findings suggest teeth work well in this capacity, but only for a limited time. By showcasing this Vlog, I hope to highlight the utility of digital media and to spark conversations related to the future of digital experimental archaeology.

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How could I kill thee? Let me count the ways – 20 years of safe metalworking (With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
Fergus Milton
gooster9@gmail.com

Metalworking demonstrations are very popular with visitors to open-air archaeological museums such as those belonging to EXARC. Visitors, more used to experiencing life through their phone-screen, are fascinated with the sights and sounds of the skills first developed by our Bronze-Age ancestors. But inherent in the demonstration and teaching of these ancient processes are numerous dangers, both obvious and subtle: Arsenic, anthrax, inversion layer carbon monoxide and even water – the list of hazards is long and potentially bewildering to anyone starting out, or working in, the field of prehistoric metallurgy. 
In this thorough but light-hearted talk, I will draw on my 20 years’ experience in prehistoric metallurgy, to explore some of the key hazards and suggest simple and practical steps to eliminate or moderate the dangers.
Though focused mainly on the metalworking trades, much of the content will be relevant to other “hot” trades and general period demonstrators.

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An Exploration of Cherokee Foodways 
Jane M. Eastman
jeastman@email.wcu.edu

Nixtamalization is the cooking process that transforms dried maize kernels into hominy. In addition to slipping the seed coat and doubling the size of the kernel, nixtamalization also makes available essential amino acids and niacin in the corn. In the absence of this alkaline -processing, a maize-rich diet has serious negative health implications. Nixtamalization is currently understood by many archaeologists to be the cultural breakthrough that made Mississippian lifeways possible in the Southeastern US. Students in Anth 320 Experimental Archaeology at Western Carolina University are focusing on the unique Cherokee applications of this method to their foodways and those of their Mississippian ancestors. This paper will introduce our project for this semester and will report on the early results of our experiments.

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From old to truly ancient: replicating food and culture
Scott Stull
Scott.Stull@cortland.edu

Modern food culture includes both innovation and historic practices. Using a range of food replications from relatively recent times to the Neolithic, this paper will explore why we replicate the things we do, and what different aspects of learning about the past can arise from these different arenas of replication.

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Evidence for Early Dentistry from a Native American Burial in the Southern Chesapeake Region, Virginia
Kerry S. González
kgonzalez@dovetailcrg.com

In May 2018, an emergency excavation of two Native American burials likely dating to the sixteenth century was conducted in the Southern Chesapeake Region of Virginia. The ensuing analysis of the human remains showed evidence for dental intervention in one of the individuals. A large circular carious lesion in the mandibular left second molar led to consultation with several dental and physical anthropology experts. The tooth was subsequently examined with optical focus-stacking microscopy, periapical radiography, cone beam computed tomography, and micro-CT scanning to image the carious lesion. The imaging revealed compelling evidence for purposeful removal of decayed tissue. Scanning electron microscopy was also utilized to attempt to identify the tools and methods employed in the treatment of the tooth. This paper will discuss the analyses and conclusions drawn from the studies as well as potential experimental research avenues such as replicating the procedure with primitive tools.

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An examination of the durability of different lithic material types used as scrapers: Implications for lithic preferences during the Paleoindian and Transitional periods in the Middle Atlantic region
Alaina Helm
ahelm@oberlin.edu
 
It is well known that Native Americans demonstrated a preference for different lithic material types during different time periods. In the Middle Atlantic region, during the Paleoindian period (10000 to 1120 BP), there was a strong preference for micro-cryptocrystalline material such as chert and jasper. In the same region, during the Transitional period (4300 – 2800 BP), there was a preference for argillite and metarhyolite and these were traded throughout the region suggesting they were highly valued. All lithic types used in this experiment flake well as demonstrated by the successful creation of fluted points and relatively thin broad spears. Why were argillite and metarhyolite ignored during the Paleoindian period? The goal of this presentation is to describe an experiment devised to test the functional effectiveness or durability of these five material types. The results indicate that argillite and metarhyolite are less effective as scrapers then chert, jasper, and quartzite and that chert is the most effective material of those tested.

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Cultivating Chenopod: Experimental Investigations into an Extinct Cultigen of the Eastern Agricultural Complex
Amber Rounds
roundsal199@potsdam.edu

4,000 years ago, people cultivated and domesticated a variety of plants native to Eastern North America. Among these was the crop Chenopodium berlandieri ssp. jonesianum (chenopod). The domesticated form of this crop has long gone extinct. My research focuses on the wild progenitor of C. berlandieri and employs an experimental approach to assess harvest yields, ecological relationships, and processing techniques. This presentation reports on the controlled cultivation and harvesting experiments carried out over the year of 2018, as well as the results of the nutritional analysis of cooked chenopod seeds. The data discussed illustrates the efficiency of two harvesting techniques, highlights the impacts of weedy competition on the growth of C. berlandieri, and shows how the management of this crop impacts the resulting seed yield. This research gives us insights into pre-maize agricultural practices and systems by presenting new knowledge about one of the most prominent crops of the Eastern Agricultural Complex.

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Period appropriate construction of a medieval stringed instrument: The “Crwth”
Jonathan Thornton
THORNTJL@BuffaloState.edu

This paper will describe the tools, materials and procedures used to construct a Welsh “Crwth.” The Crwth (pronounced as “crooth”), is categorized as a bowed lyre, having descended from the plucked lyres of Classical Antiquity. Distinctive features include a sound-box hollowed from one piece of wood, un-fingered drone strings in addition to those that can be fingered, and an uneven bridge that sits on both the top and bottom vibrational plates of the instrument.  Though widespread in the British Isles, they persisted longest in Wales, before being supplanted by the Southern European type violin, a process completed in the eighteenth century. There are only three authentic instruments from that period still in existence, though there has been a recent revival or reproductions and re-interpretations, particularly in Wales, but elsewhere in the Celtic folk-music diaspora.
Only hand tools were used in the construction in order to understand the time expenditure and limits imposed. Most tools used were made by the author, with work on the instrument paused where necessary in order to make them.  The plan was to avoid the use of all power tools, or any materials that would not have been available to an instrument maker of the 10th century by which time the form of the Crwth was well-developed. Tools used include hand-adzes, bow-drills and the “spear-plane.”

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The Little Man Who Wasn’t There - Looking into negative space
Neil Peterson
neil@treheima.ca

As experimentalists we regularly undertake activities that will leave lasting traces, yet there are times that a record of what wasn't there is as important as the results from the experiments.  In the summer of 2007 DARC undertook one of a number of smelt experiments, but with a small difference.  A fresh coating of sand was first placed over the entire working area, and the day after the smelt activities a full archaeological drawing of the site was created. The different kinds of slags that are created during a smelt and their distribution around the smelt area and locations of various objects can be of significant interest to field archaeologists. Even more interesting are the places where nothing is to be found - perhaps if we look in those negative spaces perhaps we can find the little man who was there.

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Flint artefacts in ancient Egypt- Experimental archaeology and Studies of use sickle
Emad Hasan Mohamed Salamah (Ministry of Antiquities, Egypt)
rjgt3b@mst.edu

This paper discusses the importance of the flint and how it was used by the ancient Egyptian.  During my Excavation with my colleagues in The Eastern Nile Delta – Egypt, we discovered several thousand flint artefacts, these flints come from Sinai or the Eastern and Western Desert.
The study focused on manufacturing methods, based on a wide experimental base, I used flint knife also I made sickle similar to that used by ancient Egyptian and used it in the field, so I can reaping grain crops, The same sickle technique remains so nowadays.

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Atlatl Dart Velocity: Accurate Measurements and Implications
Ryan Grohsmeyer
rjgt3b@mst.edu

The atlatl and dart was a widespread hunting tool for many Paleolithic peoples. Interestingly, its use was often discontinued in favor of the bow and arrow, while a few cultures retained both technologies. New measurements of atlatl dart velocity indicate darts flew at 17–35 m/s, while arrows shot from wooden bows tend to fly twice as fast (35–60 m/s). While this results in similar ranges of kinetic energy for darts and arrows (~10–80 J), due to their greater mass darts tend to have twice or thrice the momentum of arrows. Atlatl darts were likely sufficient for hunting megafauna, but because arrows can reach a target in half the time required for an atlatl dart, bows and arrows were likely favored for hunting smaller prey with faster reaction times after megafauna became extinct. Atlatls and darts were likely retained when they offered particular advantages or held cultural significance.