GPR: Unplugged

GPR Info

We’ve all heard the term GPR tossed around college lecture halls, dig sites and kick ass PBS television series .  But how many people really understand the technology or its origins?  In my experience, not many.  The Columbus Dispatch has run an excellent piece exploring GPR technology and the way it has revolutionized archaeology.  While the article really leaves out some of the limitations of GPR, it does an excellent job highlighting how it works and what it can reveal.  Link.

Two days until TIME TEAM AMERICA!

Time Team America on July 8th!

Two days until the premiere of Time Team America!  Sexy Archaeology wants to know which episode in the first series you are most excited to see?  Look over the episode summary’s below and then cast your vote in our Question of the Week poll.

Time Team America – Series 1

Fort Raleigh, North Carolina (07-08-2009) – Time Team America head to North Carolin to try to decipher the fate of the Roanoke colonists and pursue evidence to establish where the first colony in America was located.

Topper, South Carolina (07-15-2009) – The team searches for evidence of North America’s first human inhabitants.

New Philadelphia, Illinois (07-22-2009) – Time Team Archaeologists search for a school in the first town founded by former slaves.

Range Creek, Utah (07-29-2009) – Travel to Utah’s Range Creek with the team as they investigate a canyon for clues to the lives of the Freemont people.

Fort James, South Dakota (08-05-2009) – The scientists search for the remains of a stone fortress built by the U.S. Cavalry in 1865.

And if you haven’t already, check out the first episode now at the PBS Digital Portal!

Q and A with Time Team America’s Colin Campbell

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The Team’s only non-archaeologist, host Colin Campbell is also the team artist. Putting pen to paper, he helps us imagine the past. When Colin isn’t traveling with Time Team America, he works as an environmental artist at video game studio Big Huge Games outside of Baltimore, Maryland.  Colin sat down with SexyArchaeology.org to answer a few question about his role in the upcoming series.

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SexyArchaeology (SA):  Can you tell us a bit about your background:  What were you doing before Time Team America?
Colin Campbell (CC):  I was working as an artist for a video game company, Big Huge Games, and as a traveling, freelance painter. I’d jumped around to places like Antarctica, New Zealand, and parts of the US, painting.

SA:  Was Time Team America your first experience with archeology or had you had previous experience?
CC:  I studied ancient art history in college with a professor who is an archaeologist, so even the art history was taught with an archaeological approach. As for actual digging… I used to bury toys in my mother’s flower garden, then dig them up later, usually to the detriment of the garden. Actual archaeological digging was very new to me.

SA:  As the non-archaeologist of the group, did you feel at all intimidated being around people, like Eric, who have been in the field for thirty years?
CC:  I expected to, of course, but these folks are just amazingly generous with their knowledge and time. They have inhuman patience for people, like me, who come in not having in-depth knowledge.  They’re also just incredibly fun people to be with. There was some light-hearted ribbing of their naive artist along the way, but it was all good-natured.

SA:  What was your first day of filming like for you?
CC:  A wild ride. I’d never worked with a television crew before, or archaeologists. I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into. Never having been on a dig before, I was terrified that I would make some serious blunder that only folks who knew archaeology would know about, like a rookie actor coming into a theater rehearsal and saying ‘Macbeth’.  Consequently, I stayed as far back from the units as I could for a while, convinced I would shatter an artifact by looking at it sideways. I didn’t, and somehow the archaeology survived in spite of me.

SA:  Of the five locations the series visited this season, which was the most enjoyable for you?
CC:  Range Creek, Utah. Though all the sites were beautiful and amazing, the canyons of remote Utah were just breath-taking. I love camping, as well, and hanging out with the team around the campfire at night was a blast. I would get up early mornings and sit outside my tent, painting watercolors of the landscape.

SA:  The first series explores five locations around the United States.  If the producers came to you with the option of choosing a site for season two, anywhere in the US, without restriction, where would you like to dig?
CC:  I’m not the expert on locations that my teammates are, so I would defer to them in terms of archaeology. If I had to say on my own, however, I’ve really enjoyed the sites where we’ve had a lot of insight into how a group of people coped with their environment, so I think I’d like to visit some more extreme locations.

SA:  How is Time Team America making archaeology sexy?
CC:  We all had to bathe in a cold creek every morning in Utah together. Farmer’s tans? Cold water? Come on. Sexy.

You can view the first episode of Time Team America now by heading over to the PBS Digital Portal.  And don’t forget to watch Time Team America on Wednesdays starting July 8th at 8/7c on PBS.

Q and A with Time Team America's Eric Deetz

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With thirty years experience in the field, Eric Deetz can decipher the past like few others. Known as an adept teacher and excavation director, Eric believes public involvement in archaeology is paramount, and his innovative approach to speaking about history wins audiences over.  Eric took time out of his schedule to answer some questions about his experiences on the upcoming series Time Team America.  Here is what Eric had to say:

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SexyArchaeology (SA):   How did you come to be involved in archaeology?

Eric Deetz (ED):  I got interested in archaeology at a very young age. My father was an archaeologist of some note. All of us kids (there are nine of us) spent time at various points in our life “digging with dad.” When I was in my early teens I expressed this interest by hunting around all of the old bottle dumps in my home town of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Mostly we would bring home old mayonnaise jars and other 20th century stuff so my dad wasn’t concerned about us doing any damage to archaeological sites. One day we came home with the stem of an 18th century wine glass. My brother and I were then told about the archaeological version of the facts of life; especially why what we had done was wrong and the importance of proper archaeological methods. It was about this time I started volunteering more with him on some local sites.

SA:  You have over thirty years experience, you must have a lot of great stories. What were you doing before Time Team America?

ED:  For the last four years I have been doing CRM work in Northern Illinois. For ten years before that I was working for Bill Kelso at Jamestown. I will never experience other excavation like that. Important and unbelievable finds all the time. I worked for a few seasons at Flowerdew Hundred. Being able to say you worked at Flowerdew is a bit like being able to say you were at Woodstock. So most of my best stories will never come out of the vault!

SA:  How does working on Time Team America differ from other archaeological work you have done?

ED:  The three day time limit may seem arbitrary or unnecessary to some but it’s not that different than a lot of the projects I have worked on, especially in the world of CRM. Time is always an issue in archaeology. For instance working in the Caribbean is very expensive so you maximize the amount of work you get done. This often means long days and digging six or seven days a week. This doesn’t mean the archaeology is done poorly but it does make for a schedule similar to the long days we put in for Time Team America.

SA:  What sort of planning goes into an episode of Time Team America on your end? What do you do to prepare for an episode?

ED:  Lucky for us archaeologists the production staff did most of the logistical planning so all we had to do was study profiles of the sites we were going to work on and get our brains around the archaeological questions we were going to be addressing. Our Geophysics team, Meg and Brian, were not as lucky. They had to haul a great deal of expensive equipment all over the country.

SA:  Can you tell us what a typical day of shooting is like for you?

ED:  You have to divide up the shoot into its three separate days. For me day one was usually pretty calm. Not so much for Meg and Brian though. I would be setting up and getting ready to get the results from the Geophysics so all the pressure was on them. Day two was usually the least stressful, just a whole lot of digging, a real “heads down, butt up” kind of day. By the end of day two and into day three is when the field archaeologists start to feel the pressure. By that time you have an idea of what needs to be accomplished and you start stressing about getting it done between all of the filming.

SA:  The first series explores five locations around the United States. If the producers came to you with the option of choosing a site for season two, anywhere in the US, without restriction, where would you like to dig?

ED:  I would love to work on an early 17th Century site in New England. I have a few in mind, so we’ll see what happens.

SA:  What is the most enjoyable part of working on Time Team America?

ED:  Professionally, I learned a great deal. It was like taking a seminar in American Archaeology where you got to work on a different site each time you met. I also had a chance to meet some fantastic archaeologists that I may not have ever crossed paths with otherwise.  Personally, the production crew from OPB was the greatest bunch of folks you could have imagined. I had an absolute blast all summer long with these folks!

SA:  How is Time Team America making archaeology sexy?
ED:  Smart is sexy right?  So smart archaeology is sexy archaeology!

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You can view the first episode of Time Team America now by heading over to the PBS Digital Portal.  And don’t forget to watch Time Team America on Wednesdays starting July 8th at 8/7c on PBS.

Q and A with Time Team America’s Chelsea Rose

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Chelsea Rose took time out of schedule to answer some questions about her experiences on the upcoming series Time Team America.  As head of Time Team’s excavation crews, Chelsea directs the troweling and shoveling. Born and raised in Northern California, Chelsea’s passion is researching the California Gold Rush of the 1850’s, including nineteenth century Chinatowns and multi-ethnic mining camps.

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SexyArchaeology (SA):  What did you do before you got involved with Time Team America?

Chelsea Rose (CR):  Before Time Team America (TTA), I was pursuing my Masters Degree and working as a CRM archaeologist in California and Oregon. Now I live on a yacht and travel the world working on the most exotic and exciting archaeology sites. No, not really. I am basically doing the same thing as before: finishing up my thesis and doing archaeology on the west coast.

SA:  Can you tell us a bit about what the first day of shooting was like for you?

CR:  Scary. My first experience on camera was a conversation with another team member, Joe Watkins.  I was so nervous I had to clench my teeth to stop from shaking, and apparently I was nodding like a mad woman. Luckily Joe pointed out my obsessive nodding, so in the next shot I wasn’t worried as much about my nerves, just focused on keeping my head still! The day definitely improved when I challenged our accomplished backhoe driver to peel a banana with his bucket (video). He graciously accepted the challenge, and it was awesome.

SA:  What are the differences between a Time Team America dig and a “typical” archaeology dig, say one funded by a University?  What sort of challenges do you face?

CR:  The archaeology done on TTA was the same as any other dig, but we were able to bust out with a few more bells and whistles. TTA’s sexy geophysics team strutted their stuff with high tech equipment, there were a few helicopter rides, some rock climbing, boat excursions, and reenactors – all sorts of ways to experience the archaeological site and its history that might not normally be splurged on. Other than the usual challenges one faces on an archaeological site: alligators, deadly snakes, lightning, floods, ticks, and hurricane gale winds, the biggest trick was trying to avoid doing or saying anything stupid on camera that could be later used for blackmail!

SA:  The first series is finished filming, were there any sites that you really wanted to stick around and work on for more than the three days?

CR:  Roanoke Island was a classic example of the 4 o’clock on a Friday afternoon amazing discovery that leaves you wanting more. They had to drag us off the site, not knowing if those postholes belonged to the Lost Colony or not! The First Colony Foundation stayed on a few more days to wrap up and ended up finding an unbelievable feature just inches from where we were working!

SA:  The first series explores five locations around the United States.  If the producers came to you with the option of choosing a site for season two, anywhere in the US, without restriction, where would you like to dig?

CR:  At one point there was a rumor of excavating a Louisiana pirate hideout- that would be pretty damn sexy!

SA:  What is the most enjoyable part of working on Time Team America?

CR:  Without a doubt, the people! We had tons of fun, went to beautiful places and got to work on some amazing sites. I have never seen so many sexy archaeologists- and the behind the scenes crew wasn’t too bad either!

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You can view the first episode of Time Team America now by heading over to the PBS Digital Portal.  And don’t forget to watch Time Team America on Wednesdays starting July 8th at 8/7c on PBS.

Ask a Sexy Archaeologist #1

Greetings ditch diggers, its time for us to introduce our first special feature called Ask a Sexy Archaeologist.  This is a chance for members to field questions to the League of Extraordinary Archaeologists?

I’m working on a Resource Management Project near Houston with a HOT, HOT chick.  She seems in to me.  Should I make a move? – Patrick, TX

I will unequivocally say yes, you should make a move. What is a better way to enjoy a healthy work relationship by just assuming someone is into you? I could think of no other option. She really enjoys your company, she seems to laugh at everything you say, I think she has a crush on you. You know what? You should wait until she’s in a stream and just jump her. With the gentle breeze rustling leaves in the woods, and the cool steam lapping at her ankles, I’m sure there is nothing else on her mind but ripping your dirty clothes off like a band-aid. If she doesn’t, hey she’s probably just playing hard to get. Those dirty stares and incessant “NO!”s only mean a green light for me, when you think about it “No!” and “Go!” sound about the same, so if she’s not into it you can just say there was sandy loam in your ears and you heard the “G” word. Awkward ending resolved!

If you do push her down in a stream in the heat of the moment and she begins to writhe in pain, you may have just broken her ankle, BE CAREFUL! Making moves in the woods and on trails, there are a lot of obstacles that may prevent you from the real artifact in on your radar. The best strategy is to stare, smile, and compliment endlessly. Tell her you want her in the worst way. She will think this is cute.
Finally, if you’re the shy, subtle lover, you may want to use language and wit to get your girl. The next time you’re doing paper work, write her a love note, like “If you were a resource, I’d like you to be renewable, because I can’t seem to get enough of you.” If you were an archaeologist such as myself, you should say “I found a surface artifact…(pause and wait for everyone to look at you) yeah she’s one of a kind and priceless.”  Not only will every female say “Awww,” but men will be jealous as you ascertain yourself as alpha male of the crew. If she thinks this is creepy, she may have a point, but it’s the delivery that counts. As long as you smile, she will laugh at you, and you can jump her later.  – Joey Pushes Trees Durgin

Hello my fellow sexy people!  I find myself at a crossroads with the spelling of our field.  Which road should I take, archaeology or archeology? – Nick T., South Africa

Don’t even go there.

Some will argue that just the ‘e’  gives ‘archeology’ a bit of mystique.  But really, no one sexy spells it ‘archeology’ unless they are pinky-less on their left hand.  Archaeology all the way.   –  Kurt

What’s the best job to have in archaeology? – Frank B., CA

The one that pays the most as well as gets the most girls with hair-raising tales of daring-do.

Shy of that, there are a ton of variables that need to be weighed in before I hand out a definitive answer. 

The first variable is what you want in the field of archaeology. As with every conquering of foreign lands, it is imperative that you set a goal for yourself, and make sure that its one you’ll enjoy. The best job is always one that you’ll enjoy as well as one that’s attainable given your circumstances.

 I mean, where would Indy be if he hadn’t decided to go after his father in The Last Crusade. Probably holding the Holy Cup, but recently orphaned. Decisions, decisions, decisions. 

So what do I mean by “attainable?” That’s easy. If you don’t want to spend 8 years in school, then you’ll not be eligible for some of the higher paying archaeology jobs. There aren’t very many professors with only a bachelor’s degree. Don’t forget to look at this from the other angle as well. You probably wouldn’t want to spend 8 years in school just to be a shovel bum. 

Next you should think about what you like to do. Bullwhips and trowels your thing? Ties and the scent of chalk in the morning? How about washing and labeling artifacts? Writing day in and day out while trying to stay within budget standards? Drinking coffee in the blistering sun while a friend pulls a bot fly from your back? 

If one of these sounds sexy enough for you, then you’re on the right track. Mmmm Bot Flies. 

Finally, the big thing about archaeology is that certain jobs in it are seasonal, part-time, or the dreaded, “For Locals Only” (enter ominously played music). If your idea of a perfect job is stability, benefits, and a nice paycheck, well tough, I took that job. Now you have to wait for about 40 years for me to retire and that position to become available again. In all seriousness though, stability is a rare commodity to come by in our field unless you’re willing to make a few compromises. First of all, if you want the full package of benefits, pay, and a home, you’ll probably do well to join a lab or museum position if all that you have is a bachelor’s. If you have more than a bachelor’s, then you’ll find that there is less difficulty when searching for a permanent position. 

On the flip side, if you’re ok with not having benefits for a while, and like to keep your ear in the dirt, then constantly watching job listing sites and applying all the time is a great way to make a nice penny or two (three is pushing it). Unlike the lab or museum jobs, you’ll get per diem, not to mention that nothing says sexy adventurer like not knowing when your next shower will be.

 So, Frank, you’ve got a lot of thinking do. I hope I haven’t answered your question, because to answer it wouldn’t do you any justice. Go out there and find what’s sexy for you.       –  Matt “Spazenport”

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If you have  a burning question you’d like answered, send it to sexyarchaeology@gmail.com and we’ll answer it!