New York State Archaeological Association 99th Annual Meeting & Conference


New York State Archaeological Association 99th Annual Meeting & Conference

May 1-3, 2015
Ramada Inn, Watertown, NY

The Finger Lakes and Thousand Islands Chapters are proud to host the 99th Annual Meeting & Conference of the New York State Archaeological Association and the annual Fall meeting of the New York Archaeological Council. NYAC will meet Friday. The NYSAA annual business meeting will be Friday evening, with the paper presentations Saturday and Sunday morning. The annual banquet, awards ceremony and special guest speaker will be held Saturday evening. Our special guest speaker for Saturday evening’s banquet will be Dr. Darrin Lowery, topic TBA. All events will be at the Ramada Inn, conveniently located at Exit 45 off I-81.

Call for Papers

This is an open call for papers for anyone interested in submitting abstracts for papers or posters on any subject of interest in the archaeology of New York and adjoining regions. Presentations should not exceed 20 minutes in length. One paper/poster per presenter- although individuals may coauthor multiple papers. All presenters must register for the conference. Abstracts, authors, affiliation and AV preferences must be received by March 1, 2015 for consideration.

Call for Papers Submission Information

Meeting registration must be pre-paid by April 1, 2015, or your paper will be dropped from the program. Please send your title, abstract, A/V preference and contact address to: Wendy Bacon.


The registration form can be found here.


My Big, Sexy Archaeology Themed Engagement

Archaeology themed engagement: Success.

A recent family archaeology project with our kids proved to be a big day for Mommy.  While cleaning mock artifacts, sorting bones and plate fragments, and working diligently to sketch the finds from our fictional farmstead we discovered a diamond ring at the bottom of the finds bag.  It was exactly what my girlfriend wanted.  Needless to say, our toddler was quite upset that she did not get to keep it.


Now as for the archaeology themed wedding… that’s going to require a bit more negotiation.

Aluminum Debris Identified as Amelia Earhart Artifact


A piece of aluminum recovered from Nikumaroro, an uninhabited atoll in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, has been identified to a high degree of certainty as a patch that had been applied to Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra on a stop during her attempt to circumnavigate the globe. The repair can been seen in a photograph published in the Miami Herald on June 1, 1937. The aluminum debris was discovered on the island in 1991 by researchers from The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR). They compared the patch’s dimensions and features with the window of a Lockheed Electra being restored at Wichita Air Services in Newton, Kansas. “Its complex fingerprint of dimensions, proportions, materials and rivet patterns was as unique to Earhart’s Electra as a fingerprint is to an individual,” Rick Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, told Discovery News. He adds that the piece of the plane provides strong circumstantial evidence that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, landed on Nikumaroro’s coral reef and eventually died there as castaways. TIGHAR will continue to look for wreckage of the lost aircraft, thought to have washed into the ocean, next summer, beginning at a possible site 600 feet underwater.


Franklin expedition ship found in Arctic ID’d as HMS Erebus

The wrecked Franklin expedition ship found last month in the Arctic has been identified as HMS Erebus.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper confirmed the news Wednesday in the House of Commons.

“I am delighted to confirm that we have identified which ship from the Franklin expedition has been found. It is in fact the HMS Erebus,” Harper said in response to a question from Conservative Yukon MP Ryan Leef.

Harper noted the discovery has been of “interest to Canadians across the country and people around the world.”

Two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, were part of Sir John Franklin’s doomed expedition in 1845 to find the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic Ocean to Asia.

The ships disappeared after they became locked in ice in 1846 and were missing for more than a century and a half until last month’s discovery by a group of public-private searchers led by Parks Canada. It was not known until now which of the two ships had been found.

Franklin commanded the expedition from the Erebus and is believed to have been on the ship when he died. The wreck of HMS Terror has not yet been found.

Underwater archeologists confirm identity

Parks Canada underwater archeologists have been conducting dives at the site of the wreck since the discovery was made.

In a release, the Prime Minister’s Office said the confirmation of the ship’s identity was made Sept. 30 by those Parks Canada scientists, following a “meticulous review of data and artifacts” from the seabed and using high-resolution photo and video along with sonar measurements.

Ryan Harris, a senior underwater archeologist with Parks Canada and the lead on the project, was the first to venture down to the wreck along with his colleague Jonathan Moore.

“Without a doubt it is the most extraordinary shipwreck I’ve ever had the privilege of diving on,” Harris told CBC News on Parliament Hill Wednesday.

Harris said he was able to drop down between the exposed beams of the wreck and “peer around” some of the interior, including the crew’s mess. The pair could see below decks through old skylights and other openings but did not penetrate the interior of the ship.

“Most of our investigations have been external to this point in time,” he said.

Parks Canada two-man teams conducted seven dives in all for about 12 hours of investigation so far, Harris said.

Where is Franklin?

One question on many observers’ minds is whether Franklin’s body might be found on the wreck. It is not known whether Franklin perished on board or was given some kind of burial at sea before his men abandoned ship.

“We do know that he passed away in June of 1847, but the terse note left by the crew after they deserted the ships in Victoria Strait didn’t say what happened and why he died, but I suppose anything is possible,” Harris said.

“There are all kinds of suggestions that he may have been buried on shore, perhaps buried at sea, or perhaps he is still on the ship somewhere. Hopefully archeological investigations will be able to identify the answer to that question in the years to come.”

The last members of the Franklin expedition are believed to have faced starvation, disease and possibly cannibalism before their deaths in the Arctic.

The government’s partners in the search for Franklin’s ships this summer included Parks Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Royal Canadian Navy, Defence Research and Development Canada, Environment Canada and the Canadian Space Agency, as well as the governments of Nunavut and Great Britain.




Since the dawn of the jet and space ages, Edwards Air Force Base, north of Los Angeles, has been the principal place for testing experimental aircraft. As a result, the landscape around it is peppered with crash sites. These crash sites represent the meeting of the apogee of American technological sophistication, with the perigee of failure – the intersection of lofted ambition and terrestrial tragedy.
The eleven crashes described in this exhibit were selected from among the more than six hundred that have occurred in the western Mojave Desert, and cover the range of experimentation and advancement of aircraft over the past 70 years of jet-propelled flight. With one exception, all of these flights originated at Edwards, where they were expected to return. Instead they crashed outside, in the public realm, where they remain as accidental monuments to one of the most advanced forms of technology and human endeavor.

This CLUI exhibit was based on the work of Peter W. Merlin who, with Tony Moore, founded the X-Hunters Aerospace Archeology Team, the nation’s experts on locating crash sites of experimental aircraft. Merlin and Moore have studied and documented aerospace accidents and incidents for more than 25 years, and have located and visited more than 100 crash sites of historic aircraft from Edwards Air Force Base and Area 51.

Explore the online gallery here.

Book Recommendation: Skendleby

18734861Happy New Year!  Though terribly busy with work and teaching, I’ve just finished an excellent read that I’d very much like to share with diggers and non-diggers alike.  The novel is called Skendleby, it is written by Nick Brown, a UK based author, instructor and archaeologist.  While eager to share the details, I’ll do my best to avoid spoiling the plot while still enticing you to chase down a copy of the book.

In a nutshell, Skendleby is a haunting archaeological adventure set on the plains of Cheshire.  What begins as a routine CRM dig turns rather quickly into a horror laced mystery with a crew of cursed shovelbums and a vengeful mystical force at the very center.  At 237 pages, it is a quick but plot-packed read.  It avoids the pitfalls of most current horror literature, mainly predictability.

While Skendleby is written by an archaeologist, it isn’t necessarily written for archaeologists.  Brown successfully manages to splice just the right amount of technicality into his work to keep a professional interested, while dodging hang ups on the minute details of stratigraphic profiles and radiocarbon dating that may alienate someone unfamiliar with archaeological fieldwork.  Truth be told, the fact that the story centers around a group of archaeologists is just a bonus.  This is a novel that any fan of horror could enjoy.

I have only two gripes.  First, I wish the book had been longer.  Like I said, it was a quick read and the story was great; I could have stayed in that world a bit longer.  Second, some of the characters lack being memorable.  This doesn’t in any way affect the plot, just something I wanted to point out and maybe something that could have taken care of gripe number one.  Fortunately, Brown manages to form a close-knit group of central characters (some likable, some loath-able) that kept the story moving and my interest peaked up to the final page.

I’m anxious for more by Brown.  As I write this I’m about sixty pages deep into Luck Bringer, his first novel centered around the Persian Empire.  According to his website, Skendleby is part of a planned Ancient Gramarye series, so I kindly request that he get to work on the next in the series.

Skendleby is published by New Generation Publishing and is available via Amazon.  Explore Nick Brown’s website by clicking here.

Study underway to create the first archive of human evolution at Mungo

A foundational project is currently underway at Lake Mungo (Australia) and those lakes that abound it to document the history of human settlement, past environmental change and landscape evolution that has occurred in this area. This immense undertaking comes after a long hiatus of research being conducted here and hopes to provide the first systematic archive of its archaeological traces.

Documenting the history of human settlement seems like an epic task in any part of the world; in the stark beauty of the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area, it involves tracing back no less than 45,000 years.

Upon arriving to the now dry lake bed which lies at the heart of Mungo National Park, it is not hard to appreciate the ancient nature of this part of the world – it is one of the oldest places outside of Africa to have been occupied by modern humans.

The site of the world’s oldest known cremation and ritual ochre burial, as well as the longest trail of ancient human footprints, surprisingly little is known about the people who lived here.

Enter La Trobe University’s palaeolithic archaeologist, Dr Nicola Stern, whose Mungo Archaeology Project hopes to redress this shortfall in our collective knowledge.

“There’s an untold story at Mungo; Mungo is famous because of Mungo Lady, Mungo Man; a trail of fossil footprints,” says Dr Stern.

“We know surprisingly little about how people actually lived in this landscape over 45,000 years – and that’s really what I’m trying to document by looking at the archaeological traces in the Mungo lunette.”

The Mungo lunettes are half-moon shaped sand dunes built from ancient layers of the earth’s surface and form the ‘Walls of China’ – a major drawcard for visitors to the World Heritage site that is Mungo National Park.

Containing rich deposits of information, the lunettes have preserved hundreds of rare, snapshot images of Australia’s earliest history and provide a unique record of the ways in which the first settlers may have adapted to the changes to their climate over time.

They form the basis for Dr Stern’a foundational research into this narrative of human evolution.

“It’s the foundation – there’s a lot that we could do if we had already had this information,” she says.

It is not only the scientific community who have longed for this work to be done; elders from the region’s Aboriginal tribal groups are also supportive of the project and are working in collaboration with Dr Stern’s team to monitor it.

“Finding out what’s there, and then monitoring what’s happening to what’s there, is something that the elders tell me they have wanted for a very long period of time.”

With such an endeavour, Dr Stern has a loyal team of around 20 others working with her and says there will be more to come on board in the future.

“Over time we will be training people and hope that they will pick this up and carry it on into the future – but there is a certain, you know knowledge and expertise that is required to figure out how to tackle a record on this scale.”

From ABC