Sunday, August 3, 2008

Archaeology is Everywhere!

I always love the response I receive from people when I tell them that I am an archaeologist. People usully simply ask "you mean there are sites North Carolina?", which just gets me all excited since I know I have the opportunity to share information. My response is always "of course!" and I don't have to travel abroad to be able to do archaeology. The state of North Carolina is filled with many archaeological sites that most people never see. The reason for this is because of all the types of sites discovered and researched through CRM (Cultural Resource Management) companies. These companies provide a service to complete archaeological surveys for mostly federally funded projects where archaeological sites need to be located before eventually being destroyed.

A large portion of my background is from working on CRM projects. A recent example includes the Charlotte Douglas International Airport runway expansion project, which I worked on last summer. The investigations included the survey of two possible prehistoric Native American sites that were found in a survey I worked on in 1998. The two sites were chosen as possible candidates for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, and are located in the direct path of the future runway. The survey meant the sites were tested and not recommended for National Register status based on the findings. If you drive by this area along I-485 it is possible to see the massive grading that has completely destroyed the sites. This result is what typically happens to sites, and as an archaeologist I have the chance to record the cultural remains left behind by past cultures before they are lost to "progress".

The best thing about my new job is that I am now in a position where I can spend more time on my research. I will continue to work on sites that fit more into the CRM type of work, but mainly I am now focusing in on locating sites in Lincoln County for research purposes. My main interest includes using the method known as landscape archaeology for interpreting sites. The cool thing is that it is useful on all types of sites so I don't have to limit myself to one specific period of interest. One of my goals currently is to locate the Native American sites in Lincoln County and record as many as possible. I am very interested in what David Moore terms the "Protohistoric Catawba Indians" who were also known as the Mississippian people (800 BC to 1600 AD). They are known as the mound-builders who built large mounds of dirt used for structural platforms, or for burials within the mound itself. So far, the explorations into the nature of their settlements in Lincoln County is very limited. In addition to the Native American cultures, I am very interested in the 18th and 19th century sites that can be found in this region including plantations, urban sites and also the overall study of sites in the "backcountry".

Many have asked me if I have a specialization in the field of archaeology. I am very knowledgeable about prehistoric and historic ceramics, but overall I have to say "no". I love what I do because of all the new things I can learn each day, and truthfully I am quite obsessed with all types of artifacts. I love them all...not because of what they look like, but because of the story they can tell me.

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