Here is a blog post I wrote for the Tennessee Council for Professional Archaeology blog’s 30 Days of Tennessee Archaeology that reports on the C.H. Nash Museum’s commitment to public access to curated collections.
Originally posted on Tennessee Council for Professional Archaeology:
Big Ideas at the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa
Dr. Robert Connolly
Director, C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa
At the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa in Memphis Tennessee, we are committed to opening the collections we curate to increased public accessibility. The Fred Jobe collection is a case in point. Here is how that story goes:
Chucalissa has a long-standing relationship with the Memphis Archaeological and Geological Society (MAGS). In fact, MAGS was founded in the early 1950s based on their interest in research at Chucalissa. The first published field report of Chucalissa was written by Kenneth Beaudoin in 1952 and details MAGS excavations at the site. Today, MAGS members continue to volunteer at Chucalissa on a host of projects.
During one of their volunteer sessions, MAGS members inventoried artifacts from the Fred…
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Great post by Bernard Means on the WPA role in archaeology. I am pleased to work today at the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa with NCCC AmeriCorps Teams, the legacy today from those earlier projects!
Originally posted on New Deal Archaeology:
by Bernard K. Means
Today is Labor Day in the United States and I wanted to briefly thank the men and women who worked so hard during the Great Depression to uncover our nation’s past. So many of us rely on the records they generated and the artifacts that they recovered for our own research–in fact, I finished an article yesterday on two American Indian sites excavated by a Work Projects Administration (WPA) crew in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. For the Powell 1 and 2 sites, I was able to perform sophisticated statistical analyses because of the care that the WPA field director, Edgar E. Augustine, took with the sites. He did this under difficult circumstances–constantly shifting crews of varying experience, and brutally cold days as well.
A tip of my metaphorical had to the men and women of the WPA, as well as the CCC…
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I have posted several times about my field season in Peru this past summer. Here is a slideshare summary of the work (complete with pictures of cute children.) Although I often say that the community outreach in Hualcayán, Peru is comparable to the outreach of the C.H. Nash Museum here in Memphis, upon reflection today, I am even more impressed with the similarities:
- Both projects involve outreach to underserved communities. In Southwest Memphis, the largely blue-collar African-American community is located in an industrial and business zone where corporate interests consistently trump residential community development. In Peru, rural communities such as Hualcayán are considerably underserved in basic social and infrastructure services when compared to nearby towns.
- Both communities seek a recognition of both their heritage and place in the broader culture. I have posted before about how this recognition is played out in Southwest Memphis around issues of military service, landmark preservation, and community history. In Hualcayán this summer, the same sentiments were strongly expressed in both words and actions. Last year I asked PIARA founder and co-director Rebecca Bria if the Hualcayán community was really interested in a museum, or more in the economic development that a museum could generate. She immediately replied that five years ago, a museum to showcase Hualcayán’s cultural heritage was at the top of the agenda that community leaders requested of PIARA. This summer, we addressed that long-standing need in opening the first iteration of a museum. Examples of the community sentiment around their cultural heritage was also expressed this summer in the stated need for a written document that records the community history, the interest in developing a craft workshop based on their cultural traditions, and the student’s creation of a modern quipu to record their individual stories and place in the community. The very hand-written minutes and signing of ledger books by speakers and participants in community meetings speaks to the importance of recorded history in Hualcayàn.
- the list goes on . . .
I enjoy today understanding how these experiences operationalize for me concepts like co-creation, the participatory museum, community asset, and stakeholder. As well, I understand and am better able to explore and explain applied archaeology as a discipline with value for communities.
Perhaps greater than any other past work, my experiences in Southwest Memphis and Hualcayán, Perú allow me to answer challenges or questions posed during my early academic training some 30 years ago:
- from Patricia Essenpreis – If you can’t explain why the public’s tax dollars should support your research, you might as well go home.
- and from Barry Isaac – Why is your research more important than eating a plate of worms?
Today it is 99 degrees in Memphis, TN, US. When many folks head indoors during this weather, I find it to be the ideal time to go bike riding. So my friend and I loaded up our mountain bikes today and headed out for a couple of hours of riding along the Wolfe River. This got me to thinking of a story I had written a few years ago called the Smallest Deer I Have Ever Seen. Here it is again:
The Smallest Deer I Have Ever Seen
I thoroughly enjoy mountain biking. In a memorable biking experience, I saw the smallest deer I have ever seen in my life – a fawn, couldn’t be but a couple of weeks or so old. Here is how it happened . . .
I was riding my mountain bike out along the River trail about 4:00 PM, the hottest part of the day. I have come to savor the heat that is the South. A couple of days each week I start my work day very early so I can ride the during the heat of the afternoon, when I rarely cross other bikers and only the occasional runner on the trail.
The route I have worked out is a 12 mile loop through the woods. There are a few steep ascents and descents up and down levees and lots of roots. I am reading some about technique – the zen of becoming one with the bike and the trail. Speed seems a big thing in the tech lit of mountain bikes. On first half of my loop today I did well on the technical end. My speed picked up – I think the fastest ever. I got up all the inclines without a hitch, and made it through the sand traps – thanks in large part to recent rain. The greatest improvement was in my looking ahead on the trail, and not just right past my front wheel – allowing me to feel the flow of the trail unlike ever before. On my iPod, I listened to Bill Moyers interview the poet W.S. Merwin, reading from his recent volume for which he won the Pulitzer Prize, In the Shadow of Sirius. All was quite well.
I got to the end of the first half at the trailhead. The parking lot was empty, baked asphalt. I sucked some water and a Gu Gel and listened to Merwin read a poem about fathers and sons.
I started to head back. The first leg of the return I know best. After an initial descent, the trail is about one mile or so of reasonably flat to rolling twists and turns till coming up on the first levee. I have always felt the most one with bike and trail on this stretch. Today, I ripped along through the first open field into tree cover. Barely 30 feet in front of me stood a full size deer – I don’t know a buck from doe to how many points or hands – it was just a big old deer. I skidded to a complete stop. I know that deer will run in a completely unpredictable manner – it’s best just to stop and let them go on their way, then proceed. But this deer held its place in the middle of the trail. I flipped up my sunglasses, and saw the smallest fawn ever between the legs of the big deer – could not have been more than 24 inches tall – think a miniature Bambi. The fawn started to trot off and the big deer followed. After several starts and stops, they soon were in the dense wood, and I could only make out their occasional move through the vegetation.
I stood astride my bike on the trail for a few minutes, put away W.S. Merwin and Bill Moyers, and listened to the heat, the insects, the birds. I rode off slower and got up on the first levee and down the other side. I decided to try a different oneness with the trail on the way back – a very slow, mindful, intentional amble, iPod stowed in my back pocket. I knew not to be so naïve or grandiose to expect to see another deer, or something of a similar spectacle. When I ascended to the second levee, I rode the spine to the river and sat for a while staring at and thinking of nothing. I continued on deliberate, mindful, quiet and slow. Toward the end of the loop, the trail runs along the narrow spine of a ridge full of roots, drops and turns. Typically, this is the most difficult part of the ride for me. I get flustered, hit roots wrong, feel awkward, and not one with the trail. I usually rationalize it’s towards the end of a 12 mile loop and I am just a bit tired, but I know that is not really the case – something is missing. Today I was more one with the crest and the roots than ever before, slowly looking and living into each root, dip, and turn.
After taking the gravel road back to the main park area, I always end the ride with a quick lap around the one mile asphalt track filled with joggers, walkers, and little kids on bikes. When I pass the little kids with training wheels, or recently without, I always say “Hey, I like your bike!” and that always gets a smile of pride from the little ones. And today, even though hot, a child on her hot pink Barbie bike was there with her folks walking along and she grinned wide at the compliment.
A summary of some of what I was up to this summer in Peru . . .
Originally posted on The Ancash Advocate:
PIARA Community Outreach in the Summer of 2014
by Rebecca Bria
A strategic component of PIARA’s mission beyond archaeological research is engagement with communities of the Huaylas Province. This summer we carried out several important projects in this area of our work. Here are a few examples:
- In partnership with American Climber Science Program (ACSP), funded by a USAID grant, we studied the impacts of climate change on the people living near the Parque Nacional Huascarán. Dr. Doris Walter, Elizabeth Cruzado Carranza, Erick Luis Casanova Vasquez, and two student collaborators from La Molina University, Lucinda Tafur and Johny Soca, conducted the interviews with residents in the Huaylas and Carhuaz provinces. As part of this research, we organized and hosted workshops with focus group discussions of climate change in Hualcayán…
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Be certain to check out Doug’s Archaeology recent posts on Wikipedia and Archaeology. In his last post, Doug graciously linked to some of my previous posts on the subject. Another great resource on digital technology in classroom and in archaeology is Jennifer Carey’s blog over at http://indianajen.com
Originally posted on Doug's Archaeology:
This week I have been posting on why archaeologists should embrace Wikipedia (see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3), my experience with Wikiclub, and how you can get started editing Wikipedia. An obvious intersection between Wikipedia and Archaeology is the classroom. Luckily, I don’t need to reinvent the wheel as Robert Connolly has already blogged about the topic. Robert gave a hint of his work in the #BlogArch blogging carnival I ran a few months ago. He re-posted a portion of a profile of himself. The first section discussed blogging but then went on to say:
“Connolly acknowledges that reading and writing blogs can be a huge time drain and produce little. But ultimately, he sees a bright future for such user-generated content. This semester he is teaching an Undergraduate Honors Forum titled “Wikipedia as a Research Tool.” Like blogs, he is convinced…
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