Clips, samples, and selections of my work
I began freelancing in November of 2012 with a piece on winter outdoor recreation. Since then I have sold a number of outdoor and nature-related pieces, as well as doing some science writing. I am particularly proud of the opportunities I have had to write on issues of cultural heritage, an area where a number of my interests converge.
Unfinished points and knives
I’ve been working as a crew member on a Section 110 survey in the Southern Piedmont for the past few weeks. This past Friday (06 November 2015) I walked down to the water’s edge to take my lunch and spent a couple of minutes poking around on the surface before I sat down on my screen to eat.
There’s quartz everywhere in the ground down this way, and I’ve been on a steep curve learning to distinguish artifacts from shatter. In the best case scenario there’s a platform and a bulb. Or so I’ve been told. I have yet to see a quartz flake with a bulb!
There was quite a bit of high quality quartz in the area, and I came up on a chunk with a vaguely PPK-ish outline. It looked awfully crude, though.
When I sat down to eat I cleaned it with some water from one of my Nalgenes. I couldn’t make out much more on the surface—there was what looked like a big flake scar—but I was able to make a little more sense of the outline. It looked like there was one side of a stem present. I took a closer look and, sure enough, there was clearly a worked edge.
I realized that my surface find was less likely to be a crude finished tool than it was to be an unfinished PPK. My friend Jon Marcoux got a look at a couple of photos and confirmed that I had found a preform. He suggested that it was on its way to being a Morrow Mountain point.1
Before this past Friday I only knew about preforms via passing mentions in a few journal articles and books. If I had know when I was in college that I might one day end up digging shovel tests on a Phase I crew I would definitely have found a way to hang around an archaeology lab in order to become familiar with basic artifact types. Having some level of comfort with field analysis would have made these first surveys easier for me, and would have saved my crew chiefs a lot of question-answering.2 OTOH, coming into the CRM as a real n00b means that sometimes I come back to our hotel in the evening having learned something I didn’t know I didn’t know when we left in the morning. That’s a really neat experience to have at age 40.
1. On Morrow Mountain points in a Georgia Piedmont context, see John S. Whatley, “An overview of Georgia projectile points and selected cutting tools,” ed. King Adam, special issue, Early Georgia 30 (2002): 81–85.↩
2. This is my third CRM project, and I have just over six months of Phase I experience in all at this point.↩
Fishing weirs in the Tuckasegee and Little Tennessee
Allman fish weir
The high visibility of the Allman weir in Webster is owing in part to its maintenance by post-Removal property owners.
To view this weir, find the pull off on River Road between Dillsboro and Webster and walk a few yards south. While it is possible to make out the weir through full summer foliage, it is most visible seen when the leaves are down.(more…)
Nacoochee and Chota
The first detailed written account of the Cherokee Country is found in the journal kept by one of the officers serving in the 1715/16 expedition into the region that took place in the context of the Yamasee War. The journal documents the presence of two Cherokee villages in the Nacoochee Valley. Nacoochee was located somewhere on the eastern end of the valley; Chota was centered at the mound on the western end of valley.
Archaeology of the Nacoochee Mound(more…)
Pre-Removal Wyandot settlement traces in Central Ohio
Some work-related travel took me between St. Clairsville and Findlay last week. I planned out my return route so as to take me past Upper Sandusky, location of a Wyandot settlement from the Revolutionary War period to Removal in 1842.
I am vaguely aware of the importance of the Wyandot in the political and military affairs of the Old Northwest, and that they and the Cherokee were in conflict during the mid-18th century. In truth, they may well be the Iroquoian group about whom I know the least. I find that learning about settlement pattern stuff is the best way for me to begin to get a grip on any group’s social life and history. It’s helpful to me on paper and all the more so up close and personal.
With that in mind, feel free to enjoy the following photos from the couple of hours I spent piddling around Upper Sandusky last Wednesday (06 May 2015). (more…)
Photos from my visit to Moundsville, West Virginia
I visited the Grave Creek Mound and adjoining Delf Norona Museum this past Saturday (02 May 2015). I unreservedly recommend a visit to anyone with the slightest bit of interest in (pre)history, commemoration, and/or museology and who happens to find themselves in the general vicinity of Wheeling. Give yourself an hour or so to climb the mound and tour the modest exhibitions, then indulge yourself with an ice cream at the kitschy place across the street.
The physical address is 801 Jefferson Ave, Moundsville, West Viginia; GPS coordinates are 39.91690 -80.74352.
Hemmings, E. Thomas. 1984. “Investigations at Grave Creek Mound 1975–76: a sequence for mound and moat construction.” West Virginia Archeologist 36 (2):3–49.
Maslowski, Robert F. 2009. “Grave Creek Mound Historic Site.” In Archaeology in America: an encyclopedia, edited by Linda S. Cordell, Kent G. Lightfoot, Francis P. McManamon, and George R. Milner, 92–95. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.
Schoolcraft, Henry R. 1845. “Observations respecting the Grave Creek Mound in western Virginia.” In Transactions of the American Ethnological Society, 1:–420 + 2 pl.
Millennial digital content via G.I. Generation analog technology and vice versa
I was stopped short earlier today as I drove between Wooster and St. Clairsville when I happened upon Ohio’s oldest drive-in in Strasburg.
The Southeastern twin town settlement pattern among the Overhill Cherokee
The “twin town” settlement layout of Chota and Tanasi poses an immediate challenge to the taken-for-granted notion of communities as spatially distinct social entities.1 The first documented European visitor to the communities, George Chicken in July of 1725, displayed his acute ethnographic eye in noting the presence of both, but was forced to resort to circumlocution in describing it: “Here are two town Housses in this Town by reason they are the people of Two towns settled together.”2