This week, Campus Archaeology Director Lynne Goldstein and former Campus Archaeologist Terry Brock will be heading to Austin, Texas to take part in the Society for Historical Archaeology Annual Conference. This conference is held each year as an opportunity for archaeologists around the world to gather and give presentations and posters on the research they are conducting. Last year, Campus Archaeology presented a poster on using Digital Social Media to engage the community in their research, a poster that spawned a number of other archaeologists throughout the country using social media in this way.
This year, Terry and Dr. Goldstein will present another poster about why institutions of higher education are important places for archaeologists to research. Over the past few years, we have conducted a number of archaeological investigations throughout campus. While our discoveries have held important cultural meaning to MSU’s faculty, staff, students, and alumni, they also provide an important glimpse into how higher education has grown and changed over time. For example, the excavations at Saints’ Rest, which have revealed small trash pits of cut bone and ceramics, may tell us a good deal about how sparse and basic life was like for the earliest students. In contrast, excavations at Brody Hall, which revealed a massive landfill from the 1930s and 40s, suggests that the community in East Lansing had grown substantially during the previous 70 years, due primarily to the impact and growth of the university.
Our poster addresses the potential questions that could be analyzed by research programs on college campuses, addresses the challenges faced by the unique context of university’s, talks about who the key community stakeholders are in these programs, and suggests a process by which these programs can be carried out. We have found the Campus Archaeology Program to be a successful model with which to conduct archaeology on a college campus, and hope that this poster will encourage others to develop such a program. We have provided the poster on Slideshare, so that you can see what we are up to. We’d love to have your feedback!
Many professions have professional organizations. Archaeologists and anthropologists are no different: we have a number of conferences that are scheduled throughout the year, and are for a number of different topics or areas of archaeology. This past weekend, Terry Brock and Lynne Goldstein attended the Annual Conference of the Society for Historical Archaeology, and presented a poster about how the Campus Archaeology Program has been using Digital Social Media to engage the public (i.e. YOU!). SHA is a professional organization that focuses on archaeology that happens post-colonial contact, roughly from 1500 to the present.
These conferences are important for a number of reasons. It allows archaeologists to share the research that they are doing, looking for other people who are doing similar work to theirs, or for ideas as to how to interpret or analyze what they have found. For others, it is a time to network, meeting people for work or looking for jobs. For students, it can be an opportunity to get a wide exposure to a number of different topics, and to be introduced to people for the first time. For Campus Archaeology, we were able to spread the word about two unique things we are doing: mitigating the cultural resources on a college campus, and using Digital Social Media to share what we find.
This conference was held at Amelia Island, Florida, and was largely organized by the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN) and the University of West Florida. There was a very heavy emphasis on public engagement, which was emphasized by the recipient of the SHA’s prestigious J.C. Harrington Award, Judy Bense (@jbense3). Dr. Bense, currently the President of UWF, was the founder of the Florida Public Archaeology Network. Michigan State and Campus Archaeology has an important link to this program: Dr. Goldstein sits on their board.
This emphasis fit our presentation well: our use of Digital social media is unique, and many of the visitors to our poster were intrigued by the possibilities. This is fantastic, because hopefully it means that they will utilize these media to engage their communities. FPAN has already started using twitter, and you can follow them @FL_Archaeology and @FPANsoutheast.
In all, this is an exciting development. We hope that our use of digital social media has been helpful for you. Please let us know if there are things you’d like to see us do more of or things you’d like to see less of. We are open to your feedback, since you are the community we are trying to serve. Also, if you enjoy what we’re doing, please tell other people! The more people we can reach the more effective we will be.