NPS Feb 2014 Archaeology E-Gram

The following e-newsletter for the National Park Service Archeology Program has a number of brief articles, including links to a series of archaeology webinars, an interview with a practicing archaeologist about their career path, and much more. These provide a way to learn about modern site locational technologies, an archaeological career in the NPS, hints about how to pursue such a career, and other interesting and useful information for budding archaeologists. Take a look…

NPS Archeology Program Posts Webinars

The NPS Archeology Program has posted on their public website the webinars from a series the program hosted in Fall 2013-Winter 2014.  The lecture series was devoted to dissemination of information about developments in archeological site locational technologies including LiDAR, metal detecting, ground penetrating radar, satellite imagery, and underwater locational technologies.  The posted webinars are


A Short History of Technological Innovations in Geo-spatial Methods in Archeology

Fred Limp, Leica Chair in Geospatial Imaging, Dept. of Geosciences, University of Arkansas

Metal Detecting for Archeologists: Recent Advances in Methods and Equipment

Douglas Scott, NPS Archeologist (retired)

Geophysical Prospecting in Archeology

Kenneth L. Kvamme, Director, Archeo-Imaging Lab, University of Arkansas

Capturing Cultural Landscapes: GIS and Historical Imagery at Voyageurs National Park

Andrew LaBounty, Integrated Resources Technician, Voyageurs NP

Direct Predictive Modeling of Regional Archaeological Phenomena with Satellites

Alan P. Sullivan, Chair, Department of Anthropology, University of Cincinnati

Heritage Preservation and 3D Immersive Learning Using Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS) and Combined Spatial, Imaging, and Visualization Tools

Lori Collins and Travis Doering, Alliance for Integrated Spatial Technologies,
University of South Florida, School of Geosciences

Advancing Archeology in the Midwest Region through GIS: Information Management, Modeling, and Analysis

Anne Vawser and Amanda Davey Renner, NPS Midwest Archeological Center

Business in Great Waters: A Review and Assessment of Marine Archeological Remote Sensing Techniques and Technology

Dave Conlin, NPS and James Delgado, NOAA


To view the webinars, go to


Climate Change and Cultural Resources Video about Colonial National Historical Park Released

The latest video by the NPS Climate Change and Cultural Resources Program (CCRP) on climate change in parks has been released. Climate Change in National Parks:
Culture and History on Jamestown Island
addresses the relevance of unique cultural resources to climate change — how they are affected by current change, what they reveal about ways people have responded to change in the past, and how they can inform
the decisions we need to make today and in the future. The episode features Jamestown Island at Colonial NHP.


Jonathan Connolly, Dennis Blanton, Marcy Rockman , Dan Smith, Melanie Pereira, and Dorothy Geyer assisted in the production of the video.


To watch the video, go to

It is also available on the multimedia page of the CCRP website, under Climate Conversations:

All the videos can also be viewed through the CCRP YouTube channel:


Tim Watkins, 202-513-7189


Conversation with an Archeologist: Julie Steele

We caught up with Julie Steele at Petersburg National Battlefield Park, where she is the cultural resource manager. She interrupted her busy day to talk to us about the
path that led her to this job.


There is a quiet but persistent current of independence that runs through Julie Steele’s career. Growing up in Philadelphia, she developed a fascination for colonial and
Native American history. But Julie decided on her future profession after a sixth-grade class trip to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. She was so taken with Egyptology that she wrote a paper about it for a class assignment.
Her teacher said, “That’s nice, Julie, maybe your husband will be an archeologist,” a comment Julie has not forgotten.


After high school, Julie interned at the National Archives in Washington, DC and lived at the Evangeline Home for Young Working Women. She was an editorial assistant for
the journal “Prologue,” assigned to the young Herman Viola, who was embarked on a distinguished academic career in Native American history. Julie worked there during all of the summers of undergraduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, but got other
housing after that first summer!


During college, Julie volunteered archeological work, including working with John Cotter at Franklin Court. Intending to be a Near Eastern archeologist, she worked in
Turkey with Jacques Bordaz, and was slated to go to Libya, plans that were interrupted by Kaddafi. She applied to work with archeologists on the Alaskan pipeline and was accepted, that is, so long as she could get to Alaska within the week. Julie borrowed
money, bought heavy clothes, and headed west. It was March 1975. She was one of ten women hired as pipeline archeologists at a time when most women in the oil fields plied a more common trade.


For Julie, working on the Alaskan pipeline was a pivotal experience. She worked all over Alaska and made enough money to go to grad school at SUNY Binghamton where she
studied with fellow pipeline archeologist Al Dekin. Retired NPS archeologist Bob Gal was a crew chief. She finished her course work, obtained an M.A., but never completed her PhD. “One thing I regret,” she said.


After three years at Binghamton, Alaska called, and Julie couldn’t resist. She got a job as an archeologist with the Army Corps of Engineers, which was doing hydro-electric
projects in Alaska. Then, thinking she would make a good environmental lawyer, Julie moved to Washington DC where she attended George Washington University Law School. “I knew at once,” she said, “that I had made a mistake.” She was much more interested in
the cultural context of cases than the legalities themselves, which she found distracting. After a year, Alaska called again. The Alaska Office of the Bureau of Lands Management offered her a job as an archeologist. She accepted and worked there for eight
years, doing Section 106 compliance and Section 110 surveys.


Why did you leave Alaska? I asked. Alaska is a big state, but a small pond for employment, and there wasn’t much room for advancement or expanding job skills. When an
archeologist’s job was advertised in the NPS Philadelphia regional office, Julie decided to apply. To her surprise, she was offered the position. In 1994, Julie moved back to her home town. As a project archeologist in the Northeast Regional Office, Julie
worked on numerous projects including the footprints of the Revolutionary War huts at Valley Forge NHP, funded by the Log Cabin Syrup Company.


When a supervisor directed the male archeologists to attend a class on the new technology of ground penetrating radar (GPR), while telling the female archeologists to
plan the Christmas party, Julie insisted on, and received, the same training as the men. She mastered GPR working with a former professor, Bruce Bevan, and often relies on the technology in her present job.


In 2007, when her program was reorganized, Julie moved to Petersburg NBP, Virginia, to become one of the few female cultural resource managers of an NPS Civil War park.
She discovered that her skills matched the job very well, including Section 106 compliance for construction projects (from time with the Army Corps of Engineers), consultation (from her work with the BLM), GPR competence, an appreciation for landscape archeology,
and a strong sense of responsibility for everything archeological at the park, which includes paleoindian and plantation archeology, as well as Civil War materials.


Recently, she has overseen archeological data recovery related to a project to stabilize an undercut bluff at City Point that was threatening the headquarters of General
Ulysses S. Grant. She is involved in the park effort to restore damaged and defaced headstones at the Poplar Grove National Cemetery, and her research revealed that there were a number of Native American burials. She reached out to contact descendants and
has since established working relationships between the park and tribal members.  She is currently applying the new technology of LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) to systematically identify undocumented archeological resources within the park.


Julie’s advice to young people starting out in Federal archeology today:

·         Finish your degree. Otherwise that unfinished business will always bother you!

·         If a position appeals to you, apply for it! You don’t know the backstory, and you just might have all the skills, they are looking for.

·         Federal archeologists need to be generalists in terms of subject matter and technologies.  Feed your curiosity, keep an open mind, and grow your skill

·         Don’t hoard your data! Get it out there where people can use it. The more people interested in learning, the more we all learn.


Through dogged persistence and a refusal to be pigeonholed, Julie Steele has carved out a rewarding career for herself and helped create opportunities for others in the
field of NPS archeology.


Thanks for talking to us, Julie!


Utah County Wants ATV Road Through Archeological District

Nearly a decade ago, two Utah men built an illegal ATV trail through Recapture Canyon, on BLM land, damaging ancient
cooking structures, rock walls and other priceless artifacts. Kenneth James Brown, 70, and Daniel Lee Felstead, 41, of Blanding, built the ATV trail in 2005, which involved cutting old-growth juniper trees; moving stones; and installing rock cribbing, drainage
pipes, and a wooden bridge. In 2011, they were fined $35,000.  The BLM shut down the trail in 2007 to prevent further damage.


Today, the agency is considering a plan to designate the southeast Utah canyon as an official motorized route, setting
off a vigorous debate over balancing protection and promotion of American Indian sites on public lands. The agency this spring is expected to release an environmental assessment on the proposed 14-mile trail, which would traverse one of the most archeologically
rich counties in the nation.


San Juan County submitted the right-of-way application in late 2012, arguing it
could promote economic development in nearby Blanding while reducing the threat of improvised trails. But archeologists, conservation groups, and the Hopi Tribe said the BLM should reject the proposal, arguing it would reward the trail builders and increase
the risk of vandalism because the riverine canyon is currently accessible only by foot or horse.


Known as a “mini Mesa Verde,” the canyon contains an unusually dense collection of Ancestral Puebloan sites, including
ceramic hearths, storage cisterns, cliff habitations, ceremonial kivas and ancient trash heaps — evidence of a resident population. It also includes the remnants of old stock corrals and a wood-framed house from as recent as the mid-20th century.


A study commissioned by the BLM found the trail builders had caused more than $300,000 in archeological damage that would cost the agency more
than $90,000 to restore and repair, but the real damage could not be quantified.  “The unauthorized ATV activity has permanently and significantly diminished the cultural heritage value of the archaeological resources at these sites to Native Americans and
the American public as a whole, as well as their scientific value to archaeologists,” said the report. According to the 2007 study, potential impacts from ATV access include wood cutting, vegetation and soil damage, or looting.

BLM in 2008 issued a resource management plan barring future ATV use in the canyon, while allowing 2,820 miles for
motorized recreation elsewhere. Critics of the Recapture trail say there are ample places for motorized recreation in San Juan. Moreover, Recapture Canyon is “one of those rare canyons” in Utah that contain year-round water flows — which occur on just 1 percent
of BLM lands in Utah — and cultural resources eligible for the National Register of Historic Places that are not already open to ATVs.


Brian Quigley, assistant field office manager at the BLM, said the agency does not feel that designating the right
of way would encourage future illegal trail activity. Sandberg said the ATV trail would be unlikely to increase vandalism and looting because more eyes in the canyon would help deter would-be thieves. Moreover, the application has been revised to avoid one
of the most archeologically sensitive southern legs of the canyon.


There is an annual San Juan ATV safari in September with upward of 100 riders, and local businesses would like to
see that grow, Sandberg said. If the BLM grants the right of way — which would likely last 30 years — conservation groups want to know whether the agency will terminate the route if looting or vandalism occurs or if air or water quality diminishes. As well,
they’re worried about BLM’s law enforcement capacity.


Protection of American Indian sites is a sensitive issue in the Four Corners, where Federal authorities estimate
90 percent of sites have been plundered. In San Juan County, where until the 1920s Blanding residents were paid by the University of Utah to hunt for ancient pots, experts estimate looters have raided most of the county’s 28,000 known archeological sites.


The black market for looted artifacts is a chronic problem, according to Federal officials. In 2009, a two-year multiagency
undercover operation in Utah, Colorado and New Mexico involving a wiretapped FBI source recovered 256 native artifacts worth an estimated $335,685. Two dozen people were charged with theft of U.S. government and tribal property. Some of those deals took place
in Blanding.


From story by Phil Taylor, Environmental and Energy Publishing


BLM offers $1,000 for information on archeological looting

The BLM is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for looting archaeological sites on public
lands near Dillon, Montana. A ranger and an archeologist recently discovered a large hole that had been excavated at an American Indian archeological site about 10 miles south of Dillon.


Mike Ramirez, a special agent with the BLM’s office for law enforcement, is keenly aware that illegal excavation compromises historical sites. “If someone goes in there and starts digging
around in an unscientific manner, they’ve messed up the timeline of anything they found,” he said.


The BLM has increased monitoring of such sites following a looting in August 2013 in Beaverhead County. In that case, a ranger apprehended several people stealing projectile
points and stone tools.


People with information are asked to contact BLM Dillon Law Enforcement Ranger Cory Manseau at 406-683-8006 or BLM Law Enforcement at 406-896-5010.

By Kelley Christensen, The Montana Standard


Archeological Resources No Justification for Monument Expansion

Federal officials are saying “no” to a proposed expansion of Walnut Canyon NM outside Flagstaff, Arizona. The decisions by the NPS and
the USFS to forgo expanding the 3,600-acre monument or placing a protected status on the 47-square-mile expansion area have left expansion supporters hoping for congressional action. Federal officials concluded that cultural resources
in the proposed expansion area don’t meet Federal requirements for significance.


Results of a Federal study were presented to Flagstaff and Coconino County officials who had requested the study in 2002. The area studied touches residential
areas and includes several mesas as well as archeological sites and popular areas for rock climbing and other outdoor activities.
The study was conducted by the USFS and NPS, and the Museum of Northern. The museum found that there are bountiful cultural resources in the area, but they are not “outstanding examples,” as required by the NPS. 


“It was determined that the cultural resources do not meet the national significance requirements,” said Kayci Cook Collins, superintendent of the Flagstaff Area Monuments. “So that being
the case, then the other three criteria are moot because national significance is the most important one.”


Most of the proposed expansion area is national forest, but some is state trust land and private property.

Designating the Walnut Canyon Study Area as a National Conservation Area would preserve all current activities but protect
it from land swaps. The threat of development has become greater as 4,500

are being proposed on the study-area boundary.


The current monument, located in pine country east of Flagstaff, includes a trail for viewing cliff homes inside
Walnut Canyon.


Virginia Tribe to be First Federally Recognized in State

After more than three decades, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe is just a few steps away from becoming the first federally-recognized tribe in the Common-wealth of
Virginia. Chief Kevin Brown and the Pamunkey Tribal Council have received a proposed finding from Kevin Washburn, BIA Assistant Secretary, to grant the tribe the Federal recognition they seek.


The Pamunkey Indian Tribe is one of two tribes in Virginia, along with the Mattaponi, who have members living on state reservations. The tribe still honors
a treaty originally made with Great Britain in 1646, delivering deer and wild game to the governor of Virginia in an annual tribute ceremony.


The tribe’s Federal acknowledgement effort began around 1980. Clear documentation for the tribe’s unbroken existence and relation to the original Pamunkey people
had to be collected to make a strong case. Researchers set out to prove that the Pamunkey tribe is a free-standing entity that has been in existence since the earliest contact with English settlers. The tribe had met with Captain John Smith during his first
visit to Virginia in 1607.  Some of the earliest documents recovered by the tribe’s researchers were collected over the course of four research trips to England.


Other Virginia tribes, including the Monacan, Nansemond, Rappahannock, Upper Mattaponi, East Chickahominy and Chickahominy, have sought Federal recognition
through an act of Congress. Pamunkey tribe members were approached to participate in that effort but were already more than a decade into their research for the traditional application process through the Office of Federal Acknowledgement. Federal acknowledgement
means the U.S. government recognizes the Pamunkey tribe’s government as an official entity with which it can do official business, opening up the possibility for grants, loans, emergency assistance and other services and programs.


The Pamunkey tribe is small, with 203 members as of October 2012, 60 of whom live on the reservation, but tribe members and interested scholars will enjoy the
fruits of the federal recognition research for years to come: the Pamunkey tribe plans to establish a library with the historical and genealogical documentation gathered as part of the effort to gain Federal recognition.


From story by Jodi Deal, The Mechanicsville Local


FCC Proposes Alternative to Section 106 for Positive Train Control System

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposes to license a series of 20,000 wayside poles to be constructed by freight and passenger
railroad companies that will serve as Positive Train Control Systems (PTC) that the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 requires to be operational by 2015. Each of the wayside poles, erected at 1-3 mile intervals on the railroad right of way, consists of a
25 to 65-foot tall metal pole equipped with a wireless radio receiver/ transmitter. The poles’ foundation will range from 5-15 feet in depth, depending on site conditions, and from 12-15 inches in diameter.


In addition to wayside poles, the railroads will install an estimated 3-4,000 additional antenna to serve as base stations. These base
stations will, in most instances, be located farther away from the track, and at 100-150 feet above ground level. The PTC Systems will be able to control or stop a train to prevent derailments and collisions should the operator be responsive.


The FCC chose an alternative to the standard four-step NHPA Section 106 compliance procedure called Program Comment. Alternative compliance
procedures allow agencies to meet Section 106 obligations using a process that is tailored to their mission and needs. A Federal agency may request a Program Comment from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (Advisory Council) in lieu of case-by-case
review. The benefit of a Program Comment is that it allows a Federal agency to comply with Section 106 in an efficient and targeted manner for a specific category of undertakings.


An agency official may request the [Advisory] Council to comment on a category of undertakings in lieu of conducting individual reviews
under 800.4 through 800.6. The Council may provide program comments at its own initiative (CFR 800.14(e).


An important distinction about 800.14(e) Program Comment is that there will be no review of individual cases. The review will be of the
program comment itself, which will be applied to a category of undertakings. The FCC has requested that the Council endorse special procedures for installation of the PTC wayside poles, in order to allow railroads to complete construction by the Congressional


The FCC has invited comments from Federal agencies, Indian tribes, and other interested parties on the proposed Program Comment. Within
45 days of receiving the Program Comment from the FCC, the Advisory Council will respond to the agency. The Council may comment on the proposed agency comment that will be taken into account when the FCC oversees the activities addressed by the Program Comment;
or declines to comment, in which case the FCC must comply with the standard 4-step review process used in Section 106 compliance.


New Yorker Publishes Article about Valley Fever

Valley fever (coccidioidomycosis) has long been a professional hazard for archeologists, especially researchers in the Southwest. Traditionally
restricted to a relatively small sector of the American population (people in occupations in close contact with soil such as farmers, ranchers, oil field workers, and archeologists), the disease did not attract much research attention. A recent upsurge in
diagnosed cases, however, has prompted more study, reports Dana Goodyear in her article
Death Dust: the valley-fever menace in the January 20, 2014, New Yorker.


Recent research suggests that increased dust storms moving across areas denuded for construction projects introduce spores of the fungus
Coccidioides immitis into the air, where they can be inhaled. Only 40 percent of people infected show symptoms – fever, cough, and exhaustion that can be hard to distinguish from the flu. In a small percentage, however, long term debilitation or death
can occur.  Elderly and immune-compromised people; pregnant women; and people of non-European biological origin (African Americans and Filipinos have been identified as disproportionately vulnerable) are most susceptible to the disease.


The NPS Office of Public Health, with assistance from the Archeology Program, has developed a brochure about valley fever specifically
for archeologists. It discusses symptoms of the disease, ways that it is contracted, and offers practical advice for avoiding the disease while conducting excavations.


A copy of the brochure is available at

 To read Goodyear’s article, go to


 Preserving history: $4.3M OK’d for NPS artifacts storage facility
in Townsend, Tennessee

The NPS Joint Curatorial Collection Facility planned to be built next to the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center in Townsend, Tennessee, is
a go! The DOI has approved the use of existing NPS funds in conjunction with private donations from Friends of the Smokies and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Association.


The total cost for funding the facility is $4.3 million, with about $2.3 million coming from private donations. The facility will be located
on a 1.6-acre parcel adjacent to the Heritage Center. The land is currently owned by the Heritage Center, but will be donated to the NPS before any construction would take place. The facility will be owned and operated by the NPS.


The facility will preserve 422,000 historical artifacts and 450,000 archival records, including land record, oral histories, historic photos
and park operating records; and items such as clothing, vintage weapons, logging-era equipment, farm tools and other objects from people living on the farmsteads of the Southern Appalachians in pre-park days. The archival collections will also include President
Andrew Johnson’s presidential papers.


In addition to the Great Smoky Mountains NP, other Federal park and recreation areas will be able to make use of the new joint facility, including
the Andrew Johnson NHS, Big South Fork NRRA, Cumberland Gap NHS and Obed Wild and Scenic River. These sites currently house artifacts and records in facilities that do not meet NPS standards for physical security or environmental controls to protect them from
mold, insects and fire.


By Joel Davis, The Daily Times


Fort Vancouver National Historic Site Offers Field School

The NPS, Portland State University, and Washington State University Vancouver are offering a field school in historical
archeology at Fort Vancouver NHS. The site is an unparalleled archeological
laboratory, comprising the remains of Fort Vancouver, the ca.1825-1860
regional headquarters and supply depot for the Hudson’s Bay Company, and
Vancouver Barracks, the first (ca. 1849-2010) permanent U.S. Army post in
the Pacific Northwest.


The 2014 field school will continue a multi-year
exploration of the multicultural Village (“Kanaka Village”), the largest
settlement in the Pacific Northwest ca. 1829-1845. Residents included
Native Hawaiians, the Métis, and people of many different American Indian
tribes. Later, the village was the site of the Quartermaster’s Depot, part
of the World War I Spruce Mill, which cut aviation-grade spruce for
America’s war effort, and a barracks and training compound for the Civilian
Conservation Corps (CCC).


The field school will explore these sites and
continue to collect data on the Old City Cemetery, one of the
oldest cemeteries in Vancouver, Washington. The project is collecting baseline
information on headstone condition, and their styles, decorations, and
inscriptions to help in its future preservation. The program features historical archeology method and theory.
Students will participate in all aspects of field and laboratory work.
The field school will also provide a unique research context to deploy mobile information technology
in a variety of field situations while providing a means to expand use of
mobile devices in heritage preservation.


For more information and an application:


Projects in Parks:
High Alpine Lakeside Villages and Rock Art in the Brooks Range, Alaska

Scott Shirar, Jeff Rasic, and Eric Carlson


Archeologists from the University of Alaska Museum and the NPS recently conducted work at a unique set of three prehistoric
lakeside village sites in northwestern Alaska. The sites are marked by dense concentrations of house and storage features and caribou hunting facilities that are likely associated with ancestral Inupiat groups. The sites also contain large, rock-lined communal
structures (qargit), and dozens of petroglyphs. Together, the qargit and petroglyphs are a completely unique habitation site type for Alaska. It is clear that something special occurred at these places many centuries ago.


To read the full report (after March 1), go to


Slightly Off-Topic: Winter builds rare icy path to ice caves at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Crowds of people are flocking to Apostle Islands NL to trek on a frozen-over Lake Superior to dramatic ice caves accessible on foot for the
first time in several years, courtesy of the long frigid winter. 
The ice caves on Superior’s shoreline are carved out of sandstone by waves from the lake and derive their name
from the icy freeze in winter that makes them glisten with hoar frost, icicles and ice formations.


Reachable in warm weather by boat, the caves are accessible in winter only by walking across ice when it is thick and stable enough. About
35,000 people (!) have hiked the more than 1 mile route across the ice since officials declared the ice a “low risk” on January 15, park spokeswoman Julie Van Stappen said. It has been five years since the ice caves were last reachable in the winter.  The
round-trip trek to the caves can take three hours or more over a well-packed and slippery path with little cover to break the sometimes fierce winds. It’s been five years since the ice has been thick enough for hikers to safely reach the caves.


As many as 11,000 people a day have made the trek to see the majestic ice caves. The park has turned to other agencies for help in handling
the thousands of people visiting the caves. Chief ranger Chris Smith said five other national parks have sent staff and that the local sheriff’s offices, U.S. Coast Guard and Border Patrol are also helping out.


A cool autumn and early winter combined with polar vortexes helped lake ice buildup weeks earlier than normal, said George Leshkevich, a researcher
for the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. The Great Lakes has reached its broadest ice coverage in 20 years at 88 percent, with Lake Superior at about 95 percent, according to the research laboratory.

For slide shows of this rare event, go to


By Brendan O’Brien and David Bailey (Reuters)


Projects in Parks
is a feature of the Archeology E-Gram
that informs others about archeology-related projects in national parks. The full reports are available on the
Projects in Parks web page
or through individual issues of the
Archeology E-Gram.


Archeology E-Gram, distributed via e-mail on a regular basis, includes announcements about news, new publications, training opportunities, national
and regional meetings, and other important goings-on related to public archeology in the NPS and other public agencies. Recipients are encouraged to forward Archeology E-Grams to colleagues and relevant mailing lists. The Archeology
 is available on the News and Links on the NPS Archeology Program website.


Contact: Karen Mudar at to contribute news items, stories for Projects
in Parks
, and to subscribe.



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