Monday, 31 March 2014

Yes Virginia, There Were Cows in the Tunnels

Happy Birthday to us! Yes, it's the blog's first birthday this week and to celebrate I decided to revisit everyone's favourite post, "Ginger" the 300lb nude statue found in Brooklyn, and the folks at Historical Perspectives Inc. Unfortunately Ginger's identity still remains a mystery so this post is dedicated to a topic that's just as sexy - cattle tunnels.

"The city of New York is replete with tales of mythic creatures in various shapes and sizes – as well as degrees of lethality – lurking beneath the streets, dwelling in the dark, ambling through the miles of tunnels that carry the city’s water, effluent, and utilities. Most notably are the infamous alligators of New York that have yet to be tapped to fill the demand for women’s purses at upscale shops on Fifth Avenue, yet alone confirmed. What few New Yorkers do not realize is that another type of creature, far less lethal but massive by comparison, once did stroll beneath the pavement.   
The west side of Manhattan’s Midtown was once home to the city’s abattoirs and an assortment of noxious industries that grew up around the processing of animals into meat and various by-products (e.g., glue, swill milk, and bone meal). For years, cattle and other cloven-hoofed animals were shipped in trains from the Midwest to the stockyards of New Jersey, where they were then ferried across the Hudson River to short-term holding pens on docks and pens tightly packed along the shore of West Street. Herding the cows (and sheep) across the street and the rail line that ran along the waterfront was a dangerous affair. Cowboys on horseback were hired to escort trains along the shoreline, stopping traffic and herds in order to prevent collisions.
In a 1990s study of Manhattan’s West Side Highway – now known as Route 9A – two cattle tunnels were identified by Historical Perspectives, Inc. Research completed by Cece Saunders and Faline Schneiderman recovered blueprints, building permits, and lithographs of these two brick features – built in the 1870s and 1930s – to safely allow animals passage to their impending fate. One was built at West 34th Street; the other slightly north at West 38th Street. Documents indicate that at least one of the tunnels was never dismantled. Of note is the careful consideration given by the State Historic Preservation Office as to whether the purported tunnels, if uncovered in an excavation, should be treated as archaeological features or historic structures. Neither tunnel has been confirmed archaeologically, but they have captured the public’s interest and attained mythological proportions."

Historical Perspectives, Inc. is a women-owned cultural resources consulting firm that has been in business since 1982. The firm offers a wide variety of archaeological and historic structures services including archival research and archaeological reconnaissance surveys to visual impact analysis, historic structures recordation, and interpretive exhibit and publication development. Incorporated in the State of Connecticut, HPI works throughout Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. HPI has also completed over 400 individual projects in New York City."

Faline Schneiderman, MA, Vice President
Historical Perspectives, Inc.

Monday, 24 March 2014

What can you do with an archaeology degree besides be an archaeologist?

It's a tough time to be a graduate. Jobs in any sector are scarce and the chances of being able to actually apply what you have learned through your degree in the workplace are slim.

This is a very real problem for students of archaeology and Beatrix Arendt addresses options available in "Making it Work: Using Archaeology to Build Job Skills for Careers Other Than Archaeology" in the latest issue of Public Archaeology.

"A recent online article in The Daily Beast listed archaeology as one of the thirteen most useless undergraduate degrees. The article failed to identify transferable job skills gained while engaged in archaeological work. Further, archaeological field programmes and labs offer an alternative learning environment that benefits some students.
This article reviews two archaeological projects that used archaeology as a form of social activism to provide employment and education to an under-served community as a fundamental aspect of its goals. The Hopedale Archaeology Project is an archaeology field project based in a north-east Canadian community that provides education and work opportunities for Inuit students. The Veterans Curation Program based in the United States provides temporary employment to recently discharged military veterans in an archaeological and archival curation lab. These programmes assist individuals to
re-establish themselves within the workforce and add to their academic and professional growth, as well as incorporate a public outreach component that makes archaeology and history more accessible to the public.
Most archaeologists engage in a wide range of administrative and management skills to conduct excavations as well as computer and digitization skills, which are applicable in practically all work environments. Harnessing these skill sets and using them for alternative education and work opportunities can make archaeology and history more accessible to the public, while assisting individuals to re-establish themselves within the workforce by adding to their academic and professional growth.
Engaging in archaeological projects lends itself to the development of specific learning situations, particularly incorporating active learning where individuals have the opportunity to explore and experiment. Many other researchers have explored the educational value of archaeology via activities that require analytical thinking, problem-solving, and cooperation; however, few have analysed the potential for using archaeology as a tool that provides transferable job skills in fields outside of archaeology."

Monday, 17 March 2014

An Unbroken History: Conserving East Asian Works of Art and Heritage

IIC 2014 Congress

Monday 22 September 2014 to Friday 26 September 2014

IIC is delighted to present the 25th biennial IIC Congress and, for the first time, IIC is holding this essential international conservation event in a sub-tropical region - which brings its own, very particular problems of preventive conservation.

The 2014 Congress will be held at Hong Kong’s City Hall, situated in the very heart of the city.

Objects of art and heritage generally reveal their significance through different senses: their form and appearance; the messages and stories they contain; the knowledge and information hidden within them. Hence, conservation efforts are meant not only to assist the study of the history and the making of our heritage but also to help us to appreciate and to revivify its beauties and merits. Each form and artefact of East Asian art and heritage, in addition to assuming a unique style and nature, carries an important meaning from and testimony to the culture and history of the people and the region that created them.

The IIC 2014 Hong Kong Congress will provide a platform to bring together a wide variety of views and dialogues to address the various areas of work, study and analysis involved in the conservation of East Asian art and heritage. It will focus on how conservation helps to retain or recover and then communicate the messages that East Asian art and heritage carry, and will address how the history or meaning of this art and heritage affects the decision-making processes and course of conservation treatments. Different conservation approaches, and hence methodologies, will be discussed and examined, and will link in to the unveiling of traditional craftsmanship, manufacturing materials and patterns of use or previous restorations. With advances in technology, an increasingly efficient flow of information and a growing awareness of conservation ethics, more specific and sustainable ways to treat art and heritage, as compared to traditional approaches, will also be explored.

These different approaches to conservation may be applied to the treatment of a wide range of objects and materials: scroll paintings and calligraphy; prints; textiles and costumes; wall paintings; sculpture; furniture and lacquer wares; jewellery, ceramics and metalwork of all varieties pertinent to the region. The conservation of the built heritage, including historical and archaeological sites, monuments and historic buildings with distinctive oriental features is an important aspect of conservation in the region. The intangible cultural heritage of a community, its traditions, customs and rituals, its music, folk arts and crafts, has a value that is incalculable, but it may wither and diminish inconspicuously, unable to compete with the pressures of the strident modern world, if we are unaware of its importance. Innovative approaches and methods are required if we are to preserve the relics and objects which are inseparable parts of the intangible cultural heritage and complement efforts in its preservation.

Register now!
You can register easily at the IIC web-site:

Monday, 10 March 2014

Fieldwork opportunity: Zamartze Mortuary Archaeology Field School

When? June 6-30; July 6-30; August 6-30; September 6-30. 2014

How much is it?
June session: €1750; July session: €1950; August session: €1950; September session: €1750

The Zamartze Mortuary Archaeology Field School is a research project investigating human burials at the medieval monastic complex of Zamartze in the municipality of Uharte-Arakil (Navarre, Spain).

The main element in the site is a 12th century Romanesque church assumed to have been built on top of an earlier Roman mansio. Restoration works to the complex in 2005 revealed medieval graves and Roman structures.

The primary goal of the project is to gain knowledge of the population of this part of Navarre during the medieval period. Graves are thought to date between the 9th and the 14th century, and over 100 individual burials have been uncovered in the last years. The project aims at using the individuals recovered from this cemetery to perform a thorough study of the diet, pathology and bioprofile (age, sex, stature) of this Medieval site’s population that could be extrapolated to the region, as little is known in the area about its Medieval population. Additional details of funerary practices may also be gained from the position of the skeletons, burial orientation and grave goods. Stone tombs (as well as later intrusive burials) surrounding the church will be excavated.

The field school is aimed at students or graduates of archaeology and physical or forensic anthropology who wish to gain hands-on experience in the excavation of human remains.  There will be daily lectures and lab classes on skeletal anatomy,excavation techniques and Basque archaeology, although the major component of the school is fieldwork, with students spending an average of 7-8 hours per day on site. Throughout the course, students will become proficient in carrying out all aspects of osteological analysis, including the determination of age, sex, stature and identification of pathologies.

The focus of the fieldwork will be on burial excavation techniques and documentation methods. Students will participate in all stages involved in the exhumation of human remains in archaeological contexts.

Visit the Project Website for more information.

Monday, 3 March 2014

NEW EVENT: Second Asia-Pacific regional conference on Underwater Cultural Heritage

12 - 16 May 2014, Honolulu, HI, USA

Hosted by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and University of Hawaii Marine Option Program

The 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (UNESCO Convention 2001) entered into force on 2 January 2009 and now provides a basis for international cooperation and exchange of knowledge about underwater cultural heritage.

Recent decades have witnessed an expansion of activity directed at underwater cultural heritage which has raised awareness of its potential and significance. Underwater cultural heritage is complex, combining related disciplines and issues critical to our time. Consideration of indigenous cultural values, heritage tourism, biological interactions, socio-economic benefits, and threats from increased development, industrial extraction, certain diving activities, and even sea-level rise and erosion, continue to shape our understanding of this field. Our reliance on marine resources and need for ocean stewardship encourages government agencies, heritage groups, coastal zone managers, diving groups and other ocean users to formulate a better approach to investigating and managing non-renewable underwater cultural heritage.

This conference provides an opportunity to discuss the nature and meaning and potential of underwater cultural heritage, and to exchange and disseminate information about heritage and underwater/maritime archaeology projects from the countries of Asia and the countries of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

This Conference is endorsed by numerous supporting organizations including IGOs, NGOs, government agencies, museums and universities.

Conference Aims

•  Address management and protection strategies of underwater cultural heritage in Asia
   and the countries of the Indian and Pacific Oceans in the 21st Century
•  Facilitate regional cooperation through the development of academic and
   governmental networks in the Asia-Pacific region
•  Provide a forum for discussion of technical and ethical issues related to underwater
   cultural heritage and underwater archaeology

For further information please visit the APCONF Conference website.