About Scott

UW Senior. Environmental Studies and Anthropology.

Scuba Diving and Archaeology

Exciting news! It sounds like one of my really good friends, who happens to be my favorite diving buddy, and I are going to go on an Australia SCUBA trip early next fall! We are referred to by our favorite divemaster as Pinky and the Brain because I wore pink tanks during our first weekend of open water diving, and she actually read the book and knows what is going on (and thus keeps me alive).

Anyways, I will be relying on her brain power, because we will be diving a wreck for the first time, and who knows what kind of trouble I will get in while swimming in and around a shipwreck 60′ below the surface.

This niche subfield of archaeology (nautical or maritime archaeology) has captivated me since I first started taking archaeology courses, and though I don’t plan on continuing on in archaeology, I really hope to take a field school at some point.

Recently maritime archaeologists made headlines when they made claims to have found Christopher Columbus’ flagship the Santa Maria. They were able to use a combination of unique ship identifiers and journal entries from Columbus himself to narrow down the location. Like what?!? So cool. I have a feeling maritime archaeologists are just getting warmed up, and have a few more amazing finds coming soon to a journal article near you.

Garbology

I’ve found it! I’ve finally found the sub-field of archaeology that allows me to combine my interests in sustainability, archaeology, and politics: GARBOLOGY! So naturally I am graduating Saturday with no experience doing garbology even though we have an awesome program here at the UW.Shoutout to Jack Johnson and the crew: http://uwgarbology.weebly.com/

Anyways, though picking through garbage doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun, there are some really cool things that we can learn about our modern society through the study of our trash. Looking at disparities in food, clothing, chemicals, and other material goods really gets at the heart of environmental and social justice issues going on right around us.

Garbology is definitely not without challenges though. I was particularly struggling with how we choose to frame our data in relation to demographics. Defining “poor” or “black” neighborhoods  or whatever other box you want to draw around the unit of measure is REALLY challenging while being PC. That being said, comparing communities is really where garbology excels.

I am definitely going to keep up with trends in this really cool field, you should too.

Snake Oil? Nope, even better!

One bottle in my assemblage stood out in particular to me. It was a a brown bottle about 8 inches tall, ovoid with two flat sides, and had the word Ozomulsion prominently embossed onto it. “What in the world is Ozomulsion?” said a heavy eyed me as I wrapped up categorizing my bottles. Well little did I know, this little brown bottle once contained a miracle cure more powerful than snake venom! Ozomulsion was a patent medication which claimed to cure a host of ailments. The following picture is an advertizement from a turn of the 20th century New York newspaper The Argosy.

The be-all end-all miracle cure!

The be-all end-all miracle cure!

After finding out Ozomulsion was cod oil, I couldn’t help but think about the current fad to eat fish oil tablets, which seem to have some scientific backing. Perhaps there really is something to this Ozomulsion stuff after all. Come to think of it, I could use a cure for coughs, colds, grip (whatever that is), bronchitis, zombies, pneumonia, and everything else this mean world has to throw at me. Think that free sample bottle is still available?

Calvary Cemetery Recordings

I had never considered the amount of information that we can glean from a casual walk around the cemetery.

Our group decided to record our data using a custom webform through the free app, NestForms. It was super handy. I took about 20 minutes to set up the webform to match our paper forms, and I was really happy with the results. It was much easier to fill out a pre-designed form on a phone than worry about wind and rain destroying the papers. It even recorded our GPS coordinates. When we got home, printing out a database was literally 3 clicks. All of the data is saved in the cloud. Go technology!

We also decided to stop in and talk with the cemetery staff when we got to the site. Some interesting tidbits that we got from speaking with them:

  • The Denny Regrade project of the early 20th century involved moving a cemetery. The catholics that were previously barried there, are now at the Calvary Cemetery.
  • There was a flu epedemic in Seattle in the 1920s which accounts for a large portion of the cemeteries inhabitants. Particularly the graves of many young people.
  • There was an entire section of burials that had been left unmarked. These were people who were unable to purchase large family plots due to unmarked graves. The Calvary Cemetery director recently created a monument for these people.
  • Many of Seattle’s famous families have burials in the cemetery, including the Nordstroms.

As others have mentioned, our sample size was so small that it is probably wrong to draw any conclusions from our findings. Alas, I will do it anyway.

Our findings suggest that males may be more highly valued, as their graves were nearly three times as large as the women’s, 5.6 to 2.2 ft tall. This seems to be especially skewed in the family plots where a family patriarch has a large monument while his relatives have smaller graves surrounding it. We saw this several times throughout our survey.

We also found that marble is by far the most common material used, comprising almost 50% of the graves. Our findings suggest that the use of marble has diminished in the last three decades however. Whether this is due to market forces or a culturally driven change is unknown.

Screenshot 2014-04-30 16.22.14

grave by material

King Dome

One of Seattle’s most loved and hated buildings all at the same time was the King County Multi Purpose Domed Stadium, better known as the King Dome. Funded in 1968 with a $40 million public bond, the dome was completed in in 1972. Home of the Seattle Seahawks, Sonics, and most famously, Mariners, the stadium was truly one of the iconic buildings of Seattle (though perhaps more for its ugly concrete exterior and even uglier astro-turf field)

The stadium was opened by the Mariners on May 17, 1976 drew 54,000 fans. Several iconic sports moments took place in the Dome including “The Double” in the 1995 ALCS win over the hated New York Yankees. I may or may not have cried while watching this:

There were good memories and there were bad. Through much of the King Domes service, the Seattle teams that called it home were the basement dwellers of their respective leagues. This coupled with speakers positioned so low that baseballs famously got stuck in them and falling roof panels made the King Dome one of the sadder sports stadiums in the US.

By the late ’90s the owners and fans of the three major sports franchises in Seattle were sick of the outdated stadium. In 2000, after nearly 25 years of service, the King Dome was torn down in spectacular fashion. Here is some footage:

Though many hated the King Dome during its reign (sorry, I had to), it is often looked back at fondly by Seattlites as the stadium that saved sports in Seattle.

 

Here are some great resources from the UW Libraries:

https://digital.lib.washington.edu/architect/structures/5365/

http://www.komonews.com/news/archive/3991021.html

http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=2164

One person’s trash is another’s…archaeology?

Last week, we got to dig through some trash! My group chose two trash bags from Denny Hall, counting and describing all of the contents. I was particularly struck by the amount of recyclables and compostables in the trash can.

Having interned for the UW’s Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Office (green.washington.edu), I knew that Denny Hall’s waste diversion rates are a particularly special case, because the building was used last year for a pilot program to lower waste miscategorization. Based on our findings, I’m not so sure it worked. See Kirks garbology post for a breakdown of our findings.

I think our mini-garbology project highlights this really exciting and socially relevant subfield of archaeology. The UW’s Garbology Program (http://uwgarbology.weebly.com) is one of the emerging leaders in the field. One of the really exciting things about garbology is that instead of borrowing data and methods from other academic fields, garbology actually gives archaeology a chance to actively contribute to the larger academic and social discourse. I can’t count how many times I’ve thought to myself “Yeah, archaeology is fascinating, but so what? It doesn’t matter to society.” But garbology does!

Keeping It Local!

After the now Seattle-famous mammoth tusk twitter page, it’s no surprise that the Burke Museum’s mar/comm team has done a fantastic job with the Burke’s archaeology blog. The site features both unique artifacts from the Burke’s vast archaeological collection as well as some highlights of archaeology projects going on at the Burke. Archaeology of an insane asylum anyone?

This blog seems to me an awesome outreach tool for the museum to reach those tech-savvy archaeologists and museologists.

Blog is here: http://burkemuseum.blogspot.com/search/label/Archaeology#.U0zWl-ZdUpI

Scuba/Archy Field School

Sure, you can read about the goings-on of a field school, how exciting. But how about a couple weeks of living vicariously through the eyes of students in a maritime archaeology field school? The Maritime Archaeology Program of the University of Southern Denmark has just that.

The blog gives brief updates and plenty of pictures from the school’s 4 week long maritime archaeology dive course. The blog does a great job of showing the behind the scenes work that goes into diving (including the not so glamorous), as well as the glory shots.

How cool would maritime archaeology be?

Blog is here: http://www.maritimearchaeology.dk/

Sexy Archaeology?

I found an interesting blog called Sexy Archaeology which bills itself as a kind of clearing house of archaeology news. But not just any old dig makes it on Sexy Archaeology. Projects must be either:

  1. “Excitingly appealing” 
  2. Groundbreaking research

Examples include everything from experimental archaeology of Cold War test planes to dating early hominid species. The idea seems fantastic to me. The blog combines some of the exciting awe and mystique that draws people to archaeology, while actually introducing people to “real” archaeology, which is a scientific and process oriented endeavor.

The blog is owned by Kurt Hunt, who has a M.A. from the University of Bristol in Archaeology for Screen Media. It is clear the Kurt is a media savvy guy, and the perfect fit to run this kind of blog.

The blog is available here: http://sexyarchaeology.wordpress.com/

Scott competing in a triathlon.

Scott competing in a triathlon.

My name is Scott Strang. I am currently a senior at the University of Washington majoring in environmental studies and anthropology. I grew up in a tiny town in Eastern Washington that no one has heard of (less than 1,000 people). I remain a small town boy at heart. I am particularly interested in nautical archaeology.

I own a small sustainability consulting firm, Veridus Consulting, which specializes in helping small and medium size businesses save money and increase customer and employee loyalty through improvements in their environmental and social behaviors. Away from school and work, I spend most of my time swimming, biking, and running. I have aspirations of earning my professional triathlete license in the coming years.