Blogging Archaeology; Blogging styles across different cultures

  • Tribuna d’Arqueologia

http://tribunadarqueologia.blog.gencat.cat/

This highly didactic blog is listed as one of the services that the community of archaeologists and paleontologists of Catalonia offers to the wider public and for people of the same field, to share updates on research projects, stream live conferences of the sector and share news on a uniform website.

While it is not immediately apparent who the exact authors of this blog are (since it’s the fruit of a collective work of archaeologists and paleontologists of government of Catalonia), I still believe that the authority they have on the writing of research advancement and news of the filed is still very palpable.

We are talking about a scientific journal that is accessible by everybody. They belong to the government, so of course their objective will be to inform the population of Catalonia on their archaeological records and where they can bring us as a nation.  They organize their content through categories such as articles, papers and they also upload their conferences in video format.

The tone is very formal, and I believe it’s more oriented towards people from the same field. That is where I would use more advertising and more media to attract a wider range of readers.

  • Archaeological Fantasies

About

On the contrary of the previous blog I wrote about, I believe this one is much more oriented to a broader audience, and specifically to an audience that might not necessarily be from the archaeological academic world.

The author doesn’t give away her own name and keeps it as “ArchaeologicalFantasies”,  even thou she does identify as female as one of her blog sections is dedicated to women that have had great impact in the field since the late XVIII century, calling them “Mothers of the field”. I am not sure if you can give full authority on the quality of the content based on someone who doesn’t display their real name, but this assumption could be very colonialist of mine. She has a B.A  in Anthropology and a Masters of Science certificate in GIS/Remote Sensing focusing in archaeology, and is currently finishing her masters in CRM Archaeology.

Personally, while I believe she does a good job at attracting more people to the field, I find some of her topics based on a much more colonial-classic tone. There is little mention in new decolonizing- feminist methodologies. But interesting to read still!

  • Publishing Archaeology

http://publishingarchaeology.blogspot.com/

I believe this blog has a much more academic content and intention, and it includes the opinion of the author, on technical and field methods as well as publications from across the field. The audience could be undergraduate students of his own, as well as colleagues and other publishing researchers from different fields.

On the authority of his writings, he is an archaeologist and university professor since many years ago: His name is Michael E. Smith and he is an archaeologist who works on Aztec sites and Teotihuacan. He is currently a professor in the School of Human Evolution & Social Change at Arizona State University.

He writes in a journalistic style, and I found his dedication to the undergraduate professor that motivated him to research in his field very moving. There are multiple sections where we comments and gives his opinion on main topics and definitions within anthropology such as “are we living in the Anthropocene”? where mostly, he asks of anthropologists and archaeologists to publish in journals of other disciplines to be better critiqued.

I like how instructional the content is, and at first I couldn’t help but think that his research in the big “gory rituals of ancient Meso American societies” was lacking the study of the daily lives of its inhabitants as we talked in class, but he has done some research on urban lives as well.

 

 

I sure like bottle 45K1765/M-56

Of all the bottles I looked at,

oh la la

I probably liked M56 the best. Embossed with Swift’s Pharmacy, this medicine bottle even has the address on 2nd and Pike Street, Seattle Washington, so if I take this bottle’s word for it, it’s obviously a bottle for medicine. Even without the embossing, the flat lip is indicative of a prescription bottle so you can tell based on that right away. On the bottom of the bottle is the maker’s mark of W.T. Co which according to Society for Historical Archaeology’s bottle typology website, dates the bottle from 1901 to 1924. I’m not certain when it was dumped, but it may have been towards the of the dump’s life in 1925

 

Alas, poor Swift’s Pharmacy

By the seams on the side that run all the way through sides, and what I assume on the shoulders are seams, I can only imagine that this was molded with a 3-piece mold, one for the top, and two halves for the body. But looking at it again with the seam running all the way to the lip, it’s probably more likely a 2-piece mold.

A search of that intersection on the internet will put you a street over from the Gum Wall and right next to Pike Place. Clearly it’s not there anymore and has since been replaced by bigger chain pharmacies like CVS and a Walgreens a block over and around the corner if Target isn’t your fancy.

came here once as a tourist and then never came back for the sake of convenience

 

 

By sheer coincidence, while googling the place I happened on an ad and to my dismay, just took me Professor Gonzalez’s blogpost on this same bottle. Since it’s already on the blog you can just read her post here:

https://blogs.uw.edu/gonzalsa/2017/02/14/what-can-glass-tell-us/

Shattered remains of the past

Nowadays the majority of our sodas, medicine and water all come in plastic containers. It’s kind of difficult to imagine a world without the widespread use of plastic. Well before the 1950s that’s exactly what the world was like and instead of plastics we used glass.

Pictured to the left are the bases and bodies of two glass bottles recovered during the Atlantic/ Central bus base Expansion Project that took place in Seattle between 2002 and 2006. But how can we possibly learn anything from two jagged and rather dirty looking fragments? Well I can tell you with complete confidence that there is certainly more to these shattered pieces than meets the eye.

Based on the location of seams on the sides and base of the bottles we know that this was produced using a 2 piece post- bottom mold (see diagram). This type of mold was used between the 1840s and the early 1900s. Therefore, we can assume that the  bottles were first produced and used within this time period. Embossed on to the front of the bottles are the words “JG Fox & Co.” This provides us with a wealth of information. A quick google search will reveal that JG Fox & Co was a beverage company based out of Seattle that primarily sold mineral water, sodas and beer. Since beer is usually sold in darker bottles I think it’s safe to assume that this was either a soda or mineral water bottle.  In comparison to other bottles within the assemblage these ones were relatively heavy. Therefore, I do not think they would have been carried by people in everyday life. Instead, they were more likely used in a domestic setting, i.e. someone’s home, or in a restaurant.

Thats all I have to say about these bottles. If your interested in learning more about bottle identification I highly recommend the Society of Historical Archaeology Historic Glass Bottle Identification & Information Website

Citations

Lindsey, Bill. “Bottle Bases.” Bottle Bases Page, sha.org/bottle/bases.htm.

 

Historic Bottles: The Oakland Chemical Company

An ad for dioxygen from the Oakland Chemical Company circa 1908

This bottle is an amber colored bottle manufactured using a 2-piece with cup mould and has a prescription finish. The seams on the sides of the bottle are indicative of this kind of mould. Embossed onto the bottle is the name “The Oakland Chemical Company” with a chemical symbol in the middle. The bottle likely contained what was known as dioxygen or previously, Oakland hydrogen peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide was marketed as being safe for oral consumption, although today we know it should not be consumed and likely would have burned the throats of people who drank it.

 

The Oakland Chemical Company bottle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The date of manufacture for this style of bottle (2 piece with cup) is between the 1880s and 1930s, but knowing the company who sold product in the bottle, the date can be further refined to the late 1890s, early 1900s. The headquarters of the Oakland Chemical Company was in the New York City region, moving from Brooklyn to Manhattan and Staten Island. This product most likely would have been found in a household along with other medicines intended to treat ailments.

Death in the Harsh Light of Day

Visiting a graveyard is always a somber affair, the clouds in the sky lend an ominous cast to the environment and even the cawing of the crows sounds muted by the pall of death hanging over the landscape… At least, that’s how popular media says it’s supposed to feel, an irony that doesn’t escape me as I wander the Calvary Cemetery in the blinding sunlight bombarded by construction noises and the unintelligible shouting through a loud speaker from some event happening at the nearby University Village. Even the crows sound loud and cheerful and there’s a large, bright notice about an ongoing project to make more room in the graveyard. I am informed by the notice that this is “a wonderful opportunity for your family.” The tone of the notice causes me to feel that the person writing it had only barely restrained themselves from the use of an exclamation point at the end.

Over the past couple weeks our Historical Archaeology class has been looking at gravestone typologies and the way society views and interacts with death. The specific graveyard we chose to look at is connected to a Catholic church which means that the stones are decorated primarily with crosses and other religious insignia. Upon breaking down the gravestones by date and type I found that most of the stones over the last hundred years have been fairly simple, mostly flat with some classic tablet style stones mixed in. Not every stone fits this category but enough to make it significant when looking at how we view death. The earlier stones are bigger and often more elaborately decorated implying that we are now honoring our dead in different ways. This doesn’t mean we care less simply that it has taken a different form. I also found that the number of deaths shown in the graves we looked at increased dramatically during the early 1900’s, with the most deaths in the 30’s specifically. When I went went looking for a  reason for this I couldn’t find one in the historical record. Although this is within the Great Depression the sources I found actually indicated that mortality rates went down during that time and not up. This means that, rather than saying something about death rates, this likely says something about the rising and falling popularity of this specific church within the community as a place to bury loved ones. It would be interesting to do a further study and see if the number of graves at the nearest secular graveyard went up at the same rate the ones at this Catholic graveyard went down.

We are All Equal in Death

This past week, we did a survey of a section of Calvary Cemetery in Seattle. The section I surveyed had graves from the early 20th century to now, and there was a very diverse variety of grave shapes in that section. My section also had many family plots from the early to mid 20th century, and only a few from the last 30 years, which seemed to be the overall trend in the graveyard itself. It was interesting to see how gravestone styles change over time – something you definitely don’t think about. For example in the early parts of the last century, monument shaped graves were pretty common, now, there are very few which are recent. I expected to see more differences in how the graves of women and men; there were differences, but they were much more subtle.

On dual grave markers, the husband and wife are represented as equals, side by side, and both would say about the same thing, “Loving Mother, Loving Father.” If the man had served in the military, he would also be recognized for that – either in the epitaph, or a little metal insignia symbol. Quite a few were from WWII, and women played a huge role on the “home front” during that time, but I didn’t see any recognition on graves here – perhaps as they were not “officially” in the military, had no unit #, or formal type of training. Upon doing some research I learned that women were not fully in the military to train until 1976. Another difference I noticed was how the headstones of women tended to be more emotional than the men’s.

 

Death and Society in the Neighborhood

Image

Beyond the names, dates, and epitaphs, grave markers contain coded social information in their material, shape, design motif, and location in the grounds. I analyzed the religious and secular design motifs noted in our class data collection––comparing crosses, rosaries, other Christian symbols against professional and military emblems, personal hobbies, and other non-religious imagery––and saw some trends appear. Religious motifs dominate in the 1920s to 1950s, but there is also a steady presence of secular motifs in that window which drops off after the 1950s. Thinking geographically, burials during that time window were primarily in the northeast and southeast areas of the cemetery. In contrast, burials before 1920 were almost exclusively in the southwest and center areas, and were evenly balanced with secular and religious design motifs. Though our data are only a fraction of the graves inside the cemetery, they do suggest patterns in how the cemetery grounds have been utilized and how the dead and their mourners decorated headstones across time.

Chart: Seriation of secular and religious design motifs in gravestones.

Fortunately for historical archaeologists, there are lines of evidence like historical texts and photographs to inform on the social and cultural contexts of graves, beyond just shape, design, and location of headstones.

Consider the charts below: could the increase of burials in the 1915-1920 window be connected to the Spanish Flu Pandemic? Is the rise in religious motifs during the height of the Depression years suggest people were turning more toward their religious communities and beliefs for strength? Does the decline in burials during the 1960s to 1980s reflect dissatisfaction among traditionalists after the controversial Second Vatican Council? Or did the Counterculture of the 1960s thin the church membership?

Chart: Number of burials per five year increment.

Chart: Geographic distribution of burials across time.

These questions about major social change may seem far removed from the placid stone markers in the cemetery, but historical archaeology can begin to trace the connections between the dead and their past worlds.

A Walk Among the Tombstones

For our class assignment, we were asked to do a brief survey of the Calvary Cemetery in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood. In terms of death frequency, the peak years were 1916-1960. Prior to this and after this period, in five-year increments, saw single digit plot usage. In and around war times, and for years after, you really see the importance that families have placed on military service and rank in male headstones.  What this is telling me, based upon a small sample of the whole cemetery, is that by 1960, as the city began filling up, the space at this cemetery began to become a premium, and plot cost probably began to rise to more unaffordable levels.

What you also see is a trend in headstones towards an in ground block style. The headstones also change in frequency of composition from marble and other materials to red granite becoming the dominant material. Of course, during the war years, especially during World War II, there was a strong trend of utilizing the bronze plated blocks that emphasized military service. Interestingly, there are no examples of women in service during this time, despite a documented War time record of women serving in various capacities during World War II. It would be interesting to explore this issue in an expanded survey focusing on World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam headstones emphasizing military service.

Making the Most of the Macabre- Interpreting Grave Markers

As late October rolls around, bringing with it the Sleepy Hollow palette and a light chill to the air, it seems only fitting to do an exploration into one of the more spooky aspects of historical archaeology. Each member of the historical archaeology was assigned a plot of the nearby Calvary Cemetery and took data on ~15-20 grave markers. As much data as could be derived was gathered including size, shape, material, epitaph, dates, form as well as many others. For this blog, I decided to look at frequency of burial for each 5-year period from the earliest grave marked to the most recent to see if I could find any trends. With n=224, we should expect the data to be representative of the cemetery as a whole, but given that there was no method to stone selection outside the initial assigned area, there could be some misrepresentation. That being said, there are a few periods that stand out. The first large spike in deaths comes in the period between 1915 and 1919- a time that coincides with one of the most deadly flu epidemics the world has ever seen: the Spanish Influenza. The most impressive spike comes during the late 30s, and as a recent transplant to the Western United States, I am not familiar with any epidemic or natural disaster from that time outside the Great Depression, though I don’t know how the depression affected death rate either. The general increase in burials over time makes sense just as a function of increased population, for even though life expectancy continues to rise, no one has beaten mortality yet. All in all, this was a very applicable look at how historical archaeologists interpret data, and it felt good to remember individuals who passed away years ago, and pay them respects once more.

Death & Society

Our lab these past few weeks had us take data at a cemetery. We were sectioned off to record a part of the cemetery and take note of the inscription on the gravestones, whether or not it was part of a family plot, the size, shape, and material of the stone, and their age. It was sad to find some young children’s graves and even graves of those who were recently deceased.

With all of the class’ data compiled, we looked at the frequency of shapes and how this changed over time. I found this difficult since more people in the cemetery had died earlier than the 2000s so the stylistic changes would not be completely accurate.
Next, we were to choose from our seriation and to analyze one of three choices. I chose to analyze the frequency of kinship terms. It was very broad to put into a graph, as not every single gravestone used a term of endearment. What I found was that many of the stones with kinship terms were female. There were almost 200 graves, and out of those 200 were around 50 stones that used terms such as “mother,” “father,” “sister,” etc. Out of these 50 stones, there were 32 with inscriptions “mom,” “aunt,” “wife,” etc. This could mean that maybe female figures were more “cherished” in terms of family and the home.

The next thing I found particularly interesting. Earlier gravestones, from the late 1800s to before the 1930s used “his wife,” or “wife of”. In around the mid-1920s, the gravestones from this cemetery used more “mother,” or “beloved wife and mother,” instead of being a man’s wife. I wonder if we would see this same trend if we looked at other cemeteries in the Seattle area.

There was only one instance where they used “son,” and he was an infant when died. There were three other times where their daughters were referred to as “angels”, also in infancy when they passed. All three of these girls passed away in the 1960s, which raises the question as to what could’ve happened during that time that caused them to pass at such a young age (at zero months to four months old). Could it have been due to the environment around them? Could it have been because they were suffering from fatal birth defects?

Either way, it would be interesting to see if there were different trends in another cemetery or to see if they were the same. I think it would also be fascinating to see comparative studies on cemeteries by region.