Fieldnotes: News Briefs

Brief news items on the AIA professional membership and newsworthy activities in the field, including links to recently published institutional press releases or articles in the media.

US Congressional Record 115th Congress, 1st Session Issue: Vol. 163, No. 19
November 28, 2017
HONORING THE DISCOVERY OF HERNANDO DE SOTO'S 1539 ENCAMPMENT AND THE LOST NATIVE AMERICAN TOWN OF POTANO US Congressional Record honors the discovery of Hernando de Soto's 1539 Encampment and the lost Native American town of Potano, by the University of Florida professors, Dr. Fred A. White and Dr. Michele C. White, and University of Florida Anderson Scholar Ethan A. White. This newly discovered archaeological site is the oldest confirmed New World contact site in the United States.    In one of the most important events in U.S. history, de Soto was the first European to discover the Mississippi River and explore an area that today would hold 10 States. Until this incredible archaeological discovery, there was no physical evidence of de Soto's 4,000-mile journey. The collection of artifacts recovered near Orange Lake, Florida, includes very rare King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella coins, and a King Enrique IV of Castile coin that is the oldest dated European artifact ever unearthed in the United States.    Other rare items include Murano glass beads and Spanish weapons and armor dated from the early 1500s. The artifacts were excavated in the lost ancient Native American town of Potano. Also discovered in the town of Potano were the remains of the first location of the San Buenaventura Franciscan mission built there in the 1580s. Within the floors of the 16th century mission, the team discovered the largest cache of medieval coins found in the American mainland so far.    Acknowledgment for confirmation and identification of the artifacts goes to a large and diverse group of scholars throughout the country, Dr. Alan M. Stahl, Curator of Numismatics, Princeton University, Dr. Jerald T. Milanich, Curator Emeritus in Archaeology of the Florida Museum of Natural History, Dr. Gifford Waters, Historical Archaeology Collections Manager of the Florida Museum of Natural History, Dr. Kathleen Deagan, Distinguished Research Curator of Archaeology for the University of Florida, Dr. Michael Gannon, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of History, University of Florida and Dr. Charles M. Hudson, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and History, University of Georgia.    The recent scientific findings were published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Archaeology and with the Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources, Bureau of Archaeological Research in Tallahassee, Florida. The collection of artifacts is at the Florida Museum of Natural History.  
March 3, 2017
Duke University, Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies - MA in Digital Art History
John Cabot University
December 1, 2016
John Cabot University is pleased to announce the inauguration of its new Master of Arts in Art History in Fall semester 2017. Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the degree is the first US-accredited MA in the history of art based entirely in Rome. The program can be completed in approximately fifteen months of full-time study.  Designed to immerse students in the wealth of art, architecture, and art-historical documentation available in Rome and in Italy, the curriculum has a dual emphasis: the visual cultures of Rome and the Mediterranean across time; and the acquisition of technical skills for conducting art-historical research directly from the primary record. For further information about the faculty, curriculum, and application requirements, please see this page. The MA is now accepting applications for Fall semester 2017. Tuition fellowships, teaching assistantships, and other forms of financial assistance are available on a competitive basis to outstanding applicants who submit complete applications by March 1, 2017. John Cabot University also participates in the Title IV Federal Direct Loan Programs for US citizens and permanent residents.   
MIRAS Social Organization in Support of Studying of Cultural Heritage
August 5, 2016
YOUNG ARCHAEOLOGISTS GATHER IN MEDIEVAL AGSU TOWN MEHRAVAN FINDINGS Author Fariz KHALILLI   Since 2014 the holiday of the archaeologists has been marked in Azerbaijan in initiative of MIRAS Social Organization in Support of Studying of Cultural Heritage, Azerbaijan referring to Every year archaeology festival is held in the Medieval Agsu Town with participation of archaeologists, ethnographs, epigraphs, art historians, as well as volunteers of cultural heritage from Baku, Agsu, Shamakhi, Ismayilli regions of Azerbaijan and also local residents.           The exhibition "Urban civilization in early Middle Ages-Mehrevan walled town" was opened in windows and podiums of Juma Mosque in Medieval Agsu Town Archeological Tourism Complex on 29 July, 2016. The exposition reflected the results of archaeological excavations in Mehravan walled town conducted during 2013-2015 years. PhD Fariz Khalilli stated that, rich artefacts - bronze jewellery items, iron tools, agate seals, coins of Rome, Byzantine and Sasanyds; backgammon stones and dice; bone, stone and glass items, pottery trough, etc. are exhibited there. The exhibition will be available in Juma Mosque for a year.       One-act play called  “Join us" screened by writer Arzu Soltan and intended for children was performed by pupils from Agsu. This play encourages children to be involved in archaeological researches and ends with students’ starting to conduct archaeological excavations. The performance was played in the main square of Medieval Agsu Town. At the conference hall of Medievel Agsu Town Archaeological Tourism Complex epigraph Mrs. Habiba Aliyeva and archaeologist Mrs. Elmira Abbasova gave a lecture about “Pottery to Applied art: What Do Ornaments Deal With?”. In this workshop Azerbaijan's rich history of art, the variety of ornaments and their existence thanks to inheritance were discussed and appropriate questions were answered. Handicrafts of women from Gagali, Bico and Gashad villages were also exhibited there within the project “The Role of Women in Rural Lifestyle Development” financed by  Council of State Support to Non-Governmental Organizations under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and realized by MIRAS Social Organization in Support of Studying of Cultural Heritage. Agsu Archaeological Expedition of Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan continued the explorations launched in 2014 in early Medieval Mehravan Town in Bayimli Village of Agsu Town with support of MIRAS Social Organization in Support of Studying of Cultural Heritage. Upon the excavations covered 2000sq/ms the city’s cultural layer of III-VIII centuries were studied. The depth of the excavation reached 2,5-3 meter in separate squares. Houses and administrative buildings, stone-planked roads, and large ecomony vessels were found from those excavations. Copper and silver coins minted in Roman, Sasanyds and Byzantine States were revealed from the excavations. Bronz and agate seals, dice stones, rare snail-shaped potteryware show how the monument was rich. A number of original ceramicwares, bone samples, golden jewelry displayed from 2015-year explorations increased the interest to the monument. The explorations defined that, the town covering 12 hectare area is encircled with magnificent fortress walls of large adobes specific for Sasanids time. All edifices studied in the town are constructed with river stone and adobe. Less baked brick models are encountered amid only upper layer materials on the monument.   Upon the explorations for the purpose of the monument conservation the samples were submitted to Calabria University of Italy for analyses. The monument’s conservation is intended on the basis of analyses outcomes applying nanomaterials.     2015 year’s explorations proved that to be ruins of Mehravan town cited in historical sources. This is the town of Albanian State’s prosperity. Mehravan was mostly military-administraive centre of Mehranyds, who were Girdiman feudals. Various types of stone findings were found from Mehravan city. Stone wares include the grinding, graters, sling stones, cutting tools and grindstone of stones. Gray stones were found in whole and as fragments. The top and bottom rocks of gray stones found in some squares, while, mostly only upper stones and fragments revealed. Some of them are large, whereas some others are medium and small circular. Gray stones are made of gray, black and fair gray stone. They were used for milling grain and salt and also for other purposes. Broken parts of gray stone dominate. Some of them were restored.  
Montpelier Archaeology Blog
January 26, 2016
Since March, the Montpelier Archaeology Department has been hard at work excavating the remains of two smokehouses that served the Madison family and enslaved community during the 1820s and 30s. Smokehouses were a critical component of any plantation, allowing meat to be preserved throughout the year. The evidence for these structures will inform the final reconstructions of the South Yard structures, funded by David Rubenstein's gift. Up until this season's work, archaeologists and historians at Montpelier have only speculated as to the existence of these smokehouses, which appear only on an 1837 insurance map. No other evidence indicates their location, dimensions, or function. The excavations laid to rest pivotal questions such as the nature of the buildings' foundations, their dimensions, and the presence or absence of a central fire box. Sacrificial Sills One of the most unexpected finds of the season were the building foundations. Typically, smokehouses rested on brick or stone foundations, creating a tight seal along the base of the building to keep smoke inside the structure. However, no archaeological evidence pointed towards masonry foundations. Instead, trenches in the shape of aproximately 14' squares were identified on the expected location of the smokehouses. Consultation with Montpelier's Historical Architect Jennifer Glass point towards the use of a buried, sacrificial sill in lieu of a brick or stone base. A second sill, visible and above ground, would have been placed on top of the buried sill, forming a tight seal around the base of the structure, without using valuable masonry materials. Further evidence for this type of construction is demonstrated by the presence of lyme deposits within the trenches on the east smokehouse. Because the buried sills were not visible, these deposits suggest that old timbers may have been used instead. The lyme deposits, which appear to be in place, may have been used to fill mortise holes in these reused timbers to prevent rodent or insect infestation. The presence of these deposits further indicates that these trenches were not used for masonry, but instead for wooden sills. The Smoking Gun While square foundations are good evidence for a possible smokehouse, a central fire pit is the proverbial smoking gun. Archaeologists questioned the likelihood of two smokehouses on the property, wondering instead if one of these buildings had been used for meat storage, while another had been used for smoking. The archaeological evidence, however, spoke differently: each of the square buildings had a firepit located directly in its center, preserving the final fires in place. Neither of these pits were lined with brick, a standard feature in smokehouses. Instead, these firepits were dug directly into the earthen clay floor. Recent botanical analysis, collected from the burnt remains shows a wide variety of wood that was used in the wood. Among them include chestnut, dogwood, hickory, oak, walnut, pine, and persimmon. Such a wide variety suggests that the enslaved individuals who carried out the smoking were creating a variety of flavor profiles on the meat. The Small Things In addition to the discovery of the smokehouses, the archaeology team has uncovered numerous household artifacts relating to the day-to-day life of the individuals who lived and worked in the South Yard. A large portion of these items are the ceramics that slaves purchased at local markets and personal items that were lost or discarded. These artifacts have shed valuable light on the individual lives of the enslaved community that would otherwise never be seen due to the lack of documentary records on the Madisons enslaved individuals. Over the next few months, our team will be at the Archaeology Lab, cataloguing our finds from the summer and generating reports detailing our finds, and you can help! In February, our Lab Analysis Workshop will examine the ceramics that were discovered, and begin to piece them together. You can learn more about this week-long residential program here. In March, our new season will begin, with new opportunities for you to help locate the final two structures in the South Yard! Learn more about all our programs here!   Matthew Reeves Terry Brock