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24 Fun Facts in 2024!


2024 is here, and we are Celebrating with a capital C! Cheers, Sophie! Cheers, KB! We hope your New Year’s is off to a great start.

Sophie, I’ve been thinking — I want to do something a little extra fun to kick off 2024. Something that gets the whole company involved!

I like it! Let’s ease our Xplorers into the new year, they need a vacation from their vacation. What about some fun facts? 

Oh my gosh yes! 24 fun facts for 2024! Let’s do it!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls!

We, the creative team behind Dig Deeper, present to you…

24 Fun Facts in 2024!

These are just some of our favorite fun facts from all across the world of Cultural Resource Management. Some of these we researched ourselves, others we heard from our fabulous co-workers across all of TerraX’s departments, but all are fascinating, weird, and definitely fun. Let’s go!

Archaeology is exploring the past to explain the present and plan for the future.

Leave it to the great Dr. Mark Donop to come up with such a succinct and beautiful definition of our field. We all know that archaeology is about collecting and interpreting data from the past, and yes, we do use a lot of what we learn to understand how people used to live. However, the essential project of archaeology is not just to understand the past but to grasp how the past came to create our present. From there, we can learn from our mistakes, carry forth our successes, and create a better future. What a beautiful thing!

The word “archaeology” comes from the Greek word “arkhaios,” which means “ancient.”

Oh so like… ancient studies? Makes sense! 

The first SEAC happened in 1938.

It’s true! According to their website, “Projects in Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia especially were generating more archaeological data every six months than in the ‘several previous decades.’ SEAC was created to allow excavators to quickly share new data with each other and to standardize ceramic types. In May 1938, 13 archaeologists met at the Ceramic Repository of the University of Michigan and agreed on the requirements for adequate pottery description and typology that ‘set the main course of ceramic typology in the Southeast.’”

Most archaeology happens in a lab or office.

Sharlene O’Donnell, as usual, is right! Archaeologists definitely spend time out in the field on digs (not quite like we see in the movies, but you get the idea!); however, they spend even more time in the lab. The real work of archaeology consists in analyzing everything we recover in the field, and that takes time in a laboratory with microscopes, reference materials, and other equipment.

Different layers of dirt are called “strata.”

When archaeologists dig into the dirt, they often find that soil is in multiple different layers, which they call “strata.” These strata are useful for discovering the relative ages of some artifacts, because those found in lower layers are generally older than those found closer to the surface. We have previously called out this concept  in our blog on The Fort Butler Mitigation and you can learn even more about this kind of stuff in our blog on Environmental History and Scars on the Land. 

The New Deal created a massive expansion of archaeology in the United States.

As part of the New Deal, the Roosevelt administration funded numerous archaeological digs in the southeast to provide employment for laborers. According to “Remembering New Deal Archaeology in the Southeast: A Legacy in Museum Collections” by Lynne P. Sullivan, Bobby R. Braly, Michaelyn S. Harle, and Shannon D. Koerner, “The establishment of museums and anthropology departments at southern universities was one significant result of these federal projects.” 

Who knew?!

A group of lemurs is called a “conspiracy.

“Welcome to the Georgia coast,” adds Steve Filiromo. Our own Principal Investigator and geophysics expert happens to have done plenty of work along the coastline here in the southeast, and as a result, he’s spent plenty of time around the research sites in St. Catherine's Island, Georgia where many lemurs call home, and where he picked up this interesting tidbit! 

Wait, there are lemurs in Georgia? I’ve lived most of my life in Georgia, how did I not know this?! I’m going to whip this fun fact out at the next party! 

Architecture was once an Olympic sport.

Yup. Back in the day, people used to submit their architectural designs to Olympic judges. They won medals and everything! Many were not actually built, but some of the winning buildings include olympic stadiums and college gymnasiums. You  can read more about it on the Olympics website here

We should definitely bring this one back! 

“Archaeology yoga” is totally a thing.

“I love doing archaeology yoga,” says our fabulous Field Director Liz Valentine, “when you have to do weird/silly things to block the sun from the STP (shovel test pit)/Unit.” Pictured here, our other fantastic Field Director Heather Lash, and Liz are doing just that. We’re grateful to these two for providing shade for our field techs!

Aaaand bring yourself slowly on up into Tree Pose to block that sun as you stretch your arms up into the sky!

The oldest St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in St. Augustine, Florida.

It’s a fact! Here’s another one: Heather Draskovich — GIS Specialist and map-maker extraordinaire — shares her birthday with the aforementioned auspicious occasion. 

What a lucky birthday!

The first aerial images were captured using hot air balloons, kites, and even pigeons.

Speaking of GIS, did you know that the first aerial images were captured with these methods? Before we had planes and fancy drones, we had to get creative when taking images from high above the earth’s surface. You’ve heard of carrier pigeons, but imagine photographer pigeons! 

How cute and efficient!

Gold miners used to create water canons to ease their mining operations.

It’s a crazy technique, but they really did, according to TerraX Historian Emma Jackson Pepperman. Miners would essentially hose down the sides of rivers to let loose the gold and allow them to pan without having to dig or blow up the soil.

You think those miners partook in water fights on the job?

In our field, you never really know what’s going to happen.

If you’re going to do archaeological fieldwork, you really do have to be prepared for anything, as our own Kenny Pearce knows only too well. Several years ago, he told us, he was out on a dig, when their boat sank! It’s true! He and his crew were out in a little airboat, making their way through the bayous of Louisiana. They went to take the boat up a river bank to cross over to the next river, but when they did, the boat tipped too far, the back end filled with water, and down it went. Kenny and the crew had to wait a hours before someone came to pick them up.

Talk about that sinking feeling! ... but what about the alligators?!

You can’t run from math… we definitely use it.

If you thought archaeologists needed to know more history than mathematics, think again. Thankfully, Raychel Durdin Davidson, who shared this fact with us, is no slouch at math! Archaeologists are constantly measuring — for example, the depths of their shovel test, the lengths and widths of artifacts, etc — and running statistical analyses on the data they recover. If you’re interested in becoming an archaeologist one day, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to brush up on your means, medians, and modes!

Yet another reason why I am on the marketing side of things… 

The Southeast region of the United States is home to about 2 million wild boars, also called “feral pigs”.

Wild boars are a definite safety hazard for archaeological field workers! Remember — if you ever meet one in the wild, the safest thing you can do is climb a tree. Eventually, the boar will move on and you can get out of there! If you want to hear about more of the spooky animals our team has encountered in the field check out TerraX’s Spooktacular TickorTreats! 

“Can I pet that doooog?” — just kidding everyone. 

Women have always been a huge part of historic preservation.

“Although the field would seem to be male-dominated, women have always been an integral part of the historic preservation field — from when it was a grassroots effort to save buildings to picketing to save resources in the 1960s to the modern day with women advocating for labor equity in the field,” shares our lead Architectural Historian, Briane Shane. Check out the women led Mount Vernon Historic Preservation for even more insight into the NRHP’s history as well as TerraX’s very own team of kickbutt Women in CRM. Who run the world?? 


“Arrowheads” is not the correct term!

You long-time Dig Deeper readers will remember this one from our post, “What is Cultural Resource Managenent?” “Everyone outside archaeology refers to stone points as ‘arrowheads,’” TerraX PI Terry Barbour starts, “but they are more accurately referred to as PPKs (projectile points/knives) in archaeology because the bow and arrow did not come around until relatively late in prehistory, and there are several bladed tools that have been used throughout prehistory as well.”

Well said, Terry!

There are two major schools of thought when it comes to historic preservation: Scrape and Anti-Scrape.

Piggybacking off of that last fact, did you know that historic preservation was a hotly debated topic? It is. Architectural Historian David Dobbs gave us the broad strokes of the issue. “An example: a run-down 1700's Riverside Plantation house. It's not demolished or collapsed, but it's seen better days.” Preservationists adhering to the Scrape school of thought, David says, would, “research all you can about that house and similar houses of that time period and region. Then, [they] restore it to as close as possible to its period of significance and then maintain it there.” On the other hand, the Anti-Scrape professionals would say, “You clean it up, you restore nothing, but you clean out any and all vegetation or rotted/ruined materials. And the only ‘alterations’ you make are to put in place any support structures needed to keep it solid and secure. Then you maintain it.” Which do you think is the better approach?

Certain Native American cultures mixed fragments of bone into the clay for their ceramics.

This one comes to us from one of our Lab Specialists, the amazing Joanna Klein! When it comes to ancient ceramics, people would often mix another material like sand or stone in with their clay to “temper” the material, or strengthen it such that it wouldn’t crack once dried. According to Joanna, some ancient people even used fragments of animal bones as their tempering material!

Talk about waste-not! 

Archaeologists do not study dinosaurs.

This one should also sound familiar to those of you who have been here a while. “Many people think archaeologists dig up dinosaur bones. They do not, LOL,” says Austin Jacobs, TerraX Field Director. “Archaeologists study the material culture of humans. Paleontologists study dinosaurs.” And don’t you forget it! — But if you do, you can always read up on it in our blog: No, We Don’t Dig Up Dinosaurs: The Science of Archaeology

“Gingerbreading” is a real type of house trimming.

Margaret Schultz, our newest Architectural Historian, thought this one was pretty seasonally-appropriate. It’s so pretty! See what we mean here

Old Slater Mill was the first property listed in the National Register.

Old Slater Mill is a historic district in Pawtucket Rhode Island known for being "the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution." It was listed on November 13, 1966.

As CRM professionals, we think this should be a national holiday!

Are you ready for the next one, it's the weirdest one yet …

Archaeologists lick findings to determine whether they are faunal.

We know. Totally gross. But according to Project Manager Liz Southard, it’s a fact. “Faunal artifacts are  porous, so they’ll stick,” she tells us. So, while maybe a PPK or a piece of ceramic wouldn’t stick to your tongue, an animal bone would.

Licking things we pulled out of the dirt? I didn't realize that was a requirement to be an archaeologist? Yuck!

If we didn't gross you out and you are interested in further faunal facts, check out our blog on Zooarchaeology is Not Zoology! 

And our final fact is less of a fun fact and more of a life lesson...

“It’s taken 30 years to feel confident in my ability to do the job well …”

“But now I’m too old to do everything that I easily could do when I was younger,” shares Paul Jackson. There’s a lesson in there, kids! Sure, you’ll make mistakes, but enjoy all the great aspects of a life in archaeology while you can! There will be a day when it’s difficult to do the fun fieldwork you used to enjoy, but until then, keep on keepin’ on.

And so we say, Happy New Year!

Whew! And there you have it, folks! 24 fun facts to kick off an incredible 2024. We hope you enjoyed this little journey through the world of CRM, and we hope you and yours have had a wonderful holiday.

Catch you later, Xplorers!

— KB and Soph


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