SAA Blog Carnival: Where Will Blogging take Archaeology in the Future?

This post is my belated attempt to participate in the final month of the Blogging Carnival hosted by Doug over at the renowned Doug’s Archaeology Blog.  Although my carnival posts only add up to a pitifully small number (2), I have been enjoying myself immensely reading all of the fantastic posts by other bloggers! At the very least, this carnival has introduced me to some pretty wonderful sites – my “Blogs I Follow” list has practically tripled.

The question to answer this month has to do with where archaeology blogging is heading… what our goals are for our own blogs in particular or archaeology blogging in general. And, most importantly, the direction that we hope blogging is going to take the discipline.

Throughout this carnival, my eyes have been opened to all of the different ways people discuss archaeology and anthropology on their blogs. For some, their blog is a blatant and acknowledged soap box; for others, it’s a way to get the general public interested in a specific project. For many, however, it’s simply a way to talk to the anonymous masses of the internet about a topic important to them. Most of the blogs I’ve read are somehow specialized; they focus on certain topics such as bioarchaeology, looting, museum practices, or a geographic region, etc. My own blog is specialized by both method (zooarchaeology and ethnobiology) and geographic region (Arctic… mostly Alaska). And I’ve come to realize that I don’t write for the general public. My pages (and the small number of posts that I’ve actually written) are geared towards notifying other zooarchaeologists of potentially-hard-to-find-but-useful resources. And in retrospect,  this was my goal when I started blogging.

After reading so many other archaeologists’ blogs over the last several months, I’ve come to appreciate how great a medium blogging is for public outreach. As we become more inexorably linked to the internet (it still amazes me to think how far computers, tablets, and cellphones have come since I was a child!), the public, our students, and our colleagues are going to be looking for (and expecting) a quick and easy way to catch up on archaeological news without plowing through dense journal articles. The importance of visibility and accessibility (read: less jargon, more photos) for archaeological projects is just going to increase. We’ve all experienced how this trend is already being pushed by granting agencies; the expectation of ‘connectedness’ is rampant in all aspects of our lives.

I believe that blogging will become an increasingly popular media in the future. I’m incredibly glad to see how well archaeologists around the world are already utilizing the format to get information out into the blogosphere. I hope that, as a discipline, we will soon be sharing our data online as freely as we do our opinions and news blurbs. For me personally… I think it may be time to revamp my blog. And maybe (if we get funding this season…knock on wood), I’ll create one about our project site specifically geared towards the public. There are so many good examples of archaeology blogs already out there to emulate!

It always amuses me to remember that I became interested in archaeology in large part because I was pointedly disinterested in modern technologies… and yet here we are, using those same modern technologies to preserve and promulgate knowledge of the past.


Sixty Years after Giddings

In 2012, PhD candidate Andy Tremayne, Sara Tremayne, and Kaare Erickson completed a feasibility study at Iyatayet (NOB-002) on Cape Denbigh in the Norton Sound.  This summer, Andy led a small group of volunteers (myself and John Darwent) and interns (Chantelle Nakarak, Elaine Rock, Desiree Rock) in excavating the site.


For those of you unfamiliar with Iyatayet, it’s best known as the type site of the Denbigh Flint Complex. In 1948, J. Louis Giddings was led to the multicomponent site at Iyatayet by two men from the nearby village of Shaktoolik – Lewis Nakarak and Saul Sokpilak. Beneath the Thule and Norton levels, Giddings found a ‘new’ Paleoeskimo culture: the Denbigh Flint Complex. Giddings and his crew worked at Iyatayet until 1952. Sixty years later, the excavation continued. It was a wonderful project to be a part of, and we found a lot of fantastic things (including archaeofauna!). The Shaktoolik Native Corporation (land owner) was very helpful, and everyone in Shaktoolik (especially our main contact, Palmer Sagoonick) were incredibly welcoming. I definitely hope to continue working in the area next summer! 


If you want to know more about the exciting data recovered from Iyatayet this summer, keep an eye out for Andy’s forthcoming report and dissertation.


Wow, I apologize for being MIA for the past 4 months!  Summer field season was busy and, as always, fantastic.  I love field work in Alaska!  Nothing ever goes as planned, but that’s part of the fun, eh?  Here’s a short synopsis of some of my travels:

Sand Point (Popof Island) – Did you know that there is a beach covered in chunks of petrified metasequoia (probably washed up from the Miocene-era petrified forest on nearby Unga Island)? So cool!

Kiana (Kobuk River)  – Kiana is probably the most beautifully-situated village I’ve been to.  It’s located on a bluff overlooking the confluence of the Squirrel and Kobuk Rivers, with the Baird Mountains (western extension of the Brooks Range) rising up behind it (breathtaking on a sunny day!).  Please forgive my awkwardly-shot-from-the-Caravan photo… it doesn’t do it justice!

Upper and Lower Kalskag (Kuskokwim River) – I hadn’t been to Kalskag since 2004, but the people there are as amazing and friendly as ever!  It is definitely one of my favorite places.

Kaktovik (Barter Island) – Although waves and a skillsaw kept us from boating out east to our objective of Demarcation Bay (USFWS won’t let anyone land helicopters or planes in ANWR…sigh), we had a fairly productive and wonderful time around Kaktovik!  I saw my first real-life-up-close polar bears and got some great snapshots of the random Bowhead whale bones propped up against people’s houses.  More importantly, I surveyed my first Inupiat semisubterranean housepits (beautiful!), and on the way home I got to see the famous Ukpiagvik site in Barrow!

So now it’s autumn, and I don’t have the excuse of not being near a computer to explain my lack of blog updates… Instead, I’m going to use the tried and true “I’m busy.”  Currently I am trying to write my MA thesis (final NISP = 8,536, hurrah!), work, apply to PhD programs, move, plan a wedding, and in general keep my sanity.  So if I don’t update regularly during the next few months, those are my excuses.   : )

Please do keep checking back periodically, though, I have a bunch of interesting topics I’d like to discuss!