#243 Great Basin Anthropological Conference



I'm headed to the Great Basin Anthropological Conference (GBAC2014) in a little while. Would have been nice to have someone ride up with me for the 8 hour drive to Boise, but, now I get to listen to podcasts the entire way.

The theme of this year's conference (they actually only happen every two years) is "Transitions" which seems appropriate. I've been in a "transitional" period for a couple years now. In fact, I was laid of from my last company about a month after the last GBAC.  

Transitions are good, though. They keep you sharp and keep you always on your toes. When I went out on my own two years ago I started out with just this blog and a crapy podcast. The podcast was basically me reading news items from the week and it was boring. 

Now, we're about to record episode 45 of the new format podcast, the CRM Archaeology Podcast, the blog is doing well, I'm setting up an Archaeology Podcast Network, I'm the co-founder in an app development company for field recording (Field Tech Designs) and, I'm developing a website for archaeological certification and training. Lots of irons in the fire, but, keeps me busy. 

I hope to get some more posts up here about the conference, but, I'll be focusing on interviews for the podcast. So, stay tuned and go check out the CRM Archaeology Podcast. 

#239 - SAA2015 BlogArch and Social Media Session

Click my poorly drawn image to go to the SAA submission system.

Click my poorly drawn image to go to the SAA submission system.

The submission deadline for the 2015 SAAs in San Francisco is September 11! Check out the title and abstract of the Social Media symposium I've set up and feel free to submit a paper.

Not Just Blogging Archaeology - Media and Social Media’s Influence on Archaeology

Since the time of Renfrew and Binford, archaeology as a profession has embraced both a scientific methodology and the new tools science offers. From radiocarbon dating and geophysics to 3D imaging, these tools have enhanced the way we understand and communicate the human past. Now, the internet and 21st century technology offers new, multivocal venues through which we can relay archaeological information to the profession, enthusiasts, and the general public. From blogging and podcasting to YouTube videos and television series, communicating archaeology has never been easier. Anyone can start a blog, shoot some video, or record a podcast. Technology has reduced the cost of access and can allow archaeologists to speak directly to the public and peers. This session seeks to ask the following questions: is the use of social media helping or hurting archaeology? Are there drawbacks? Have we created an easy resource of archaeological information for looters? How has social media, via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, to name a few, influenced archaeology in practice and the public’s view of archaeology? This session solicits input from bloggers, podcasters, and film producers, each with a unique perspective rooted in the medium they’ve chosen to represent archaeology.

We're now excepting papers on ANYTHING related to communicating Archaeology through various forms of media and social networking. Be creative! Below is one example of a paper we could use:

Instagram - Benefits and Best Practices

What would a paper on Instagram entail? I'd go through and show what sorts of pictures can be found using several popular hashtags. Two that come to mind are #archaeology and #crmarch. There are many others, though. You could also talk about Instagram best practices. For example, what type of metadata does Instagram strip out of photos and what stays in? What can you do with your photos to mitigate the chances of looters gaining access to whatever it is you're taking pictures of?

I'm doing a paper on podcasting in archaeology. As far as I know, it's never been done. I'm also working on a live recording of the CRM Archaeology Podcast for the SAAs. If some of my co-hosts can't make it I might be looking for some guest hosts. Keep your ears open for an update!

Thanks for reading and I'll see you in San Francisco!

#229 SAA2014 Wrap-Up

Click on the image to go to the book's page where you can download and/or read!

Click on the image to go to the book's page where you can download and/or read!

I'm just back from the Society for American Archaeology meetings in Austin, Texas and there is a lot to cover.

Blogging Archaeology, Again

I chaired this year’s blogging archaeology session and I have to say, it was a great success. We had only six presenters—Terry Brock couldn't make it—and one discussant at the end, but, the room was full most of the time. At one point I counted about 60 people with a sizable crowd standing in the back. 

After the session there was a lively round of questions and discussion between the presenters and the audience. I only wish we could get those kinds of comments on our blogs! When we were about to be kicked out of the room a fair number of us adjourned to lunch at the Easy Tiger where the conversation continued. 

I thought about mentioning this earlier, but, decided to wait and see how the session, and my presentation, went. Here it goes: I've never presented at a conference—no posters either—and I've never chaired a session. I've seen enough to know what to do and what not to do. A number of people have congratulated me on a great session, but of course, all the credit goes to the presenters and their engaging content.

Blogging Archaeology eBook

A few months ago Doug Rocks-MacQueen and I decided to publish an eBook of the papers presented at the conference. When we asked the presenters if they'd be up for it, several declined because they were publishing elsewhere. Down to just a few papers, we opened it up to the blogosphere. We ended up with a total of 16 papers from bloggers around the world. The papers covered a wide variety of topics ranging from mortuary archaeology to social media to issues related to looting, among others. 

Since we'd planned to release the book at the beginning of the Blogging Archaeology session there were a lot of last minute tasks that needed to be attended to. That meant some intense editing and formatting time for Doug and some really long nights in Austin for me. We got it done, though, and the book is available on my website as a free download. As more people download it, access will get even better.

Blogging Archaeology, The Brand

The day before the release of the eBook, Doug and I were alerted to a possible issue with the title. We simply called the book "Blogging Archaeology" and thought no more of it. There was some concern that the title would cause confusion with the previous Blogging Archaeology session in Sacramento, the associated bogging carnival, and a publication that is yet to be released. It was too late to make a change and we went with it as is. Does it need a change, however?

At most I would add a year to the title. The phrase, "Blogging Archaeology", however, has become synonymous with this blogging and social media blitz that we’re all in. I see it the way I see tissue paper. Most people in the U.S. call tissue paper Kleenex. It’s not Kleenex, however. Kleenex is a brand. It’s the most popular brand, but, still a brand. This is similar to how some people annoyingly call all soda “coke”. In some parts of the country you can ask for a coke at a restaurant and the wait staff will ask “What kind?”.

So, “Blogging Archaeology” it is.

Papers, or lack of

There were a lot of things I would have liked to see this year. That being said, there was a distinct lack of papers I would liked to have seen as well. I felt that I was running all over the place in Hawaii last year. This year, however, my schedule was a lot lighter. Between my book release, the booth I ran for my new company, Field Tech Designs, LLC, the eBook prep, and the Blogging Archaeology session prep, I didn’t have much time for papers. But, like I said, there just wasn’t a lot I wanted to see.

When I did make it to the Great Basin session on Sunday there were a grand total of about 10 people in the room. I could hardly believe it! It’s usually quite full! Of course, since the SAAs don’t have conference tracks, many people were at the associated poster session that took place at exactly the same time. Nice job.


This year’s conference was amazing for meeting online friends, making new friends, and reconnecting with old friends. I met, for the first time, two of the people that have been recording the CRM Archaeology Podcast with me for over a year: Bill White and Stephen Wagner. Initial impressions? Bill is freakishly tall and Stephan is as snappy a dresser as he alluded to on a previous episode of the podcast!

John Lowe organized a #blogarch tweetup at one of his favorite haunts, The Liberty, for Thursday evening. A lot of people were there and it was great meeting some of the names I’ve come to know online. I even met Mr. Shovelbums himself!

Future Sessions

As I’m writing this, the submission system for #SAA2015 in San Francisco is now open. I need to submit the next #blogarch abstract, but, I’m at a loss for a title. As some have noted, the session isn’t just about blogging anymore. It’s about the broad implications of blogging and social media. To me, blogging is a form of social media anyway. So, I want a title that includes blogging and social media.

I discussed this with some people in Austin and a few thought we could take blogging out of the title. I disagree. We’re still trying to reach an audience that is unfamiliar with blogging and with social media. Until blogging becomes mainstream in professional and academic archaeology, we need it in the title.

Suggestions? Comment HERE ON THE BLOG (!) with title suggestions and abstract suggestions.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at #SAA2015!

#224 SCA2014 Saturday Reflections

I started the day bright and early and was at the conference center by 8am. I headed straight into the symposium that occupy much of my morning.

Californian Rock Art: Heritage Management, Scientific Studies and Sacred Landscapes

I learned a lot about rock art during this symposium. I've never formally study rock art types and documentation standards, but, I have recorded it on CRM projects. We just did basic information recording and left the hard work up to future researchers that happen to find our site within the 9000 page report that was generated. Good luck. Yay gray literature.

An image I took in 2007 at PNM. I reversed the images and played with the levels to get the petroglyphs to pop out. It's no DStretch, but, it worked.

The first paper was about a monitoring protocol for Petroglyph National Monument (PNM) near Albuquerque, New Mexico. My wife and I visited there while working on a project between Grants, NM and Chaco Canyon.

PNM is an amazing place. Just following the paths the NPS has laid out will take you past thousands of rock art panels. Some seem to be off by themselves and others are in dense groups. The proximity of the monument to civilization is it's greatest detriment. The monitoring protocol, developed by Aileen Dear, is intended to document and monitor degradation and damage to the panels. It's a massive undertaking and the only sure way to ensure long term security is to educate the public.


There were a couple interesting papers about great murals. These are pictographs that are mostly animals and anthropomorphs. Murals are some of the most awe inspiring ancient art that you'll ever see. There is a heavy concentration of them on the central Baja Peninsula.

Several papers were about studying Cupules, and the relief opposite, Pecked Curvilinear Nucleates (PCN). Cupules are often, if not always, pecked into soft rock called schist in order to create a powder that, when mixed with water, makes a blue paint. They are often associated with fertility rituals and often just the powder is rubbed on the body. One of the presenters mentioned a rock on a site that was full of cupules. He told his students not to touch the rock. They didn't listen. According to the presenter there were more than a few wanted, and unwanted, pregnancies. Cupules are one of the oldest forms of rock art in the world.

Pecked curvilinear nucleated.

I skipped out on some of the rock art papers to see a paper from a friend, Sylvere, about population replacement in the Channel Islands. He was reporting on some mtDNA research that was done. Their findings showed a connection to populations in New Mexico between 1000 and 1600 years ago. Makes you wonder what people learn by coming to local, regional conferences. Maybe we should be going to conferences in neighboring regions to help build our picture of prehistoric life. I smell an entirely different blog post…

Lunch was spent with Dr. Alan Garfinkel, CA rock art specialist. Following lunch I helped him set up a viewing of his film, "Talking Stone: The Rock Art of the Cosos". I saw most of the film the first night, but, it was too noisy to hear much of it. Alan has been trying to get me to work with him on the Coso rock art down at the China Lake Navy Base. A recent contract win might help with that.

The afternoon was spent chatting with old friends, some networking, and a few interviews for the podcast. Since I didn’t have a ticket for the banquet either (see the last blog entry), I went back to the hotel and tried to wrestle the treadmill into shape. It wouldn’t go. So, I did my workout outside. I was trying to get as many steps in as possible because my FitBit was about to die and I didn’t bring the charger. You don’t realize how dire this circumstance is and there is no way I can explain it. Suffice it to say that one bad, low step, day will haunt me for the next seven days. CURSE YOU FITBIT!

After my workout I had dinner with an old friend, the man with the hat (listen to the podcast for more on that…). Now I’m finishing up the evening with a blog post and I’ll do some podcast editing for a night cap. Exciting life.

Thanks for listening and I’ll see you in the field!

#223 SCA2014 Friday Reflections

It's the end of the first full day of the Society for California Archaeology Meeting 2014. Well, it's the end for me, anyway. Since I decided to come this conference only last week I didn't get a chance to pre-register and thus get a ticket for the infamous Silent Auction. Apparently, most people go because your $45 ticket gets you dinner and free beer. It would have been not only fun, but, a great networking opportunity. Ah well. I'll write a proposal instead.

Today's Sessions

DStretchThe morning started light with only one room having presentations. I saw a great one from Jon Harman about the rock art enhancement program, DStretch. I really want to talk to him tomorrow about some joint venture stuff with what I'm doing. I think apps like DStretch are the future and we need to use them to their fullest extent.

Here is a quick primer on DStretch. It's software that essentially uses algorithms to turn pictures of rock art from something we can't see to something we can. As pictographs (rock art with color and usually no pecking or etching) age the color drops out of the visible spectrum of light. DStretch brings it back into a spectrum we can see and the images are stunning. They even have a camera that will do it in the field.

Other good papers, I'm sure. I stuck around after DStretch for a couple more papers on California Rock Art, but, the convention center was having huge issues with the audio. The room was massive, too, so it was difficult to hear from the back. Mary Gordon gave a supposedly wonderful presentation on the current state of California Rock Art Research. I had a chance to speak with her at the California Rock Art Foundation desk in the book room later on, so, at least there's that.

Revised DPR Forms. In the afternoon I sat in on a discussion with the Office of Historic Preservation about future revisions to the commonly used site form in California, the DPR 523. There were some great suggestions regarding revisions to the paper forms. That's not what I was intrigued by, however.

The conversation eventually shifted to digital upload of the forms. They want to have a database that consultants and the like can upload site information to, rather than use the paper forms. There was a serious disconnect in the room, however, regarding the technology and the basic problem. Everyone agreed that uploading digitally was the way of the future and that we should strive for that. No one was discussing creating the information digitally in the first place, however. For a while I just sat there, iPad in hand, and took it all in. Eventually, I spoke.

I said I was using a $10 app on my iPad to record on DPRs and Nevada IMACS forms and that I'm helping other companies to do the same. There were some nods and approving looks, but, the conversation shifted back away from digital field recording rather quickly. That was a bit disheartening. Everyone knows we should be recording digitally, but, everyone seems to think it's an insurmountable problem right now. Well, it isn't. In fact, it's a simple problem to fix if you've spent four years thinking about it like I have. I just wish they'd let me help them through this initial stage rather than every company trying to independently reinvent the wheel. Give me a call! Operators (me) are standing by!

Archaeological Resources Committee. Since I was already in the room when the next presentation started I ended up just staying. It was a committee meeting of the Archaeological Resources Committee. They had some action items, one of which was defining experience and educational standards for PIs in California.

They started out by saying that even nail salons need a license, but, just about anyone can be an archaeologist. That's a problem. So, they're starting with the PI and are trying to set down some standards and get them adopted by other agencies.

One standard they set had to do with education. Right now, you have to either have an MA/MS or meet some equivalent requirements. The equivalent requirements clause ends on December 31, 2021. They figure they're being generous in giving people grandfathered in time to go out and get an MA. I think that's a little naive, since, what are the chances a grizzled old archaeologist without an MA is going to have the money and time to go back to school? Unless they can find a 1-year masters in CA then it's probably not going to happen. I agree with the standards, though. It's one more step to licensing, which, we also need to retain credibility and to improve the state of archaeological recording in California and beyond.


Of course, I stopped by the Left Coast Press both to see what they had representing my book. There was a cardstock poster representing it alongside other great books. Apparently, my book went to the printer last week and they're hoping it'll be done before the SAAs in Austin in a month (crap! a month?!?!). But, they're taking pre-orders. I don't think anyone has pre-ordered it, but, it's nice that it's an option.

Caryn, the LCP rep and my editor, also asked if I would be available for a book signing at the SAAs. That seems so weird. Of course I'll do it. It just seems unlikely that someone will want my autograph on the book since it's my first one and most people probably won't know me. It should be a good time, though. If you're in Austin, stop by during the signing and say hi so I don't feel left out!

Before I left for the day I purchased three books. Dirty Diggers: Tales from the Archaeological Trenches is a collection of stories curated from archaeologists by Paul Bahn and illustrated by Bill Tidy. I've read a few pages and it looks to be a fun, short, read.

Since I've potentially got a massive rock art project coming up next year I also picked up Introduction to Rock Art Research, Second Edition by David S. Whitley. Whitely is an expert on Rock Art and currently works for ASM Affiliates. It should be an educational read. I should get him on the podcast after I'm done.

Finally, I picked up the new book from Tom King and Claudia Nissley called  Consultation and Cultural Heritage: Let Us Reason Together. The book is a guide to consultation written for government agencies and project sponsors. So, not for those of us on the other side of the table, but, it helps to know what the other side is thinking and where they're coming from in any negotiation. I think it'll be extremely helpful and will contribute to my overall knowledge of the consultation process.


I met with, and talked to, so many good people today. In fact, I handed out all the business cards I brought! Good thing I have an iPad. During the last session of the day I used the business card I created in iDraw on the iPad and made it into a sheet of cards. Then, I uploaded it to Dropbox, accessed it with the HP Enterprise App on my iPhone, and digitally send it to the nearest FedEx Office. I went down there right after the last session and printed up a few sheets on glossy card stock, then, cut them out. Now, I have 48 shiny new business cards to hand out tomorrow. I love technology!

There were a number of times between last night and today that people came up to me saying how much they liked either my blog or the podcast. That is very humbling and I'm just glad that someone is getting useful information from them. That's the overall goal, anyway. If you see me at the conference, or at any conference, please come up to me and say hi. I want to know what's working, what's not working, and what you'd like to see on the blog and the podcast. It's for you, the archaeologists in the trenches, after all.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you in the field!

#222 Society for California Archaeology Meetings

About a week and a half ago the stars aligned and I found I was able to attend the Society for California Archaeology meetings (#SCA2014) in Visalia, California. Since I didn't get a chance to pre-register I didn't get a peak at the program ahead of time. I wasn't aware that it was online this whole time. That's what being stupid busy will do for you. Anyway, the conference dates were listed as March 20th through the 23. Well, the 20th is today.

I've never been to the SCAs (not to be confused with the Society for Creative Anachronism) before, but, I assumed they were similar to the SAAs in that there was a full day of papers on Thursday. Not so much. Turns out there was nothing I could go to today. Well, not until this evening. I'll get to that in a minute. Looks like getting here on the 19th was a bad idea.


When I realized there was nothing going on this morning I found I had a whole day to get some work done. I figured I'd start out by going to the convention center and getting myself registered. According to the program, which I eventually found online, registration opened at 8am. So, I had breakfast at the hotel and drove over.

When I got there, the convention center was an absolute ghost town. Not even a hint of a registration desk. Since I brought my things I decided to go over to Starbucks and finish up a video I've been working on ( At about 1015 I went back over to the convention center and there STILL wasn't a registration desk set up. I saw someone that looked official and asked them about it. She said they'd open up at 12pm as though everyone already new that. Conference was off to a great start.

Well then. That's how it's going to be, is it? Fine. I went back to the hotel, changed my clothes, uploaded a video to YouTube, had lunch, and went back to register. After that I headed east.

Really Big Trees

Why don't you use Runkeeper?

It turns out that Visalia is only about 35 miles west of Sequoia National Park. So, that's where I went. I'm in a fierce step competition on FitBit with, among others, Jennifer Palmer (Archaeology Fieldwork) and thought I could get a few thousand steps around some massive trees. I was not disappointed. There were few people up there and I got in a nice four mile, or so, hike on some really great trails. She's still kicking my ass, though.

Evening Session

I did get some archaeology in today. There was a Public Archaeology session at the convention center at 7pm. In one half of the room, well, a third maybe, there were screenings of several documentary films. In the other 2/3 there were tables from various agencies, some demonstrations (including a really great flintknapping station) and a lot of conversations.

Coso Rock Art

I started out watching "Talking Stones" a documentary featuring Dr. Alan Garfinkel and the Coso Rock Art on China Lake Naval Base. The Coso Rock Art is pretty amazing and the collections on the base are mostly untouched, protected, and vary numerous. Someday I'd like to get down there and check it out...

I spent the rest of the time doing some great networking. I met some fans of the blog (hey there!) and of the podcast (keep listening!). I talked to a few people about the tablet program and had some great interest. There is one thing I keep hearing in reference to using tablets in the field: it's time we did this. Yes. It is. Now call me so we can get going!

OK. I'm going to try and tweet from the conference tomorrow, but, there's no WiFi and the cell reception is terrible. At the very least I'll get some blog posts written about what I see and hear.

If I get any interviews for the podcast, some will go up on the premium content side. Join the others have already donated and give a buck or two to the show. You'll get access to the premium content and entered into a drawing for my new book. The book should be out any time now.

That's it. More from the conference to come.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you in the field!

#221 Driving to #SCA2014

This is just a quick update. I'm writing a blog post using Siri on my iPhone as I drive to the society for California Archaeology meeting in Visalia, California.

During the conference I'll be sending out as many tweets as possible and hopefully I'll grab a few good interviews for the CRM Archaeology podcast. If you want to take a look at the program for the conference and make any requests for tweets let me know.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you at a conference!