Discovering your inner archaeologist
Have you ever wondered if that mystery object you found while digging in your garden was secretly a key piece of Northwest Florida's history? Have you ever created a coil pot or had the chance to throw an atlatl spear? The opportunities are endless with activities, events and lectures during Florida Archaeology Month, which begins with a kick-off event sponsored by the University of West Florida's Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN), March 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at FPAN's Coordinating Center located at 207 E. Main St. in Pensacola.
Have you ever wondered if that mystery object you found while digging in your garden was secretly a key piece of Northwest Florida’s history? Have you ever created a coil pot or had the chance to throw an atlatl spear? The opportunities are endless with activities, events and lectures during Florida Archaeology Month, which begins with a kick-off event sponsored by the University of West Florida’s Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN), March 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at FPAN’s Coordinating Center located at 207 E. Main St. in Pensacola.
“This year FPAN decided to crank support for Florida Archaeology Month up a notch,” said Mary Furlong, FPAN outreach coordinator. “We have a lot of events throughout Northwest Florida, one of the biggest being our kick-off celebration. Children and adults can come out to experience all things archaeology, whether it’s helping us out in our labs and doing real archaeological sorting, observing artifacts recent Pensacola excavations, creating hands-on crafts or even throwing spears using prehistoric technology.”
The kick-off event will also include the Bearheart Native Paths Museum, guided tours of the T.T. Wentworth Jr. Florida State Museum, Colonial Archaeological Trail and St. Michael’s Cemetery. The community is invited to bring in their own artifacts to be examined by professional archaeologists from UWF.
“Archaeologists don’t typically bite; we’re pretty nice people and very interested in telling people more about the archaeology of Northwest Florida,” said Della Scott-Ireton, director of FPAN’s Northwest region. “It’s a good way for us to reach out to the community, make acquaintances and develop opportunities to give lectures and educational programs.”
Florida Archaeology Month is coordinated by the Florida Anthropological Society and supported by a grant from the Florida Division of Historical Resources. FPAN is one of many sponsors throughout the month, dedicated to teaching Florida’s citizens and visitors about the archaeology of the state. Members of the community will learn about fortifications and defensive structures, which are the theme of this year’s Florida Archaeology Month. Many towns in Florida got their name from forts and numerous forts are still in existence today.
“Archaeology Days, which are scheduled almost every Saturday during the month, will give the public a chance meet archaeologists and learn more about artifacts in their own collections,” said Scott-Ireton. “We want the community to find out what they might have dug up in their own rose garden and learn how they can become involved in archaeology in their local area.”
FPAN will also be sponsoring lectures every Tuesday evening, as well as additional days throughout the month, covering topics which include the Cival War-era wreck of USS Narcissus off Tampa, shipwrecks in Northwest Florida, prehistoric preservation and a study of Fort George and the Revolutionary War Siege of Pensacola. The lectures feature many UWF anthropology students who will discuss their latest research and the technologies and techniques they use.
“We’ve had a huge response from people about our events,” said Furlong. “Hundreds of people over the course of four hours came to a local archaeology day and the venue was packed at a recent lecture. It shows how much the local community is interested in its heritage.”
FPAN was established by the Florida Legislature in 2004 and is administered by UWF through a Memorandum of Agreement with the Florida Division of Historical Resources. Through public programs, preservation plans, lectures and exhibits, FPAN strives to promote and facilitate the conservation, study and public understanding of Florida’s archaeological heritage through regional centers.
For a complete schedule of events being held in Northwest Florida throughout Florida Archaeology Month, visit the FPAN Web site. For more information, contact the Florida Public Archaeology Network at (850) 595-0054 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Florida Archaeology Month, visit flheritage.com/archaeology/month.
By Megan Clark, University Marketing Communications