ASSC Conference Program – 2021

We are pleased to announce that the conference program is now available and posted below. We hope you’ll join us to learn more about these exciting topics!

To attend our virtual conference simply tune in to the Society’s YouTube page just before the start time. Make sure you’re signed into your Google or YouTube account to join the live chat for the presentations.

10:00-10:15 Welcome and Introduction by President David Gordon

10:15-10:35 Going Virtual: Pro-Social Archaeology at Historic Brattonsville during the Covid-19 Pandemic, by J. Christopher Gillam, Ph.D., and Richard J. Chacon, Ph.D.Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC

Abstract: The Covid-19 Pandemic has presented many challenges for continued research with descendants of the enslaved at Historic Brattonsville and other southern plantations. Historic Brattonsville remains closed to the public and many of the descendants and researchers are at risk of serious complications if exposed to the virus due to age and/or health conditions. As a result, planned fieldwork, visits to other plantations and established programs in the past year were either cancelled or moved to a virtual format. Despite these challenges, the virtual programs led to many meaningful interactions including live public outreach via “Time Travel Tuesday,” recorded living history presentations for “By the Sweat of our Brows,” the first virtual meeting between the Brattonsville African American Descendants’ Project (BAADP) participants and descendants and colleagues from James Madison’s Montpelier Plantation and James Monroe’s Highland Plantation in Virginia, and international exchanges through the first annual Russian American Research Nexus (RARN) virtual meeting. Many of these programs are available online and more virtual activities are being planned for the year ahead.

10:35-10:45 Break

10:45-11:05 Using pXRF to Source Ceramic Artifacts: Low-Fired Earthenware from Brookgreen, by Alexis Widdifield, Graduate Student, Coastal Carolina University

Abstract: Expanding on a prior study of archaeological brick recovered at Brookgreen Gardens (Palmer and Dillian 2018), I examined low-fired earthenware pottery from excavations there using portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometry (pXRF). My goal was to address the range of chemical variability, and therefore, presumably, the range of clay sources, used by people who lived and worked at Brook Green Plantation. The prior analysis of the brick showed that it was chemically consistent with a local clay deposit within Brookgreen. In this new study, I found that the composition of the low-fired earthenware ceramics was consistent with a different, distinct clay deposit that is also at Brookgreen Gardens but completely separate from the deposit which matched the bricks. This clear distinction between the clay chemical signatures is a testament to the future use of x-ray fluorescence analysis for sourcing ceramic artifacts. Through this preliminary research I provide a model for the application of pXRF in historical archaeology provenance studies that I hope others will adopt to help address questions about the lives and livelihoods of African and African American people held in bondage on plantations across the American South.

11:05-11:15 Break

11:15-11:35 The Practice and Technology of Fishing in Charleston, South Carolina, by Elizabeth J. Reitz, Georgia Museum of Natural History and Martha A. Zierden, The Charleston Museum

Abstract: Most fish recovered from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Charleston are common estuarine species with a history of use by Native Americans. Charleston’s core fishery consisted of five local estuarine fishes, but non-local fish are rare. Fishing technology included mass-capture facilities to impound large numbers of fish and individual-capture devices for the less common ones. These practices and technologies were relatively constant. The exceptions are black seabasses (blackfishes), uniquely plentiful in Charleston assemblages. The most productive fishing locations for seabass are offshore waters, frequented by Charleston’s Mosquito Fleet. This study highlights the role of African American fishermen and retailers, particularly after Emancipation.

11:35-11:45 Break

Keynote Presentation
11:45-12:45 North Carolina Fish Weir Archaeological Project, by Dr. David Cranford, Assistant State Archaeologist, North Carolina Office of State Archaeology

Abstract: This presentation will discuss recent efforts to document stone fish weirs in North Carolina rivers and throughout the Eastern United States more broadly. Though fish weirs are an often-overlooked component of the cultural landscape, these types of archaeological features are relatively common and were used extensively during the pre-colonial and historic periods. Typically seen as “V” or “W” shaped stone alignments in many swift flowing rivers above the fall line, fish weirs have typically received only intermittent archaeological attention and are rarely the subject of systematic survey. Relatively recent advances in the quality of satellite-based imagery, like GoogleEarth, have made the systematic identification and recording of fish weirs possible. Dr. Cranford will present some initial findings of the North Carolina Fish Weir Archaeological Project that seeks to inventory and document these important cultural features across the southeast, and discuss potential directions for future research.

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