Archaeologists Working from Home: Chris Judge

Continuing our Archaeologists Working from Home series, we caught up with Chris Judge, the Assistant Director at the Usc-Lancaster Native American Studies Center. (photo from recent ASSC conference)


photo from recent ASSC conference

Avoiding Insanity during the COVID-19 Seclusion… Stay Busy.

Following the USC Spring Break, the decision was made to work remotely and move all of our classes to an online delivery format. We were asked to return to our offices briefly to retrieve needed items and were given one week to prepare during which faculty and students were alerted to the process. At first this formidable endeavor seemed unobtainable. As luck would have it, I have been teaching using Power Point illustrated lectures for years, all of which were already online and available to my students through a device called BlackBoard. This is a virtual learning environment and management system tool. For once Judge the Luddite, had an advantage. Felt rather sorry for colleagues who teach things such as Chemistry labs or studio art!

I taught my four classes using a Zoom- like tool known as BlackBoard Collaborate Ultra. The drawbacks include technical and Internet access issues, not all students have Wi-Fi, laptops, and smart phones. A number of my students ended up taking jobs that precluded them from being in class online. Sometimes the variation of internet speed kicked students out of the session and once even the Professor. One morning I lectured unknowingly for 45 minutes without anyone in the audience, actually they were there and I was socially and academically distant! Occasionally a lecture had to be repeated, an AWOL student needed to be tracked down by our Admissions Office, and a make-up test or two hastily composed. But I think we all survived largely unscathed. Time will tell. I look forward to returning to live classes.

With the closing of the Native American Studies Center, Ashley Lowrimore our Public Relations Coordinator and I began ramping up our social media posts—Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. On Tuesdays we highlight a different Native American Community in South Carolina and on Thursdays we post about Native American archaeology. We have also been sharing links to media stories regards the issues and challenges in Native American country regards the COVID-19 virus. Who knew actor Sean Penn was helping the Lumbee Tribe across the river in North Carolina? Like other minority communities, Native American ones are being hit very hard. We will also have our Spring Native American Studies Quarterly online newsletter available by June 1st. Send me an email if you wish to be added to the newsletter list.

Saving approximately 12 hours a week in commute time (will I ever want to go back?), I have been rather productive on the research and reporting front. I submitted a grant proposal answering a competitive call for “creative and cost effective” plans for long term monitoring of erosion at a site in South Carolina and was the successful candidate. The award also came with a bonus $10,000 to be used for my own research purposes. Full disclosure, I was the only candidate!

In 2019, I was the recipient of generous funding from the USCL Campus Dean to obtain four radiocarbon dates from organic materials recovered from archaeological features at the Johannes Kolb site, located on the Great Pee Dee River in Darlington County, South Carolina. This was a test of a model I developed for the decline in basal width of Triangular Arrow Points. A report is due this month, so I had time to do a little more in-depth research. These C-14 dates targeted three features, two of which had Triangular Arrow Points and one of which had a Stemmed Woodland Arrow Point. The dates are all between A.D. 800 and A.D. 900, squarely within the Late Woodland. One feature (04-25) had three Triangular Arrow Points averaging 17.56mm that conformed to the model I developed for the decline in the basal width of this point type while three Triangular Arrow Points in a Late Woodland feature (06-37) fall within the later Mississippian/Other Late Prehistoric range at 14.73 mm. Oh well, that is why we do science.

Once grades were submitted I drafted a Re-Open Plan for the Native American Studies Center to help guide us when we return to normal operating hours on August 1st. The procedures and protocols change daily and I imagine the plan will evolve significantly over the summer. We will be meeting in various teams for the USC Lancaster campus over the summer to address a return to the new normal.

At home, I have been conducting a botanical and faunal photographic survey of my 6/10ths of an acre urban parcel. Plus long deferred yard work is nearing completion, the garden never looked better, and I might even be a candidate for honorable mention for yard of the month for the first time ever. Nah!

Archaeologists Working from Home: Carolyn Dillian

We’re back with another Archaeologists Working from Home entry, this time from Carolyn Dillian, Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Department of Anthropology and Geography at Coastal Carolina University. Thanks to Carolyn for taking the time to share her work with us!

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“On March 7, 2020, Coastal Carolina University recessed for Spring Break, and I haven’t seen my students in-person since then. I miss them terribly! The following week, the University announced that we would be locking down campus and moving instruction online. This lockdown also meant that faculty were not permitted to work in offices and labs on campus, so I frantically loaded my car with the files, books, artifacts, and equipment that I might need to continue teaching and research from home. Six boxes of artifacts from my excavations on the Little River Neck, and a few bags of brick from my colleague David Palmer’s excavations at Brookgreen Plantation, squeezed into my tiny Mini Cooper with me and are now in my home office.

My online teaching and administrative duties have kept me very busy, so I haven’t had much time to work on my research, but the semester just ended, so I am finally able to start working on the artifacts I brought home with me. Much of my laboratory work focuses on using geochemical analyses of stone and ceramic materials to understand trade and exchange networks in the past. I use an Olympus Vanta portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometer to analyze the elemental fingerprint of these materials, which then (hopefully) allows me to match that fingerprint with geologic or manufacturing locales.

For example, my work with David Palmer is an analysis of brick kilns and brick structures in the South Carolina Lowcountry, particularly from his excavations at Brookgreen Plantation and from kiln sites near Charleston (this work is also in collaboration with Eric Poplin and Charlie Philips). We are trying to determine if different kilns have a different geochemical signature (resulting from the unique brick recipe they used). We presented preliminary results of this work at the Archaeological Society of South Carolina conference in February 2020 and will do more with the data I gather while working from home this spring and summer. We hope to get back out into the field soon!

I’m also working on analyzing artifacts from my excavations on the Little River Neck, in Horry County, South Carolina. These artifacts were collected during my archaeological field school with Coastal Carolina University students last summer, when we continued our excavations of a prehistoric, Native American shell midden site on a bluff overlooking the marsh behind Waties Island. I am still working on the analysis of these materials, which include ceramic, lithic, bone, and shell. Seeing these artifacts again makes me long for the field!

I’m fortunate that I am able to work from home, and my cats are learning a lot of archaeology, but I miss the interactions with students and colleagues on campus. I look forward to seeing them all again soon!” – Carolyn Dillian

Archaeologists Working from Home: Karen Smith

Today we’re continuing our Archaeologists Working from Home series with Karen Smith, Heritage Trust Archaeologist at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). Thanks to Karen for letting us take a peek into her work during the lockdown.

“I have been working from home since March 23. So I think that means I’m in the middle of my 6th week at home, although I no longer know what day it is let alone the week!

To prepare for working at home, for starters, I had to make sure I had access to all my computer files either on an external hard drive or through remote access. I brought home material related to every project I had in the queue and then some new material, you know, just in case. In retrospect, it was a bit like panic buying. I think there’s a term for it: coronalutional, or holding the belief that you will actually accomplish in quarantine all the tasks you have put off your entire life (thank you, facebook community for the term!).

Seriously, though, one of the exciting new projects is a paper on bone pins that Kiersten Weber and I are working on. This research formed her senior thesis at USC. In quarantine, we are taking it a bit further by looking at evidence for individual artisans in the execution of designs among very similar bone pins.

With Will Britz’s help, I brought home one of our flotation tanks and dozens of flot samples that we’ve been slowly processing at Parker Annex. I am fortunate to have a well water system at home, so I can process the samples without being charged for water usage. This also gives me a chance to be outdoors, and we all know life is better outdoors!

Flotation device at home.

The hardest part of working from home has been trying to keep a good work-home life balance. This has never been easy for me. Plus, for a lot of us, archaeology is both our work and our life, so yeah. But it is especially hard to wind down for the day when work and home life happen in the same space. On the upside, I am an introvert with an extroverted spouse, so I am not feeling socially starved.

Still, weekly meetings over zoom and teams has helped me stay connected to colleagues and friends outside of my home. It is hard to know what the rest of 2020 will bring. We have postponed fieldwork at Pockoy Island. We would be there right now were it not for the coronavirus outbreak. Delaying fieldwork here is especially hard with the realization that we are losing Pockoy by the meters each year. Sooner rather than later, Pockoy will be gone, but hopefully we’ll have another chance to work on Ring 1 before that time comes.”

Archaeologists Working from Home: Martha Zierden

Though things are currently shutdown, South Carolina archaeologists are still finding ways to get the work done. We reached out to archaeologists during the lockdown to see how they are working from home.

Here’s Martha Zierden, curator of Historical Archaeology at the The Charleston Museum, on how she’s adapted:

“Folks at The Charleston Museum have been at home since March 26, and the Museum has been closed longer than that. I packed home a lot of files and books, and I’ve been working on site reports, particularly for our investigation of the 1780 Siege of Charleston and excavations in the rear yard of the Aiken-Rhett House. I’ve also been reading and writing drafts of revised exhibit labels. Lastly, I’ve still been in touch with my colleagues working on our NSF-funded Colonial Cattle Economy research.

You may have seen two “remote” Facebook live events on our work. We are waiting for the labs at University of Georgia to re-open.

Biggest down-side is that there is always that one book, folder, report that isn’t here. And my home computer has run out of printer ink. And I miss all my colleagues and coworkers – Archaeology is, after all, at its best when working with others!”

ASSC 2020 Conference – Select Photos

Thank you to everyone who came out to the conference in February! The following are a few select photos from the conference. We are grateful to all all the presenters who came from far and wide to provide wonderful discussions, and to Jodi Barnes for her excellent keynote presentation and participation in panel discussion on avocational archaeology.

2020 Grant-in-Aid Deadline – March 20

Graduate students working on archaeology projects in South Carolina: the deadline for the 2020 program is March 20, 2020. Please visit our How to Apply page for information on how to submit an application.

About the Program
The Archaeological Society of South Carolina sponsors a Graduate Student Grant-in-Aid program to provide assistance to deserving graduate students furthering the cause of South Carolina archaeology. The Executive Committee appoints a qualified person as Chair of the current year’s Grant-in-Aid Committee. It is the Chair’s duty to appoint a review committee of two other qualified individuals to review student applications. The results of the committee’s selection are presented to the Executive Committee for approval. The amount available to grant under this project will vary by year.

2020 Conference Schedule

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8:15-9:00              Registration

8:45-9:00              Administrative Announcements; Welcome and Introduction by President Keith Stephenson

Morning Session
“Avocational Archaeology: The Role and Contributions of Avocational Archaeologists”

9:00-9:20              The Fisher Has A Good Cache: After 10 Years of Excavations, the Fisher Site 38BR1373 Reveals its First Cache, by Lamar Nelson (Avocational Archaeologist, Foothills Chapter, Archaeological Society of South Carolina)

9:20-9:40              Unlocking the Locks, Phase II, by Drew Ruddy (Avocational Archaeologist, Archaeological Society of South Carolina)

9:40-10:00           The Kolb Site (38DA75) Experience, by Ernest Helms (Avocational Archaeologist, Archaeological Society of South Carolina)

10:00-10:20         The Joy of Avocational Archaeology in South Carolina: A Personal Odyssey, by Robert C. Costello (Avocational Archaeologist, Archaeological Society of South Carolina, and USC Sumter)

10:20-10:40        PreContact Native American Pottery in the Robert Costello Collection, Santee River, South Carolina, by Christopher Judge (Native American Studies Center USC Lancaster) and Robert C. Costello (Avocational Archaeologist, Archaeological Society of South Carolina, and USC Sumter)

10:40-1100          Break

Keynote Presentation

11:00-11:45         Public Archaeology 2020: Arkansas as a Case Study, by Jodi A. Barnes (Arkansas Archeological Survey, University of Arkansas)

11:45-12:00         Presentation of Awards

12:00–1:30          Lunch

Afternoon Session

1:30-2:15              Panel–Avocational Archaeology: Methods, Contributions, and Concerns for the Future
Moderator: Joseph E. Wilkinson
Panelists: Lamar Nelson, David Gordon, Jodi A. Barnes, Nate Fulmer, Christopher Judge

2:15-2:35              Geochemical Characterization of Charleston Brick Production with pXRF, by Carolyn Dillian (Coastal Carolina University), David Palmer (Coastal Carolina University), Eric Poplin (Brockington), and Charlie Philips (Brockington)

2:35-2:55              Studying the Early Archaic Period in South Carolina Using Existing Projectile Point Typologies, by Albert C. Goodyear (South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology), Andrew A. White (South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology), and Joseph E. Wilkinson (South Carolina Department of Archives and History)

2:55-3:15              SUBMERGED: Underwater Archaeology in South Carolina for 8th Graders, by Ryan Bradley (South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology’s Maritime Research Division)

3:15-3:35             Break

3:35-3:55             Preliminary Modeling of Clandestine Liquor Distillation Sites in the Francis Marion National Forest, by Katherine Parker (University of Tennessee)

3:55-4:15              Jettisoned: Recovery, Discovery, and History of the CSS Pee Dee Armament, by Jim Spirek, (South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology’s Maritime Research Division)

4:15-4:35              Archaeology in the Congaree Creek Locality, Lexington County, South Carolina, and the Early History of the Archaeological Society of South Carolina, by David G. Anderson (University of Tennessee)

4:35-4:55              From Slavery to Empowerment: Update on Pro-Social Archaeology at Historic Brattonsville and Beyond, by J. Christopher Gillam and Richard J. Chacon (Winthrop University)

4:55-5:15              ASSC Business Meeting

5:15-5:35             Concluding remarks by President Stephenson

2020 Conference Keynote Speaker: Jodi Barnes

We’re excited to announce that Dr. Jodi A. Barnes will be our keynote speaker for the 2020 Annual Conference!

Jodi A. Barnes is an Associate Research Professor and Research Station Archeologist with the Arkansas Archeological Survey, a unit of the University of Arkansas system. She earned a Ph.D. in Anthropology from American University in Washington, DC and a Graduate Certificate in Women and Gender Studies and B.A. in Anthropology from the University of South Carolina.


After completing a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of South Carolina, she worked as the Staff Archaeologist for the South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office. Her current research focuses on the archaeologies of health and foodways at 19th century Hollywood Plantation and the material life of Camp Monticello, a World War II Italian prisoner of war camp. She is the editor of a thematic issue on the intimate archaeologies of World War II in the journal Historical Archaeology (2018) and The Materiality of Freedom (2011) and co-editor of Managing Cultural Resources: Global Context, National Programs, Local Actions (2008).

Presentation: Public Archaeology 2020: Arkansas as a Case Study
Jodi A. Barnes, Arkansas Archeological Survey

As the first formal public archaeology program in the United States, the Arkansas Archeological Survey “mutually assist[s] and cooperate[s] with the Arkansas Archeological Society in furthering the purposes of public archaeological education.” Founded in 1868, state legislation encourages the two organizations to work together. From the Annual Training Program, the certification and stewardship programs, the Endangered African-American Cemeteries Initiative, Archeology Month, and on-going programs at the ten regional offices, Arkansas archeologists involve the public in citizen science — collecting data, advancing scientific knowledge, and preserving the past. In this talk, Dr. Barnes will provide an overview of the history of Arkansas archeology and the ways advocationalist archaeologists have shaped the organization with recommendations for the future of public archaeology.

46th Annual Conference on South Carolina Archaeology – February 15, 2020

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WHEN: February 15, 2020
WHERE: Gambrell Hall, 817 Henderson Street
Columbia, S.C. 29208
TIME: 9 AM – 4 PM (time may be subject to change), Registration opens at 8:15 AM
COST: free for 2020 members, $10 for non-members. membership renewals/new applications will be taken at registration
The theme of this year’s conference is Avocational Archaeology. We will have presentations and discussions about avocational contributions to archaeology in the state of South Carolina. Including the conference theme, there will also be papers on historic and prehistoric archaeology in the state of South Carolina and across the Southeast.
Interested in presenting at the conference? Please email with the name(s) of all contributors to the presentation, your paper title, and brief abstract by February 3, 2020.
Registration for the conference will be on site and free for current ASSC members, $10 for non-members. We will be signing up new members and taking membership renewals during the conference. For full membership details please visit

Call for Papers: 2020 ASSC Conference

We are currently accepting abstracts for the 46th Annual Conference on South Carolina Archaeology. The conference will be held on Saturday, February 15th, 2020 in Columbia, SC. 

Each year the society holds a conference on South Carolina archaeology, focusing on the archaeological work being done within the state. In past years, the conferences has included professional presentations from professors and students from various colleges and universities in the South, local cultural resource management firms, nonprofessional archaeological enthusiasts, and more. 

We welcome not only general conference presentations, but also panel discussions, video, talkbacks, or other alternatives that would fit within our conference. 

Please send your abstracts to by January 20th, 2020.