Presidio Comics

More Presidio education comics posted. I’m not sure about the last one–should I just leave the thought balloons blank?

Click to enlarge the prints; there are four in all.

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PS: I did not actually participate in this dig and am slightly baffled by the methodology, but that’s neither here nor there.

And now for something completely different….

http://www.blm.gov/ca/media/flash/fb/curse.html

This flash animation is just downright bizarre.

1) Stereotypical representations of “rednecks” and Native Americans, check.

2)  GPS is evil, check.

3)  Weird disappearance of Native Americans, check.

4) Spiritual possession of park rangers, check.

5) Is that a moon crater in the foreground?

Maybe my “Berkeley” hat is on too tight, but yeesh!

Mudbricks, pt. 2

It was a dark and rainy day at the Presidio.

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Perfect for making mudbricks, right?

Our mix was made from the backdirt from the Cabrillo College excavations over the summer, water, and some dried grass. We left out the sand, as the dirt is already very sandy. Ideally we would have dug down to subsoil for more clay, but the back dirt is there, so we thought we’d mix a trial batch.

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It was way too wet.

The directions say that you should be able to remove them from their molds in 15 mins-1 hour. Ours took…2.5 days.

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Not bad though, and now we have three more in the molds. I intend to make proper wooden molds soon (1/3 vara x 2/3 vara, for those who like to count in archaic Spanish measurements, or roughly 11″x22″). Hopefully I’ll get the mix right by the time the first school group arrives.

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Project Archaeology

I attended a Project Archaeology workshop on Saturday and Sunday (10+ hours each day, including commute!) to train to become a local facilitator. This means that I will be certified to train local teachers on how to bring archaeology into their curriculum. This has become increasingly difficult with all the standards that were put into place with our favorite president, W, and his horrific “no child left behind” program. I’m not sure how often I will actually be hosting workshops, but it isn’t an awful thing to have on my resume, and the workbook has a lot of great exercises so we don’t have to keep re-inventing the wheel when we’re doing outreach.

Speaking of these exercises, I was struck by their very Americanist portrayal of stratigraphy:
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I know it is an oversimplification, but the objects are independent of the stratigraphy–floating in space instead of respecting the ground layer they once sat on. I’d love to see the British equivalent–maybe I’ll hit up my favorite informant for visualizations from the Old World.

Also, note to self: FIND MORE MAMMOTH SKULLS.

Outreach!

As I’ve mentioned before, we are required to do educational outreach each semester as a part of our graduate program. I rather enjoy it, though I like some forms (teaching a class at San Quentin) better than others (Cal Day). On Friday I had to fill in at the last minute for another grad student at the Julia Morgan School for Girls. We prepared a 1.5 hour introductory lecture, during which we generally introduced archaeology, then talked about our individual projects.

The school is a private middle school for girls, and while there are varying opinions about sex-segregation in schools, not to mention public vs. private, if I had the money and the inclination to have children, I would absolutely send my daughter to this school. The girls were smart and completely fearless and their instructors were engaged and happy to be there. I went to three different public middle schools in as many years, and spent most of my time ditching class so I could hang out at the library (!) or go smoke behind the bleachers.

Anyway, after the lecture we brought out the dig kits. The kits are basically squares made out of wooden planks, overlaid by blankets, then filled with dried corn (organic kitty litter) and artifacts. We divided the 1×1 squares into quads and let them go at it, encouraging them to plan map the artifacts before yanking them out of “context”.

Then they’d bag and tag the artifacts and come up with an interpretation based on the artifacts they’d find. After writing up the interpretation, we had them give a short presentation.

The interpretations were fun to listen to and the enthusiasm of the girls was contagious. All in all, a good day for outreach in archaeology.