Forensic anthropologists work with law enforcement agencies and medical examiners in cases involving decomposing, skeletonized, or otherwise unidentifiable human remains. Their expertise is based upon a rigorous understanding of the human skeleton, and the ability to discern biological markers on the bones that may indicate sex, age, stature, health, and other features of a once-living individual.
The forensic anthropologist may be asked to assist with establishing the positive identification of a deceased individual, or they might be called upon to examine trauma in order to help understand the cause and/or manner of death. They are often asked to determine whether a discovered skeleton is modern, or if it represents the remains of an individual that died in historic or even archaeological times. These kinds of analytical investigations are usually morgue or laboratory-based, and are conducted on remains that have been brought in from the original discovery location. Continue reading The Value of Archaeology to Forensic Anthropological Casework→
We have been working on a method to create replicas of artifacts that we can perform experiments on; such as reducing a stone tool preform into its final shape, be it a projectile point, knife, scraper, etc.. In order to accomplish this we have developed a proof of concept method that we hope to expand into many areas of research in the future for the Department of Anthropology at Texas State, the Center for Archaeological Studies (CAS), and the Prehistory Research Project (PRP). Continue reading Using 3D Printing for Replication Experiments→
In addition to providing access to the archaeology we conduct through public participation, our PAST Program aims to encourage community members to be stewards of their local archaeological resources. There are many factors that put archaeological sites at risk, some obvious and some not. This post addresses a few of the destructive acts that harm archaeological sites, provides information about archaeology laws, and suggests ways we all can help to protect and preserve our irreplaceable archaeological resources.
On 11 October, CAS Collections Manager Amy Reid gave a preliminary report of the current Spring Lake excavation at the Witte Museum in San Antonio. For our final Spring Lake post, we’ve created a video from her presentation. Many thanks to Adam Clark from the Department of Anthropology at Texas State University for his capable and patient assistance.
In the previous blog post CAS described our archaeological work at Spring Lake, both past and present. From underwater excavations, geoarchaeological sediment cores, pedestrian survey, and good old fashioned surface excavations, there have been a multitude of archaeological methods used to assemble information about historic and prehistoric use of the Spring Lake site. Following a growing trend in the archaeological community, CAS can add one more method to that list- using digital documentation to create a 3-dimensional (3D) archaeological record. 3D data and virtual archaeology has been increasing in popularity for the past few years and many archaeologists are beginning to understand the potential this kind of data holds, not only for documentation and analysis, but for preservation and education as well.
Spring Lake is an artificial lake located in south-central Hays County at the base of the Balcones Escarpment, which marks the boundary between the Edwards Plateau (Hill Country) and the Blackland Prairie. The lake is fed by a large artesian outflow of anywhere from 200 to 3000 springs that emanate from the Edwards Aquifer to form the headwaters of the San Marcos River. Spring Lake was created in 1849 when General Edward Burleson, commander of the First Regiment during the Battle of San Jacinto and an early founder of the City of San Marcos, built a dam across the river about one-half mile downstream from the springs to accommodate a mill. Continue reading Spring Lake, Part 1: An Introduction to Spring Lake Prehistory→
People from all walks of life are attracted to archaeology by the allure of adventure and excitement of finding something really old or really significant. Whether a professional or avocational archaeologist, student, educator, or child, the past belongs to all of us. I believe that as professionals we have a responsibility to take what we find, what we learn, and share it with the public. More importantly, the public should also have a part in the process of archaeology; they should be our partners, not just a passive audience for our outreach efforts after we have done all the work. The benefit of this type of inclusiveness is reciprocal: the public becomes closer to archaeology (not to mention they are able to participate in the projects that their tax money pays for) and archaeology gains from their perspective and support. I strongly believe that this relationship is the foundation for preservation and anti-looting efforts. Continue reading Public Participation: An Approach to Public Stewardship (by Amy Reid)→
PAST Posts is a blog for the Texas State University’s Center for Archaeological Studies’ PAST Program. Our PAST (Public Archaeology Serving Texas) Program is a dynamic public outreach program that aims to involve Texans in the archaeological work we conduct and raise awareness of our state’s rich cultural and natural heritage. The PAST Program is first and foremost committed to providing the public access to the archaeology of the Spring Lake site on the Texas State University campus, specifically we aim to show how archaeology is completed and the importance of archaeology in understanding the past lifeways around Spring Lake. In order to foster appreciation of, respect for, and increase a vested interest in the irreplaceable heritage present at Spring Lake and around Texas, the PAST program uses a holistic approach, offering a suite of public outreach activities that appeal to a diverse audience.