Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA)

The Archaeology, History and Museums Division of California State Parks has had a long working relationship with the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA).

The Society for Historical Archaeology is the largest organization in the world dedicated to the archaeological study of the modern world and the third largest anthropological organization in the United States.  Parallel organizations exist in Great Britain, Continental Europe and Australasia. Historical archaeology is the archaeology of the modern world.  Most historical archaeologists focus on the period after the 15th century.  Historical archaeology is global in scope and deals with all groups of people, not simply those of European descent.  Visit the SHA Website.

SHA Conference Sacramento 2006

The Society for Historical Archaeology's 2006 Conference "Life on the Edge" offered something of interest to everyone. In commemoration of such disparate but related events as the 100th anniversaries of the Antiquities Act and the San Francisco Earthquake, the 2006 meetings focused attention on the archaeology of the edges of empires, oceans, disasters, technologies, innovations, partnerships, and cultures.

In addition, a number of combined terrestrial and underwater presentations were at the conference and sessions and workshops showcased new methods and technologies.

California State Parks archaeological staff participated in the following symposia:


Symposium Title:   Mexicans, Indians and Extranjeros in San Diego 1820-1850
Symposium Organizer:             Glenn J. Farris, Senior State Archaeologist California State Parks

The beginning of the pueblo of San Diego coincided with the culmination of the Mexican revolution against Spanish rule in 1821.  At that time a number of soldiers retired and set up homes outside the presidio.  With the opening of California to outside trade, foreigners (extranjeros) also began to make their homes in San Diego; most married into the local Californio  population.  A third, less visible population included Indian servants; many, but not all, were from the California missions.  This symposium reports recent archaeological work in an area of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park in which some of the earliest residences were located.  The focus is selected aspects of material culture that reflects the three major cultural groups that made up this diverse community.

Symposium Papers Include:

1.  Mexican-Republic Era San Diego: An Archaeological Perspective
Larry Felton, Associate State Archaeologist California State Parks

Abstract: Extensive archaeological investigations were conducted at the north end of Old Town San Diego between 1995 and 1999 as part of several related improvement projects.  While development and initial archaeology focused on reconstruction of the mansion built there by James McCoy in 1869, voluminous evidence of earlier occupations soon became the primary object of analysis.  These data included remains of adobe buildings occupied by several Californio families, and significant amounts of mass-produced consumer goods.  Of particular interest, however, were the substantial quantities of artifacts that testify to the ongoing presence of Native American people and technologies as integral parts of the community well into the historic period.  This presentation provides an overview of the archaeological work and summarizes artifacts recovered that reflect the Native American presence in Old Town.
View this entire conference paper presentation (pdf 482kb)


2.  Peopling the Pueblo:  Presidial Soldiers, Indian Servants and Foreigners in old San Diego
Glenn J. Farris, Senior State Archaeologist California State Parks

Abstract:  The history of the pueblo of San Diego during its Mexican period (1820-1846) has been largely eclipsed by the American period, mainly due to the larger number of historical resources available as well as a certain bias by the latter day historians.  In this paper, an attempt is made to better understand the tripartite population that lived in early San Diego, made up of Mexican former soldiers and their families, foreign arrivals to the city and, of particular interest to our archaeological study, the little known Indian servant population.  On reflection, it would appear that this latter group may well have been responsible for a considerable amount of the material culture remains found in the McCoy House excavations. View this entire conference paper presentation (pdf 532kb)

3.  A Ceramic Myriad:  Mexican Domesticity and Utility in Old Town San Diego
B. Dalton Oliver Hanowell

Abstract: The ceramic specimens obtained from the McCoy-Silvas site in Old Town San Diego reflect unique characteristics of the basic, but intrinsic necessities of storage, cooking and tableware.  Focusing mainly upon the Mexican and Spanish pottery present, this study attempts to envision the ceramics as an important aspect of Old Town domestic life during the late Mexican period.  Addressed also in the research were comparisons to other Mexican sites in Alta California, and the relevance of many non-Mexican wares as represented in the archaeological record.
View Ceramic Myriad Powerpoint Presentation


4.  Ethnicity and Tradition in the Old Town San Diego Diet
Trine B. Johansen and Benjamin D. O. Hanowell

Abstract: The 2000+ faunal specimens identified from Feature 39 and 141 at the McCoy-Silvas site in Old Town San Diego offer a good insight into the culinary traditions of the Mexican and Euro-American inhabitants of this area in the Mid-19th Century.  Analysis of this assemblage reveals a heavy concentration of bovid bones compared to other species such as sheep and pig.  Here we discuss the different ethnic butchering techniques used in the processing of these remains and compare the results to other Old Town sites, the San Diego Presidio, and the Ontiveros Adobe site.
View Ethnicity Powerpoint Presentation

5.  Historic-Period Lithic Technologies in Old Town San Diego
Michael P. Sampson, Associate State Archaeologist California State Parks and Jill H. Bradeen

Abstract:  The 1990s excavations on Block 408 in Old Town San Diego yielded almost 8,000 flaked and ground stone and flaked glass specimens. These were recovered from securely historic contexts. The current analysis revealed an intensive manufacture and use of traditional aboriginal tool types of locally available lithic raw materials. Lithic tools here played a key role in everyday food processing and tool maintenance tasks. Manufacturing techniques and patterns of lithic tool use from the site will be compared with local Late Prehistoric traditions and use patterns found at other early historic sites.  We will explore alternate hypotheses as to why older tool making technologies survived in a mid 19th century, commodities oriented economy.  View this entire conference paper presentation (pdf2.17mb)



Symposium Title:    Access to Archaeology at the Edge of Innovation

Symposium Organizers:            Sheli O. Smith, PAST Foundation and Annalies Corbin, PAST Foundation

Symposium Papers Include:

1.  Sound Methods:  The Necessity of High-Resolution Geophysical Data for Planning Deepwater Archaeological Projects
Stacey Church, Robert Church, and Daniel Warren C&C Technologies

Abstract: The availability of technology allows researchers to work more readily in waters beyond conventional diving limits, and has made possible an increased number of historical shipwreck projects.  Several deepwater historical wreck sites are being investigated, some are being archaeologically mapped in detail, and a few are even being excavated.  Conducting a deepwater archaeological project to acceptable archaeological standards requires extensive and complex pre-investigation planning, otherwise valuable data could be lost as well as expensive ship and sub time wasted.  High-resolution geophysical survey data must be a part of this planning process to help formulate a valid research design. 


2.  At the Edge of the Worlds: New Investigations at
La Isabela
Geoffrey Conrad, Indiana University, Charles Beeker, Indiana University
and John W. Foster, Senior State Archaeologist California State Parks

Abstract: La Isabela  in the Dominican Republic is called “the birthplace of the Americas,” the place where the Old and New Worlds united. Our research involves both terrestrial investigation of native sites near the Spanish town and underwater investigation of shipwrecks dating to 1495. Our long-term plans include an international field school, rehabilitation of the existing site museum, and international public outreach through exhibits, both traveling and virtual, and documentary film.


3.  In the Blue World Web Museum, There are NO DO NOT TOUCH Signs

Sheli Smith, PAST Foundation

Abstract: Most modern museums use the web to expand or extend existing exhibits, but The Blue World Web Museum began on the web and building new wings is not an issue.  BWWM features exhibits that use the power of modern technology to expand our understanding of maritime subjects, to demonstrate how technology works and to provide access to worlds few are able to explore.  This paper provides a guided tour of the new museum.

4.  Exhibits; The End Game
Paul Hundley, Australian National Maritime Museum

Abstract: Archaeological Investigations can be years in the making, and yet the final product is often barely a blip on the radar of access for the public.  Often after the report, maybe a documentary or even an exhibit the study is tidily placed on a shelf.  The story of the Julia Ann, a California/Australian gold rush trader is a good example of an archaeological investigation that continues to find new ways to reach out to audiences around the world.


5.  Scrunch!

Annalies Corbin, PAST Foundation and Thalia Johannsen, PAST Foundation

Abstract: The recent Gulf of Mexico Deep Gulf Wrecks Project was meant to be shared and explored by professional scientists and the public. The overall educational components amassed from the project were, at times, overwhelmingly vast, but when segmented by topic, were suddenly manageable.  After the fanfare generated by the expedition a primary project goal was to create a lasting educational legacy via the world wide web, a project curriculum which would give classrooms across the glove long-term access to the scientific data, and a documentary film project that ensures that the legacy at the bottom of the gulf of Mexico is indeed a lasting legacy.  Thus SCRUNCH was born.  Join us for a hands-on run with the Deep Gulf Wrecks Project curricula – see what archaeology is doing with deep sea investigation in the classroom.


6.  Pull It Out; Dust It Off; Get It Seen—
Thematic Series in Archaeology brought to you by  Springer Klewer Press and the PAST Foundation

Theresa Krauss, Springer Press and Annalies Corbin, PAST Foundation

Overview: Springer Klewer and the PAST Foundation announce a new series in archaeology.  Come join us to explore ways to publish that wonderful manuscript sitting on your office shelf.
This new thematic series focuses on site reports that are historically important but often difficult to find in publication.


7.  Tastes Like Chicken: More Than Pretty Pictures – The Central Role of Videography

Dennis Aig, PAST Foundation and Montana State University
and Keene Haywood, National Geographic

Abstract: Deep water exploration technology transformed video from a purely recording medium to a major data collection resource.  With the increased use of Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) for deep water work, the ROV video cameras and the signals they send back to the surface become the collectors of primary scientific data.  In both 2003 and 2004, PAST documentary teams worked with scientists, as a full partner, examining deep water wrecks in the Gulf of Mexico.  This paper discusses the challenges of the new role of videography in the emerging fields of deep water scientific exploration, as well as the possibilities for greater public outreach and virtual participation.

8.  Putting the Public Underwater:  New Education Opportunities with the USS Arizona
Andrew Hall, PAST Foundation

Abstract: In the fall of 2004, the PAST Foundation partnered with the Submerged Resources Center of the U.S. National Park Service to present a web-based feature on efforts to preserve the wreck of U.S.S. Arizona.  By combining historical accounts of the disaster, information on Park Service's efforts to assess and preserve the wreck, video clips and daily updates from scientists in at the site, the PAST Foundation was able to provide both news and context about the work being done.  During the first month after the project went online, over twenty thousand individual web pages and an estimated seventy thousand images related to the project were downloaded by visitors to the website. Given U.S.S. Arizona's status as a protected war grave and the long-standing prohibitions on diving there, the NPS/PAST Foundation website offered visitors an effective, alternative means of seeing how archaeologists work, and a better understanding of why that work serves the public interest.


9.  If It Is the Wreck We Think It Will Be Cool:
A Preliminary Assessment of an Unknown Vessel in the Viosca Knoll Area, Gulf of Mexico

Rebecca Warren, C&C Technologies, Dan Warren, C&C Technologies and Robert Church, C&C Technologies

Abstract: During the fall of 2002, C&C Technologies, while conducting an oil and gas pipeline deep tow survey through a portion of the Viosca Knoll Area, detected a previously unknown shipwreck in 1,990 feet of water.  A subsequent survey with the C-Surveyor I AUV provided additional data to assess the site.  This presentation will discuss how the geophysical data acquired was utilized to assess the site and develop a preliminary site map, provide a possible historical identity to the wreck, and show the findings, if available, of a proposed 2005 visual inspection of the wreck site.


10.  Underwater Parks on the Edge of California

K. Harley Meier, Goodwin and Associates

Abstract: Over the past the fifteen years there has been an ongoing collaboration between California State Parks and Indiana University to research, preserve and promote the state’s underwater park system.  Building on the Northern California park research this team has now turned their efforts toward Southern California, specifically Crystal Cove State Park.  The underwater park is the site of a downed 1949 Corsair, the centerpiece for the parks projected development.

11.   Shiptoglyphys:  A Sampler of New World Ship Images in Rock Art
John W. Foster, Senior State Archaeologist California State Parks

Abstract: Images of sailing ships appear in the rock art expressions of a varietyof peoples of North America.  Sometimes small boats are depicted wherethey were first encountered. Ships also appear in mission-era engravings in California. This paper gives a sampler of such images,mainly from the Far West.  It provides a glimpse of contact through theeyes of those who saw these early vessels.  One painted mural from a limestone cavern in the Dominican Republic is highlighted.  It may depict the terms of a treaty between the Taino and Spanish conquerors in 1503.  If so, it contains the earliest known image of a Spanish galleon painted by those who greeted Columbus.


12.   To Deposit or Not Deposit—That is the Question

Charles Beeker, Indiana University

Abstract: Artifacts have been removed from shipwrecks since the advent of diving.  Many of these artifacts lay abandoned and forgotten, their histories lost to the public.  Recent movements in creating underwater parks and trails provide these long neglected artifacts with a useful and productive future.  Serious consideration and planning is necessary when evaluating resources for inclusion in future parks and preserves.