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Archives For April 30, 2014

17 April 2014 | 3:03 pm By:
Contact: Vince Benigni, communication professor, 843.953.7019

Ten College of Charleston students presented research April 11-12, 2014 at the annual Colonial Academic Alliance Undergraduate Research Conference in Towson, Md.  These scholars represent the best research papers submitted by students from all majors. The conference is the signature academic and outreach event sponsored by the Alliance, under the auspices of the Colonial Athletic Association, of which the College is a new member in 2013-14. 

The conference included a keynote presentation by Don Thomas, a former NASA astronaut who now heads the Hackerman Academy of Mathematics and Science at Towson University.

“The Colonial Academic Alliance Research Conference provided an excellent opportunity for us to showcase the different types of research and creative projects on which College of Charleston students and faculty collaborate,” said Dr. Trisha Folds-Bennett, dean of the Honors College. “The group of students chosen to represent us were energetic, engaged, and professional. Professor Andrea DeMaria and I were both impressed with their contribution to the conference, and thank the Office of Academic Affairs for funding the trip.”

Student presenters from the College of Charleston included:

Jami Baxley (classics and archaeology; James Newhard, faculty adviser)

Alexandra Cattran (physics and astronomy; Linda Jones, faculty advisers)

Lance Cooper (political science; Gibbs Knotts, faculty adviser)

Colin Cotter (chemistry & biochemistry; Gamil Guirgis, faculty adviser)

Hannah Evans (English & African studies; Simon Lewis, faculty adviser)

Grace Moxley (chemistry and biochemistry; Andrea DeMaria and Beth Sundstrom, faculty advisers)

Jackelyn Payne (health and human performance and communication; Andrea DeMaria and Beth Sundstrom, faculty advisers)

Sarah Turner (biology; Allison Welch, faculty adviser)

Aleisha Walker (teacher education and sociology and anthropology; Christine Finnan, faculty adviser)

John Wise (religious studies; Katie Hladky, faculty adviser)

Aerial image of Binchester Roman FortCollege of Charleston sophomore Sarah Legendre is participating in a Fulbright Summer Institute, one of the most prestigious and selective summer scholarship programs operating worldwide. Legendre, an Honors College student and double major in geology and archaeology, will spend four weeks at Durham University in the UK.  (read more)



Avkat Archaeological Project.

Satellite and Geospatial Imagery from the Avkat Archaeological Project.

You won’t always find James Newhard exhuming delicate artifacts with a trowel or handbroom.

For Newhard, director of the College of Charleston’s program in archaeology and associate professor of classics, the task of studying ancient civilizations is just as easily accomplished with the aid of geospatial 3D modeling, airborne drones, and 3-D or Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI). He works to find archaeological applications for cutting-edge technologies.  (read more here).

Andrew Agha will be presenting a lecture at Founders Hall, Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site tomorrow, May 20th!  He will be talking about some really exciting archaeological work that has been happening at Charles Towne Landing over the last year or so.

Andrew has also recently completed a new display of his findings which will be available for viewing.  As always, a wine and cheese reception will follow the lecture.  As you know, with Andrew, it will be a great presentation!

There is no fee.


‘Reign of Rice’ focuses on rice archeology – South Strand News.

No plans to dig at Planter site
Author(s): BY ROBERT BEHRE Date: May 17, 2014 Section: PC South
The state has no immediate plans to investigate the possible site where the steamship Planter went
down, State Underwater Archaeologist Jim Spirek said. “We know that it’s there, and we’ll
monitor it,” he said, “but at this point, we have no active plans to engage and carry the
archaeological work any further. … Obviously, we don’t have to go right off the bat. It’s still in
place and seems to be doing fine.”
The state’s plans could change eventually, depending on money, educational research opportunities
and the public’s interest.
On Monday, officials with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries unveiled the results of
their 8-year search for the sidewheel steamship made famous when enslaved pilot Robert Smalls
sailed it out of Charleston Harbor and handed it over to the U.S. Navy in 1862.
Fifteen years later, the ship was making a regular run between Charleston and Georgetown when it
tried to help a ship stranded off Cape Romain and became stranded itself. Parts of it were salvaged
before its wooden carcass was abandoned.
Tim Runyan, an East Carolina University maritime studies professor and former director of
NOAA’s maritime history program, said a mix of documentary research, sonar and magnetometer
readings led NOAA’s team to pinpoint the Planter’s remains. He called it “a best guess, based on
best information.”

Spirek said he has received all the documentation from the federal project, which was primarily an
educational outreach effort to the African-American community.

He estimated the likelihood that the Planter has been found at 80 percent — “with a little wobble
room” — and said further research could raise that as high as 99 percent.

Given that the ship was picked over after it beached, it’s unclear if anything could ever be
recovered to identify it with complete certainty.

Today, the remains are protected from the elements and from vandals, coated by a layer of sand
and sediment about 10 feet thick.

Spirek said the next archaeological step likely would be to conduct a side-bottom profile to figure
out how deep various sections of the 149-foot-long ship are buried.

A more ambitious excavation could cost $100,000 or more and would aim to find surviving cargo,
working implements and other pieces — not to raise the Planter’s delicate hull. It could be
identified based on its wood or evidence that it was salvaged before it was abandoned.
Scott Harris, a professor with the College of Charleston’s Department of Geology and
Environmental Geosciences, said he and his students would like to help study the site at some
future point.

They already are planning to do similar work at the site of the USS Housatonic, the sloop sunk off
the Isle of Palms by the Confederate submarine Hunley.

Harris said the sub bottom profile uses an acoustic ping to measure the solidity of the sands and
what lies under them, and it ultimately can create a 3-D image of the wreck.

“It’s not going to be like you see on TV, where you see a perfect 3-D ship,” he said. “That’s not
going to happen.”

It remains to be seen how much public interest will emerge to encourage the state to do more at the
possible Planter site.

“If there was a big push or something … perhaps we could do something,” Spirek said, “but right
now, we don’t have the state funding or financial wherewithal to commit to a project of that nature
at this point.”
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.

Bo PetersenPosted: Thursday, May 15, 2014 4:24 p.m., Updated: Thursday, May 15, 2014 6:28 p.m.

The light blue surf waters off Folly Beach are a stark contrast to the darker, sand-churned water flowing out Stono Inlet.

FOLLY BEACH – Well, the reason the seas are so blue might just be the beach renourishment underway here after all.

People have been remarking for a few weeks how spectacularly light blue the normally sand-browned Folly Beach surf waters have become. On a Wednesday flight, College of Charleston geology professor Scott Harris suspects he found out why – mud. The renourishment dredging evidently is digging up lime mud that is making the water it collects in denser than surrounding water, he said. That water sinks, clearer water flows over it and light reflected through that clear water reflects again off the light-toned mud layer. The double refraction is making the light blue hue of it more intense, he said.

On top of that, as noted by Shea Gibson, a local surf wind conditions forecaster for WeatherFlow, an eddy in the Gulf Stream has moved clearer offshore flow into Folly waters, enhancing the effect.

Earlier speculation put the unusual blue down to the renourishment work, or a drop in estuary rain flow and calmer tides. But on Thursday, as more rain came and tides became stronger, the water was still blue, an observer reported.

4 Life Lessons Learned From Archaeology

By Lauren Saulino
Posted on 8 May 2014 | 4:30 pm —

By: Contact: Jim Newhard, Classics professor and director of the archaeology program, 843.953.5485

The first graduates of the College of Charleston’s archaeology major will be crossing the Cistern on May 10, 2014.

RELATED: Find out what the first five archaeology graduates have planned for the future.

They share four life lessons they learned from archaeology.

1. Context is everything.

“The most valuable thing I learned from archaeology is how to analyze artifacts and to place them into the correct historical context,” James Boast says.

2. Be comfortable not knowing all the answers.

“Archaeology is a ever-changing field. People are finding new answers that we thought we knew the answers to long ago. More answers will come, but someone has to start looking,” says Jessica Coleman.

3. Sometimes doing nothing is the best approach.

“Sometimes in archaeology, the best approach is to not perform excavations,” Steven Paschal explains. “Patience is important because it allows the sites to stay intact for future archaeologists who might have better techniques and technology.”

4. Life isn’t fair.

Corey Heyward says, “I learned that not everyone has the opportunity to go to museums and visit archaeological sites. And so, I want to put my education towards fixing that.”

From the CofC main web page:

Contact: Jim Newhard, Classics professor and director of the archaeology program, 843.953.5485

On May 10, 2014, five College of Charleston students will become the first graduates in South Carolina to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology. They plan to be museum curators, tour company owners, and to use their geoarchaeological knowledge to travel the world working on excavation sites.

archaeology 3“When I was younger, I would pretend to be Indiana Jones in my backyard,” Jessica Coleman says. “The archaeology major brought back the kid in me that was always looking for adventure and long lost treasures. At the College, I spent practically all of my time in the geology department to understand what affected various sites around the world.”

In the fall, Coleman will begin the Masters Program of Environmental Archaeology at University of Umeå in Sweden. She is one of the program’s first five graduates, along with James Boast, Corey Heyward, Steven Paschal, and Caroline Weber.

RELATED: Four real-life lessons learned through archaeology.

“My favorite part about the major was being able to take classes from a wide range of departments to fulfill the requirements,” says Steven Paschal. “I feel that the major, although it is more of a ‘hard’ science, really fits into the liberal arts nature of the College of Charleston.”

The archaeology program includes professors and courses from four different schools within the College of Charleston. Plus, students are required to do either an internship or participate in a field school – a hands-on experience that all the graduates enjoyed.

RELATED: Watch a video of the Archaeological Field School at Dixie Plantation.

“Our regional laboratory for archaeology is second to none,” says professor Jim Newhard, program director. “Evidence for major prehistoric and historic events of our continent are easily found within driving distance of campus. We, however, go further. Our students and faculty are engaged in archaeological research the world over, and we have a growing reputation for archaeological informatics. These assets – lowcountry, global reach, informatics – provide a wide variety of opportunities for students and faculty alike.”

RELATED: Read the College’s archaeology blog.

The College of Charleston has offered a minor in archaeology for many years and since the archaeology major was approved in fall 2013, it has exceeded expectations, growing to more than 35 students.

“I wanted to major in archaeology because I wanted a degree that would give me hands-on knowledge as well as the theories behind studying the past. I wanted to prepare myself for a career that would allow me to more interactive and interdisciplinary,” says Corey Heyward.  “In the fall, I will be attending George Washington University to earn a Masters in Anthropology with a concentration in museum studies.”

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