A half-hour video news magazine each month bringing you stories from the wide world of archaeology
Scent of Juniper
Filmmaker Tashi Wangchuk followed Tsering Dorjee, exiled Tibetan folk artist, for about six months with a camera to make a film about displaced Tibetans in exile. This film is a real life story about Dorjee and his initiative in passing down centuries-old Tibetan literature and performing arts that are being erased inside Tibet to the Tibetan younger generation in the San Francisco Bay area. He does this through the community’s Sunday school and the school’s annual day event, which serves the younger generation who were born and raised in the US.
Biscayne shipwrecks: Erl King; Comca'ac of Mexico
(1) Divers and snorkelers can tour six shipwrecks on the Maritime Heritage Trail in Biscayne National Park. The Erl King had three masts, but also a steam engine. She fatally ran aground in 1891. (2) Along the shore of the Sea of Cortez live the Comca’ac Indians of Mexico. Traditionally a hunting and gathering culture subsisting on the green sea turtle–or “Moosni”–the Comca’ac now are threatened by development and the turtles face possible extinction. However, the Moosni and the Comca’ac will survive together and become strong again
Time Team America preview; Biscayne shipwrecks: Arratoon Apcar; California mountain tramway
(1) Chelsea Rose remembers excavating the house floor of Josiah Henson, whose autobiography inspired Uncle Tom’s Cabin, for the upcoming PBS season of Time Team America. (2) Divers and snorkelers can tour six shipwrecks on the Maritime Heritage Trail in Biscayne National Park. The Arratoon Apcar ran aground just below an unfinished lighthouse in 1878. (3) The Agnew Tramway in California’s Sierra Nevada, was built in 1915 to service a series of high-elevation dams still operating as the Rush Creek Hydroelectric Historic District.
Biscayne shipwrecks: unnamed vessel; Jamestown Colony; Saxon sword replica
(1) Divers and snorkelers can tour six shipwrecks on the Maritime Heritage Trail in Biscayne National Park. One of these is an unnamed 19th Century wooden sailing vessel. (2) Jamestown Island, Virginia, is the location of the first permanent English colony in North America, but archaeological sites there face a serious threat from sea level rise and erosion. (3) English blacksmiths make a pattern-welded replica of a Saxon sword that lay buried with its owner for 1500 years before its archaeological recovery in the 1980s.
Rovereto 2013; Biscayne shipwrecks: Lugano; Tauste
(1) ALI Executive Director Rick Pettigrew visited Rovereto, Italy, in October 2013 to serve on the jury for the annual International Review of Archaeological Cinema. (2) Divers and snorkelers can tour six shipwrecks on the Maritime Heritage Trail in Biscayne National Park. The British steamer Lugano ran aground in a storm in 1913. (3) In the Spanish town of Tauste, excavators uncovered a large Moorish cemetery dating from the 8th to the 11th Century. Now we know that early Tauste was much larger and more complex than formerly thought.
Biscayne shipwrecks: Mandalay; Hidden Cave
(1) Divers and snorkelers can tour six shipwrecks on the Maritime Heritage Trail in Biscayne National Park. Before her complete ruin upon the reefs in 1966, the yacht Mandalay was an impressive two-masted sailing ship. (2) Formed under the tumultuous waves of Pleistocene Lake Lahontan, Hidden Cave was sealed from access until the indigenous people of the Carson Sink in western Nevada 3,800-3,500 years ago discovered it. But then it became an important part of their lives as they harvested the natural foods of their land.
Biscayne shipwrecks: Alicia; Iran 2013; Magnetometry at Ocmulgee
(1) Divers and snorkelers can tour six shipwrecks on the Maritime Heritage Trail in Biscayne National Park. The Alicia ran aground in the Bay in 1905. (2) In December 2013, ALI Executive Director Rick Pettigrew served as a juror in Tehran for the Cinema Verite Iran International Documentary Film Festival. (3) In 2011, geophysical instruments maker, Geometrics, teamed with University of Georgia Ph.D. student Dan Bigman to perform a magnetometer survey at Ocmulgee National Monument to image buried features.
Guam: The Ocean Oasis
Separated by 1500 miles from the nearest large land mass, Guam saw the first human migrants 3500 or more years ago. These colonists participated in the longest over-water migration in human history up to that point and became the native Chamorros of Guam and its sister islands. Their cultural identity lives on despite centuries of colonialism, devastation in war and the influences of the modern global economy. After bridge construction reveals human burials in an ancient village site, the ALI film team explores the native culture and its people.
Shipwrecks of Biscayne National Park; story of Stone Mother; Building in Conflict
(1) Visitors to the Maritime Historic Trail are invited to explore a series of shipwrecks in the shallow waters of Biscayne Bay National Park in southeastern Florida. (2) Northern Paiute Elder Ralph Burns tells the traditional story of Stone Mother, a tufa rock formation on the east side of Pyramid Lake, Nevada, first in Paiute and then in English. (3) Bombing in the the night of 24 November 1940 destroyed the city center of Bristol, UK. A combination of oral history and archival footage captures the meaning of a city transformed through conflict.
Palestine architectural restoration; Etruscan Odyssey
(1) The Riwaq Centre for Architectural Conservation for more than two decades has used architecture to restore more than 100 historic sites in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In 2012, Riwaq won the Curry Stone Design Prize for designers addressing critical social needs. (2) Archaeologists have long grappled with questions about Etruscan origins and their way of life. Gregory Warden of Southern Methodist University is employing some new methods and coming up with some new answers.
Eugene’s Civic Stadium; Chinle Valley Singers in China
(1) Civic Stadium in Eugene, Oregon, is one of the last remaining Depression-era ballparks in the US. Last used for public events in 2009, it now stands empty, its future uncertain. This short video is a trailer for a planned documentary on the stadium and its place in the local community. (2) The Chinle Valley Singers are a Navajo family group who have shared their rich cultural tradition since 1981 in story-telling and in songs and dances adapted from ceremonial contexts. In 2012 they performed for audiences at the University of Shanghai in China.
Lummi Nation and coal exports; Day of the Dead; They Called Him Skipper
(1) Jay Julius, fisherman and tribal council member of the Lummi Nation, who have lived on Puget Sound for millenia, opposes the use of Cherry Point, Washington, as the largest coal export terminal in North America. (2) The Winchester Cultural Center in Las Vegas is where diverse Hispanic communities share their ways of celebrating the Day of the Dead in a multi-day festival. (3) Lacey V. Murrow was the Director of Highways for Washington State from 1933 to 1940 and is best known for building the historic Lake Washington floating bridge.
Hozomeen chert; WWII segregation; Guam trailer
(1) Used for making flaked stone tools, Hozomeen chert illustrates a 10,000 year tradition of Native American involvement with the rugged North Cascades of Washington State. (2) Archaeologists at Tyntesfield, England, investigate an American military complex where segregated soldiers may have resided during World War II. What went on there proves to be hard to determine. (3) The ALI film team visited Guam in June 2013 for a film project about Guam’s cultural heritage. Here we present our film trailer.
Ebey Slough Bridge; Sandor Lau interview
(1) In 1927, a new and innovative bridge closed one of the last gaps in the Pacific Coast Highway between Mexico and Canada: Ebey Slough between Everett and Marysville, Washington. In 2012, the Washington State DOT decommissioned the bridge and documented its historic character. (2) Rick Pettigrew interviews Sandor Lau about his planned TV series, “Sandor’s Oregon Trail.” Sandor intends to trek the old Oregon Trail and tell its story in front of millions of viewers.
Arizona roadside prehistoric site; Tom Dillehay interview
(1) In an area of northeastern Arizona formerly used by the Zuni, Hopi, Apache, and Navaho, archaeologists with the Arizona Department of Transportation explore a prehistoric habitation site, the Beethoven Site. The area was slated for future highway construction work. (2) At TAC Festival 2013, Rick Pettigrew interviews Keynote Speaker Tom Dillehay, whose work at the Monte Verde Site in Chile overturned the Clovis-First hypothesis for the peopling of the Americas. He explains how it took two decades of persistent research to accomplish this feat.
Mochica’s Sacrifice; ancient temple site on Pacific island
(1) Mochican iconography comes to life in this film, which portrays a ceremony of sacrifice carried out by the Moche culture in coastal Peru between A.D. 100 and 800. Each part of the ceremony is shown, beginning with the battle of great warriors. (2) On the Micronesian island of Kosrae lies the site of Menke. Oral history says a temple existed in that area, where people worshiped the goddess Sinlaku. Is it 1300 years old, one of the oldest temples in the Pacific, as expected? Dr. Felicia Beardsley and her excavation team have spent a dozen years finding out.
A Treasure of Gold; de Soto’s 1539 army encampment in Florida
(1) In the 1970s, near the Greek village of Aidonia, a mule fell into a hole. Upon rescuing the animal, villagers discovered a rare golden treasure buried amidst a group of skeletons. They tried to keep it a secret. This is the story of the plunder of Mycenaean tombs and the recovery of precious cultural heritage. (2) Aided by a hurricane, a project in Florida finds an ancient Native American town where Hernando de Soto and his army encamped and which later became one of the earliest Spanish missions established in what is now the United States.
Simpson Avenue Bridge; film clips from TAC Festival 2013
(1) In 1928, the coastal city of Hoquiam in Washington state was a boom town supplying timber for the rapidly growing American West. The Simpson Avenue Bridge opened that year, but its design became problematic as it entered the Twenty-First Century. Transportation engineers found a smart way to preserve the bridge and keep it functioning for the people of today. (2) Lisa Westwood concludes our preview series for The Archaeology Channel International Film and Video Festival (7-11 May 2013, Eugene, Oregon) with seven short clips.
A Tomb Raider in Cyprus; film clips from TAC Festival 2013
(1) During his stay on the island from 1865 until 1876, the American consul in Cyprus, Luigi Cesnola, became an amateur archaeologist to profit from the trade of antiquities. He gathered up more than 35,000 objects. When local authorities prohibited the export of this enormous collection, Cesnola loaded his treasures onto boats and shipped them to New York. (2) Lisa Westwood launches our preview series for The Archaeology Channel International Film and Video Festival (7-11 May 2013, Eugene, Oregon) with nine short clips.
Egyptian cave hides royal mummies; Robert Blake and English Civil War
Text: (1) Three thousand years ago, Egyptian priests gathered up the mummies and grave goods from many royal tombs and hid them away in a secret cave. Three thousand years later, a young boy chanced upon the tomb. Then the looting began. (2) The English Civil war marked the point in history when the monarchy no longer could govern without the consent of Parliament. In 1644, the city of Taunton under the command of Robert Blake was the only place in the southwest of England held by the Parliamentarians.
Volunteers catalog Utah artifacts, abandoned Irish island, indigenous tale from Brazil
(1) Lay volunteers catalog artifacts through the Forest Service Passport In Time (PIT) program at the Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum in Blanding, Utah. (2) The rocky island of Inishark, off the west coast of Ireland, was inhabited for thousands of years and then abandoned in 1960. Archaeologists fortunately can bring three former residents to the island to help them document the very visible ruins. (3) An imaginative film brings to life a Native American tale from the Amazon rain forest about a young girl who falls in love with the moon.
Tennessee egg fight, historic UK theater
(1) In a family feud nearly two centuries old, two Appalachian families keep alive their tradition of egg fighting. The annual Peters Hollow Easter Egg Fight in Stoney Creek, Tennessee, was a way to settle a dispute over which family's chickens laid harder eggs. (2) The Watermill Theatre in Berkshire, England, resides in a structure with a three hundred year history. The wooden building that stands there today has served as a flour mill, a cloth mill, a paper mill, and since the 1960s as a theater for stage productions.
Nevada rock art, Illinois archaeology
(1) One of the greatest places to see rock art is Nevada, which has lots of rock faces, a dry climate that preserves it, and limited vegetation to cover it up. The Nevada Rock Art Foundation is busy recording what’s there and finding ways to preserve it. (2) Lots of archaeology goes on in Illinois all the time, outside the attention of most people. In this segment, the Illinois Archaeological Survey describes how they do that work. Visit some excavation sites and drop in on the lab where the archaeologists organize, catalog and interpret what they find.
Highway Archaeology in Pennsylvania
Important decisions surrounding archaeological work in the path of a major Pennsylvania highway involved sensitive discussions among 15 Native American tribes, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration. For archaeologists, the research was exciting, yielding prehistoric longhouses, a palisade, key-hole structures, and 100,000 artifacts. For both Native Americans and archaeologists, consultation about the excavation and discovered burials was troubling and hard, but compromise finally came.