• 2016 AA Editor Search
  • Get Ready for the Annual Meeting

    From t-shirts to journals, 2014 Annual Meeting Gear Shop Now
  • Open Anthropology
  • Latest AAA Podcast

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 17,517 other followers

AAA Intern Conducts Underwater Archaeological Survey

Josh Anderson

It sure doesn’t feel like it but, three weeks have gone by since starting my internship. I have been enjoying my time at both the American Anthropological Association (AAA) as well as the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the Naval History & Heritage Command (NHHC). Katie and I have been working on a couple projects at the AAA office. One of which is introducing the first annual celebration of National Anthropology Day. We have been brainstorming ideas and coming up with drafts of materials to send to colleges, universities, museums, and other partners to hand out during National Anthropology Day . This will aid in disseminating information about the field of anthropology to others. We are also developing a virtual student poster presentation that will accompany National Anthropology Day activities. The virtual poster presentation will allow students/clubs in all fields of Anthropology to present posters online about their current research or anthropological issues. By presenting online it allows for students/clubs to reach a wide range of anthropologists and other interested parties. Another benefit is that there is not cost for travel or printing.

Underwater Archaeology Branch of the Naval History & Heritage CommandWhile working at the NHHC I have been working on cleaning and preserving two artifacts. These artifacts came from the USS Tulip. USS Tulip was a steam-crew gun boat that, unfortunately, had a steam engine that exploded causing it to sink on November 11, 1864. The artifacts that I have been working with are what seem to be brass flash pans that possibly came from an M 1835/40 Pomeroy or Springfield percussion rifle. I have also continued working with equipment that is used during an underwater archaeological survey. I am enjoying being able to work on a variety of projects at the NHHC. It is allowing me to further understand the process of conducting an archaeological survey underwater and the processes that occur after the survey.

Joshua Anderson

During my free time I have continued to enjoy the sights around the D.C. area, and this past weekend I was able to meet my uncle and cousin for the first time. While I was there my cousin took me out on his boat to go crabbing. It was a great experience and we actually caught a few crabs. When we came back to shore he cooked them up and had a great dinner. I am looking forward to meeting up with them again while I am here.

I would like to thank the donors once again for this opportunity and great experience.

The AAA Summer Internship Program is funded entirely by AAA member donations. Make your contribution today!

AAA Internship at the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the Naval History and Heritage Command

Today’s guest blog post is brought to you by AAA Intern Jeff Emerson. Click here to learn about all of the AAA Interns this summer.

Hello everyone,

My name is Jeff Emerson and I am one of the AAA’s summer interns.  I have spent the past five weeks working at the AAA’s headquarters in Arlington, VA, and in the Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) of the Naval History and Heritage Command at the Washington Navy Yard.

Jeff1I attended Luther College in Decorah, IA, for a B.A. in anthropology and chemistry, with additional classes in biology and participation in multiple music ensembles.  Several opportunities have led me to interests in the fields of archaeometry, archaeological oceanography, and conservation science.  Work in 2010 with the National Park Service at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Skagway, Alaska, and an internship in summer 2012 with the Nautilus Exploration Program, locating and investigating ancient shipwrecks in the Black Sea, have contributed most to my ongoing search for a specific interest and career.  My introduction to marine archaeology and notification of the Nautilus and AAA/UAB internships were provided by Dr. Dan Davis, to whom I give a big shout-out.  My ethnographic interests have been focused on two trips to northern Tanzania, where I most recently volunteered in 2012 at a private secondary school serving the Maasai pastoralists by contributing to the establishment of a sustainable soapmaking cottage industry that utilizes traditional herbal and medicinal knowledge and Permaculture design.

While on the Nautilus expedition, I assisted Dr. Michael Brennan with geochemical research of the Black Sea’s stratified water column and the underlying sediments.  This investigation became the core research for my senior capstone project, which seeks to better understand the chemical processes within the Black Sea’s water column and sediments, and how they influence the deterioration or preservation of archaeological sites left in situ.  I have taken advantage of my location in DC to do research at the Library of Congress and will submit my paper this fall.

My Internship Experience

While at the AAA, my main project has been to investigate funding data from the National Science Foundation’s various grant programs, especially as it concerns anthropological research, and to identify trends and ways in which the AAA can utilize this information to advocate for the profession.  Part of my time has also been spent helping a fellow intern contact recipients of the AAA’s Minority Dissertation Fellowship Program to conduct interviews.

At the office: Fellow AAA interns/housemates Rachel Nuzman and Jalene Rengassa.

At the office: Fellow AAA interns/housemates Rachel Nuzman and Jalene Rengassa.

The USS Huron or one of the other two steamer-schooners of its line circa 1874-75.

The USS Huron or one of the other two steamer-schooners of its line circa 1874-75.

At the UAB, I have focused my efforts in the conservation lab.  After a few days of orientation and reading assignments to familiarize myself with the Branch’s mission, I began background research on the USS Huron, a post-Civil War gunboat, and one of the last military ships to navigate by both sail and steam.  While en route to Havana, Cuba, for a scientific expedition in November 1877, she encountered a storm and ran aground off Nag’s Head, NC, where the ship later sank, sending 98 of her 134 crew, mostly Sailors and Marines, to a cold grave.  Nearby U.S. Life-Saving Service stations were closed for the winter.  The resulting public outrage over this and another nearby wreck led to more government investment in the LSS, which eventually merged with another coastal service to become the modern US Coast Guard.

Because the costs involved in recovery, conservation, and display of an entire shipwreck are prohibitive, the UAB currently encourages in situ preservation, except in rare cases where the site is seriously threatened by natural or anthropogenic causes.  The Huron, like most shallow-water sites, is under constant threat of illegal salvage.  One treasure hunter tried to sell several artifacts on eBay, but was caught by NCIS, who then forwarded the acquired material to the UAB.  Our job is to clean and stabilize these artifacts, and then return them to the Marine Corps.

At the UAB: Changing a desalinization bath for the Howell Torpedo used by the US Navy.

At the UAB: Changing a desalinization bath for the Howell Torpedo, one of the first self-propelled torpedoes used by the US Navy.

In order to help fulfill this work, I focused my efforts on a brass epaulette by: 1) obtaining a digital 3D scan and 2) photographing the epaulette prior to conservation, and then 3) assessing its current state of preservation and 4) devising a conservation plan.  Copper, the main component of brass, is a nobler metal than iron, so it stands up better to corrosion.  This particular piece is in relatively good shape, showing some bending and denting, but little corrosion that would affect its structural integrity.  During this last week, I hope to begin cleaning the epaulette.  Unfortunately my internship is coming to an end, so I likely won’t have time to complete the entire process.  Besides this project, I have spent significant time troubleshooting our NextEngine 3D Scanner and adding to scanner and photography user manuals for future interns.

Brass epaulette with encrustations and corrosion residues from the USS Huron wreck

Brass epaulette with encrustations and corrosion residues from the USS Huron wreck.

Possible appearance of the original artifact.

Possible appearance of the original artifact.

At the lab: Much of my internship was spent tinkering with this nifty 3D scanner.

At the lab: Much of my internship was spent tinkering with this nifty 3D scanner.

A warehouse at the Navy Yard. Hmm...this seems familiar...

A warehouse at the Navy Yard. Hmm…this seems familiar…

Click on the image to view the video clip or visit: http://youtu.be/Fdjf4lMmiiI

That’s it. Click on the image to view the video clip or visit: http://youtu.be/Fdjf4lMmiiI

Life in DC

jeff10

jeff11When not at work, I have tried to make the most of my time living on Capitol Hill.  Living with twelve other interns can sometimes feel claustrophobic, so I often tried to escape the house by visiting one of the outstanding Smithsonian museums, cheering on the Nats, going for an evening run on the National Mall, or checking out a new restaurant or café.  My favorite activity was an evening kayaking on the Potomac and beaching on Theodore Roosevelt Island, one of the few peaceful locations in DC.  Less relaxing but equally enjoyable was a weekend excursion to NYC, where I sought out tasty, exotic-flavored Chinese ice cream, took a jaunt over the Brooklyn Bridge, people-watched in Times Square, and reflected solemnly at the 9/11 Memorial.  The friends I have made during these weeks will hopefully stick with me for a long time.

Take me out to the ballgame! Nationals vs. Pirates

Take me out to the ballgame!
Nationals vs. Pirates

The Bill Cosby Special at Ben's Chili Bowl - Best chili dog you will ever have.

The Bill Cosby Special at Ben’s Chili Bowl – Best chili dog you will ever have.

A bunch of greenhorns in NYC.

A bunch of greenhorns in NYC.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my short time in DC, and given the opportunity, I think I could even make it my home for a time.  The learning and networking opportunities afforded by these internships are invaluable, and it is possible my next steps will lead directly from this experience.  I highly recommend this internship program to any juniors or seniors with interests related to the various locations listed on that website.   I also wish to gratefully acknowledge the member-donors who made this possible for me and the supervisors and advisors who have guided me.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions about my internship or my other experiences.  I would be happy to share.

All the best,

Jeff Emerson

emerje01@luther.edu

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 17,517 other followers