Tuesday, June 19, 2012

2012 Hatteras Dig

The 2012 Dig For those of you who follow along, the Lost Colony Research Group has sponsored archaeological digs now on Hatteras Island in 2009, 2010, 2011 and now, 2012. This year’s dig was somewhat different since we feel we have located the original site of the colonists on Hatteras Island in previous years. Additionally, we welcomed to our project this year Dr. Charles Ewen at ECU as well as two additional professional archaeologists.We have been very blessed. Our new project archaeologist is Jennifer Gabriel.As you also know, due to modern day pirates called treasure hunters, we have to keep the sites where we dig a well-guarded secret. Besides, the last thing a property owner wantsto find is their yard looking like swiss cheese when they return home one day, meaning that someone with a metal detector has trespassed and not only stolen historically important items, but ruined the area for subsequent archaeology. So while I can’t tell you exactly where we were, suffice it to say that we are still on Hatteras Island and we are still pursing the colonists. We actually dug in several location this year as our dig time in the field was expanded to two weeks. I will post two or three different blogs that shows some of our different activities and the group as well. We never had a better group, or a better time. Were it not for the extreme heat, the massive number of mosquitos and ticks, it was almost likea vacation.Refrains from the nursery rhyme, “ The Old Gray Mare, She Ain’t What She Used to Be ” played through my head every morning as I got my old, achy self out of bed to go and digsome more.However, this dig was blessed from the beginning. Dawn found a lucky penny and we saw a beautiful double rainbow from the deck of the house that we rented on the firs tmorning. Did I mention that there were 37 steps up and down. If not, I probably will mention that several times  Houses on Hatteras are built on stilts so that the flooding doesn’t damage the contents. However, that means that the first floor is really the secondfloor, and so on. Please ignore the small print below and go here to truly enjoy the full sized version:  

2012 Digging on Hatteras

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Crabfest 2012

By Roberta Estes

One of the Hatteras traditions is “pickin crab.”  In the local lingo, this means Blue Crab when it’s in season, which means now.  You can steam it yourself or you can order it by the bushel, fresh, steamed with Old Bay, and ready for eating.  That’s just what we did.  If you go to a restaurant, you’ll pay about $50 for a dozen.  Bought this way, it’s about $15 per person for about a dozen each, depending on the size.  Not only is this a great value, you get to participate in a communal eating experience second to none.  And in the process, we’ll even drop in an archaeology lesson.

Your crabs, freshly cooked and warm, arrive in a waterproof box.  The first thing that you must do is to find a way to completely cover the table.  Also, if carpet is involved, if you can, move the party outside (unless there are seagulls).  Seagulls love crab.  If this leaks into the carpet, you may smell the party for a long time afterwards.

Oh yes, and an order of hushpuppies is definitely in order as well.  Just don’t try to eat anything that requires silverware.  You’ll understand momentarily.

Dr. Charlie, a NC resident is demonstrating the technique of obtaining the crab from within the shell.  Hey, did you know these things came with a pop top?  Yes, all you need then is butter and beer to make the meal complete.

Normally, after the pop top thing, one uses nut crackers and picks to obtain the crab from the claw.  However, if you don’t have enough to go around and there is a wait for the tools, there are also alternate ways in to the crab…as aptly demonstrated by Jenn.  I love an innovative woman!!!

Here’s the entire table as we began.  Rolls of paper towels are mandatory.

 I can still hear Andy……”You’re doing bloody what and you’re eating it?  No, no way I can do that.”  Andy made a nice meal on hush puppies and some select clawmeat.  Apparently English crabs need less messy work up front!  By the end of the meal, he was already thinking about Crabfest Bideford as a huge public meal.  It’s hard to have more fun than this.

So here’s the archaeology lesson.  This week, we were digging in middens.  Middens are trash heaps, and you can tell a whole lot about the people that lived there from what they left behind.  Our crabfest table looks just like the middens we were digging, which bring to mind how the people then must have eaten as well.  We found bits of charcoal, which tells us they were cooking.  We found mounds of shells, mostly oyster shells, but intermixed with pot sherds and very large fish bones, mostly vertebrae the size of human vertebrae.  These people did not go hungry.  Unlike their land-dwelling counterparts, they did not have to rely on agriculture or hunting, they could rely on what the sea could and would provide for them.  Oyster beds existed near the Outer Banks islands.  We know this because of the oyster shell mounds in some middens.  This leads one to ask whether or not these oysters were being harvested for food or pearls, or perhaps both.  We know that pearls of different colors were coveted by the native people, and the larger, the better.

An oyster is mature in 3 years and their natural lifespan is about 6, that is, of course, unless either a human or a starfish interferes.   They are eaten only in the winter months.

We don’t find crab shells in middens.  They are much less durable and quite a bit thinner than actual mollusk shells.  But rest assured, the Native people had scenes that looked a lot like this…of course without the bottled beer and the “Trust Me I’m A Doctor” T-shirt.

The only bad thing about crabs is that you have to work so hard to get the meat out and it’s such a slow process that you never get full.  You just get tired of eating and your hands begin to hurt from the shelling and the Old Bay.

Here’s one happy crabber – Anne.
It takes a Hatteras Native to explain about how to obtain the crab most effectively.  Lessons are in order from Dawn.  Some of us needed remedial lessons too.

Jenn, innovating again.  Necessity is the mother of invention.

Alex just couldn’t be bothered with taking the shell off.
I think we’re finally done, but there are crabs left over.  Dawn is “pickin” the left over crabs for crabcakes.  Yum.  Seafood is never better than where is it caught and fresh.

And the trash, well, that’s a matter of perspective.  Jenn took a piece of crab outside and was immediately bombarded by the local seagulls.  They loved the pieces we didn’t eat.  Apparently, as far as they were concerned, we had not gotten all of the good stuff.  So, share one and share all.

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Who Are You, Really???

 by Janet Crain

Before you shell out big bucks for a population DNA test, trying to determine your ethnicity, be very aware. Costing more or less is not your best guide to their effectiveness. Both 23andMe and Family finder at Family Tree DNA of Houston use exactly the same chip. It tests over 700,000 markers and is the best on the market. 23andMe has lagged a bit behind but should be making some big changes very soon in drilling down into your ancestry. Family Finder is already doing this.

Population Finder
Reveals Ethnic Ancestry

Population Finder Population Finder is a report included with the Family Finder DNA test from Family Tree DNA. Today, this report is the single best option for measuring a person’s overall ethnic ancestry.

By comparing your DNA to that of global populations, it does what’s called a biogeographical analysis.

As part of Family Finder, it uses your autosomal DNA, which reflects the contributions of ALL your ancestors going back at least five or six generations.
Some companies market tests that claim to make finer distinctions than this. But their reports are based on such tiny population samples that the results are mostly wishful thinking.

Population Finder is the most scientifically credible ethnic DNA test available today.

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Proof Greenville was born in Bideford

Surprise discovery is ‘proof’ famous sea captain was born in Bideford

Thursday, June 14, 2012 
4:30 PM
The Gazette brings you an exclusive first look at the spot a local historian believes to be the birthplace of Sir Richard Grenville.

A COAT of arms discovered in a former pub has led to the remarkable discovery of the birthplace of a famous Bideford sea captain, according to local historians.
The exact birth place and date of the explorer Sir Richard Grenville, who died battling the Spanish Armada in 1591, has long been shrouded in mystery.
But now Grenville historian Andy Powell and historical researcher David Carter believe they have proved he was born in Bideford, and would be celebrating his 470th birthday tomorrow (Friday).
“Through months of painstaking research, we have proved beyond all reasonable doubt that Sir Richard Grenville was born in Bideford on June 12, 1542,” said former Bideford mayor Mr Powell.
"This could be the single most important discovery in Bideford’s history, and we will be launching a campaign to raise £1.2 million to save the building and open it as a Birthplace and Heritage Museum."
Andy Powell, Grenville historian 
“Furthermore, we have also found the site where Sir Richard Grenville’s house once stood at what is now 1-3 Bridge Street, which we believe was his birthplace.
Cont. click here

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Visiting the Eastern Cherokee on the Qualla Indian Reservation in Cherokee, NC

Today was a wonderfully inspirational and educational fun day.  Come on along!!  We’re visiting the Eastern Cherokee Tribe on the Qualla Reservation.  You can read about them here: 
Here’s the tourism site:
Drove over the Smokies from Gatlinburg to Cherokee, NC.  Nothing on the TN side of the mountain looks anything like I remember it.  Gatlinburg was always commercial, but nothing like Pigeon Forge is today.  Wow.  Unrecognizable.  But once you cross the line from Gatlinburg to the National Park, it changes immediately and becomes peaceful.  It’s really a good thing they made it a park, otherwise it would all be developed.

Flowers blooming along the road, above.
On the NC side, the park abuts the Cherokee Indian Reservation.  You’d never know you were on a reservation if you didn’t know. It doesn’t resemble the western reservations whatsoever.  This just looks like a normal Appalachian town, with a focus on Native culture, of course.
I visited three locations, in addition to several stores.  The first was the reconstructed Indian Village.  This was simply pure joy.  The people here were exceptionally friendly and were all Native people living on the reservation today.  They were anxious to share about their culture and heritage.  My hour visit quickly turned into more than half a day and includes lots of extras.  They were very generous with their time.
Here is the village link, but I’ll tell you, this does not even begin to do it justice.  If you have to select just one thing to do in Cherokee, this is it!
The village is a reconstructed historic village, to scale, which includes several houses where traditional crafts and activities are being practiced.  In addition, there is a council house and a traditional town center where dancing occurs.
I went to the village first hoping to avoid the heat that was sure to be present in the afternoon.  Tribal members there doing traditional things like beads, pottery, carving, basketmaking, etc. 

The next photos shows the undercoat of a buffalo having been woven with beads during the weaving.  This was extremely soft.  I never thought of a buffalo being soft, but these are.  The mountain bison were smaller than western buffalo and became extinct in the 1790s.
Today the beadworkers use contemporary beads like the rest of us, but traditionally the cornbead was used.  It grows on a plant called the cornplant and it is hard when harvested.  There are some traditional beaded items, before the advent of European beads.  The cornbeads are the grey stand near the left.

Pottery of course was a village staple of all Native people.  Pots were used for everything from carrying water to cooking to being decorative and celebratory, like with the marriage vessel below.  The bride and groom would each drink from opposite sides, then the pot would be broken.

The carvers were quite interesting.  Everyone here knew a great deal about their history and heritage.  These men carve wood, bone and even feather shanks.  Notice the beautiful masks, below, one with a copper gorget.  The shells shown below are not carved.  They are crushed and used in the whitewash for their body paints.  On the coast, they aren’t used this way.  The difference in both use and culture was very interesting.

The pipe below is carved in the shape of an eagle.
The prepwork involved in basket-making and weaving is unfathomable.  By the time they begin the basket itself, much of the work is done.   Some baskets are actually watertight.

If I ever thought I wanted to do basketwork, this cured me and instilled a great respect for those who do.
The flintknappers were very interesting.  Of course, most of the food supply was dependent on arrowheads.  Some were squared off and some were round.  The ones meant for food were rounded at the shank so they could be pulled out.  The squared ones were meant for enemies and removing by pulling them out wasn’t possible.  The man below is knapping flint by knocking off the edges to achieve a sharp blade type edge.

This man also demonstrated the use of a blowgun.  Poisons weren’t used, because the animal was to be used for food.  He was quite accurate. 
 Cont. here:

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

2012 Hatteras Archeology Dig

 It is not easy trying to locate people who disappeared 425 years ago. One of the problems is just getting there to the place it happened. Here we get a first hand report by Robert Estes of the difficulties she encountered on day one of her trip to the 2012 Hatteras Archeology Dig.  JC

And so, the adventure has begun. Every year, and every dig, has seemed to have a unique set of challenges. In almost every case, we’ve had some weather catastrophe. We’ve had 2 hurricanes, one that washed out the roads, a volcano erupted, a snowstorm, and Andy’s plane was struck by lightning. Other than that, nothing major….

After that, you think, what is left to happen? Well, I have the answer….a rockslide…really, a landslide. They called it a massive landslide. I thought at first there were rocks on the highway, but when I arrived, it was even more frightening. The entire southbound roadway was gone….entirely…..slid down the mountain. All you could see what a wonderful view of the next mountain. Frightening.

Other than my GPS getting itself entirely confused in Knoxville, I arrive in Pigeon Forge with no further excitement. But I’m surely going to drive on the inside lane, not by the guardrail, from now on.

But it seems there is more to the story. WBIR 10 News reports:

MAY 9, 2012 – TENNESSEE – TDOT has shut down all but one northbound lane of Interstate 75 between mile markers 141 and 144 in Campbell County. The earliest any southbound lanes will reopen is Thursday. The shut down comes because the embankment that collapsed beneath I-75 South on March 8 has now grown to threaten the median and northbound lanes. TDOT brought in the big gun to defend I-75 North by hiring an emergency repair contractor from Grand Junction, Colorado. “Myself and my crew got a call yesterday [Monday] and we arrived late last night,” said Nate Beard, vice president and engineer with Soil Nail Launcher, Inc. Beard’s crews will battle a beast of a mountainside with an oversized air gun originally built by the British military. “It is a big compressed air launcher that would launch nerve gas canisters up to seven miles,” said Beard. “It has been modified to launch soil nails, which is a 20 foot long, 1.5 inch diameter steel tube. We build that compressed air up to 3000 PSI, pull the trigger, and then it accelerates into the ground at 250 miles per hour.”

 In Campbell County, soil nail launcher crews are taking aim at a moving target. “The big challenge here is it is an actively moving landslide. I walked across this road at midnight and at 2:00 in the morning all of that material had fallen down to the bottom of the slope,” said Beard. “Our top priority is protecting the northbound lanes. We’ll launch around 300 soil nails. We’ll put them in a really tight spacing. It works with the soil particles to confine them and create a beam effect, which then supports the interstate. It takes a lot of those loading and driving forces off the landslide.” Beard said crews should finish nailing the northbound lanes by Wednesday morning. Then they will hammer away at the southbound lanes with even larger soil nails. “The south lanes can use nails that are 50 to 60 feet long and two inches in diameter,” said Beard. “You drive along these roads and they are perfect and they are flat, but they are on the edge of a cliff. A lot of people take that for granted, but the fact is there are frequently things like launched soil nails beneath the roads to keep them secure and stable.”

So I was driving on the unstable northbound lanes on top of a migrating, creeping landslide. I feel much better. The photo below shows the highway, down the embankment, with a few trees and such. I wonder if there are any vehicles down there that were on the road when it collapsed. Driving where there is suddenly no road is the stuff nightmares are made of!

Pigeon Forge

The first stop is Pigeon Forge, which doesn’t even resemble the Pigeon Forge in my memory. The road used to be 2 lane, to begin with, and while there were some stores, there are now outlet malls and it looks more like Florida near Disney World than Tennessee. I guess that would be the effects of Dollywood. Glad to be moving on to Cherokee, NC tomorrow and glad I didn’t try to drive it tonight.

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