At the Midwest Archaeological Conference (MAC) from Nov. 5-7 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I presented a poster titled “A Taste of Archaeology: The Importance of Public Archaeology Programs and Digital Cultural Heritage”, which discussed my experiences as a supervisor for a public archaeology camp offered through the Dickson Mounds Museum (DMM) and a description of my joint CHI project with CHI fellow Autumn Beyer: Mapping Morton Village.
The title of my poster comes from the Taste of Archaeology Camp, a four-day long archaeological experience offered to the public in Lewistown, IL. The camp started in 2013 and partnered with the Morton Village Archaeological Project in excavations at the Oneota village site of Morton Village (ca. AD 1300), where I’ve worked as a research assistant for the past three years. To reference my previous blog post, the Dickson Mounds Museum and its parent museum, the Illinois State Museum are currently closed the the public due to a budget impasse between the governor and state legislature, which is a problem for continuing the Taste of Archaeology program. This dilemma was the source of CHI fellow Autumn Beyer and I’s idea for our CHI project, Mapping Morton Village. We will have a more detailed description of our project in our final blog post of this semester, so I will not go into too much detail here. The goal of the Mapping Morton Village project is to make a portion of the Morton Village Archaeological site accessible to the public, with the support of project directors Dr. Jodie O’Gorman (MSU), Dr. Michael Conner (DMM) and the CHI Fellowship. We would like to take our project a step further and turn it into a digital Taste of Archaeology experience. We will allow those that cannot afford the camp ($150 fee) or cannot go to Illinois for the four-day duration of the camp, a chance to see what the Morton Village Archaeology project and archaeology in general are all about. We hope our CHI project will educate the public on why we excavate, how we excavate, and allow them to see some of what occurs at an ongoing research project.
During my 2-hour poster session at the MAC, I had many conference attendees come up to me to discuss the camp and the final CHI project. Most were interested in when the CHI project would launch and many told me how excited they were about seeing the final product. It was exciting to discuss this project with scholars from the region where the site is located and hear how interested these individuals were in moving towards digital cultural heritage projects in the Midwest. It was also refreshing to be in a poster session with other public archaeology and digital cultural heritage projects, such as the poster by Margaret Robinson and Stephanie Sterling (both University of Nebraska-Lincoln) who are using digital technology to relay archaeological information to the public, specifically focusing on archaeological data from National Parks. The number of talks discussing digital cultural heritage at the MAC has increased since I started attending in 2012 and I am interested to see how many paper and poster presentations discuss digital cultural heritage projects at future annual meetings.