Archaeologists share findings at Troy

by Kiara Posey

The Alabama Archaeological Society welcomed archaeologists, students, and the public to its winter conference last week, which included a welcome at the International Arts Center and ended with children getting hands-on experience in archeology.

The three-day conference also involved a silent book auction and presentations by archaeologists from across Alabama. The conference was held to share new findings with peers, network, and introduce others to archaeology. 

“I got into archaeology because I was a kid who was always interested in it,” said Stacye Hathorn, the state archaeologist at the Alabama Historical Commission. “I just love to share that with other people and to hopefully encourage other young people who are like I was when I was young.”

The last time Troy University played host to the Archaeological Society Conference was in 2016. 

“Everything we know about the past we know from archaeology, for the most part,” said Stephen Carmody, an associate professor of anthropology. “It tells us the story of humanity, it tells us where we come from and how we lived in the past. 

“It’s important for contemporary society and future societies.”

Carmody and some of his students kicked off the conference by sharing their findings about a flotation column sample from Russell Cave, Alabama. A flotation column is used to separate tiny organic material from soil. In this procedure, dried soil is paced in a container that is filled with water to “float” old artifacts to the top. In their presentation, the students traced the cave’s excavation history and presented findings from 2016. 

Students used the event to learn from professional archaeologists and make connections with people with similar interests. 

“There is so much you can learn from our history,” said Madisen James, a junior anthropology major from Enterprise, Alabama. “We can learn where we went wrong and learn where we went right. Learn who was here before us.”

On the third day of the conference, children in grades K-12 were invited to Troy’s Arboretum to engage in activities that taught them to excavate, process, and interpret artifacts. Students from Troy University’s Anthropology Club helped run the event.

“The kids are coming out and we have different stations for them to work on,” said Cayla Schofield, a freshman anthropology major from Montgomery, Alabama. “I am working the ceramics table and basically they’re going to dig it up, then we’re going to show them what it means.” 

The Junior Archeology Day was a way to introduce children to archaeology and foster their interests. 

“I think that it’s really important to have it at a university and bringing young people in to continue getting young people interested in pursuing archaeology as a career,” Hathorn said.

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