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VCU Archaeology

Creating Digital Models of Monongahela Tradition Artifacts

by Bernard K. Means, Director

Note: this was originally created as a report on a Virginia Commonwealth University College of Humanities and Sciences Faculty Council’s Need Grants Award

Pierced turtle carapace from the Powell No. 1 site, a Monongahela Tradition village site located in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, and excavated by a New Deal work relief crew.

Scanning a pierced turtle carapace from the Powell No. 1 site, a Monongahela Tradition village site located in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, and excavated by a New Deal work relief crew.

The Virginia Commonwealth University’s College of Humanities and Sciences Faculty Council’s Need Grants Award was used to fund a research trip to The State Museum of Pennsylvania (TSMP) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, from July 29 to July 31, 2013.  The goal of this research trip was to use a NextEngine Desktop 3D scanner to create 3D digital topological models of artifacts curated by TSMP and associated with the Late Prehistoric Monongahela Tradition (A.D. 1000 to A.D. 1635), an American Indian society of village dwellers.  The Monongahela Tradition has been central to my research for quite some time, particularly aspects of their village spatial layouts and how these link to village social organizations (Means 2007).  Many of these villages were excavated by federally funded work relief crews during the Great Depression, another major focus of my research (Means 2013a, 2013b, 2013c).

Digital model of Powell No. 1 pierced turtle carapace.  Model can be manipulated by clicking on it in PDF form of this report.

Digital model of Powell No. 1 pierced turtle carapace.

The resulting digital models of Monongahela Tradition artifacts have been or are being edited currently in the Virtual Curation Laboratory by undergraduate Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) students (Means et al. 2013) and will be incorporated into three presentations at the upcoming Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology annual meeting in April 2014. One of these presentations will be by myself, and two other presentations will be by undergraduate VCU students.  These papers will be published subsequently in Pennsylvania Archaeologist, a peer-reviewed journal, and the support of the Faculty Council’s Needs grant will be acknowledged. Accompanying the presentations will be public demonstrations involving the printing of the digital models, which will later be incorporated into an exhibit in the School of World Studies in early Fall 2014.  The digital models will also be incorporated into an online “museum” exhibition, either at the www.virtualcurationmuseum.wordpress.com or at a stand-alone web site.  Finally, the digital artifact models will be made available for undergraduate and graduate student research, both at VCU and through virtual collaboration at other institutions that have a relationship with the VCL, notably California University of Pennsylvania and Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

References Cited

Means, Bernard K.
2013a “Alphabet Soup” and American Archaeology.  In Shovel Ready: Archaeology and Roosevelt’s New Deal for America, edited by Bernard K. Means, pp. 1-18.  The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.

2013b Archaeologist #.00000000000000000: Edgar E. Augustine and New Deal Excavations in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.  In Shovel Ready: Archaeology and Roosevelt’s New Deal for America, edited by Bernard K. Means, pp. 48-64.  The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.

2013c Shovels at the Ready: Work Relief and American Archaeology‑Today and Tomorrow.  In Shovel Ready: Archaeology and Roosevelt’s New Deal for America, edited by Bernard K. Means, pp. 235-242.  The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.

2007 Circular Villages of the Monongahela Tradition.  The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.

Means, Bernard K., Ashley McCuistion, and Courtney Bowles
2013 Virtual Artifact Curation of the Historic Past and the NextEngine Desktop 3D Scanner. Technical Briefs in Historical Archaeology 7:1-12. Available online at: http://www.sha.org/documents/VirtualArtifacts.pdf

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