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VCU Archaeology

Virtual Curation, Collaboration, and Outreach in Virginia

by Bernard K. Means, Director

The COVA meeting.

The COVA meeting.

Yesterday, February 21, I traveled to the bustling small town of Gloucester, Virginia, to attend the Council of Virginia Archaeologists (COVA) winter meeting, an organization of professional archaeologists in the Old Dominion state.  The meeting was hosted by The Fairfield Foundation and the Gloucester Mainstreet Preservation Trust and opened with a presentation by Anna Hayden of The Fairfield Foundation about their efforts in Middle Penninsula archaeology at a number of archaeological sites and other heritage locations. The Foundation is working on a wide variety of sites and incorporates considerable community interaction into their work, with goals of educating the public about archaeology and integrating an historic preservation ethos into the local community mindset. The Virtual Curation Laboratory scanned a selection of artifacts for the Fairfield Foundation from the Fairfield Plantation site and the Ware Neck Store and presented replicas to the Fairfield Foundation that they could use for public programs and other outreach activities. An animation of the paste gem can be found here, and the coatrack here.

Anna Hayden holds a greatly enlarged past gem from the Fairfield Plantation in her right hand and a half-scale coatrack fragment from the Ware Neck Store in her left hand.

Anna Hayden holds a greatly enlarged past gem from the Fairfield Plantation in her right hand and a half-scale coatrack fragment from the Ware Neck Store in her left hand.

Following Anna’s presentation, and in an effort reminiscent of George Washington crossing the Delaware, the assembled COVA members bravely scampered across a busy Route 17 to a form Texaco station that is being renovated as an archaeology and heritage center, which Fairfield Foundation has designated their Center for Archaeology Preservation and Education (C.A.P.E.).  C.A.P.E. is a work in progress but promises to be a spectacular addition to the heritage preservation community.

The front of C.A.P.E.

The front of C.A.P.E.

After the tour, lunch, and a torrential downpour, the COVA business meeting was held. As part of the meeting, I reported on the efforts of the Virtual Curation Laboratory to scan bones from passenger pigeons on loan from the Virginia Museum of Natural History (VMNH). This project is being directed by the Virtual Curation Laboratory’s Digital Zooarchaeologist, Mariana Zechini, and guided with considerable assistance from the VMNH’s Curator of Archaeology Dr. Elizabeth Moore.  I was able to present Dr. Moore with some printed plastic replicas of the passenger pigeon bones that we have scanned to date, and we plan to highlight this project at the Archeological Society of Virginia (ASV) annual meeting in October.

Drs. Moore and Barber.

Drs. Moore and Barber.

I was also able to discuss some potential new virtual collaborations at the COVA winter meeting as well, and look forward to what the future holds for virtual archaeology in Virginia.

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