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Written by: Elizabeth Moore
Monday March 24, 2014

Last week I had a busy and rewarding set of meetings and activities in the Richmond area. I met with VCU students Wednesday in the Virtual Curation Lab (VCL) to discuss an ongoing collaborative zooarchaeology 3D scanning project between the VCU-VCL and VMNH.

Dr. Moore and VCU students examine bone artifacts to be scanned.

One of the more critical tools for zooarchaeology is a reference collection, a collection of skeletons of modern animals that can be used to help identify the bone pieces found at archaeological sites. I have been working with VCU student Mariana Zechini and Dr. Bernard Means to develop 3D scans of bones that can be used by zooarchaeologists to aid with bone identifications. In particular, we have been working with skeletal elements from passenger pigeons. Passenger pigeons became extinct 100 years ago, and while we find their bones at archaeological sites, few archaeology labs have a complete skeleton in their reference collections. We decided to scan passenger pigeon bones so we can share the images with other researchers who don’t have any passenger pigeons in their reference material.

Animated image of a passenger pigeon coracoids

On Thursday, I fulfilled my quarterly duties of serving as the Chair of the Virginia State Review Board. This board reviews nominations to the National Register of Historic Places from Virginia and provides recommendations for those nominations.

Reviewing the many documents (we average 20-30 nominations each meeting ranging in size from 20 to 200 pages in length) provides the opportunity to learn about lots of pieces of Virginia’s history. Sometimes these documents are long and complex, covering famous people or events that many people know about (Civil War battles, homes of the founding fathers, etc.) and serve to add additional information about a house or building associated with them. Often though, these nominations are about a single place with an amazing story that happened on a more local level. Stories about houses where people organized for Civil Rights in their living rooms, a church built by a freed slave that is still being used by his descendants in a small coastal village, or an archaeological site that can yield additional information about the more distant past. 

Friday morning, I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of anthropology and archaeology students from the VCU School of World Studies.

Dr. Moore speaks at Virtual Curation Laboratory.

This talk was sponsored by the Virtual Curation Laboratory and the Virtual Archaeology Scanning Team (VAST). I gave an informal talk on zooarchaeology and its methods and research topics, then was able to speak to a smaller group of students about archaeology careers. You can read more about this talk at this link.

 On Saturday, I met with members of the Archaeological Society of Virginia (ASV) at Kittiewan Plantation, the home of the ASV.

Kittiewan. Photo courtesy of the Archeological Society of Virginia.

Kittiewan is owned by the ASV and managed by a dedicated committee of ASV members who spend large amounts of their time caring for the land, the buildings, and the collections at Kittiewan and running the Visitor Center so that Kittiewan is open to the public on a regular basis. After the regular meeting which covered various issues associated with managing a large and complex property, we had a planning meeting for an upcoming event in June. On June 14th and 15th, Kittiewan and the ASV will be hosting a Civil War commemorative event  that will include re-enactors, music, activities, and guided tours of the property including the manor house, the cemetery, and the Civil War trenches. This is my second year as President of the ASV and I continue to be impressed with the dedication and range of experiences and abilities that all of our members bring to ASV events and efforts, whether at Kittiewan or in our many chapters.

Tags: Archaeological Society of Virginia (ASV), Archaeology, Dr. Elizabeth Moore, Kittiewan Plantation, National Register of Historic Places, Research and Collections, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia State Review Board, Virtual Curation Lab