Whether in the Library or in the Field, Always Dig Deeper

I don’t think I have ever read an introduction to a collection of paleontology papers that had more gems than Clayton E. Ray’s “Prodomus” to a volume on Miocene/Pliocene Lee Creek Mine locality. Like this:

Having flattered myself that I had unearthed essentially everything, it is salutary to be reminded through several oversights that in antiquarian, as in paleontological, research one can never do too much digging. Returns in each are apt to be unpredictable and to be meager in relation to time invested (hardly “cost effective”), but there will always be something new, and, to comprehend it when found, one must be steeped in the subject.  (p. 1)

Clayton E. Ray and a walrus skull at the Smithsonian. Source: Unidentified photographer, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Acc. No. 11-008, Image Number: OPA-974R1-B.

Reference:

Clayton E. Ray 2001.  Prodromus. In Geology and Paleontology of the Lee Creek Mine, North Carolina, III.  Edited by C.E. Ray and D.J. Bohaska. Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology, number 90:1-20.

 

John Lawson on Passenger Pigeons in Carolina

John Lawson arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1700. At the end of the year, he set off with nine other people on a two month long excursion through South and North Carolina, arriving on the Pamlico River on the 24th of February, 1701. Along the way, they encountered passenger pigeons more than once.  On one occasion, after crossing a river, they “saw several Flocks of Pigeons, Field-Fares, and Thrushes.” (1709:42) Several days later, while waiting for one of the men to return with some horses that had run off, the others

went to shoot Pigeons, which were so numerous in these Parts, that you might see many Millions in a Flock; they sometimes split off the Limbs of stout Oaks, and other Trees, upon which they roost o’ Nights. You may find several Indian Towns, of not above 17 Houses, that have more than 100 Gallons of Pigeons Oil, or Fat; they using it with Pulse, or Bread, as we do Butter, and making the Ground as white as a Sheet with their Dung. The Indians take a Light, and go among them in the Night, and bring away some thousands, killing them with long Poles, as they roost in the Trees. At this time of the Year, the Flocks, as they pass by, in great measure, obstruct the Light of the day.(1709:44-45)

When Lawson wrote his book several years later, he incorporated additional knowledge he had obtained about the Carolinas. According to Lawson, pigeons did not breed along the coast of the Carolinas (“They leave us in the Summer.” 1709:140), but large flocks did roost there during the winter. He intimates that the size of these flocks could vary by year, with a particularly large number of pigeons seen in 1707, “the hardest Winter that ever was known” (1709:141) in Carolina. Yet these flocks paled in comparison to “the great and infinite Numbers of these Fowl, that are met withal about a hundred, or a hundred and fifty, Miles to the Westward of the Places where we at present live; and where these Pigeons come down, in quest of a small sort of Acorns” (1709:141)

Recalling his winter expedition, he wrote how

such prodigious Flocks of these Pigeons…had broke down the Limbs of a great many large Trees all over those Woods, whereon they chanced to sit and roost; especially the great Pines, which are a more brittle Wood, than our sorts of Oak are. These Pigeons, about Sun-Rise, when we were preparing to march on our Journey, would fly by us in such vast Flocks, that they would be near a Quarter of an Hour, before they were all pass’d by; and as soon as that Flock was gone, another would come; and so successively one after another, for great part of the Morning. (1709:141)

These flocks may have been traveling from roosts to feeding areas, or may have been working their way north to nesting grounds.  Lawson asked the local natives “where it was that those Pigeons bred, and they pointed towards the vast Ridge of Mountains, and said, they bred there.” (1709:142)

Lawson1709

 References:

Lawson, John

1709       A New Voyage to Carolina; Containing the Exact Description and Natural History of That Country: Together with the Present State Thereof. And A Journal of a Thousand Miles, Travel’d Thro’ Several Nations of Indians. Giving a Particular Account of Their Customs, Manners, &c. London.

Powell, William S., ed.

John Lawson, 1674-1711. In Dictionary of North Carolina Biography. The University of North Carolina Press. http://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/lawson/bio.html

World War I Archaeology and More: Open Access Articles

For the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, Maney Publishing has made available for free download 100 scholarly articles dealing with World War I, including several on battlefield archaeology. The articles will be available to download, with no sign in necessary, through August 2014 at their website:

www.maneyonline.com/ww1
A sample of the articles available:
The Spanish Lady Comes to London: the Influenza Pandemic 1918-1919
Andrea Tanner, The London Journal
Academic Freedom Versus Loyalty at Columbia University During World War I: A Case Study
Charles F Howlett, War & Society
‘An Infinity of Personal Sacrifice’: The Scale and Nature of Charitable Work in Britain during the First World War
Peter Grant, War & Society
They don’t like it up ’em!: Bayonet fetishization in the British Army during the First World War
Paul Hodges, Journal of War & Culture Studies
Naming the unknown of Fromelles: DNA profiling, ethics and the identification of First World War bodies
J L Scully and R Woodward, Journal of War & Culture Studies
‘Those Who Survived the Battlefields’ Archaeological Investigations in a Prisoner of War Camp Near Quedlinburg (Harz / Germany) from the First World War
Volker Demuth, Journal of Conflict Archaeology
Not so Quiet on the Western Front: Progress and Prospect in the Archaeology of the First World War
Tony Pollard and Iain Banks, Journal of Conflict Archaeology
Archaeology of a Great War Dugout: Beecham Farm, Passchendaele, Belgium
P Doyle, P Barton and J Vandewalle, Journal of Conflict Archaeology
Excavating Under Gunfire: Archaeologists in the Aegean During the First World War
David W J Gill, Public Archaeology
Remembering War, Resisting Myth: Veteran Autobiographies and the Great War in the Twenty-first Century
Vincent Andrew Trott, Journal of War & Culture Studies