Friday, January 27, 2012

Getting ready to set up the East African Exhibit!

SRAC lecture hall will house the East African Exhibit February 4th - 25th.
We have been working hard the last couple of weeks to get ready to unveil the East African Exhibit titled "Ordinary Objects - Extraordinary People" at SRAC. We have removed all of the furniture (including around 80 heavy duty chairs!) that we could and then curtained and draped everything else in earth tone/ desert tone colors so as to give the room a totally new "African" feel. The crates arrived last week - and we plan to be able to start putting the exhibit together when the creators, Bill and Betty Baumann arrive on Tuesday. They tell me that it will take around two days to get all of the exhibit set up...

The exhibit is the result of anthropological work done personally by the Baumanns with eight different
nomadic tribes in Eastern Africa. Sponsored by the Mennonite Central Committee, they worked with other anthropologists to record these tribes and their material culture for the very first time in history. In fact, Bill will tell you that the things that you see in this exhibit came from these tribes who donated and sold their items to him with the intention of recording their everyday life.

In return, Bill with the assistance of the Ford Foundation helped each tribe make a small cultural center on their own tribal lands for visitors and even the UN to be able to come in and learn more about these people. Bill told me that some of these centers are merely huts, but they are manned by a trained staff person who takes care of it while having the responsibility of teaching anyone who visits about his tribe and their way of life. The Ford Foundation continues to pay each tribe $200 to pay this staff person his annual salary.

When you come to the exhibit, you will see the 8 tribes represented with actual items they deemed to be representative of who they are and how they live. From clothing to basketry, to ornate headrests, to food containers, to regalia and beadwork, and so on that total over 350 items I am told in all. Along with this there are incredible photos and artwork, maps and even books that are part of the exhibit.

Bill also claims that because this was made by the tribes wanting to show their "ordinary objects" - that there are things in this exhibit that cannot be seen in any other museum in the world. As a result, this exhibit is the most comprehensive representation of these nomadic people that exists anywhere and is a must see for anyone trying to learn more about them and how they survive life in a harsh sub-Saharan desert environment.

After experiencing the exhibit, visitors will better understand why the exhibit is aptly named, "Ordinary Objects - Extraordinary People."

The exhibit will be open February 4th - 25th, Tuesdays through Fridays 1-5pm, Saturdays 11-5pm. A request of a $3 donation will be requested for the general public, $2 for seniors. All children students can attend the exhibit at no expense.

Monday, January 23, 2012

1853 Map of Chemung County Now at SRAC

The Chemung County Map is Dated 1853
 SRAC member Sandy Schamel recently donated a 5 foot map of Chemung County in 1853  to SRAC. It is now on display in our Exhibit Hall. She actually emailed me one day and it was hanging in our Exhibit Hall the next! We want to thank Sandy for her donation which is a wonderful addition to SRAC!

If you have something that you would like to donate to SRAC - please contact me - Deb Twigg at

Books! Books! and more Books!

I am proud to announce that SRAC has purchased some really great book titles to add to our HUGE selection of historical books available in our gift shop. The new titles include "The Old New York Frontier", "Wolves from Niagra (Butlers Rangers)", "Journals from the Expedition of Major John Sullivan" (includes maps on DVD), The Sullivan Expedition of 1779 (A genealogy resource), "Indians from New York Volumes 1, 2 and 3 (genealogy resources), "Early Athens and Old Tioga Point" by Louise Welles Murray, and the Congressional Hearings from the family survivors of the Wyoming Massacre.

Incredible amount of high quality books available at SRAC Gift Shop
It is commonly accepted that the history book selection at SRAC is the largest of it's kind in the region, so stop in today for yourself or for someone you know who is a history, Native American, or Archaeology buff and get a great book at the best prices around. Best of all - you can shop local and support your community!

SRAC Members: 
In addition to all of the great books that you can buy at SRAC, if you are an SRAC member, we have hundreds of books that you can borrow from our lending library just for being a member! 

SRAC members can borrow books from SRAC's lending library
Not a member yet? Use this link to join today!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

SRAC has Lead Article in NYSAA Newsletter

My recently published article about the local site, Spanish Hill, which pushes current understanding of the region's prehistoric past, was recently published again as the lead article in the New York State Archaeological Society's Newsletter. We take this as a significant vote of confidence by the association, and appreciate their continued support in helping us get my current research out to professional and avocational archaeologists throughout the state. I appreciate any and all feedback!

Click here to open the pdf version or open the online reader by clicking the image below:

SRAC Donates Educational Collection to Broome Community College

SRAC's Don Hunt and Mike Sisto with Broome's Lynda Carroll with one of the 53 containers of artifacts.
(WAVERLY, NY) The Susquehanna River Archaeological Center has donated an educational collection of artifacts to Broome Community College. Broome's Anthropology Adjunct Professor, Lynda Carroll picked up the 53 containers of artifacts recently and will take them to the college to be used by her students in her Introduction to Anthropology class this semester.

SRAC's co-founder and executive director Deb Twigg stated, "The Center received the collection a few months ago and painstakingly cataloged the collection artifacts. We found that the collection provenance was questionable and not relative to our region of study. After much consideration as to what would be the best use for this collection, we decided to donate the collection to Broome Community College to enhance their students learning experience. It's my understanding that this collection will be the first artifacts that the college has for their students to work with. For that reason, we are proud to make this transaction in order to try to inspire young students to pursue the profession of archaeology." Carroll added, "This semester, students in BCC's Archaeology Lab Course will have the chance to sort through this great collection."

The Susquehanna River Archaeological Center is dedicated to education, research and preservation of the region's Native American  archaeological and historical assets for the communities within the Twin Tier Region of southern eastern NY and northeastern PA. To learn more visit the Center at 345 Broad Street, Waverly, NY or on the web at

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Eastern African Exhibit at SRAC in February 2012

Bill Bauman adjusts an African headrest at the
"Ordinary Objects - Extraordinary People" Exhibit

(WAVERLY, NY) The Susquehanna River Archaeological Center (SRAC) in Waverly, NY will host “Ordinary Objects - - Extraordinary People,” an exhibit which invites people to experience the day to day struggles of nomadic life in the harsh sub-Saharan environment of Eastern Africa from Saturday, February 4th to Saturday February 25th. The exhibit will include hundreds of artifacts to include a Somali hut which the nomads transport along with all of their possessions on the backs of camels through the desert.

Philadelphia’s Betty and Bill Bauman, who with Sultan Somjee, a Kenyan anthropologist developed the exhibit which was sponsored by the Mennonite Central Committee. The goal was to prepare a representative group of indigenous nomadic herders from northern and eastern Kenya to share their material culture (essential everyday objects) and their experiences.

Maps of Africa pinpoint the area traversed by the tribes of the nomads as they eke out their existence in the harsh sub-Saharan environment. They navigate the desert from one watering hole to the next, staying for months at a time and then moving on to find a new source of water and food. Because all tribes are constantly traveling, all possessions must be portable. Dress consists of sandals, ornate beaded collars and simple clothing which is represented in the exhibit. Visitors will also see a Somali hut which is occupied by up to two adults and three children, and although are made to be transportable with branches thatched with raffia can last 25 – 30 years and can withstand wind gusts of 40-50 miles an hour. Simple utensils, ornate headrests, spears and throwing sticks, and beautifully created milk containers also adorn shelves of the exhibit, with many more artifacts to discover around each corner. Better yet, visitors will be invited to touch, smell and experience the exhibit with a hands-on approach not seen in many museums today.

SRAC’s Deb Twigg added, “We want people to realize that “Ordinary Object s– Extraordinary People” is a “city exhibit” that has travelled from Philadelphia to other large cities in the Midwest and Canada. We are fortunate to bring it to Waverly, New York for the month of February, which is also Black History month. Our hope is that our youth will get the opportunity to experience it while it is here. As a result, we will not be charging students to visit the exhibit and we urge the schools in our area to consider making a field trip to SRAC while the exhibit here.”

The “Ordinary Objects – Extraordinary People” Eastern Africa exhibit will be open during normal business hours at SRAC, Tuesdays through Fridays 1pm – 5pm and Saturdays 11am – 5pm. The Center is located at 345 Broad Street, Waverly, NY. For more information, call the Center at (607) 565-7960 or visit

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Thank You Wennawoods Publishing!

In 2011 SRAC received many great donations and we are thankful for all of you that support us year after year - without you - we couldn;t do what we do!

We wanted to remind you about the new book titles and artwork that we received in 2011 from Wennawoods Publishing's Ron and Kris Wenning! Stop in and see the new items and see why SRAC has the THE BEST selection of high quality, hard cover historical books in the region because of them!

Here's the newest title from Wennawoods now available at SRAC:


Beginning on a section of the North Branch of Susquehanna River about 100 miles west of New York City, The History of Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley is a long and complex story. Amid William Stone’s chapters and magnificent review of this river valley land called Wyoming, the history would not be complete without including the near 100 pages on over 10,000 years of Susquehanna River Indian history. The History of Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley ends with 30 years of intermittent bloody clashes leaving the surviving families to rebuild the once beautiful Wyoming Valley into the river valley it would become today. This is the valley's story.The History of Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley and the Battle of Wyoming are clearly some of the most fascinating times in early Pennsylvania history. This 18th century time in the Wyoming valley played out simultaneously amid several ongoing major events. Wrapped around the French and Indian War and the American Revolution was the little know Yankee-Pennamite Wars. With the French & Indian War pitting British interest against the French and Indians; and the American patriots struggling against the British for American independence, these little know Pennamite Wars wore heavy on the land along the Susquehanna River for 30 years as Native Americans, British sympathizers, and American frontier settlers all battled each other for control of this picturesque land valley called Wyoming. Scattered along the Susquehanna, both Loyalists and Patriots differed in their perceptions of the country and its future and this line between Patriot and Loyalist was not always sharply drawn. Imagine, Connecticut Yankees, fighting American patriot interests; Pennsylvania Patriots fighting British interest, and the Connecticut Yankees and Pennsylvania Patriots fighting each other for control of the Wyoming Valley. This tug of war between the Connecticut Yankees and the Pennsylvania Patriots, often pitted neighbor against neighbor, with circumstances frequently dictating ones choice. Whether you were a Loyalist from Connecticut who supported the British in North America or a Pennsylvania’s Patriot who wanted a new country, free of British rule; this struggle for independence in the Wyoming Valley was very difficult times at best for all. All this happening because of undecided land claims to the Wyoming Valley by conflicting grants from Charles II to both the British Loyalist of Connecticut and the Patriots of Pennsylvania of William Penn.

Visit other interesting chapters in the book about Francis Slocum and her capture by the Indians. Read how the Susquehanna land company was formed to help settle these conflicting land claims, only to lead to more turmoil. Learn how the Seneca and British rangers' massacre of settlers at the Battle of Wyoming helped fanned the flames of American Independence; and how General Sullivan’s retaliatory campaign of death and destruction by his troops through the Wyoming Valley into New York State because of the massacre at Wyoming, settled once and for all, the disputed ownership of this beautiful valley.The History of Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley was originally published in 1844 and republished in 1868 as Wyoming and its History. We have chosen to republish this book about the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania, as it was the scene of 30 years of some of the bloodiest mini-wars of the time, the Yankee-Pennamite Wars. We have chosen to leave out the poem Gertrude of Wyoming from the 1868 edition but included its most important part, nearly 100 pages of footnotes from the poem based on 1st hand information. This is the fascinating story of The History of Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley. 360 pp Hardback, Complete with Index, Notes from the poem Gertrude of Wyoming, Original Deed Info, and Sir William Johnson’s Diary,..............….$44.95   

Scientists confirm tobacco use by ancient Mayans

For more info visit:
Mass spectrometry detects first physical evidence of nicotine in Mayan container        

Archaeologists examining late period Mayan containers have identified nicotine traces from a codex-style flask, revealing the first physical evidence of tobacco use by ancient Mayans. The study published in Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry reveals the flask is marked with Mayan hieroglyphics reading, "y-otoot 'u-may," ("the home of its/his/her tobacco,") making it only the second case to confirm that the text on the exterior of a Mayan vessel corresponds to its ancient use.

"Investigation of food items consumed by ancient people offers insight into the traditions and customs of a particular civilization," explains Jennifer Loughmiller-Newman from the University at Albany in New York. "Textual evidence written on pottery is often an indicator of contents or of an intended purpose, however actual usage of a container could be altered or falsely represented."

Many of the Mayan flask vessels from the Kislak collection of the Library of Congress examined in this study were filled with other substances, such as iron oxide used in burial rituals, making it difficult to detect the original content.

The most indisputable evidence of a container's usage is obtained when hieroglyphic text or pictorial illustrations on the exterior of a container is consistent with the chemical analysis of interior residues. For the current investigation, researchers analyzed samples extracted from the Late Classic Maya period (600 to 900 AD) using gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS) and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LCMS).

Nicotine—the signature alkaloid in tobacco—was identified as the major component of the extracts from one of the 150 vessels in the collection. The flask was determined to be made in southern Campeche, Mexico and dates to around 700 AD.

Prior to the current discovery, the only existing evidence showing a Mayan vessel to have the same content as indicated by hieroglyphic text was the identification of theobromine, an alkaloid found in cacao, more than 20 years ago.

"Our study provides rare evidence of the intended use of an ancient container," concludes Dr. Dmitri Zagorevski from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. "Mass spectrometry has proven to be an invaluable method of analysis of organic residues in archaeological artifacts. This discovery is not only significant to understanding Mayan hieroglyphics, but an important archaeological application of chemical detection."

Both Loughmiller-Newman and Zagorevski would like to see this technique used to analyze a greater variety of vessel types.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

SRAC Receives $10,000 from the Allen Pierce Foundation

SRAC received $10,000 from the Allen Pierce Foundation today. We want to thank the Foundation for their continued support since we were incorporated in 2005. Without them, SRAC would never have survived their early years and certainly would not have continued to grow so steadily in recent years. Foundations like these sometimes go unnoticed to the people in our communities - - but we can tell you personally that you would undoubtedly notice if they did not exist.

You just need to look around at your local museums and libraries and ask yourself how they can pay their bills every year - and without fail - there has been a foundation or two that have supported these things in your community.
Co Founders of SRAC - Ted Keir, Deb Twigg, and Dick Cowles
Thank you Allen Pierce Foundation - for all you do for SRAC and our communities!