Kevin Philbrook Smith

Kevin Philbrook Smith

Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Brown University, Providence, RI

Deputy Director/Chief Curator

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Published on Dec 14, 2018

Radio silence doesn't mean "no science"!

In late July, Chris Wolff (University at Albany, Anthropology) and I went to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and spent a remarkable week working in Parks Canada's collections center on the collections from L...

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Published on Jul 15, 2018

Heading out in a week! What do we hope to achieve?

One week from today Chris Wolff and I leave for Halifax to start work on L'Anse aux Meadows' lithic collections? What do we hope to achieve in just a week?We have three main goals for next week's w...

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Published on Jul 09, 2018

Ch, ch, ch, changes! (but forward!)

Scheduling conflicts and a minor health issue have required us to change the dates of our work at Parks Canada's Archaeology Laboratory, outside of Halifax, from late June to the end of July and to...

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Published on May 13, 2018

What was Vínland, Where Is It Mentioned, and Why Focus on L'Anse aux Meadows?

Vínland is the name that was given to one of three "lands" to the west of Greenland that were discovered by Viking Age Norse explorers from Iceland and Greenland around 1000 AD. These were parts of...

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Published on May 03, 2018

How can we identify a fire starter fragment?

L'Anse aux Meadows was occupied by First Nations groups before and after the short interval around 1000 AD when Viking Age Norse explorers used the site. For nearly 7,000 years, ancestral First Nat...

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Apologies, all. I've tried to put an image of one of the fire-starters up on this post, several times. And while it appears to work when I set it up, it turns into a broken link shortly thereafter – revealing just a blank box. Very frustrating – seems to be a problem with Experiment.com's system, since it's just a normal jpeg file. For now, though, I'm taking it off because the blank screen benefits no-one.
Dec 15, 2018
Where Was Vínland? Tracking Viking Explorers in the Americas Using Trace Element Analyses
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Sorry, all. Had tried to make this more interesting with an image of one of the pieces we found, but it seems to appear well for a while and then turns into a broken link. Since it's just a straight jpeg file, I can't explain the problem. Perhaps something with Experiment.com's website, but the empty space is frustrating rather than useful.
Dec 15, 2018
Where Was Vínland? Tracking Viking Explorers in the Americas Using Trace Element Analyses
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So are we...
Dec 14, 2018
Where Was Vínland? Tracking Viking Explorers in the Americas Using Trace Element Analyses
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It's amazing how much fantastic work the Geological Survey of Canada has done to map out formations, but also amazing how much more work remains to be done by archaeologists following out the clues in those maps to document and sample the sources of useful raw materials.
Dec 14, 2018
Where Was Vínland? Tracking Viking Explorers in the Americas Using Trace Element Analyses
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Hi Darrell, for reasons perhaps obvious and others bureaucratic we weren't planning to engage in any destructive analyses to test the hardness of the stones, but experimental work does seem to suggest that this varies considerably among cherts and is important. But, given that these all bear the damage that comes from long and heavy use for striking fires, the actual comparison of interest might be more "how much harder and better for striking fires are these types of chert than the other types of chert that existed within the areas explored by the Norse that *weren't* used or brought back, precisely because they weren't very good for use as fire-starters..." Those questions, about selection preferences and priorities, would be hard to sort out from the types of stone that *were* selected and used, but would be interesting to explore once the radius of exploration is better understood. What *other* sources exist within that radius that were not used...but we'd still have the quandary: were they not used because they weren't good raw material, or were they not used because the Norse didn't know of those sources?
Dec 14, 2018
Where Was Vínland? Tracking Viking Explorers in the Americas Using Trace Element Analyses
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Yeah, sorry about that! Now we'll all be charged for our pledges! Thanks, really. We're excited and very thankful for your support. Kevin and Michele
May 17, 2018
Where Was Vínland? Tracking Viking Explorers in the Americas Using Trace Element Analyses
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Yeah, sorry about that! Now we'll all be charged for our pledges! Thanks, really. We're excited and very thankful for your support. Kevin and Michele
May 17, 2018
Where Was Vínland? Tracking Viking Explorers in the Americas Using Trace Element Analyses
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Yeah, sorry about that! Now we'll all be charged for our pledges! Thanks, really. We're excited and very thankful for your support. Kevin and Michele
May 17, 2018
Where Was Vínland? Tracking Viking Explorers in the Americas Using Trace Element Analyses
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Thank you, and thanks for your support for the past 59 years!
May 13, 2018
Where Was Vínland? Tracking Viking Explorers in the Americas Using Trace Element Analyses
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I hope so, too!
May 05, 2018
Where Was Vínland? Tracking Viking Explorers in the Americas Using Trace Element Analyses
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Thanks, Darrell. We feel the same way about you. The only thing you didn't mention here is that we all met for the first time not just at that conference but...wait for it...wait for it....wait for it...L'Anse aux Meadows! A place I'd wanted to visit since I first read Helge Ingstad's books when I was 12-14 years old. Happy to be returning to the material from the site (if not getting to the site itself...at least not on this project). In no small way, it changed my life.
May 04, 2018
Where Was Vínland? Tracking Viking Explorers in the Americas Using Trace Element Analyses
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