For years, Kurt Carr sifted through manuals and guides in search a Pennsylvania archaeology book that could be easily read and digested by the general public. He didn’t have much luck. So…he decided to write his own.
Recently, “First Pennsylvanians: The Archaeology of Native Americans, co-authored by Carr and Roger W. Moeller, hit both brick and mortar and virtual bookshelves. The book successfully covers the cultural lifestyles and artifacts of Native Americans from Paleoindian to when contact was made with Europeans.
Kurt Carr, Senior Curator of Archaeology at The State Museum, recently took time to offer his thoughts on his new book. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: Why did you write the book?
A: There aren’t many books that are easily read by even amateur archaeologists. So, we wanted to write something for the general public. In terms of the audience, I think this books speaks to the interested public…certainly to amateur archaeologists and teachers. The book provides people with lots of pictures and the overall image of the indian cultural evolution in Pennsylvania and the Middle Atlantic States. It does seem that people are just fascinated with archaeology. I wanted to put together something with a lot of pictures and drawings…really make it come alive. But, at the same time, give a nonromantic view of indian life in Pennsylvania during the past 15,000 years.
Q: You mention how beneficial this book will be to amateur archaeologists. How would you expect them to use the “First Pennsylvanians,” specifically?
A: The amateur archaeologist can use this book in the field. This is their easy introduction into Pennsylvania archaeology from an anthropoligical point of view . I really tried to emphasize the behavior behind the artifacts…showing what we really learned.
Q: If you had to boil down what this book is truly trying to convey, what would that be?
A: There are lots of books on artifacts. I wanted this book to focus more on anthropology. I wanted people to understand my idea…or, at least one idea…of how culture has changed and why it’s changed over time. Humans just aren’t getting better to get better. People change because they have to. They change because of their surroundings. Social structure really became important. I wanted to show why culture changes. We’re not making ceramic pottery just to make our life easier. They had to do that…they had to come up with some alternative way of processing food and storing food, otherwise they would’t have survived. Progress isn’t natural.
Q: You’ve been working on this book for a long time. What has that dedication meant for your career.
A: Half of this book was written on my own time. I sacrificed lots of my time to finish this book. This book is a big deal. I’m going to give a copy to my mom.