Daniel Zoto is a recent graduate from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with a degree in Anthropology that focused on the sub-field of archaeology. Dan is currently working as a STEP (Student Temporary Employment Program) intern for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Cultural Resources department, assisting regional archaeologists in excavations, background research, lab work, mapmaking, and other office tasks associated with cultural resource management on national wildlife refuges in the Northeast. When he is not working, Dan spends his time in outdoor adventures, reading colonial American history, and enjoying live music.
Dan's Intern Experience
My time as an archaeological technician with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Cultural Resources department has been exceedingly positive. My real work experience with the Service has greatly increased my understanding of archaeology and federal regulations on managing cultural resources and historic sites. I have been very fortunate to be able to travel with the Service and have participated in archaeological surveys on national wildlife refuges in the states of Massachusetts, Virginia and West Virginia. This experience has led to a position as an archaeologist with University of Massachusetts Archaeological Services.
My first archaeological survey with the Service was conducted at Monomoy Island National Wildlife Refuge in Chatham, Massachusetts. This advance survey precedes restoration efforts to the 1849 Monomoy Point Lighthouse. The remotely located lighthouse is only accessible by boat and required wading ashore, followed by a long trek through the dunes. We recovered over 1,200 artifacts, including 19th century medicine bottles, ceramics, cut nails, and even the sole of a child’s shoe. Before this survey, I conducted archival background research on the history of the island and lighthouse and participated in authorship of the forthcoming report.
I also participated in an archaeological survey at the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Suffolk, Virginia. This survey was in advance of a proposed boardwalk and bunkhouse. Our fieldwork located two unrecorded Native American sites on the refuge. We recovered chipping debris (the by-product of production or re-sharpening of a stone tool), which indicated Native American activity in each location. However, we did not encounter any diagnostic artifacts such as projectile points or pottery that could indicate the time period of Native American activity. During this trip we also visited the American University Archaeological Field School taking place on the refuge. The Field School was excavating a maroon community on an island deep in the swamp, believed to be largely made up of escaped enslaved Africans.As I write this I am preparing for my third and final trip as a STEP intern with the Service to the Ohio River Island National Wildlife Refuge, specifically to Middle Island in the Ohio River at St. Marys, West Virginia. In preparation for the trip I have composed a synopsis of all the known history and archaeology of the island and immediate area. There is a high likelihood of Native American cultural materials on Middle Island, as there are known archaeological sites on and around the island, as well as a large burial mound complex in nearby Marietta, Ohio.