Groundbreakers Dinner and Awards

At the Ground Breakers Dinner we seek to honor those individuals (living or deceased) and/or organizations that have contributed significantly to furthering the goals and aspirations of Reconstructive and Experimental Archaeology.  More than simply being an expert or good at their job, a Ground Breaker truly leads the way forward into “terra incognita”… simply put, they have gone above and beyond, significantly advanced the field or, conducted themselves in such a manner that deserves special recognition. 

We encourage all our members to be “Ground Breakers”

Task of the Ground Breaker

     As the snowfall increased, the wind howled and rime ice thickened on bare tree limbs.  Soon they would not be able to see so much as a hand held in front of their faces.  Most would have stopped to rest long ago or surrendered to that false promise of sleep that always beckons. But he knew they had to press on or they would never reach the land seen in the vision. Stopping now was simply too dangerous… unacceptable.

     It was getting ever colder and the snow from earlier storms and warmer days had left a hard frozen surface that resisted all progress; an icy layer that was difficult to penetrate and when cracked created sharp, cruel, cutting edges.  That didn’t matter so much to The Ground Breaker.  It wasn’t that he was unaware.  He simply knew that this was the direction to go.  He also knew that the doubters, the naysayers and the younger, weaker followers could not break the surface… did not share in the vision.

     The whole group depended upon him.  He knew that without leadership they would never, could never, reach the lands he spoke of. And so he trudged ever onward and upward, breaking the hard and frozen ground to ease the journey for those who would follow… to lead the way forward.

© Mark Butler 2011


2010  Dr. Errett Callahan - founder of SPT, Old Rag Project, Pamunkey Project, Ethics in Exp. Arch., etc.

2011  Don Crabtree - "Dean of American Flintknappers', Crabtree's Law, etc.

2012  Thor Heyerdahl - Kon-Tiki, Ra and Ra2, Tigris, etc.

2013  Mark Butler - founder of RE-Arc, Cherokee House Project, etc.

2014 Hans-Ole Hansen for founding Lejre, Land of Legends (Sagnlandet Lejre), Denmark

The Fire Keepers Award


The Fire Keepers Award honors those individuals who, through their hard work, dedication and continued support, selflessly nurture and promote the advancement and long-term success of reconstructive and experimental archaeology.

America 1585, Hulton, The University of NC Press

Tending the Fire   

     It was still cool outside and she knew they would welcome the fires warmth.  Voices, laughter and a hint of song filled the air as the hunters returned from their morning work. Distant clan members may yet visit, tired from their long travels. Perhaps even a few from her own clan. She dearly hoped so and would certainly greet their news and maybe share some of her own.  She was determined that they all would find a welcome place here and a pot filled with food.  It was a mark of pride to her that this village always had food for its members and for any visitor.  She had heard that some were not so fortunate. She was truly thankful for the village’s strong hunters who brought home the meat, the brave warriors that defended all of them and for wise leaders with sound council. 

     This was her clans moon to keep the village fire, a responsibility that she took seriously. She thought about it for a moment… the familiar sound and smell of the crackling fire were among her earliest memories.  Fire had always been central to her existence and would remain so until the day she died. That thought comforted her. Maybe the gathering and sharing of food and fuel had not been so difficult after all. For her it wasn't.

© Mark Butler 2013



2011 Dr. Ann Tippit – Director, Schiele Museum of Natural History, Gastonia, NC

2013 Dr. Joffre Lanning Coe - Town Creek Indian Mound, N.C.I.C.C., etc.

2014 Steve Watts - Aboriginal Studies Program, Stone Age Heritage Site, etc., Schiele Museum of Nat. Hist.