Collections & Research News for Week of November 4, 2011

Fieldwork & Collections: 

Curator Gary Feinman and Adjunct Curator Linda Nicholas (both Anthropology) led their third season of excavations at the Mitla Fortress in Oaxaca, Mexico.  The 2011 excavations focused on a lower terrace at the site, where the Museum team unearthed a residence that had four sequential occupations and was inhabited for at least 500 years (ca. AD 500–1000).  The residence included a modest subterranean tomb and numerous offerings and burials.  Because the residents of this house were of relatively low socioeconomic status, plain, utilitarian ceramic vessels were the main items deposited as offerings.  Overall, approximately 60 whole or mostly complete pottery pieces were discovered, which should prove very important for more precisely dating the sequence of remodelings of the residence on the terrace.  Students from the University of Illinois-Chicago, Southern Illinois University, the University of Michigan, and Iowa State University participated in the research.

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Curator Gary Feinman and Adjunct Curator Linda Nicholas (both Anthropology) led their third season of excavations at the Mitla Fortress in Oaxaca, Mexico.  The 2011 excavations focused on a lower terrace at the site, where the Museum team unearthed a residence that had four sequential occupations and was inhabited for at least 500 years (ca. AD 500–1000).  The residence included a modest subterranean tomb and numerous offerings and burials.  Because the residents of this house were of relatively low socioeconomic status, plain, utilitarian ceramic vessels were the main items deposited as offerings.  Overall, approximately 60 whole or mostly complete pottery pieces were discovered, which should prove very important for more precisely dating the sequence of remodelings of the residence on the terrace.  Students from the University of Illinois-Chicago, Southern Illinois University, the University of Michigan, and Iowa State University participated in the research.


The Division of Mammals welcomed two more long-term visitors to utilize its Neotropical collections.  Ms. Valentina Segura of the Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales, Buenos Aires, is the recipient of an FMNH Visiting Scholarship entitled “Postnatal ontogeny in the skull of Neotropical canids and felids: functionality and evolutive patterns.” Both dog and cat families have undergone sizeable radiations in South America since colonizing that continent only a few million years ago during the Great American Interchange.  Valentina’s project promises to shed light on the cranial remodeling and associated constraints that accompanied those radiations.  Also visiting is the curator of mammals at the Argentine Museum, Dr David Flores, who is a world authority on didelphid marsupials.  Both are working to collect morphometric data from skulls and jaws, using a 3-dimensional digitizer called a Microscribe.  David and Valentina expect to work in the collections until December 2—bienvenidos!

 

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