Staff & Student News

Associate Curator Bill Parkinson (Anthropology) and his colleague Paul Duffy (University of Toronto) received a Senior Archaeology grant from the National Science Foundation for a project entitled, “Heterogeneity and Complexity in Bronze Age Europe: Divergence of Social Trajectories on the Great Hungarian Plain.”  The grant, in the amount of $91,614, funds the excavation and analysis of a Bronze Age cemetery in southeastern Europe.  European Bronze Age studies have focused primarily on the way in which hierarchy emerged and operated in complex societies, and very little is known about areas where agricultural and metallurgical production intensified but basically egalitarian social systems remained.  The project examines the funerary customs, distribution of wealth, patterns of migration, and participation in macro-regional trade by excavating and analyzing an Otomani (Gyulavarsánd, ca. 2,100–1,400 BC) culture cemetery in southeastern Hungary.  The controlled comparison of community patterns from this Bronze Age cemetery in the Körös region to cemeteries in other areas will allow evaluation of current models of social complexity in Bronze Age Europe and can be used for exploring the development and suppression of social inequality in other parts of the world.


Former Research Scientist Torsten Dikow (BioSynC, 2008–2012) has accepted a new position as Research Entomologist/Curator in the Department of Entomology at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.  He will continue his phylogenetic and taxonomic work on flies and as curator will be responsible for part of the Diptera collection.  Torsten can be reached at dikowt@si.edu.


 

Research & Publications

Assistant Curator Corrie Moreau (Zoology/Insects) and members of her lab hosted the 2nd annual Chicago Area Joint Ant Lab Meeting on October 13.  This one-day meeting has grown to include ant scientists from across the Midwest and this year over 30 people attended from 10 institutions and five states.  The scientific talks covered ant research topics as diverse as behavior, ecology, host-associated microbes, evolution, and genomics.


A paper co-authored by Regenstein Conservator JP Brown (Anthropology) entitled “Challenges in CT scanning of small animal mummies” was published in the catalog of the Oriental Institute’s new special exhibit, Between Heaven And Earth: Birds in Ancient Egypt, which opened on October 16.  In addition to objects representing the variety of ways in which birds pervaded Egyptian society, the catalog and exhibit show CT scans and volumetric renderings performed by JP and his co-workers. Image left: Volumetric rendering and segmentation of the CT scan of Oriental Institute to reveal the wrapped skeleton of the mummified bird inside its painted wood coffin (specimen E154). JP Brown, Anthropology Imaging Lab (2012).

 


Associate Curator and Chair Ryan Williams (Anthropology) was the Keynote Speaker at the Archaeological Sciences of the Americas Symposium held at Vanderbilt University on October 6.  Ryan spoke on “Migration, Trade and Human-Environment Interactions through the lens of Archaeological Science,” drawing on two decades of archaeological field research in the Andes to address the role archaeological science has played in our understanding of the Ancient American past.  Discussing how the expansion of scientific techniques in archaeology has revolutionized the way questions of critical importance to society are addressed, Ryan highlighted topics such as how urban migration changed society, what creates stable trading systems conducive to economic growth, and how society's impact on the environment affects long term vulnerability.  His collaborative and interdisciplinary research on these topics, especially his work on the Wari and Tiwanaku (600–1,000 AD) frontier in Peru and Bolivia, provides a number of rich examples of the ways in which geophysical prospection, compositional analysis, and geographic models are building a more accurate and more relevant view of our past and our future.

Fieldwork & Collections

The Division of Amphibians and Reptiles hosted graduate student Jay Reed during the week of October 15.  Reed, a Doctoral student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program at the University of Michigan, is studying ectoparasitic mites and their association with mite pockets and lizards.  During his visit to The Field Museum, Reed examined close to 200 specimens of Phrynosomatidae as a part of his research.  Data gathered from FMNH specimens will be used in his project documenting the abundance and distribution of ectoparasites and the morphological diversity of mite pockets in these lizards.

 


Associate Curator Bill Parkinson (Anthropology) conducted a month-long field season in southern Greece in June and July where he conducted archaeological research aimed at understanding how early agricultural villages evolved in the southernmost part of the European continent.  Bill is American Co-Director of The Diros Project, an international, multi-disciplinary, Greek-American research project that explores human social dynamics on the Mani Peninsula of southern Greece. The project is co-directed by Drs. Giorgos Papathanassopoulos and Anastasia Papathanasiou of the Greek Ministry of Culture, and Michael Galaty of Millsaps College. The primary goal of the project is to examine the role of Alepotrypa Cave in the Mani Peninsula within long-term processes of cultural change associated with the European Neolithic, when agriculture lifestyles were introduced and people gathered together into larger, more complex settlements. The project seeks to discover how the Mani’s unique cultural trajectory and remote geographic location influenced its integration into different social, political, and economic interaction spheres at different points in time. This year, Bill and his colleagues continued archaeological surveys in the region around Alepotrypa Cave and initiated excavations at an open-air Final Neolithic site located outside the entrance to Alepotrypa Cave.  The Institute for Aegean Prehistory, the Anthropology Department Collections Fund, the Anthropology Alliance Internship Program, and the Women’s Board Field Dreams Program all helped to fund the project.  More about Bill’s project is here. See Header Image.


 

Public Education & Media Coverage

On October 22, C&R Media Interns Jared Berent and Kate Webbink released a new The Field Revealed entitled The Harris Learning Collection.  The video explores The Field Museum’s 100-year-old N.W. Harris Learning Collection that re-opened on October 16. The Harris Collection is a unique educational resource tied to the museum's amazing collections and is available to all parents and educators in the Chicago area!


On October 12, Regenstein Conservator JP Brown (Anthropology) visited the Chinese American Museum of Chicago, where he taught a two-hour workshop on disaster response for museum workers from the Chicago Cultural Alliance. 


Chief Conservator Ruth Norton assisted by Conservation Assistants Lauren Fahey and Sophie Hammond-Hagman (all Anthropology), conducted a one-day workshop on Collection Risk Assessment and Mitigation for six professionals from Indian museums and archaeological sites. Anthropology collection storage and exhibit cases were assessed in the workshop.  The workshop was a component of a three-week course conducted by the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC). The Ministry of Culture, Government of India, and the AIC, sponsored by the Government of India and the US Department of State, organized a four year Vivekananda Memorial Program for Museum Excellence to exchange best practices in various areas of museum responsibilities.


On October 18, Regenstein Conservator JP Brown (Anthropology) gave an invited lecture on recent CT scans of the Field Museum's mummies to Chicago's South Suburban Archaeological Society.


On October 14, Dr. Florina Capistrano-Baker gave a presentation at the Museum on the book Philippine Ancestral Gold.  Dr. Capistrano-Baker is the curator for the permanent exhibit The Gold of Our Ancestors at the Ayala Museum in the Philippines.  Her talk, which drew over 60 guests, was part of Filipino American History Month celebrations coordinated by the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago.  She is on an international book tour funded by the Ayala Museum to promote Philippine Ancestral Gold, which was released last year.  Dr. Capistrano-Baker's presentation covered the history and significance of the gold objects in the book and in the exhibit. 

                  The Field Museum cares for one of the world’s largest collections of ethnohistoric objects from the Philippines.  A few of these artifacts were brought out for viewing during the presentation. The Museum is also home to the Agusan Image; a 13th century gold figurine from the Philippines on exhibit in the Grainger Hall of Gems.  Dr. Capistrano-Baker’s presentation was followed by a talk on the Agusan Image by Collections Manager Jamie Kelly (Anthropology), who had contributed an essay to the book.  Afterwards, Jamie led a discussion on the co-curation of the Philippines collections at the museum by the Filipino American community. Image right: The Agusan Image, A thirteenth-century statue of an inner offerring goddess known as Vajralasya from a three-dimensional Vajradhatu discovered in the Philippines in 1917. (Catalog No. 1404.109928 © The Field Museum, A114678_006A, Photographer John Weinsten) 


Associate Curator of Eurasian Anthropology Bill Parkinson’s research in Greece (see Fieldwork and Collections above) was featured on WBEZ (NPR) on October 16.  You can hear the story here.


The Parker-Gentry Award is given annually by The Field Museum to persons who display achievement and leadership in conservation based on scientific research.  The 2012 award was presented on October 11 to Nina R. Ingle for her work on forest ecosystem studies, conservation of bats and caves, and development of educational material for students in the Philippines.  About 100 people attended the event, including the Philippine Consul General, Leo Herrera-Lim (shown in the adjacent photo).  Nina is based at Ateneo de Davao University, where she is developing a curriculum based on local ecology and biodiversity for use in elementary schools, and serves as a member of the University’s Board of Trustees.  Nina, who has joint Filipino and British citizenship, received her MS and PhD degrees at Cornell University, and has worked with numerous conservation organizations in the Philippines and with Bat Conservation International.  Her long association with The Field Museum began in the late 1980s when she and Curator Larry Heaney (Zoology/Mammals) began collaborative research on bats, and continued when they served as founders of the Wildlife Conservation Society of the Philippines in 1992, of which Nina is currently serving as President.