Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Article about Isabelle Clérié, one of our former students

Isabelle Clérié is one of our former undergraduate students. She went on to earn, I think, two Master's degrees. One, if memory serves, is in non-profit management and the other in applied anthropology. She is working in Haiti, and a columnist at Forbes has posted a short profile of her recent work. Although I lament that she did not continue studying archaeology, I have to admit that the work she is doing instead is probably more important. She is a testament too what you can accomplish with brains, fortitude, and charisma. I could not be more delighted with her great success. Congratulations, Isabelle!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Tampa Fossilized Coral

I have in my lab some fossilized coral from the area of the Wetherington Island site, which is located  just east of Tampa, Florida. The site is a major Paleoindian and Archaic quarry site that runs back from the north bank of an abandoned channel of the Hillsborough River. There are ancient quarry pits dug through a buried gleyed A horizon into the limestone marl, chert workshops where they heat treated the chert, and megafauna bones in the Paleoindian strata. The deposits of chert and chalcedony at the site are very rich. When the water in the creek is low, you can see a large chunk of modified bedrock chert sticking out of the riverbed. By modified, I mean it has been partly chipped away; it is covered in flake scars from knapping. Excavations at the site have produced literally tons of debitage (See Brown 2001 and references therein). A fair portion of the debitage is fossilized coral, which is presumably what archaeologists in the region call "Tampa Fossil Coral." The quarrying apparently intersected a fossil reef embedded in the Tampa Limestone Member of the Hawthorne formation.

Early today, I was showing some flakes of the fossilized coral to a colleague and, as always, it was difficult to see the skeletons of the coral animals in the rock. You can only see them when the flake or chunk has fractured perpendicular to the axis of the coral animals; then they appears as stars or asterisks in the chert. Out of frustration, I took some pictures of the flake with my digital microscope, and they came out surprisingly well, so I thought I would share them with the world.

First are a couple of pictures of the flake (ventral and dorsal) and then a few closeups of the ventral face. You will probably need to enlarge the photographs (by clicking on the thumbnails) to see what I'm describing.

Low magnification microphotograph of the ventral face of a fossilized coral flake. The skeletons of the coral animals are visible as star- or asterisk-shaped shadows embedded in the stone. This is not an archaeological specimen, but rather a modern, experimental one.

Low magnification microphotograph of the dorsal face of a fossilized coral flake. The skeletons of the coral animals are visible as star- or asterisk-shaped shadows embedded in the stone. This is not an archaeological specimen, but rather a modern, experimental one.

Close-up of the dorsal face of the specimen above.

Close-up of the dorsal face of the specimen above.

Close-up of the dorsal face of the specimen above.

Close-up of the dorsal face of the specimen above.

It is very lovely rock, which turns bright colors--red and orange--when heat treated. I think the coral animals are clearer in these microphotographs than in real life not only because of the magnification but also because I used polarized light. The flake was resting on a shiny white surface and it is possible that it reflected some of the incident light back through the specimen, which is translucent, creating enhanced visibility.

At least in North America, ancient lithic artifacts are made out of fossilized material, including fossilized (or petrified) wood, more often than one might imagine. 

Reference cited

Brown, Clifford (2001). The Fractal Dimensions of Lithic Reduction. Journal of Archaeological Science Vol. 28, No. 6, pp. 619-631. 

The essential tools of ceramic analysis

The tools of ceramic analysis
Thanks to Kelsey for the photo.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Biological Anthropologist job

My Department is pleased to announce the following tenure track position opening:

Florida Atlantic University. The Department of Anthropology invites applications for a full-time, tenure-track position in biological anthropology at the Assistant Professor level starting August 2016. Research specialization is open, but we are seeking a candidate with expertise in paleoanthropology, human esteology, human variation/evolution, bioarchaeology, or forensic anthropology. Potential linkages to multidisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary research are welcomed. A Ph.D. in anthropology is required at time of appointment. The successful candidate must be committed to undergraduate and graduate teaching and mentoring as well as demonstrating research potential and a commitment to generating grants and external funding. Applications must be submitted online at https://jobs.fau.edu (posting no. 990243) and include an application letter, CV, names/contact infor for three references, and supporting materials (e.g., publication samples, teaching materials). If needed, large documents can be sent to: Search Committee, Dept. of Anthropology, Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Road, SO171, Boca Raton, FL 33431. FAU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veterans status, or any other characteristic protected by law. Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodation, please call 561-297-6057, TTY/TDD 1-800-955-8771.
Please feel free to contact me if you have questions about the position. I will do my best to answer them.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

New Student Journal: International Journal of Student Research in Archaeology

There is apparently a new archaeology journal in the works specifically for students. I came upon a flyer online.

As it says, this was a call for papers for the first issue, and the deadline has already passed. But, the idea of having a student journal is great, and I wish them the best of luck.

As you can see at the bottom of the flyer, they have a Facebook page and a Twitter feed. The also have a webpage, although I had to eat cookies before it would function.

I love their logo, which features a quill pen crossed over a trowel. If the message is that the pen is mightier than the trowel, I agree: Reporting is more important than digging.

I'm not sure where the funding comes from, but it's going to be open access without page charges.

Everything looks very professionally set up. I look forward to the first issue!