Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Professorial Trading Card

Fun item on the Ph.D. Comics website: Professorial Trading Cards!

Here's mine. Students: Feel free to download it and add the stats. The link above provides additional (and humorous) information about the information to include. Have fun!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New Work at Tazumal, El Salvador

According to a brief note in El Mundo, Shione Shibata is directing new excavations at the major site of Tazumal in El Salvador. They have evidently found a substructure, possibly Early Classic in date, within one of the Classic period pyramids. Congratulations, Shione!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Job posting

My Department is advertising a tenure-track position for a biological anthropologist. Here is the text of the announcement:

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 2011. Research specialization is open. 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 demonstrate research potential and a commitment to generating external funding. Five courses per year is the normal teaching load. Applications will be reviewed beginning March 15, 2011 and continue until the position is filled. Applications must be submitted online at (posting no. 981848). Original documents such as application letter, vita, names/addresses of references, and supporting materials should be sent to: Search Committee, Dept. of Anthropology, Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Road, SO 171, Boca Raton, FL 33431. Florida Atlantic University serves a culturally and ethnically diverse student body and is an Equal Opportunity/Equal Access Institution.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Bruce Dahlin

My friend Bruce Dahlin passed away a few days ago. Here's a link to an obituary.

He was a major figure in Maya archaeology, deeply engaged in the theoretical debates of the day. He worked throughout the Maya region, from El Salvador to Guatemala to Yucatan. He directed excavations at key sites, such as El Mirador in the Peten of Guatemala and Chunchucmil, Yucatan.

Bruce was an extraordinarily generous person and had a warm and loving soul. When I moved to Washington, D.C., he went to great lengths to include me in his personal and professional circle, attending lectures I gave and inviting my wife and me to his beautiful home for Thanksgiving dinner. He also included me in grant proposals and field projects, which had a positive effect on my career and professional advancement. He was a role model and mentor.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Mesoamerican droughts: New Dendrochronological study

Sorry for the long absence. I've been unusually busy, even for me.

David Stahle has published (yet another) important article on dendrochronology and archaeology. This one describes a new dendrochronological sequence he and his colleagues have developed for central Mexico. It is derived from the Montezuma baldcypress, and it extends back 1,238 years, back to the Late Classic period. The paleoclimatic reconstruction created from the sequence indicates a series of major droughts corresponding to significant historical changes. The Terminal Classic Maya drought is evident and can now be dated between A.D. 897 and A.D. 922. (That's one major advantage of dendrochronology over other paleoclimate proxy methods: dendrochronology can provide dates precise to the year. Methods such as paleolimnology rarely, if ever, provide such precise dating.) Another major drought occurred between 1149 and 1167, close to the end of the Toltec reign (if that's what the Toltecs did). Another drought, from 1378 to 1404, was the most extreme in the dendrochronological sequence, but its historical correlates are not obvious. Finally, a major drought occurred around the time of the Spanish conquest, from 1514 to 1539. This may have found an echo in the 1535-1536 drought in Yucatan that drove the Xiu to try to cross the province of Sotuta, which led to their massacre by Nachi Cocom, which helped motivate the Xiu alliance with the Spanish.

All in all, an important article. Here's the reference:

Stahle, D. W., J. Villanueva-Diaz, D.J. Burnette, J. C. Paredes, R. R. Heim Jr., F. K. Fye, R. A. Soto, M. D. Therrell, M. K. Cleaveland, and D. K. Stahle (2011). Major Mesoamerican droughts of the past millennium. Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2010GL046472, in press.