Evan Levine, a PhD student at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World currently at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, spent the summer on the ground in Greece. You can read about new research that he and fellow PhD student Rebecca Levitan (University of California, Berkeley) undertook on the island of Naxos on their blog Notes from Naxos!
JIAAW, Bishop Collection
Archaeologists classify sherds (pottery fragments) into three main categories: rim sherds, body sherds, and base sherds. In order for a sherd to be identified as a rim sherd, it must include at least a small piece of the lip of the vessel – like this sherd from the acropolis at Pergamon. Archaeologists use the angle of the rim sherd to determine what kind of rim the original vessel had (inslanting, flared, or vertical are some of the most common categories) and measure the curve of the rim sherd to determine the size of the vessel’s opening. These tiny fragments can tell us a surprising amount about the vessels they came from!
-Jinette Jimenez ‘21, JIAAW Records and Collections Assistant
See other examples of rim sherds:
An update from Parker Zane, undergraduate concentrator in Archaeology and the Ancient World
This summer, Zach Dunseth and I produced a 3D photogrammetric model of the foundations of Building 1369, commonly referred to as one of two ‘Assyrian’ Palaces at the site of Megiddo (modern Israel). Originally, this International Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award (UTRA) project aimed at producing a 3D model using data collected during the planned summer 2020 field season. However, since we were unable to conduct fieldwork, we had to adjust our plans to fit in a virtual context. Instead, this project relied on legacy aerial drone data collected by Matthew J. Adams during the 2018 excavations.
The aim of this project was to produce a model and to contextualize the architectural style of the Building 1369 within its broader Near Eastern context. We utilized Agisoft Metashape to compile 134 aerial photographs to produce a sub-centimeter-accurate georeferenced 3D photogrammetric model. This model will soon be distributed for free on Sketchfab (https://sketchfab.com/jvrp/collections/megiddo). The next step of the project will be to import the model into SketchUp to produce an artistic reconstruction of the structure, informed by comparative evidence from other large palatial structures in the Levant and in Assyria.
I am grateful for the opportunity to learn how to produce 3D photogrammetric models and the chance to study one aspect of Megiddo in great detail. I would like to thank the Karen T. Romer Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award for support to conduct research this summer; the directors of the Megiddo Expedition, Israel Finkelstein (Tel Aviv University), Mario A.S. Martin (Tel Aviv University) and especially Matthew J. Adams (W.F. Albright Institute for Archaeological Research, Jerusalem) for allowing me to use his previously collected data; and Zachary Dunseth for his guidance and mentorship over the course of this project.
Talks are held
Thursdays from 12:00-1:00 PM
and will be held via Zoom
Note that the Joukowsky Institute will not be holding Brown Bag talks during the month of October so that our community members can participate in the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology’s “Women Do Archaeology” series. Inspired by 2020’s centennial commemoration of the 19th Amendment, the Haffenreffer is highlighting the work of women archaeologists and anthropologists affiliated with the Museum – Annalisa Heppner, Pinar Durgun, Michèle Hayeur Smith, Jen Thum, and Leah Hopkins.
November 12, 2020:
Juliane Schlag (Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, Brown University)
November 19, 2020:
Julia Hurley (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University)
More information and link to join meeting here.
JIAAW, Old Department Collection
This lead wreath was found in the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia in Sparta, Greece. The sanctuary was established in the 9th century BCE and was an important site for centuries – being rebuilt, expanded, and incorporated into new structures up until the 3rd century CE. The sanctuary was devoted to Artemis Orthia, likely a merging of the widely known Greek goddess Artemis and the local Spartan goddess Orthia, both of whom were known as goddesses of hunting and wilderness.
Excavations at the sanctuary have revealed that tiny lead figurines and miniature ceramic vessels were commonly left as offerings, and often in large numbers. More than 100,000 lead figurines depicting people, animals, and wreaths have been excavated from the site and they seem to have peaked in popularity around the second half of the 5th century BCE. Other offerings found in the sanctuary include terracotta figurines, brooches, pins, buttons, and trinkets made of bronze, ivory, gold, and silver.
-Jess Porter, JIAAW Operations and Events Coordinator
Learn more about the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia and see other examples of lead votives:
An update from Rachel Kalisher, PhD Student, Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World
For the first time in nine years, I was not in the field excavating this summer. Instead, I was working under the guidance of Andrew Scherer on a proctorship focusing on Remote Archaeobiological Microscopy, which included adapting bench microscope spaces to environments best suited for remote work, as well as continuing to develop methodologies for capturing various types of images for different biological tissues.
Three microscopes were setup on Rhode Island Hall’s Mezzanine; two polarizing microscopes were placed in the larger half of the space and one stereoscopic microscope was placed on the smaller half. The supply station and microscopes were in common spaces, while individual workspaces were cordoned off for individual researchers to store supplies and materials without needing to touch or contaminate other work benches.
Once setup was complete, I had two objectives for the proctorship. The first was to image a bone cast under stereoscopic light for an ongoing investigation into an archaeological trephination. The other was to image bone thin sections in polarizing light to observe cellular structures for my ScM in the Open Graduate Education Program.
The bone cast is of a skull trephination from Megiddo, Israel. I am preparing this Late Bronze Age case study for publication, and in doing so needed to investigate the trephination at the microscopic level. Understanding the way that the cuts were made, including patterning and whether they were done with a metal or stone implement, will be important pieces of information for my bioarchaeological reconstruction of the events. For this task I used a Leica EZ4D stereoscopic microscope, which has several lighting settings that illuminate the different topographies of the cast’s surface.
My second goal was achieved using the polarizing microscope, a Nikon Labophot, which produced beautiful images of the cells in the spongy bone of a macaque vertebra. I had previously prepared these vertebral bone samples as thin sections at the Histology and Correlative Microscopy Center at NYU. Part of my ongoing ScM work in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology aims to quantify cells in the vertebrae to understand how reproductive physiology impacts bone’s microstructures. This summer I used these micrographs to foray into analysis in ImageJ (FIJI), where I began toying with machine learning methods for quantification. I still have much to learn on this front, but the dedicated time and resources provided through the proctorship allowed me to develop these invaluable new skills.
It is important to note that this proctorship’s success was possible not only through the mentorship of Andrew Scherer, but also through the generosity of JIAAW scholars, as well as internal and external funding bodies. I would like to thank Laurel Bestock for the loan of her DSLR camera, as well as Peter van Dommelen, Sarah Sharpe and Jess Porter for facilitating the purchase of a high-powered touch screen PC laptop that processed micrographs and ran analytical software with ease. Many thanks are owed to Zachary Dunseth, who lent both his expertise and polarizing microscopes, in addition to the many accessories necessary for microscopic work. I would finally like to thank the Society of Classical Studies Women’s Classical Caucus (SCS/WCC) COVID-19 Relief Fund, which during the most uncertain of times allowed me to purchase the Leica EZ4D microscope for use in this and ongoing projects. Thank you all for this support.
While missing field work, I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to spend my summer building new skillsets in archaeological microscopy. The experience gained throughout this process will undoubtedly enhance my researching abilities as I progress through the ScM and PhD.
JIAAW, van Heusen Collection
This small cup is a beautiful example of a quintessential Etruscan vessel: a drinking cup of a Greek type made in the typically Etruscan bucchero sottile. As a drinking cup, it is very much associated with the symposium or feasting banquet that became very prominent in Etruria (Central Italy, roughly modern Tuscany and Lazio) during the 7th and 6th centuries BCE.
The shape is that of a typical kantharos, defined by the two vertical loop handles that rise well above the rim of the cup, and which obviously served to hold the vessel. While this particular cup is rather small at just under 5 cm high, that doesn’t make it a miniature or leave it without parallels (cf. below). It is most likely handmade, possibly with the help of a mold and/or a slow turntable. The most defining feature is its pitch-black appearance, achieved through firing in a well-controlled environment without oxygen (reduced firing), and the careful polishing, which gives the vessel its characteristic shiny look – and which is captured by the Italian term bucchero; the qualification sottile indicates that it is thin-walled, which is characteristic for older, mostly Archaic products. Both the shape (classifiable as Rasmussen 3A) and the bucchero production suggest a date in the later 7th century BCE.
This cup finds a practically identical match, including its size, in a specimen held in the British Museum, which is recorded as coming from Vulci, in southern Etruria (Lazio, north of Rome). Our cup is without provenance, but the close parallel and the highly characteristic bucchero product make it very likely that our cup may also be attributed to southern Etruria. Such cups typically come from funerary contexts, which would be chamber tombs constructed under mounds, which have long been looted for their contents. The fact that our cup had been broken and restored before being donated to Brown suggests that this is how it found its way to the US before it was donated to Brown*.
-Peter van Dommelen, Director of the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World
See other examples of Kantharoi:
*While the provenance of many of the objects in our collection is unclear, the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World is committed to upholding the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970).
An update from Anna Soifer, PhD Student, Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World
Since we couldn’t be in the field this summer, members of the Progetto S’Urachi, myself included, turned to Zoom and Google Docs to hold a virtual writing campaign. We were lucky – last summer we completed a study season for the project’s Area E, which put us in a good position to start working on a manuscript for the publication of the area this summer. My role in the 2019 study season had been as part of the ceramic analysis team, specifically looking at fabrics (the actual ceramic material) with the goal of defining the development of ceramic traditions at S’Urachi through time.
For the 2020 writing campaign, my job was to co-write the fabrics section of the Area E publication with Peter van Dommelen, using data collected last summer. This first meant cleaning the data: making sure all our counts had been copied into Excel correctly, calculating the percentage of the assemblage represented by each fabric in each context, and correlating those to the chronological ‘Events’ defined by other team members studying stratigraphy and diagnostic ceramics.
Then analysis and interpretation – identifying trends, discussing what they meant, and deciding how to represent them (sherd counts or weight? bar graph or scatter plot?) – became the subject of multiple Zoom calls and long email threads. I even got a crash course in graphing with R!
We did the actual writing collaboratively on a Google Doc, each drafting a few sections and then going through multiple rounds of commenting and editing. Our section – text and figures – is now complete and waiting for translation into Italian in the next phase of the campaign. It will be exciting to watch the progress of the volume and see our study incorporated into a larger story of connectivity and colonial contacts at S’Urachi during the 1st millennium BCE.
JIAAW, Wagner Collection
Happy National Dog Day! In celebration, let’s take a look at object 286 – a solid bronze figurine of a dog begging (sitting up on hind legs with paws drawn to the chest). It’s possible this figurine depicts one of the most popular dogs in antiquity – the Melitan, also known as the Melitaean, Melitean, Melitaian, or Maltese (though it doesn’t closely resemble what we know today as the Maltese Terrier). Representations of this lap dog can be found on vases, gravestones, statues, gems, and coins and show the Melitan to be a small, fluffy, spitz-type dog with a pointed muzzle and a curled trail, often white in color. There are many indications that these dogs were treated as family members – vases show Melitans playing with children, texts tell of Melitans being taken as companions on voyages, and gravestones were erected in their honor.
One Roman gravestone was found with a carved figure of a dog and the inscription:
Which can be translated as “Helena, foster-daughter, a soul incomparable and well-deserving,” suggesting that the ancient Romans loved their fur babies just as much as we do!
-Jess Porter, JIAAW Operations and Events Coordinator
Learn more about Melitans and see other depictions of these ancient lap dogs:
JIAAW, Old Department Collection
Lead sling bullets like this one were widely used in the Greek and Roman world. This sling bullet is a typical biconical (almond) shape and was probably made in a two part mold. The mold was incised with a spear and a winged thunderbolt (a common symbol of power), resulting in the raised designs you see on the final cast bullet. Inscriptions on sling bullets are not uncommon and range from names of people and cities, to symbols (as seen on this object), to commands or exclamations. The collection of the British Museum includes one sling bullet, linked to below, inscribed with the word ‘Catch’!
-Jess Porter, JIAAW Operations and Events Coordinator
See other examples of sling bullets: