Independent Minds, Working Together

Wooster Graduates and Undergraduates Make Presentations at Research Meetings

Archaeology and Anthropology majors share their findings in St. Louis and Honolulu last month

May 6, 2013 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — College of Wooster anthropology and archaeology majors, both past and present, shared their research at two prestigious meetings in the month of April. Six current students and one former student presented papers at the annual meeting of the Central States Anthropological Society (CSAS) in St. Louis, April 4-6, while three former students made presentations at the 78th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) in Honolulu, April 3-7.

In St. Louis, the Wooster delegation participated in the oldest regional meeting of the American Anthropological Association (April 4-6) where the sub-areas of anthropology (archaeology, biological anthropology, cultural anthropology, linguistics, and applied anthropology) were discussed. Representing Wooster were seniors Noah Fisher, Jared Prestenbach, Claire Stragand, and Brandon Sutton, as well as juniors Brian Porrett and Ashleigh Sims, and 2006 graduate Katherine McMahon.

Fisher, an anthropology major from Ann Arbor, Mich., presented “Sport as a Vehicle for Fostering Environmental Consciousness,” in which he talked about how certain sports, like Ultimate Frisbee, can serve as a catalyst for the development of an ethos for environmentally conscious communities.

Prestenbach, an archaeology major from Falls Church, Va., addressed “Monongahela Site Usage in the Late Prehistoric Period as Expressed in the 33ME61 Wansack Site,” an examination of secondary Monongahela sites to help form a clearer picture of the culture’s regional settlement patterns and utilization of the environment in western Pennsylvania during the period AD 1300-1600.

Stragand, an anthropology and German Studies double major from St. Louis, presented "Determining Environmental Consciousness of the ‘Post-Wende’ Generation in Germany," an analysis of German culture designed to better understand the contributing factors that facilitate environmental consciousness within individual citizens and throughout the political and social structures of that country.

Sutton, an anthropology and history double major from Brooklyn, N.Y., talked about “Political Engagement Amongst Student Activists,” a study of political engagement and attitudes regarding the political system and feelings of political alienation and marginalization through the eyes of student activists at Wooster in order to better understand their motives, methods, and results.

Porrett, an archaeology major from Glenview, Ill., presented “Peripheral Settlement Flexibility: An Investigation of Philistine Culture Through World-Systems Analysis,” a review of the cultural context of the Philistines in the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age with the intention of demonstrating their role as a contested periphery within the context of the Near Eastern world-system.

Sims, an archaeology and anthropology double major from Fair Oaks, Calif., presented “Mortuary Analysis of the Modern Cemetery in Athienou, Cyprus,” an examination that used a combination of landscape archaeology to demonstrate how the cemetery, through different attributes of the gravestones and the overall layout, shows the cultural identity of the people who are interred there as well as the social structure and the status of corporate groups in a society.

McMahon, an archaeologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was the co-author of “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Veterans Curation Program: Heritage Awareness and Vocational Training,” which provided an overview of the Corps’ innovative training program that works with military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to prepare them for the civilian workplace using federal archaeological collections to give them an appreciation of the contributions of both prehistoric and historic archaeology that allow us to understand the past, identify solutions for current problems, and inform the future.

In Hawaii, three Wooster archaeology alumni joined an estimated 3,500 others at the five-day conference, which featured more than 2,700 presentations by professionals, graduate students, and undergraduates. “The SAA is one of the premier archaeological associations in the world,” said Nick Kardulias, professor of archaeology and anthropology at Wooster. “It draws attendees from five continents.” Representing Wooster were David Massey, Andrew Womack, and Sarah Tate.

Massey a 2004 graduate and now a PhD student in the Department of Geography at The Ohio State University, presented “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Archaeological Surveying,” in which he examined the current trend of using aerial vehicles to document archaeological sites because of their increased availability and affordability as well as their speed and reliability.

Womack, a 2007 graduate and currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Yale University, discussed “Detecting Degradation in Archaeological Sites Using Satellite Remote Sensing: A Case Study on the Chengdu Plain, Sichuan, China,” in which he examined the use of remote satellite sensing capabilities to monitor change at eight Neolithic sites on the Chengdu Plain in Sichuan, China, over time to assess the usefulness of these methods and the state of preservation at the sites in this region.

Tate, a 2011 graduate and a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, talked about “Bad Blood: An Examination of the Role of Federal Recognition and NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) on American Indian Identity” in which she considered the importance of having access to one’s own material culture and tests the validity of the argument that recognition plays a significant role in preserving culture and therefore a “native” identity.

In addition, Kardulias, who concluded his yearlong term as president of CSAS, co-organized and introduced a session, titled “Stretching Disciplinary Boundaries: Approaches for Studying Intersocietal Interaction in the Eastern Mediterranean and Near East,” which focused on how archaeologists and scholars in other fields can best characterize the cultural interaction on frontiers or border areas; how information and goods flow between societies; the degree and kind of incorporation; and the benefits of this cross-pollination.