Monthly Archives: May 2016

The Language of Weaving

Contributed by Catherine K. Hunter

Warps, warp-face, wefts, weft-face, ikat or jaspe, brocade, coiling, twining, plaiting—these technical terms come from the language of weaving. For students in Therese Zemlin’s art class, an exploration of weaving was motivation for a tour of collections at the Peabody Museum in April and May 2016 with research associate Catherine Hunter. The themes were textiles of Guatemala and Peru, and Native American baskets.

Weaving involves the interlacing of two elements: warp and weft. The loom supports vertical elements or yarns (warps) under tension. Then, weaving is the process of interlacing horizontal elements (wefts) side-to-side perpendicular to the warps. The weaver manipulates the colors and density of the warp or weft, making the potential for new designs endless.

Forty items were selected from the museum’s collection of 400+ 20th century Guatemalan textiles and back-strap looms, and ancient Peruvian textiles. The majority were blouses called huipiles, assembled from several parallel lengths of cloth. Among the Maya distinctive traditional designs have been associated with specific villages. Communities consistently favor bright colors with beautiful sophisticated geometric and zoomorphic designs.

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Students examines a vibrant Guatemalan textile on backstrap loom.

From an inventory of 350 19th-20th century Native American baskets, 20 were chosen to represent the cultural preferences of five geographic regions. This tradition is acknowledged as the finest expression of its type, setting the standard for anyone who studies baskets as art. The basic techniques are coiling, twining and plaiting.

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Catherine Hunter sharing the vast array of baskets in the Peabody’s collections.

There is remarkable ingenuity in the variety of plants and trees discovered for basketry materials, including ash splints, river cane, pine needles, roots, grasses, and red cedar. Harvesting and processing of materials was a time-consuming community activity with an appreciation of seasonal and sustainable practices.

There is amazing vitality in the forms of baskets including bowls, jars, rectangles, cones, trays, and plaques. Fascinating objects in themselves, it is all the more interesting to know their uses include food gathering, cooking (in water tight baskets), water bottles, seed bottles, pictorial trays illustrating mythology, feather-covered gift baskets, hats, and forms targeting the interest of tourists.

Both traditions—Guatemalan weaving and Native American basketry— continue today as a source of cultural pride for communities and as professions for artists.

AUTHOR BIO

Catherine K. Hunter is an independent museum consultant whose career began in the Department of Textiles at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She began an inventory of the Peabody Museum’s basket collection in November 2015 and will complete the project in summer 2016.

David Thulman Receives Cordell Award

The Peabody Advisory Committee has selected archaeologist David Thulman as recipient of the Linda S. Cordell Memorial Research Award for 2016. This award supports research at the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology using the collections of the museum. The endowment was named in honor of Dr. Linda S. Cordell, a distinguished archaeologist, specializing in the American Southwest. Linda was Senior Scholar at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, recipient of the A.V. Kidder Medal for eminence in American Archaeology, and a valued member of the Peabody Advisory Committee.

Photo of archaeologist David ThulmanDave is an Assistant Professorial Lecturer at George Washington University where he teaches courses on human rights and ethics, cultural property, the archaeology of North America, and the peopling of the Americas.  He received the Linda S. Cordell Memorial Research Award to support his ongoing documentation of Paleoindian and Early Archaic period artifacts. Dave has already collected over 5000 early stone tool images, mainly from the Southeast, and new data from the Peabody’s collections would be used in several shape analyses, particularly looking at shape differences and assessing the degree of regional variation. He notes that current shape analyses of Paleoindian tools has been done on small datasets and that his “intent is to analyze hundreds of Paleoindian and Early Archaic artifacts to produce robust statistical inferences about temporal and spatial group relationships.” Dave received his PhD in 2006 from Florida State University in Tallahassee and serves as president of the non-profit Archaeological Research Cooperative, Inc. (ARCOOP).

For more on the Linda S. Cordell Memorial Research Award see our blog: http://bit.ly/22pgzV5

 

Linda S. Cordell Memorial Research Award

This award supports research at the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology using the collections of the museum. The endowment was named in honor of Dr. Linda S. Cordell, a distinguished archaeologist, specializing in the American Southwest.

Linda Cordell and student participants in Pecos Pathways, near Santa Fe, New Mexico

History

Linda S. Cordell (1943-2013) was Professor Emerita at the University of Colorado Boulder, a Senior Scholar at the School for Advanced Research on the Human Experience, in Santa Fe, external faculty at the Santa Fe Institute, and the former director of the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, Boulder. A member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she received the A. V. Kidder medal for eminence in American Archaeology from the American Anthropological Association, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for American Archaeology. She was a dedicated and long-time member of the Peabody Advisory Committee and is greatly missed by her colleagues at the museum. Linda’s publications on the archaeology of the Southwest are well-known to scholars and the general public. For more information about Dr. Cordell, visit here.

Linda’s commitment to scholarship and research was the catalyst for the creation of an endowed award in her memory at the Peabody Museum.

Criteria

Professionals in archaeology, anthropology, and allied social, natural and physical sciences. PhD candidates, junior faculty at colleges and universities, and Native American scholars are encouraged to apply.

Application Information

Applications will include: 1) completed application form; 2) one letter of recommendation from faculty advisor (if Ph.D. candidate), academic department chair (if junior faculty), or professional reference; 3) current curriculum vita. The Linda S. Cordell Memorial Research Award application is available from Ryan Wheeler. Applications will be reviewed and ranked by the Linda S. Cordell Memorial Research Award sub-committee, with awards announced annually in the spring. Any destructive sampling or analysis will require approval from Peabody Collections Oversight Committee. Recipients may be invited to share their research with students and faculty at Phillips Academy. Awards support research at the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology using the collections of the museum.

Applications should be submitted to the Director, Robert S. Peabody Museum by January 15. Submissions, including letters of recommendation, should be submitted by e-mail. Award recipients will be selected and notified in spring. The Award may be used anytime during the twelve month period following notification.

Support the Endowment

To make a gift in support of the Linda S. Cordell Memorial Research Award please contact Ryan Wheeler or visit our online giving page.

Recipients

2014

Zac Singer in front of the Peabody storage cabinets that house the Bull Brook collectionUniversity of Connecticut PhD candidate Zac Singer was the first recipient of the Linda S. Cordell Memorial Research Award, which supported his reanalysis of the Neponset site collection, specifically focusing on the middle Paleoindian (circa 10,000 to 11,000 years ago) assemblage from the site. Singer will use the data to complement his excavation and analysis of a Paleoindian site on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in southeastern Connecticut. This research will expand understanding of Paleoindian life in the Northeast, including study of lithic sources and stone tool manufacture; the work also will document a significant but little-studied Peabody Museum collection.

2015

Jessica Watson examines the faunal materials from the Hornblower II siteJessica Watson is a PhD candidate at University at Albany-SUNY. Her research involves analysis of animal bones from the Frisby-Butler and Hornblower II sites on Martha’s Vineyard. These collections were donated to the Peabody in 2012 by Jim Richardson and represent excavations made in 1982 with the late archaeologist Jim Peterson. Jessica says her dissertation research will use “faunal assemblages from sites in the Northeastern U.S. … (to) examine human-environmental interactions by identifying changes in animal populations during early European colonization (ca. 1600-1700).” Her dissertation is tentatively titled Ecological Effects of Colonization on Mammals and Birds along the Northeastern Atlantic Coast.

Photo of archaeologist Adam KingAdam King is Research Associate Professor at the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of South Carolina. His Cordell project focuses on Warren Moorehead’s 1925-1927 excavations at the Etowah site village near Cartersville, Georgia. King says, “my goal is to use the artifacts and documents produced to help evaluate the … ideas about the distribution of village areas at the site and the possibility that the Late Wilbanks village was burned.” He plans to examine pottery collections from the site and collect carbon samples for radiocarbon dating. Adam’s  dissertation on the Etowah site was published as Etowah: The Political History of a Chiefdom Capital (2003) and his research was instrumental in NAGPRA determinations of affiliation made by the Peabody in the 1990s.

2016

Dave Thulman is an Assistant Professorial Lecturer at George Washington UnivPhoto of archaeologist David Thulmanersity where he teaches courses on human rights and ethics, cultural property, the archaeology of North America, and the peopling of the Americas.  He received the Linda S. Cordell Memorial Research Award to support his ongoing documentation of Paleoindian and Early Archaic period artifacts. Dave has already collected over 5000 early stone tool images, mainly from the Southeast, and new data from the Peabody’s collections will be used in several shape analyses, particularly looking at shape differences and assessing the degree of regional variation. He notes that current shape analyses of Paleoindian tools has been done on small datasets and that his “intent is to analyze hundreds of Paleoindian and Early Archaic artifacts to produce robust statistical inferences about temporal and spatial group relationships.” Dave received his PhD in 2006 from Florida State University in Tallahassee and serves as president of the non-profit Archaeological Research Cooperative, Inc. (ARCOOP).

 

Alex and Marla excavated on campus

Student Reflection – Alex Hagler ’16

Contributed by Alex Hagler ’16

I began working at the Peabody in sixth grade, under the brilliant supervision of Lindsay Randall. I was introduced to the behind-the-scenes workings of a museum, cataloging artifacts, organizing photos, preparing materials for classes, all the jobs of a high school work duty student. It amazed me, and still does, that, despite my young age, I was treated just about the same as any other work duty student. I was given the trust of the people I worked with at the museum, and that trust has remained to this day. Because of that, I have had wonderful, momentous occasions at the Peabody. I represented the Peabody at the 2014 Alumni Reunion Weekend, and I presented the findings of my own independent research project to the Massachusetts Archaeological Society, to name only two. I have enjoyed the constant support of the people with whom I have worked all these years, and so the Peabody has become like a second home to me.

Now, as a graduating senior, I look back on my years at the Peabody. I find that I am mostly content, with only some minor regrets, namely that I have yet to see the floppy disk I was promised way back in sixth grade. But beyond that, I find that I am overwhelmed, reflecting on how I have changed over my years working here. At the beginning, I was nervous, hesitantly exploring the Peabody for the very first time, just starting to explore my new found interest in history. At the end, I am confident, not only in that I have made smart and responsible choices during my time here, but also in that I will continue to do so for the rest of my life. And I have the Peabody to thank for that.

Interested to read more student reflections?  Visit here and here for more perspectives.

Alana and other work duty students learn about Pueblo pottery from Dominique Toya

Student Reflection – Alana Gudinas ’16

Contributed by Alana Gudinas ’16

I started work duty at the Peabody in the beginning of my 10th grade year, mainly because it seemed like the most interesting job to do on campus. How many other high school students have the opportunity to help out at a renowned archaeological museum just a short walk’s away? That year I did a lot of of boring, but necessary, work cataloging objects and essentially entering data into computers. What made doing this so amazing, however, was the fact that I was handling objects that were often thousands of years old, all with their own history and archaeological context. I worked in the same room as Marla and Lindsay, both who shared with me a lot of information about what we were working with and why. This experience I had my sophomore year made me passionate about history and archaeology and want to dive in even deeper.

I did, in fact, become more involved in the Peabody these last two years, through listening to speakers that came to the Peabody for Massachusetts Archaeological Society meetings (and even giving a presentation myself at one of them), meeting the incredibly special artists (such as Dominique and Maxine Toya), teachers, and scholars who visit the museum, and taking a history class the fall term of this year that met in the museum classroom. Having such extensive access and exposure to the Peabody the past three years has instilled in me a love and appreciation for archaeology and all the people involved in the field. I feel that I have learned so much not only about the archaeological and historical background of various objects, but also about the nature of the two fields in general and how they are used in a museum setting. I am endlessly thankful for this experience.

Interested to read more student reflections?  Visit here and here for more perspectives.

Image of student presenter

Student Reflection – Jacob Boudreau ’16

Contributed by Jacob Boudreau ’16

I didn’t know what to expect when I started work-duty at the Peabody. I don’t remember choosing to be in it. I didn’t know much at all about archaeology. By my third week of work-duty, I was convinced that archaeology (at the Peabody at least) was nothing but the glorified study of rocks. I was disappointed that I would be stuck inside categorizing rocks for 45 minutes a week, instead of doing one of the quick and easy 5-minute-per-week work-duties.

Those first few weeks, however, are not summary of my time at the Peabody. My time at the Peabody has taught me a lot about archaeology—what it is, what the various aspects of it are, what goes on behind the scenes—and it has imbued me with a deeper appreciation for the discipline. I have learned how artifacts are excavated; how they are stored, cataloged, and inventoried; how one handles delicate artifacts, creates displays for them, records when they are taken out for a class or put back into storage. All of these things I learned during work duty through experience – it was all hands-on. The other work-duty students and I weren’t simply there ticking off check-boxes on a clipboard while the museum staff did the “real work.” We all got the chance to engage directly with the artifacts in the various ways I listed above.

The best part of work-duty at the Peabody is all of the people I get to work with. Each term I work with a new team of students, which is a lot of fun. I really enjoy working with Marla as she always makes the tasks interesting and engaging and talks to us more like adults or friends than high school students.

The highlight of my time at the Peabody was the term that my work-duty group 3D scanned and printed selected artifacts, and then presented our results and research on the topic at a MAS meeting. I’m a math and science guy, and I was thrilled when Marla announced the plans for the term to us. We cooperated with Ms. Wessner from the makerspace and her work-duty students to learn how to scan and print the artifacts we had chosen. We each then presented on a specific part of the project: one student on how we selected the artifacts to print, me on how we scanned and printed them, and two students on the implications of the 3D replication of artifacts. (We also got to eat a lot of food at the meeting.) It just goes to show how interdisciplinary work at the Peabody can be.

Interested to read more student reflections?  Visit here and here for more perspectives.

Neponset Paleoindian Preform

Contributed by Quinn Rosefsky

While most of us have seen “arrowheads,” making sense of the complex world of Paleoindian lithic points is a challenge. The process of manufacture, flint knapping: the shaping of flint, chert, obsidian or other conchoidal fracturing stone through the process of lithic reduction (using a hand-tool pressure-flaking process) demonstrates a highly-advanced knowledge of how flint fractures when struck in specific locations on its surface. That the process has been in use for over 10,000 years commands respect for the fine hand coordination, skill, and thought-processes of individuals using this tool-making method. The example we are examining, a Neponset preform, is representative of the post-Clovis Folsom era.

Paleoindian biface from Neponset site, Massachusetts

About 12,000 years ago on the sandy shoreline of a partially drained glacial lake near what is now Canton, Massachusetts, a flint knapper, a Paleoindian using flint from Mt. Jasper over two hundred miles away in New Hampshire, stopped work on our preform. We can presume that something had gone wrong, resulting in the flint fracturing before it could be transformed into a tool, a projectile point, specifically a spear point. Call it quality control.

New England had three distinct point styles, each named after sites where they were found: Bull Brook, Neponset, and Nicholas. Materials came from three major sources: Munsungan, Maine (chert); Mt. Jasper, New Hampshire (rhyolite); and Hathaway, Vermont (chert). The Neponset site was found at the time of construction of a segment of I-95 not far from Canton. The work done by Stanley Buzarewicz, first in the early 1970s, and then in conjunction with Fred Carty in the late 1970s and early 1980s, yielded a variety of artifacts. In a 100 square meter area the archaeologists found ten fluted points and fragments; two miniature points and drills; thirty channel flakes and fragments; ten bifaces including preforms and fragments; eight leaf-shaped bifaces; and three biface edge fragments.

The findings were thoroughly categorized, including channel flakes because these provided direct evidence that a fluted channel had been created. Fluting refers to distinctive channels knapped into both the obverse and reverse of the point. The ones found at Neponset are distinguished from fluted points found at Bull Brook and Nicholas by stylistic elements. Neponset flutes run more than half the length of the point; have an average length of 6 cm; and are slightly tapered towards the base with flared ears.

The preform point, excavated on May 26, 1979, was described in Fred Carty and Arthur Spiess’s article The Neponset Paleoindian Site in Massachusetts published in Archaeology of Eastern North America, Vol 20 (Fall 1992, pp. 19-37). Made from Neponset rhyolite, it is a dark gray, glassy, nearly opaque material.  In these two pieces—now glued together making it whole again—this specimen was the largest preform found at the Neponset site, weighting 30.31 grams.  It measures 106.2 mm long, 36.6 mm wide at the widest point, and has a 6.2 mm deep basal indentation. The specimen was a final stage preform, meaning it had not yet reached the point where its maker would add the flute and finish its base. For whatever reason the point never reached its final form, we are witnesses to that moment in time, over 10,000 years ago, when a living person made the conscious decision not to complete a task.