BOOK REVIEW: Laguna Pueblo: A Photographic History

Laguna Pueblo: A Photographic History. By Lee Marmon and Tom Corbett. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2015. Preface, acknowledgments, illustrations, notes, index. Pp. xx, 200. $39.95 cloth.)

Contributed by Ryan Wheeler

Origin stories among the Keresan speakers of New Mexico recount the beginning of Laguna Pueblo when two men—Prayer-Stick Boy and White Hands—were entrusted with leading the first people to a lake at the foot of a sacred mountain, destined to be their home on earth. White Hands ultimately guides the people to their home, but only after Prayer-Stick Boy attempts to settle the people elsewhere, which visits a life now burdened by troubles and hardship upon the pueblo. Part of the story—not shared with anthropologists—documents a second group of travelers that followed Earth Mother’s instructions explicitly and also reside at Laguna, but live as supernaturals in parallel to the original denizens of the pueblo. The interaction between the mortal and immortal residents is central to Laguna culture.

Photographer Lee Marmon’s trajectory as an artist shares a similar arc to those first people of Laguna. He is a product of the interesting melding of Native and non-Native people, and, as is mentioned more than once in Laguna Pueblo: A Photographic History, is like many artists: rebellious, free-spirited, with a zest for independence. In some ways he sounds a bit more like Prayer-Stick Boy—the original Laguna rebel than his righteous counterpart White Hands. Perhaps, however, the intercession of the Laguna supernaturals have helped shape his keen eye for subject and composition as a photographer. The book includes over 105 duotone photographs, most taken by Marmon between 1949 and 1990. The text deftly tells the stories of the landscapes and people photographed.

Lee Marmon's photo White Man's Moccasins.
White Man’s Moccasins. Photo by Lee Marmon (1954). Marmon relates that Old Man Jeff–the subject–was reluctant, but eventually agreed to pose for the cigar that he’s holding.

The book begins with an introduction that tells the story of the unlikely friendship between Marmon and physician Tom Corbett (Phillips Academy Class of 1956). The idea of producing a book was in the air for a long time and we learn that Corbett played a critical role in introducing the world to Marmon’s photographs, including a publishing company that produced posters of some of the most iconic images, like White Man’s Moccasins. Tom Corbett—in honor of his 50th reunion—donated a marvelous collection of Marmon’s photos to the Peabody Museum and arranged for a visit by the artist, as well as an exhibition at the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library on campus.

The trials and tribulations of Laguna’s people—from the consequences of uranium mining to government attempts to suppress language, religion, and native foodways—is etched on the faces in Marmon’s photography. Intriguing is Marmon’s medium—the photograph—most associated in Indian Country with Edward S. Curtis, who photographed Native America in the first decades of the 20th century for a massive book project financed by J.P. Morgan. But unlike Curtis, who we now know staged photos to enshrine the myth of a fading race, Marmon’s images are full of honesty, portraits of persistence and hard work, the punishment visited on the Laguna people for Prayer-Stick Boy’s treachery.

It’s not surprising that Laguna Pueblo has garnered significant praise since its publication in February 2015, including winner of the 2016 Western Heritage Award for Photography Book, the 2015 Southwest Book Award from the Border Regional Library Association, the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards for Arts Book and Best Book, and the 2015 Southwest Books of the Year Selection.

Visit the University of New Mexico Press for more information and to order your copy today.

Where the Past Meets the Future–The Peabody’s 2015-2020 Strategic Plan

We are happy to share the Peabody Museum’s draft strategic plan for 2015-2020, which charts the course for significant projects ranging from improvements to the historic museum building to enhanced physical and intellectual control over archive, photographic, and object holdings.

The plan emphasizes elements of Phillips Academy’s 2014 strategic plan, especially around the pillars of Creativity and Innovation and Equity and Inclusion. Many of the most requested class units at the Peabody explicitly deal with issues of race, ethnicity, and gender, often in the context of Native American history. The new plan underscores the importance of anthropological perspectives in teaching in these areas and encourages continued good partnerships with Native American communities. The pedagogy of collaborative learning is central to the Peabody’s strategic plan, which stresses hands on learning, project- and problem-based learning, experiential learning, and informed discussion in all of the Museum’s student focused programs. Plans to significantly improve collections storage will increase accessibility and ensure that collections are available for use well into the future. Centralized storage of collections within the Peabody building will set the stage for expanded classroom space in the future and allow us to better care for our significant collections.

To read the plan please visit our website  http://www.andover.edu/Museums/MuseumOfArchaeology/Documents/PeabodyPlan2015_2020.pdf

Feedback is welcome! Please contact museum director Ryan Wheeler to share and discuss your ideas. E-mail: rwheeler@andover.edu or Phone: 978.749.4493

A Westerwald Chamber Pot

Contributed by Quinn Rosefsky (Phillips Academy Class of 1959)

As a Peabody Museum volunteer for the past 6 ½ years, I have had the rare opportunity to help staff members with a variety of unique and exciting tasks. Today, I was introduced to a bit of our Colonial history. The object in question is a rather attractive example of its kind, a chamber pot that survived intact from early Colonial days, preserved in a drawer in the Peabody’s basement storage. See the full catalog record online at http://bit.ly/1XVnQd3. Aside from the intrigue of its nearly pristine condition, there is the question of date of manufacture. The Boston City Archaeologist, Joe Bagley, points out that the chamber pot may be from a 1630s well on Boston’s Congress Street. Several avenues of inquiry are open, including details of the well’s exploration and if the well was ultimately used as a privy and refuse dump, a common trajectory for such a feature. But in order to take a stand on the dating issue we need to have an appreciation of the phases of use and manufacture of such pots.

 

The earliest chamber pots date from at least the sixth century B.C. in Greece. In the past four to five hundred years chamber pots were found in nearly every household, usually stored under beds but sometimes in dining rooms. English and Colonial lead-glazed earthenware chamber pots came in a variety of colors: brown, green, red, orange, tortoiseshell, gray, and black. There were also stoneware pots, and some of the more striking ones are known as Westerwald or Rhenish Gray (1575-1725), followed by Debased Westerwald (1725-1775), and then American Westerwald (1730s). In the eighteenth century, these pots were mass-produced.

Not to be ignored were chamber pots made of metal, the earliest example being from 1545. It was possible to assess a person’s wealth by whether or not they had silver or pewter chamber pots. But the English Civil War of the 1640s temporarily spoiled this method because the Royalists conscripted silver and pewter to make silver coinage to fund their war efforts, a practical, if unhygienic way to pay off debt using dirty money without resorting to taxes.

A chamber pot might have a tame inscription, “Break Me Not I Pray in Your Hast for I to Non will Give Destast.” Some showed less decorum, “Oh Dear Me What Do I See.”

The chamber pot at the Peabody is gray, salt-glazed stoneware with cobalt blue cordons beneath the rim and above the base. In remarkable condition, the pot measures 6 ¾” wide at the opening and 6” high. There are no pithy inscriptions, but two cobalt blue bellicose lions, each one crowned, and three stamped rosettes, each filled with four spades and a central diamond, are eye-catching. These lions and rosettes have been “sprigged on,” meaning attached with separately molded designs. The rim tapers upward to a narrow “seat.” For dating purposes, it appears that mid-eighteenth century pots had wider rims. Extending out from the rim is a ribbed handle attached in a manner so that the pot won’t tip. There are no “makers” marks or dates. But comparing the chamber pot under examination with a very similar Westerwald example dated 1632 found in Ivor Noël Hume’s 2001 book, If These Pots Could Talk: Collecting 2,000 Years of British Household Pottery, we see many similarities, including the tapering of the opening, rosettes, and the sprig-applied crowned lions. A valid case can be made for a 1630s date given the similarities with Noël Hume’s text and its preservation in the Congress Street well. But there are other dating possibilities that need to be considered.

With the accession to the throne of England of William and Mary, whose reign spanned the years 1689 to 1702, they brought with them a passion for what was called the Rhenish or Westerwald chamber pot, originating in the Rhineland district of Germany. The style and patterns were very close to what we have at the Peabody, examples of what were called “grès-de-flandres.” By 1710, large supplies of these gray stoneware chamber pots with their sprig-mounted lions and rosettes were being shipped to England. Over the next fifty years, this style of chamber pot was found in most British and Colonial homes. Eventually variations were produced on both sides of the Atlantic, satisfying a combination of hygienic, commercial, and political needs. Later versions of Colonial chamber pots had variations in the rosettes, including a profile relief of George III sprigged onto the side. What better way to pay daily homage to the monarch?

So which date do we choose? In order to settle the debate, I would be happy to fly to Amsterdam with the Peabody’s Westerwald chamber pot tucked under my arm (in bubble wrap) to compare it with the one from Noël Hume’s book. As there is no inflammatory profile of George III, I doubt I would have any difficulties in case the plane had to make an emergency landing at Heathrow Airport. But budget constraints are likely to apply to such a trip and less costly research methods would pertain, such as having a debate amongst archaeological scholars. Whatever the outcome, we have the satisfaction of knowing that this chamber pot, however humble and utilitarian, played a role in the origins of Congress Street prior to its transformation into a thriving financial district.

 

Oak River Foundation Supports Peabody Collections with $100,000 Grant

Contributed by Ryan Wheeler

The Peabody Museum received a grant of $100,000 from the Oak River Foundation of Peoria, Ill., to support work pertaining to the intellectual and physical control of the museum’s collections.

IMG_9137_edited
A portion of the Peabody’s archive.

The first year of funding will support the work of a museum archivist who will organize the Peabody archives, which contain significant materials related to work by Warren Moorehead, Doug Byers, Fred Johnson, Scotty MacNeish, and others. This project will facilitate digitization of archival collections through our partnership with the Boston Public Library’s Digital Commonwealth, a statewide consortium of libraries, museums, archives, and historical societies from across Massachusetts. Researchers regularly use our archives, and this project will aid in locating materials and making collections more broadly available.

IMG_5590_edited
Students with some of the ceramic figurines from Scotty MacNeish’s excavations in Mexico’s Tehuacán Valley.

The second year of funding will support the process of cataloging the Peabody’s significant object collections related to Scotty MacNeish’s excavations in Mexico, Peru, and the American Southwest, as well as collections from the Northeast. We also hope to substantially increase the number of records in the museum’s database and include all cataloged artifacts in our online catalog, PastPerfect (http://peabody.pastperfect-online.com/40391cgi/mweb.exe?request=random).

The work supported by the Oak River Foundation is just a small part of the overall effort to increase physical and intellectual control of the Peabody’s collections. We hope this gift will inspire others to support work to better catalog, document, and make accessible the Peabody’s world-class collections of objects, photographs, and archival materials. If you would like to support this work, please contact me at 978-749-4493 or rwheeler@andover.edu.

Peabody Student Symposium

IMG_9042_editedJoin the Peabody and the Gene Winter Chapter of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society for a night highlighting student work and research. Three groups of students will present their research ranging from historic preservation to 3D printing artifacts to 19th century portrayals of Native Americans.

Tuesday, February 16, 7:00pm

Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology, corner of Main and Phillips streets, Andover, Mass.

Family Drop-in Days at the Peabody

25_IMG_7969_edited

Drop in for a fun-filled morning of archaeology activities at the Peabody!

Build a LEGO model of your favorite ancient ruin, examine stone tools close up, play Native American musical instruments, and make your own Hohokam style etched shell. All families are welcome to join us; there’s something for every age!

Friday, February 19 from 9:00am to 12:00 noon and Friday, March 25 from 9:00am to 12:00 noon.

Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology, corner of Main and Phillips streets, Andover, Mass.

Call 978.749.4490 or e-mail rspeabody@andover.edu for more information.

Peabody Receives Toomey Foundation Award for Upcoming Symposium

Contributed by Ryan Wheeler

The Toomey Foundation for the Natural Sciences awarded the Peabody Museum $5,000 to support “The Archaeology, Art, and Iconography of Florida’s Watery Landscapes,” a symposium to be held at the 81st annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), scheduled to take place this April in Orlando, Fla. Organized by Joanna Ostapkowicz of National Museums Liverpool and Peabody Museum director Ryan Wheeler, the symposium will include a number of presentations highlighting sites, excavations, and objects from waterlogged deposits that allowed preservation of wood and other perishable materials.

SAA_2016003.jpg

The symposium was inspired by conversations between Ostapkowicz and Wheeler after they met at the SAA meeting in 2013 and recognized that archaeological sites in Florida had produced an amazing array of carved wooden artifacts, but that many of these ancient American Indian objects were understudied. Since then, Ostapkowicz and Wheeler have collaborated on a project that seeks better radiocarbon dates, wood identification, and physical documentation of four wood carvings from Hontoon Island and Tomoka River in central Florida. The Hontoon owl totem—a six-foot-tall, stylized carving discovered in the 1950s—is among the sculptures being studied and has been selected as the emblem of the SAA meeting in April.

The symposium will feature Lee Newsom of Pennsylvania State University and Vernon J. Knight of the University of Alabama as discussants, and will include the following presentations:

“ ‘Totem’ Owls, Otters and Pelicans: 14C Dating Central Florida’s Prehistoric Sculptures,” presented by Joanna Ostapkowicz, Ryan Wheeler, Lee Newsom, Fiona Brock, and Christophe Snoeck

“Wood Preservation Dilemmas of Florida’s Prehistoric Saltwater Sites: Famous Key Marco and Recent Weedon Island,” presented by Phyllis Kolianos

“The Original Spaghetti Junction: Using Canoe Locations to Trace Routes of an Ancient Transportation Network in Florida,” presented by Julia Byrd

“Mortuary Ritual at the Fort Center Mound-Charnel Pond Complex (8GL12): New Insights from an Accidental (Re)Discovery,” presented by Daniel Seinfeld

“The Pineland Site Complex: A Southwest Florida Coastal Wetsite,” presented by Karen Walker and William Marquardt

“The Karst Spring Vent as Receptacle with Meaning: Chassahowitzka Headsprings Weeden Island Period Dolphin Fin Effigy,” presented by Michael Arbuthnot and Michael Faught

“Fort Center’s Iconographic Bestiary: A Fresh Look at Fort Center’s Zoomorphic Wood Carvings,” presented by S. Margaret Spivey

“Early Archaic through Middle Archaic Design Elements on Artifacts from the Basin at Little Salt Spring (8SO18), Sarasota County, Florida,” presented by Steven Koski and John Gifford

IMG_6095
Joanna Ostapkowicz measures the Hontoon owl totem in its display at the National Park Service’s Timucuan Ecological Preserve, Jacksonville, Fla., December 2014.

Geometric Patterns Decorate Chacoan Artifact

Contributed by Quinn Rosefsky (Phillips Academy, Class of 1959)

Chaco Canyon is located in northwestern New Mexico. During the period 850–1250 AD, Chaco Canyon was a major urban center of ancestral Puebloan culture. Remarkable for its ceremonial buildings, engineering projects, and distinctive architecture, the site had many uses, among them ceremonial, administrative, trade, resource distribution, and even astronomy. Roads 30 feet wide led out of Chaco. Signal towers were located on mesa tops. Puebloans traded extensively with Mesoamerica as seen in the presence of macaws, parrot feathers, conch shells, and copper bells. A great deal of archaeological research has been conducted on Chaco Canyon, and the site was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987.

32289
Ceramic pitcher, Pueblo Bonito, Chaco Canyon. Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology #32289.

The artifact you see here—a black-on-white ceramic pitcher, complete except for a missing handle—was one of many that Warren K. Morehead acquired in 1897 for Robert S. Peabody’s collection. This small pitcher comes from Pueblo Bonito, the largest structure at Chaco, with about 800 rooms.

The pitcher is covered with finely drawn geometric patterns. These distinctive patterns can be reduced to areas of larger parallel lines (black bordering white) and smaller parallel lines (all black). The larger lines appear as though they are sitting on top of the smaller lines. All lines are carefully laid out, giving the impression that the artist had a high level of geometric sophistication—which is not surprising, coming from an area known to have astronomy and engineering interests.

Pueblo_Bonito_Aerial
Aerial photo of Pueblo Bonito, Chaco Canyon by Bob Adams, Albuquerque, NM (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) ], via Wikimedia Commons.

What’s In Your Drawer? Adopt A Drawer Program Supports Peabody Cataloging

Adopt_A_Drawer Logo.fw

In fall 2013 the Peabody launched the Adopt A Drawer fundraising program. Adopt A Drawer invites donors to support the cataloging of one of more than 1,700 artifact storage drawers at the Museum. A gift of $1,000 supports the professional cataloging of one drawer, including data entry, archival storage supplies, photography, and inclusion in the museum’s online catalog, hosted by PastPerfect Online. Work duty students and interns are heavily involved in the cataloging work. Donors receive updates on the cataloging, including before and after photos, as well as acknowledgement in our online catalog. To learn more, view the Adopt A Drawer promotional video produced by the Polk-Lillard Electronic Imaging Center.

Work duty students at the Peabody assist with cataloging tasks.
Work duty students at the Peabody assist with cataloging tasks.

As of June 30, 2015, generous donors have adopted 32 artifact storage drawers. These drawers hold material ranging from Paleolithic sites in New England to Chaco Canyon in New Mexico; from the Tehuacán Valley of Mexico to the homestead of a freed Black woman in Andover. Sixteen of these drawers – over 700 artifacts! – have been fully cataloged and appear in the Peabody’s online catalog.

Black-on-white painted ceramic vessels from Chaco Canyon, after cataloging.
Black-on-white painted ceramic vessels from Chaco Canyon, after cataloging.

Help us reach our goal—the cataloging of the Museum’s 600,000+ objects—by visiting the Peabody’s giving page today.