CIAMS PhD student Gabby Borenstein recently received a Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fellowship for her archaeological research in Armenia. The Cornell Graduate School website featured Gabby in a Student Spotlight, which may be found here. During her interview, Gabby had the following to say about her experience as a part of the CIAMS community:
The Cornell Institute for Archaeology and Material Studies (CIAMS) is both an institute and a community. I feel truly lucky to be a part of a scholarly group that transcends classrooms and lecture halls. It is rare to be surrounded by peers who are also teachers, and advisors who are also colleagues and unparalleled support systems. The university promotes a rich, culturally informed approach to archaeology that I knew would train me to be both the type of academic and individual I aspired to become.
Congratulations to Gabby on her outstanding achievement!
Professor Astrid Van Oyen, who joins the faculty of CIAMS in the 2016-2017 academic year, has been awarded a Cotsen Excavation Grant by the Archaeological Institute of America for her field project at the site of Podere Marzuolo in southern Tuscany (Italy).
The Marzuolo Archaeological Project (MAP) is an international and interdisciplinary fieldwork project investigating the rural craft site of Podere Marzuolo. Professor Van Oyen’s collaborators on the project include Gijs Tol (University of Melbourne) and Rhodora Vennarucci (University of Arkansas).
Professor Astrid Van Oyen (center) at the Roman site Podere Marzuolo.
Preliminary excavations at the site were undertaken in 2012-2013 under the aegis of the Roman Peasant Project. Over the next five years (2016-2021), MAP will investigate how knowledge was shuffled, how a community of practice was formed around ceramic production, and how innovation happened. MAP seeks to challenge the stereotypical view of a Roman countryside occupied by conservative, isolated, and economically underdeveloped farmers, and instead focuses on the changing practices of a crafting community that is highly diversified, well connected, and actively innovating.
In situ pottery at Marzuolo.
Congratulations to Professor Van Oyen on her award and what promises to be an innovative and illuminating research project!
Congratulations to Bill Mastandrea for winning the 2015/2016 CIAMS MA Thesis Prize! Bill’s thesis is entitled Cupellation at Kea: Investigating Potential Applications of the Minoan Conical Cup. Two of his advisors–Sturt Manning and Lori Khatchadourian–comment that Bill wrote a well-researched, well-written, and provocatively original thesis.
Bill was announced as the CIAMS MA Thesis Prize winner at the CIAMS graduation reception in May. The prize comes with a $250 cash award.
Bill plans to apply to Ph.D. programs in the upcoming year, and he is currently working to have his thesis published. A synopsis of Bill’s prize-winning thesis may be found below:
“An understanding of the coarseware Minoan conical or handleless cup, has long eluded Aegean archaeologists, despite the longevity of their production, use, and prevalence. This small, undecorated, coarseware vessel appears in great numbers at nearly all Minoan and Minoanizing sites throughout the Aegean, first appearing early in the Early Minoan Period (EM; 3100-2100/2050 BCE) on the island of Crete. By the early Late Minoan Period (LM; 1700/1675-1075/1050 BCE) the handleless cup had spread across the Aegean to Kea, Kythera, Melos, Thera, Mainland Greece, and portions of Western Anatolia in staggering numbers (Gillis 1990b, 1). This paper addresses how patterns in the distribution of handleless cups – within House A at Ayia Irini, Kea – and their association with other finds therein can inform the intended uses of and the social practices for which these ceramics were reserved and the degree to which these daily routines conformed to, or deviated from, social practices known from contemporary sites elsewhere in the Aegean. In pursuing the answer(s) to these questions I propose that, in addition to other possible of uses, the handleless cup at Ayia Irini was a vessel well-suited to use in the process of silver cupellation. This claim is supported by artifact distribution and density maps of the Period VI structure that reveal the spatial relationships between objects and features.”
CIAMS is fortunate to be able to provide a number of research and travel grants for our undergraduate and graduate students and faculty. For the 2015/2016 academic year CIAMS granted a total of $34,941 in Hirsch travel and CIAMS research grant awards. These grants facilitate travel and archaeological field experience as well as enabling graduate students to undertake self-directed archaeological research projects. As our program expands, we look forward to promoting even more projects that benefit the field of archaeology.
CIAMS would like to honor all CIAMS-affiliated students who graduated this May.
Asa Cameron completed his M.A. in Archaeology. His thesis is entitled “A Stable Isotopic (Carbon and Nitrogen) Evaluation of Regional Differences in Herded Animal Diet and Pastoral Risk Management Practices During the Xiongnu Period of Mongolia.”
Our undergraduate majors who graduated are Amanda Gaggioli, Astra Hwang, Angela Link, and Anjum Malik. We had one Archaeology minor, Melissa Bravo, graduate as well.
Also completing their degrees earlier in the 2015-2016 academic year include Bill Mastandrea (Archaeology M.A.), Elizabeth Hardy (Anthropology M.A.), and Sarah Morales and Andrew Reker (undergraduate Archaeology majors).
Congratulations on a job well done! CIAMS wishes you the best of luck in your bright futures!
With her tenure as Hirsch postdoctoral associate coming to a close, we at CIAMS would like to thank Uthara Suvrathan for her service to the department and wish her best of luck in her future endeavors.
Uthara came to Cornell in 2014 from the University of Michigan where she earned her PhD in Anthropology. Her research draws on both archaeological and textual material to examine the organization of polities and places on the margins of large socio-political systems and empires in South Asia.
While at CIAMS, Uthara has been an active member of our community, attending talks, teaching, and presenting her work in a number of fora. Her courses at Cornell–which include “Beyond Kings, Palaces, and Temples: Introduction to the Archaeology of South Asia,” “Fantastic Frauds and Myths in Archaeology,” and “Archaeology and Text”–have emphasized participatory activities for her students. Recently, her class re-created the Nazca lines on the Arts Quad to investigate how ancient peoples constructed them using basic tools and geometry.
Uthara Suvrathan and her students re-create Nazca lines on the Arts Quad.
An engaged member of the local archaeological community, Uthara has presented her research at a CIAMS workshop as well as at at a meeting of the Finger Lakes Chapter of the New York State Archaeological Association (NYSAA).
Uthara was named a Bard Graduate Center visiting fellow for the 2016-2017 academic year. At the Bard Graduate Center, Uthara will be completing her book manuscript Persistent Peripheries: Archaeological and historical landscapes of an early city in South India, 3rd c. BCE–18th c. CE. Congratulations, Uthara, and best wishes for your bright future!
CIAMS professor Ananda Cohen Suarez (History of Art) recently published a new monograph, Heaven, Hell, and Everything in Between: Murals of the Colonial Andes. The book is part of the Recovering Languages and Literacies of the Americas series published by University of Texas Press.
Examining the vivid, often apocalyptic church murals of Peru from the early colonial period through the nineteenth century, Heaven, Hell, and Everything in Between explores the sociopolitical situation represented by the artists who generated these murals for rural parishes. Arguing that the murals were embedded in complex networks of trade, commerce, and the exchange of ideas between the Andes and Europe, Ananda Cohen Suarez also considers the ways in which artists and viewers worked through difficult questions of envisioning sacredness.
This study brings to light the fact that, unlike the murals of New Spain, the murals of the Andes possess few direct visual connections to a pre-Columbian painting tradition; the Incas’ preference for abstracted motifs created a problem for visually translating Catholic doctrine to indigenous congregations, as the Spaniards were unable to read Inca visual culture. Nevertheless, as Cohen Suarez demonstrates, colonial murals of the Andes can be seen as a reformulation of a long-standing artistic practice of adorning architectural spaces with images that command power and contemplation. Drawing on extensive secondary and archival sources, including account books from the churches, as well as on colonial Spanish texts, Cohen Suarez urges us to see the murals not merely as decoration or as tools of missionaries but as visual archives of the complex negotiations among empire, communities, and individuals.
Heaven, Hell, and Everything in Between is now available for purchase on Amazon, though as of the time of writing, only one copy was left in stock! Congratulations to Prof. Cohen Suarez on her achievement!
Eilis Monahan, PhD Student, Near Eastern Studies. Photo by K. Jarriel.
CIAMS PhD student Eilis Monahan (Near Eastern Studies) was recently featured in a Student Spotlight by the Cornell University Graduate School, which lauded her recent NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant and Fulbright Fellowship awards.
When asked what has influenced her thinking as a researcher and scholar, Eilis cited the positive role that CIAMS faculty have played in supporting her studies:
I’ve always been really struck by the way architecture and landscape affects people, and lately I’ve been influenced by the work of social theorists like Michel Foucault and Henri Lefebvre, inspiring me to think critically about how space was created in the past and how these spaces actively shape political trajectories in human society. I also have to credit my committee: Prof. Adam T. Smith in anthropology for introducing me to the literature on political theory and materiality; Prof. Sturt Manning in classics for his knowledge of all things related to Cyprus and scientific methods; and most of all, my advisor Prof. Lori Khatchadourian in Near Eastern studies. She has been tireless in her support of my work, and her knowledge and insight concerning ancient political and social organization and the relationship between materials and power is both an amazing resource and a constant source of inspiration. She really won’t accept anything less than my best, and I always come out of meetings with her full of new ideas and excited to get back to work.
Congratulations to Eilis on her accomplishments! The full interview may be found here.
The Nazca Lines are ancient, gigantic (several are over 300m long) geoglyphs drawn on a desert in Peru. In Fantastic Frauds and Myths in Archaeology–an undergraduate archaeology course taught by Uthara Suvrathan–students have been talking about the archaeological debates about the nature and construction of the Nazca lines.
Cornell undergraduate students re-create Nazca lines on the Arts Quad.
There are two main opposing views. First are those who argue that these designs could not have been constructed by prehistoric peoples due to their use of simple technologies, and therefore the designs were the work of alien visitors to Earth who brought sophisticated technologies with them. Moreover, since the figures are so large, they were meant to be seen from the air, and in a time before airplanes, alien spacecraft were required to truly appreciate the designs.
In the second view, archaeologists argue that these designs draw upon local cultural traditions and could easily be made using simple tools and human knowledge of geography, astronomy, and mathematics.
In class, the students have been discussing these opposing views. As an experimental archaeology project, they reconstructed two of the Nazca designs, albeit at a smaller scale than the original figures. Using simple tools (ropes, the position of the sun/ buildings, sticks/rulers, an understanding of basic geometry and scale) they laid out multicolored flagging tape on the Arts Quad lawns, anchoring them in position with small gardening flags. The students worked in two groups and recreated two of the Nazca designs–the frog and the monkey–using a grid system and measuring off an x/y axis respectively.
The purpose of this activity was to prove that these and similar ancient designs do not require the intervention of alien technologies but merely the ingenuity of human brains. Moreover, the class was able to climb to the fourth floors of McGraw and Morrill Halls and see the designs in their entirety, thereby proving that one can appreciate the designs without being on spacecraft but could, as in the case of the Peruvian creators of the Nazca lines, climb up on neighboring hill-sides to view the designs.