Monday, August 9, 2010

Alumnus Profile: Jeremy M. ('07) in Exeter, UK

After graduating from UE in 2007 and spending a year-and-a-half working in as a field technician for a small archaeological firm in upstate New York, I chose to continue my study of archaeology by enrolling in the Experimental Archaeology MA program at The University of Exeter, UK. During my time at UE I developed an interest in ancient food and I learned that an exploration into the experimental side of archaeology was an ideal way to explore this interest.

Upon my arrival at Exeter, I quickly realized that my graduate school experience was going to be very different from my experience as an undergraduate, but I felt well prepared from my previous four years of study. The program was mainly based on the study of ancient technologies and in our practical class we learned a new technology every week, including flint knapping, bronze casting, and potting. Out of the many technologies we explored, I chose to focus on pottery. I spent many hours learning to replicate ancient pots in order to reproduce ancient cooking techniques, and this became the focus of my thesis. Based on information from a Middle Missourian site in South Dakota, I compared the efficiencies of two ancient cooking styles present at the site: direct boiling and pot-boiling with hot stones. Through my experiments I determined that direct boiling was twice as efficient as pot-boiling, the method the ancient inhabitants of this site had chosen for their fat-rendering production.

This experiment was the culmination of everything I learned in my graduate program: the fundamentals of ancient technologies, how to produce an experiment to answer an archaeological question, and how to convey results in both public and academic spheres. I have very much enjoyed my experience here in the UK from both a personal and academic perspective, and I look forward to the next step of my archaeological career.

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