Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Student Lauren Weingart reports on summer NSF REU program at Notre Dame

In the months of June and July, I participated in the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF REU) in Bioarchaeology at Notre Dame. This program was a perfect fit for me because it combined my interests in bioarchaeology and Near Eastern studies. The undergraduate research fellows involved worked with the human remains from three sites in the Levant: Bab edh-Dhra', Byzantine St. Stephens, and Tel Dothan. My team worked with the Early Bronze Age II and III (3000-2750 BCE; 2750-2300 BCE) remains from Bab edh-Dhra'. We were interested in determining whether or not the individuals buried at the site were locals or migrants. During Early Bronze I-III in the region, a transition from a more pastoral lifestyle to a more settled agricultural, and eventually urban lifestyle took place. While some scholars have theorized that this urbanization was an internal development, others have suggested that outside influences, perhaps from the already urbanized areas of Egypt and Mesopotamia, may have played a part in this transition. After examining the evidence for both theories, my group hypothesized that we would find individuals who appeared to be locals. In order to distinguish local from non-local individuals, we examined the radiogenic strontium isotope ratios of 25 tooth enamel samples taken from the remains unearthed at Bab edh-Dhra'. Our results are not yet available.
Lauren drills a tooth.
Participating in the program was an excellent experience. The first two weeks were spent learning human bone anatomy and biology, as well as learning to recognize some common pathologies that can affect bone. The remainder of the seven week program was spent conducting research in small groups. Throughout the program we were visited by scholars from a diverse range of fields, whose expertise all ultimately related to our research in some capacity. This was a great opportunity not only to network with eminent scholars, but to explore our interests in a wide range of fields and specialties. I learned that not only do I have a passion for research, but I have a great love and talent for drilling teeth, and I reaffirmed my active interests in bioarchaeology, Near Eastern studies, and public archaeology. The experience in conducting relatively independent research, and the opportunity to continue that research, were irreplacable experiences. Invaluable are the many connections forged with visiting and resident scholars and my fellow students. I am in tremendous debt to Dr. Sue Sheridan, Dr. Jaime Ullinger, Lesley Gregoricka, and Theresa Gilner for their hard work and guidance.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dr. Heidi Strobel publishes book

Dr. Strobel's book The Artistic Matronage of Queen Charlotte (1744-1818): How a Queen Promoted Both Art and Female Artists in English Society has just been published by Edwin Mellen Press. Here's a description of the book from

This book focuses on the artistic patronage of Queen Charlotte of England, whose artistic support has been traditionally overshadowed by that of her husband, King George III. Although Charlotte and her husband jointly patronized artists during the first decade of their marriage, she eventually became a substantial patron in her own right, supporting both the fine and decorative arts. The demands of raising a large family postponed Queen Charlotte's artistic patronage, but even during these early years, she was viewed as an important cultural agent, as artists of both genders sought her approbation. She was particularly drawn to the work of female artists, many of whom worked outside of the dominant cultural institution of the time, the Royal Academy of the Arts. This preference was passed on to several of her children, most notably, the future George IV and Princess Elizabeth, later Landgravine of Hesse-Homburg. In this study, Charlotte's support of these artists, or matronage, is viewed within the context of a network of female sociability or cultural discourse at the English court, whose bonds were often strengthened by artistic gifts. Homosocial environments, characterized by a professional relationship between a patron and artist of the same sex, were quite popular at the end of the eighteenth century and Charlotte's matronage should be viewed within that context. Other royal women who participated in this pan-European phenomenon include Catherine the Great of Russia, Marie-Antoinette of France, her sister, Maria Carolina of Naples, and the aunts of Louis XVI, Mesdames Sophie, Adelaide and Victoire. These female monarchs and royals commissioned female artists to construct conceptions of noble femininity that united both the private and public roles that these women were expected to fulfill. This study will appeal to scholars in the field of art history, history, gender studies, and material culture.

Congratulations Dr. Strobel!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Student Lizzie Bloemer featured in article on field school in the Florida Keys

Click here for an article in reporting on the underwater archaeology projects sponsored by the PAST Foundation.  Senior Lizzie Bloemer is shown cataloguing artifacts recovered from the shipwreck remains of the Slobodna, a 19th century Austrian sailing ship.  Senior Megan Anderson participated in this project in summer 2010; click here for more information about her experiences at the Slobodna Underwater Archaeology Field School.