In late December 2012, the fourth and final phase of the $300,000 Penn Museum Luce Program to Strengthen Southeast Asian Archaeology begins. Its focus is Luang Prabang Province, Laos, where the Museum’s Middle Mekong Archaeological Project (MMAP) has conducted surveys, test excavations and related multi-disciplinary studies since 2005.
It’s been three years since the last MMAP expedition to Laos and all the signs are here that the next installment of MMAP is well underway. Piles of equipment mound up on the long tables in the Ban Chiang Lab. Yellow GIS Nomads, Munsell soil color charts, photographic equipment galore, stacks of bag logs, rows of laptops, rugged external hard drives, and the more mundane: a labeling machine, a digital scale, bubblewrap, and small gifts for the Lao team members (baseball caps and Penn Museum Chotchkies) will all be packed into multiple jumbo-sized suitcases that will each weigh in excess of fifty pounds!
Other telltale signs: Beth Van Horn (Volunteer, Ban Chiang and MMAP) is here working with the Museum’s Public Information office so that tweeting and blogging may occur while she is in Laos working on local public relations. Dr. Elizabeth Hamilton (Research Coordinator, Ban Chiang and MMAP) is catching-up on her ArcGIS (Geographic Information Systems) by taking an online course so that she will be ready to work with the GIS collaborator in Laos. Shawn Hyla (IT – Project Leader, Penn Museum and MMAP) is installing programs and figuring out the server-wireless router-laptop system. The laptops, eight in all, will be used by the dozen or so MMAP team members in Laos. Dr. Joyce White (Director, Ban Chiang and MMAP) is already over there beginning work with the archaeobotanist.
Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks, as MMAP 2013 unfolds…
For more information about MMAP, please visit the MMAP website .