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Meet Our Students

Meet some of our current and former undergraduate and graduate students to learn more about their experiences in CAAM and the original research they are conducting in the lab and in the field.

Oscar Aguila

Oscar Aguila

Status: Class of 2020. Majors: Anthropology and Earth Science. Minor: Archeological Science

Research in CAAM: My research focuses on precontact archaeological sites that are located in the Southeast United States. In the field, I have excavated at sites located in the Lower Mississippi Valley as part of Dr. Megan Kassabaum’s Smith Creek Archaeological Project, and have analyzed ceramic, lithic, animal, and plants remains in the lab. My coursework in CAAM has helped me to gain the necessary skills that are applied in both excavation and lab work and expanded my knowledge on the archaeological techniques used by archaeologists.

Courses Taken:

  • ANTH 148: Food and Fire
  • ANTH 221: Material World in Archaeological Science
  • ANTH 230: Forensic Anthropology
  • ANTH 267: Living World in Archaeological Science
  • ANTH 415: Archaeology of Animals

McKay Burdette

McKay Burdette

Status: Class of 2020. Majors: Anthropology and NELC. Minor: Archaeological Science

Research in CAAM: My senior thesis research focuses on a ceramic assemblage from the Middle Kingdom necropolis at Abydos, Egypt. Specifically, I’m looking at ceramic functional types identified through morphological analysis and how these functional determinations can aid in understanding ancient activity. The techniques of ceramic analysis I have learned in my CAAM coursework have provided me with the background necessary to complete my research. Outside my thesis, I’m also interested in examining cross-cultural influences in non-elite ancient Near Eastern populations.

Courses Taken:

  • ANTH 122: Becoming Human
  • ANTH 221: Material World in Archaeological Science
  • ANTH 267: Living World in Archaeological Science
  • ANTH 415: Archaeology of Animals
  • ANTH 435: Past Preserved: Conservation in Archaeology

James Gross

James Gross

Status: AAMW PhD Student. Graduate Certificate in Archaeological Science

Research in CAAM: I am interested in the different strategies employed to produce, mobilize, and ship trade goods in the ancient Mediterranean, and how these strategies affected trade routes and the interactions between producers, consumers, and intermediaries. I have addressed this question mainly through the study of amphora, large ceramic pots mainly used to transport wine and olive oil. I am currently using ceramic petrography to study amphora samples from several shipwreck and harbor sites: the Marzamemi II shipwreck in Sicily, the 7th century Yassıada shipwreck in Turkey, and the port at Kekova Adası also in Turkey. The ceramic analysis skills I learned in CAAM courses and the CAAM facilities are integral to my research.

Courses Taken:

  • ANTH 512: Petrography of Cultural Materials
  • ANTH 521: Material World in Archaeology
  • AAMW 562: Intro to Digital Archaeology

Autumn Melby

Autumn Melby

Status: Anthropology PhD Student

Research in CAAM: My research examines non-elite household responses to instances of sociopolitical decline of the major polity of Cahokia in the Central Mississippi River Valley during the 13th century. I plan to address questions concerning matters of resilience via multiple forms of data, such as faunal and botanical evidence to address concerns in food security or using geophysical prospection to examine changes in household organization. By taking courses in CAAM I have gained a clearer understanding of the various ways I can both scientifically study materiality to better address anthropologically oriented questions, and how to begin organizing those data when I return from field excavation.

Courses Taken:

  • ANTH 521: Material World in Archaeological Science
  • ANTH 522: Archaeobotany Seminar
  • ANTH 562: Intro to Digital Archaeology
  • AAMW 700: Geoarchaeology

Erin Spicola

Erin Spicola

Status: Class of 2020. Major: Anthropology. Minor: Archaeological Science

Research in CAAM: I work with Dr. Megan Kassabaum on the Smith Creek Archaeological Project in southwestern Mississippi. I have gone into the field with her twice and continue to work in her lab. Through these opportunities, I learned different methods of excavation and artifact recovery, as well as how to process artifacts in the lab. I am particularly interested in public archaeology and museums, so this past summer while in the field I co-curated an exhibit in the local museum. My honors thesis is a reflection upon this process, and I also recently presented about it at the Southeastern Archaeology Conference.

Courses Taken:

  • ANTH 122: Becoming Human
  • ANTH 230: Forensic Anthropology
  • ANTH 267: Living World in Archaeological Science
  • ANTH 292: Bioarchaeology of the Peoples of the Past
  • ANTH 407: Human Evolution
  • ANTH 435: Past Preserved: Conservation in Archaeology

Nancy Yuan

Nancy Yuan

Status: Class of 2019. Major: Classical Studies. Minors: Psychology, Archaeological Science

Research in CAAM: I am particularly interested in archaeobotany and the use of plants as food, medicine, and poison in antiquity. For my capstone project, I worked with Dr. Chantel White in the lab to study the morphological differences between seeds of various poppy species, focusing primarily on opium poppy seeds. My coursework at CAAM has expanded my understanding of the scientific techniques used by archaeologists and taught me how to better interpret and integrate information from different types of archaeological remains.

Courses Taken:

  • CLST 127: Material Past in a Digital World
  • ANTH 230: Forensic Anthropology
  • CLST 244: Material World in Archaeological Science
  • CLST 268: Living World in Archaeological Science
  • CLST 441: Plants and Society

Mark Van Horn

Mark Van Horn

Status: AAMW PhD Student. Graduate Certificate in Archaeological Science.

Research at CAAM: My research focuses on the Roman economy, especially in Italy, Gaul, and Germany, and most importantly with an eye towards production and transportation of goods rather than their consumption. I am interested in using Chaîne Opératoire methodologies with various archaeological science techniques to better understand Roman production in all its forms, including agricultural production, metalworking, ceramic manufacture, and numismatic minting and dissemination. In the past, I have excavated at Tel Akko, Israel working on a Persian period iron smithing site, and Cosa, Tuscany, where I have worked on the excavation of a Roman bath complex.

Courses Taken:

  • CLST 568: Living World in Archaeological Science
  • CLST 521: Material World in Archaeological Science
  • AAMW 552: Archaeometallurgy Seminar
  • CLST 512: Petrography of Cultural Materials
  • AAMW 562: Introduction to Digital Archaeology

Emily French

Emily French

Status: AAMW PhD Student.

Research at CAAM: My dissertation explores how Romans understood the world around them by looking at floor mosaics with landscape and geographic scenes. Many of these mosaics have been removed from their original contexts and some are displayed on walls in museums instead of floors, so I hope to use the skills in 3D modeling that I learned in CAAM classes to virtually re-situate them in floors. This can help us better understand how ancient Romans interacted with these elaborate floors. I also use these 3D modeling skills at the Cosa Excavations in Italy to help document the excavation trenches and our progress.

Courses Taken:

  • ANTH 521: The Material World in Archaeological Science
  • AAMW 545: Spatial Analysis of the Past

Fiona Jensen-Hitch

Fiona Jensen-Hitch

Status: Class of 2019. Majors: Anthropology, English (Creative Writing). Minor: Archaeological Science

Research at CAAM: I am researching a set of previously unstudied skeletal remains from a site called Gibeon, located near the modern Palestinian village, al-Jib. My first goal is to analyze and catalogue the bones themselves using the CAAM facilities, while also exploring their excavation and history within the Penn Museum. Second, I aim to discuss how contemporary politics in the Middle East are undeniably connected to interpretations of the past, through identity formation, religion, nationalism, and ethnicity. Throughout this research I will be working with various CAAM faculty, Museum keepers and curators, the Archives staff, and the Anthropology department.

Courses Taken:

  • ANTH 148: Food and Fire: Archaeology in the Laboratory
  • ANTH 267: Living World in Archaeological Science
  • ANTH 440: Plant and Society
  • ANTH 592: Bioarchaeology: Peoples of the Past

Malkia Okech

Malkia Okech

Status: Class of 2019. Major: NELC. Minors: Digital Humanities and/or Fine Arts.

Research at CAAM: Being interested in the junctions of archaeology and technology led me to CAAM. Since my freshman year my digital humanities coursework has included 3D modeling and scanning, drone piloting, spatial analysis, database design, and programming. I am also a volunteer Database Specialist for CAAM, having designed a database for petrographic thin sections. I intend to use the various skills I have learned for visual components of my senior thesis project on Abydos, Egypt. I will reconstruct the tomb of Osiris, map out its landscape, and produce models of the funerary assemblages. Through CAAM my undergraduate experience has been uniquely intersectional.

Courses Taken:

  • NELC 187: Material Past in a Digital World
  • AAMW 545: Spatial Analysis of the Past

Braden Cordivari

Braden Cordivari

Status: Class of 2018, Majors: Classical Studies and Anthropology. Minor: Archaeological Science

Research at CAAM: I conducted my research as part of a rescue excavation on an illegally-looted tumulus at Gordion. As a member of the excavation team, I applied many of the techniques I learned in CAAM’s Introduction to Digital Archaeology course. This included drone-based photography, photogrammetry, GIS mapping, and digital section drawing. In my thesis I discuss the construction of the mound and its place in society and the landscape. The methods and material-based practices taught in CAAM’s Living World and Material World courses have provided me with theoretical and practical bases for my work, and left me with questions for the future.

Courses Taken:

  • CLST 362: Introduction to Digital Archaeology
  • ANTH 221: Living World in Archaeological Science
  • ANTH 267: Material World in Archaeological Science
  • ANTH 514: Petrography of Cultural Materials
  • ANTH 552: Archaeometallurgy Seminar

Alexandria Mitchem

Alexandria Mitchem

Status: Class of 2016. Major: Anthropology w/ Archaeology concentration. Minor: Linguistics

Research at CAAM: I have done general excavations on both historic and prehistoric sites in the United States. In the lab I focus on paleoethnobotany, and the use of plants for food, tools, and other purposes in past societies. I've done work with several faculty at Penn. My honors thesis was on Dr. Megan Kassabaum's site in the Lower Mississippi River Valley and I have also worked in the field and lab with Dr. Chantel White on Classical Greek material.

Courses Taken:

  • ANTH 267: Living World in Archaeological Science
  • ANTH 440: Plants and Society
  • ANTH 533: Archaeobotany Seminar

Katherine Morucci

Katherine Morucci

Status: Class of 2016. Majors: Biology and Biological Basis of Behavior. Minor: Anthropology

Research at CAAM: I have worked in both the lab and field with CAAM teaching specialist in zooarchaeology, Dr. Katherine Moore. Together, we’ve sought to better understand the intricate human-animal dynamics underlying the emergence of domestication practices. My work in the lab focused on developing a means to identify biological footprints of swine domestication. Specifically, we investigated morphological variation in archaeological pig teeth using statistical shape analyses to quantify shape differences in the teeth of wild boar and domestic pigs. Throughout the process, the integrative nature of archaeological science allowed and encouraged me to engage with scholars across the physical and biological sciences.

Courses Taken:

  • ANTH 267: Living World in Archaeological Science

Paul Verhelst

Paul Verhelst

Status: NELC PhD Student

Research at CAAM: My dissertation research focuses on understanding the evolution of the Nile floodplain at the site of Abydos, Egypt, through using remote sensing and incorporating spatial information within GIS. Additionally, I am currently working on a material analysis project involving glass from the site of Tell el-Amarna, Egypt. Taking courses in CAAM has given me the knowledge and experience to pursue my research interests of analyzing archaeological materials scientifically and using digital methods in archaeology. Having this experience has also made a difference in my decision-making process while excavating.

Courses Taken:

  • NELC 599: Pottery and Archaeology
  • ANTH 415: Archaeology of Animals
  • ANTH 514: Petrography of Cultural Materials
  • NELC 586: Living World in Archaeological Science
  • NELC 584: Material World in Archaeological Science
  • NELC 581: Spatial Analysis of the Past

Claudia Epley

Claudia Epley

Status: Class of 2018. Major: Classical Studies. Minor: Archaeological Science

Research at CAAM: My Senior Research Project in Classical Studies looked at a group of 8th–6th century BCE tomb assemblages from the Faliscan site of Narce, Italy, which are housed in the Mediterranean Section of the Penn Museum. Being able to handle the artifacts which were the focus of my paper—bronze fibulae adorned with Baltic amber—and being able to gain information from that observation was an amazing process. My work in CAAM has expanded my understanding of different materials and trained me to think more analytically about artifacts and the information they can offer.

Courses Taken:

  • CLST 244: Material World in Archaeological Science
  • ANTH 435: Past Preserved: Conservation in Archaeology
  • ANTH 419: Mining Archaeology
  • CLST 127: Material Past in a Digital World

Petra Creamer

Petra Creamer

Status: AAMW PhD Student

Research at CAAM: For my dissertation, I am working with a mixture of data types – including damaged and incomplete archival data. My CAAM classes on Digital Archaeology and Spatial Analysis have been particularly relevant as I recover, preserve, and organize this data from early twentieth-century excavations. Furthermore, I can digitally map and analyze data using databases, photogrammetry, 3D digital modelling, and GIS – all of which I learned how to use in CAAM courses. Recording data is arguably the most important step in archaeological research, and the ability to create a detailed reconstruction of both the excavation process and its results has been valuable.

Courses Taken:

  • AAMW 512: Petrography of Cultural Materials
  • AAMW 562: Introduction to Digital Archaeology
  • AAMW 545: Spatial Analysis of the Past

Ashley Terry

Ashley Terry

Status: BA, Class of 2016. Major: Anthropology. Minor: Native American and Indigenous Studies. MA, Class of 2017, Archaeology.

Research at CAAM: As an undergraduate, I worked closely with Dr. Megan Kassabaum at Smith Creek (700-1200 CE) in southwestern Mississippi. In addition to excavating, I processed and helped to analyze our artifactual finds. This led to my Master’s project - identifying and interpreting an assemblage of faunal remains from the site’s tallest mound. With the help of Dr. Katherine Moore, I was able to draw conclusions about fishing techniques and locations at the site. CAAM facilitated many aspects of the project, not the least of which was the measurement of thousands of tiny fish vertebrae using the Keyence microscope.

Courses Taken:

  • ANTH 267: Living World in Archaeological Science
  • ANTH 521: Material World in Archaeological Science
  • ANTH 404: Introduction to the Human Skeleton
  • ANTH 415: Archaeology of Animals
  • ANTH 435: Past Preserved: Conservation in Archaeology

Kevin McKain

Kevin McKain

Status: Class of 2018, Temple University. Major: Anthropology. Minor: Certificate in GIS.

Research at CAAM: I came to CAAM knowing very little about archaeobotany, having only taken one class prior to the start of my internship. Since working in the lab as an intern and CAAM volunteer in Archaeobotany, I have learned how to process actual archaeological material through the help of Dr. Chantel White. So far, I have worked on samples from Numeira, Jordan and Emily Dickinson's garden in Amherst, Massachusetts. I have also participated in fieldwork at Morgantina on the Island of Sicily. I am very thankful to have the opportunity to work in the CAAM labs and look forward to this summer's excavations in Lechaion, Greece and Tel Yaqush, Israel.

Courses Taken:

  • ANTH 440: Plants and Society

Janelle Sadarananda

Janelle Sadarananda

Status: AAMW PhD.

Research at CAAM: My dissertation research explores ceramic production at the site of Eleon in Boeotia during the Archaic and Classical periods. By analyzing vessels, roof tiles, and terracotta figurines using petrography and NAA, my research sheds light on how the need to exploit clay sources affected the way people moved through the landscape: how did the exploitation of resources facilitate interactions with other places or people, and how did Eleon fit into a context of settlement and land use in Eastern Boeotia and beyond?

Courses Taken:

  • CLST 512: Petrography of Cultural Materials
  • AAMW 545: Spatial Analysis of the Past
  • ANTH 419: Mining Archaeology
  • ANTH 552: Archaeometallurgy Seminar

Kristen Pearson

Kristen Pearson

Status: Class of 2018. Major: Mediterranean Archaeology. Minors: Global Medieval Studies, Archaeological Science, Linguistics.

Research at CAAM: My research focuses on the material culture of ancient Inner Asian nomads. I am especially interested in organic artifacts, and completed my senior thesis on textiles from a 10th century burial in the Mongolian Altai. In CAAM, I have taken coursework in diverse areas of archaeological science and conducted independent research. My CAAM projects have included experimental studies of spindle whorl use-wear and felt making, as well as the microscopic analysis of textile fibers from a zooarchaeological perspective. I volunteer in CAAM as Materials Archive Specialist and will continue my research on archaeological textiles in 2018-19 as a Fulbright fellow in Mongolia.

Courses Taken:

  • ANTH 148: Food and Fire
  • ANTH 267: Living World in Archaeology
  • CLST 545: Spatial Analysis of the Past
  • ANTH 440: Plants and Society
  • ANTH 415: Archaeology of Animals
  • ANTH 435: The Past Preserved
  • Independent Studies: "Textiles Across Eurasia: Scientific Analysis and Experimental Archaeology", "Mobility and Ecology of 10th Century Mongolian Nomads"

Contact

Center for Analysis of Archaeological Materials (CAAM)
215.746.5876

@CAAMatPenn