University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Student in the Field

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.


Fiona Jensen-Hitch

Fiona Jensen-Hitch

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

Research in 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 in 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

 


Branden Cordivari

Braden Cordivari

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

Research in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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 the Analysis of Archaeological Materials (CAAM)

caam@pennmuseum.org

@CAAMatPenn

215.746.5876

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