A Career in Classics and Anthropology, in and out of Academia

One person’s experience in and advice on combining classics, anthropology, and human osteology in a career: The Skeleton in My Closet by Kristina Killgrove. There’s some weird-sounding situations, like the quote below, that make me wonder what else was going on, but the advice is pretty solid.

While there was interest among the students in a Roman archaeology offering, my archaeology division head didn’t allow it: a regular semester course would take away from the “real archaeology classes,” and that would be unfair to other faculty’s enrollment, I was told

Early Images of the Classical World: Daguerreotypes of the Monumental Journey


Olympieion, Athens, Viewed from the East, 1842. Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey. Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art/Qatar Museum Collections (IM.314)

In the 1840s, Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey, a French photographer and architectural historian, took thousands of photographic images of monuments of Greece, Italy, Egypt, and other countries during a three-year long trip around the Mediterranean. The daguerrotypes he produced are the oldest known surviving photos of these locations.

Continue reading “Early Images of the Classical World: Daguerreotypes of the Monumental Journey”

Free Books from the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology

Several archaeology books from the backlist at the Cotsen Institute at UCLA are available for free download:

An Archaeologist’s Guide to Chert and Flint – Luedtke 1992

The South American Camelids: An Expanded and Corrected Edition – Bonavio 2009

Maya Zooarchaeology: New Directions in Method and Theory – Emery 2004

A Conservation Manual for the Field Archaeologist – Sease 1994

About 20 more titles on Greek, Mesoamerican, and California archaeology are available from the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press.

Archaeology at Petra 1929

The site of Petra in Jordan had been a tourist destination for almost a century when two British archaeologists, George Horsfield and Agnes Conway, arrived in what was then called the British Mandate Transjordan. Petra 1929 transcribes the field journal of their excavations in and around the Nabataean city.

The Treasury at Petra from Al Siq. Source: David Bjorgen [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]

Canal Bridgetender’s Houses

These three small houses are located along the Delaware and Raritan Canal in Trenton, where movable bridges formerly crossed the canal. Houses were provided so the bridgetenders were always available to swing the bridge out of the way as a canal barge passed through.

The Hanover Street house was renovated when Thomas Edison State College built the large building that partially surrounds it. The Calhoun Street house appears to be stabilized, while the Prospect Street house looks occupied.

Hanover Street Bridgetender’s House. Source: TCM
Hanover Street Bridgetender’s House. Source: TCM

Hanover Street Bridgetender’s House. Source: TCM

Calhoun Street Bridgetender’s House. Source: TCM


Calhoun Street Bridgetender’s House. Source: TCM
Prospect Street Bridgetender’s House. Source: TCM

Carhartt – Are You Keeping the Faith?

Source: Carhartt.

After writing about Lee’s Union-Alls the other day, my thoughts naturally turned to Carhartt’s coveralls, the archaeologist’s cold-weather friend.

The Carhartt company, coincidentally, was founded the same year as the H.D. Lee Company, 1889, when Hamilton Carhartt started selling bib overalls in Detroit, Michigan. Carhartt’s coveralls appeared by the World War II era, and likely earlier, but Lee’s claim to be first seems valid.

Source: Popular Mechanics January 1946.

Like the original H.D. Lee company, the Carhartt company proudly proclaimed their support of Union workers. The modern Carhartt company, unlike Lee, is still a family-owned business, and about half of their workers are Union members.

Source: Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen’s Magazine 1919.

1969 Murder of Jane Britton, Harvard Archaeology Grad Student, Solved by DNA Testing – No Primitive Rites Necessary

“Remember me any way you like, but remember me”
-Jane Sanders Britton

Jane Britton’s Anthropology Notebook. Photo released by Middlesex County (Massachusetts) District Attorney Office.

Almost 50 years after her murder, police in Massachusetts say they have solved the murder of Jane Britton, who was a graduate student in Harvard’s anthropology department. DNA evidence indicates that Britton was  murdered in her apartment by Michael Sumpter, who died in 2001 while serving a sentence for the rape of another woman in 1975. He has since been linked to two other murder/rapes.

Britton’s death was sensationalized at the time, not only because she was a Harvard coed, but because newspapers, quoting a police detective, reported that her murder was part of a “primitive rite” involving red ochre found on her body and the walls of her apartment. Britton, as an archaeologist, had done fieldwork at Tepe Yahya in Iran and in France, and some people made a connection with the red ochre sometimes found in prehistoric burials. Furthermore, a sharp stone tool (possibly a prehistoric hand ax?) that an archaeologist friend had given to her was reported missing from her apartment. Her boyfriend, who found her body, was also an anthropology grad student, as were two of her neighbors, who had been with her before her death, and a “Peru hippie” she had previously dated. Rumors later tried to link her death with other Harvard anthropology students who had died or disappeared, and other women in the Cambridge area who were murdered before or after Britton.

Police and anthropologists at Harvard quickly denied the “primitive rites” story, and the chief instituted a news blackout because of “inaccuracies” in the reporting. No one was ever arrested for the crime. Anthropologist Don Mitchell, one of the last people to see her alive, said he

had long suspected the killer was someone Britton knew at Harvard. “I was surprised,” Mitchell said Tuesday. “Very few people at the time thought it was somebody random who came in and killed her. Everyone thought it was connected to the anthropology department.”

Yet the man now identified as responsible for her murder had no other connection to Britton. The missing stone tool was found soon after the first newspaper reports came out, and the “red ochre” was, according to the new report, from painting supplies that Britton had.

Details on the DNA investigation are at The Boston Globe. More details in a 2017 article, when amateur investigators and a reporter were trying to get the prosecutors to release records of the investigation. Official press release of the Middlesex County District Attorney

 

“Tall, Dark, and Tweedy”: Jazz Age Artist John Held Jr. was also an archaeological illustrator – and a World War I spy

Life Magazine cover from 1926, by John Held, Jr. Source: Washington University in St. Louis.

In the 1920s, John Held, Jr., became famous for his drawings in Life, Vanity Fair, and other magazines that enshrined the iconic flapper image: lean and leggy, with beaded necklace swinging as she danced the Charleston with her companion, the round-headed, pencil-necked, Joe College.

The “tall, dark and tweedy” (Shuttleworth 1965) artist had come to New York City from Utah in 1912, where he found work as a commercial artist. As America entered World War I, John Held would take on another, clandestine, responsibility. Continue reading ““Tall, Dark, and Tweedy”: Jazz Age Artist John Held Jr. was also an archaeological illustrator – and a World War I spy”