Parker VanValkenburgh (Stanley J. Bernstein Assistant Professor of Social Sciences) and Andy Dufton (PhD, '17, Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World) recently visited the Archaeotech podcast ("Archaeology and Big Data," Episode 133) to discuss a supplement about digital archaeology and ethical considerations they brought to the Journal of Field Archaeology.
Researchers have been searching for Sak Tz’i’, an important city from the ancient Maya civilization, since 1994; thanks in part to Brown anthropologists, they now have physical evidence that it existed.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — For days, a man selling carnitas on the side of the road in rural Mexico tried to get Whittaker Schroder’s attention as he drove past.
At first, Schroder — a University of Florida archaeologist and a Class of 2010 Brown University graduate — thought the man was simply trying to sell him food. Schroder doesn’t eat meat, so he ignored the vendor.
Eventually, he wondered if the man had something else to share. One day, he pulled over, and the man began to describe a stone tablet that his friend had discovered in his backyard. The man’s friend, a cattle rancher, thought the tablet might be thousands of years old, left behind by the Maya.
He was right — and the tablet wasn’t the only extraordinary artifact to be found. As Schroder, Brown Associate Professor of Anthropology Andrew Scherer, Brandeis University anthropologist Charles Golden and other colleagues continued to explore and excavate the rancher’s backyard in June 2018, they realized it was the site of the long-lost Maya capital of Sak Tz’i’ — Mayan for “white dog.”
Parker VanValkenburgh, an assistant professor of anthropology, curated a journal issue that explores the opportunities and challenges big data could bring to the field of archaeology.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Centuries of archaeological research on the Inca Empire has netted a veritable library of knowledge. But new digital and data-driven projects led by Brown University scholars are proving that there is much more to discover about pre-colonial life in the Andes.
In a recently released edition of the Journal of Field Archaeology, Brown Assistant Professor of Anthropology Parker VanValkenburgh and several colleagues detailed new research they conducted in the former Inca Empire in South America using drones, satellite imagery and proprietary online databases. Their results demonstrate that big data can provide archaeologists with a sweeping, big-picture view of the subjects they study on the ground — prompting new insights and new historical questions.
Populations and their surrounding environments are often inextricably intertwined. But what happens under colonial rule, when powerful empires try to override this complex relationship?
Archaeologist and Assistant Professor of Anthropology Parker VanValkenburgh is examining this question through the lens of the Spanish colonial reducción movement of the 1570s—a large-scale attempt to “modernize” over two million indigenous Peruvians by resettling them into planned towns. Although many written records of this movement remain, they often omit key details about the founding of the towns or the effects of the resettlement effort on inhabitants’ daily lives.
This Fall, Professor Candace Rice joins Brown University as Assistant Professor of Archaeology and Classics.
Born and raised in what Prof. Rice says, “might be best described as the middle of nowhere, Texas,” she first studied classical archaeology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she was granted a BA in 2006. She then moved to the UK where she earned an M.Phil. in Classical Archaeology from the University of Oxford in 2008, and a D.Phil. in Archaeology from Oxford in 2012 (with a thesis entitled, Port Economies and Maritime Trade in the Roman Mediterranean, 166 BC to AD 300). Following the completion of her doctorate, she moved to Istanbul, Turkey where she was a Senior Fellow at Koç University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations for the 2012-2013 academic year. In 2013, she moved to Scotland to join the Department of Classics at Edinburgh where she was a Lecturer (the UK equivalent of Assistant Professor) in Classical Archaeology until the summer of 2017. She joined the Department of History and Classics at the University of Alberta in the summer of 2017.
Her research focuses on Mediterranean maritime trade and economic development during the Roman period. She is particularly interested in exploring what the archaeological record reveals about the ways in which connectivity changed the nature of the Roman economy through enhanced supra-regional integration and specialized local economic development. Her research publications include articles on Roman maritime trade and shipwrecks, Mediterranean ports and harbours, Roman merchants and trading communities, and Roman villas (from pottery to mosaics).
She is an active field archaeologist and she has excavated at Etruscan, Samnite, Roman, and Medieval sites in Italy, France, and Tunisia, and spent considerable time at Roman and Late Antique sites in Turkey. At present, she co-direct the Upper Sabina Tiberina Project, focused on the excavation of a late Republican to mid Imperial villa in the Sabina. As part of this project, she ran the University of Alberta Archaeological Field School in Italy.
Please join us in congratulating Professor Rice on her new position and welcoming her to the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Department of Classics!
Professor Stephen Houston, Dupee Family Professor of Social Science and former Director of the Program in Early Cultures, was interviewed by the BBC regarding the discovery of more than 60,000 hidden Maya ruins in Guatemala through the use of Lidar technology. The full story, "Sprawling Maya Network Discovered under Guatemala Jungle," is on BBC's website.