Community archaeology, Mid-East anthropology, Alaska, Adventure, Cycling, and Logophilia
Archaeology is the search for culture through material: intangible ideas about the world are made tangible through the ways we arrange and rearrange our physical worlds to reflect those ideas. These physical remains are what we archaeologists study: and usually, we study these remains by their destruction. We learn by taking things apart – and in such a way that we can’t put them back together again (imagine rebuilding a ziggurat!). This poses a major problem: as our knowledge grows, what we have, physically, to show for it decreases. The challenge in archaeology is trying to make what we’ve learned as easy to see, to touch, and to understand as the earth from which it comes.
I was born and raised in Alaska, where it takes 12 hours to drive to the center of the state. Visiting the “Lower 48” usually involved a full-day plane trip; it was therefore a small step from Alaska, to the Mid-West, to the Middle East, and back and forth ad nauseum. I have several Frequent Flyer plans.
And so, from data collection, to information creation, to knowledge dissemination, to Digital Archaeology…
I am a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology at MSU with a specialization in international development. Specifically, I am an anthropological archaeologist interested in understanding the complexities of past cultures through excavation and survey, and focused on mortuary analysis and landscape studies.
I have worked across the Middle East, but for the past six years have found a home in the Sultanate of Oman, a gracious and graceful country on the Arabian Peninsula. I am the Assistant Project Director and a Field (Excavation) Director for the Bat Archaeological Project. In addition, my dissertation is a survey of third millennium BC monuments (tombs and towers) that encompass the World Heritage Site. I’m interested in making my dissertation available first to other academics, then more broadly to the local community of Bat, other Omanis, the Arab-speaking world, and finally for World Heritage relevance.
Because I study the past but in the present moment, I am also dedicated to the process of community archaeology: facilitating effective community involvement in the study of archaeological resources (Moser et al. 2002:220). I work with local Omanis – archaeologists, teachers, and community members – to encourage understanding of their prehistoric past, to link that past to their present lives, and to help develop a program for future CH management at the local and national level.
There is a lot of room for innovation and growth in Omani archaeology. With the technical expertise of the CHI community, I hope to build a database that will accommodate my own dissertation data, as well as that of other archaeologists working on the Peninsula. Future work – aimed toward a broader Arabic- and English-speaking public – will include a virtual museum and educational classroom materials focusing on the archaeology of 3rd millennium BC Oman.
I am also a lover of bicycling and word-play. As a cyclist I commute, road ride, and mountain bike (when I can). As a word-lover I … talk a lot. And I love to hear words “in play” — so as I blog, I encourage you to talk back!