Senior Research Projects

  • Maritime connectivity and mobility in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean during the Neopalatial Period: A GIS-based Approach
    Nick Bowman
    April 2023

    Connectivity, in an archaeological context, represents the theoretical potential for interactions between people, whereas mobility is defined by the actualized movement of individuals. Past studies of maritime connectivity have been premised on the conception of the sea as an undifferentiated, isotropic environment quantified by measures of Euclidian distance, such as miles or kilometers. In the last decade however, archaeologists have come to view the sea as an anisotropic surface where travel is variably affected by factors such as directionality, seasonality, wind speed and direction, and vessel performance, among others. This study employs a least-cost path analysis (LCPA) in geographic information systems (GIS) to model these changeable conditions that would have defined the parameters for ancient sea travel. To assess mobility, this study uses published ceramic data sets from island and coastal communities across the southeastern Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean as markers of actualized movement. By comparing connectivity and mobility, this thesis reveals stark divergences indicative of where human agency proved decisive in shaping maritime routes and networks rather than the environment alone. 
  • Bringing Seeds Home: An Exploration of the Rematriation and Indigenous Food Sovereignty Movements
    Ruby di Carlo
    April 2023

    While repatriation in the US centers around the return of Indigenous human remains, sacred objects, to their descendant communities, rematriation is a movement to return seeds to their descendant communities, through which they can be sown and grown in food sovereignty projects that revitalize lost knowledge, culture, and foodways. Using ethnobotany, historical, archival, and interviews with Indigenous scholars and Seedkeepers, this project analyzes the collections histories of seeds housed Wesleyan's Archaeology and Anthropology Collections to connect them with their tribal communities, and considers the development of collections practices in response to food sovereignty and rematriation movements.

  • Hedrai and Hemmorrhages: A Study of War Wounds and Treatment in the Hippocratic Corpus
    Tessa Zitter
    April 2021

    The goal of this thesis is to expand upon the previous scholarship that has been produced on the subject of war trauma and treatment in the Archaic and Classical periods of Greece. The sources on which I will primarily focus are the treatises of the Hippocratic corpus, but the work as a whole will pull together bioarchaeological, medical, and textual sources. Through analyzing newly published bioarchaeological data from the classical cemetery sites of Himera and Kamarina, and applying modern phytochemical and forensic studies to these ancient sources, I will explore ancient physicians’ perceptions of the body, war wounds, and strategies trauma management, and offer new interpretations for the bioarchaeological evidence of wound treatment from classical sites.

  • Going Back to the Roots: A Phytochemical Investigation of the Use of Iris in the Ancient Mediterranean
    Andrew Rogers
    April 2021

    Pedanius Dioscorides was a 1st-century C.E. Roman compiler, who published De Materia Medica, a repository of herbal medicinal knowledge. In order to understand the medicine of the ancient Mediterranean, and its basis in empiricism, the phytochemistry of Iris germanica, the first entry in Dioscorides' publication, is analyzed through GC-MS and parallels to classical medicinal treatises are drawn. It is found that Dioscorides' first entry in De Materia Medica is largely substantiated by phytochemical data.

  • Il far de cola: Examining 16th Century Techniques of Steelmaking through Translation and Experimental Archaeology
    Audrey Lam
    April 2020

    This project brings experimental archaeology, translation theory and archaeological case studies to bear on Biringuccio's intricate 16th century treatise De la Pirotechnia, a text which has only been translated into English once before. The project relies on work with local bladesmiths and metallurgical specialists, taking courses in bladesmithing and carrying out iron metallurgy. Blending knowledge of metal craftsmanship with archaeological case studies of 16th century eapons, the goal is to produce a translation and commentary for two of Biringuccio's central chapters on steel smelting, quenching and tempering. It will also explore theoretical intersection between transcription, translation, and reproduction as they are understood in literary and archaeological terms.

  • Set in Stone: Provenance and Architectural Energetics for the Royal Charterhouse of Bourgfontaine
    John Sheffer
    April 2019
    The monastic site of Bourgfontaine was a Carthusian charterhouse founded between 1323 and 1325, by Charles of Valois and finished by his son King Philip IV. The close ties to the Valois family make Bourgfontaine a valuable example of royal patronage of monasteries but it has few written histories, and has had only limited excavations making any studies valuable to understanding how it functioned. With such a small body of known historical documents, limited excavation results, and no certain plans for further excavations, it is vital to turn to alternative analyses to learn more. By completing a study of stone provenance, local geology, geochemistry and architectural energetics, I hypothesize how the monastery was built and further the understanding of the areas in which we the see the Valois patronage of Bourgfontaine.

  • "Our Warp Bloodred, Our Weft Coarseblue": An Exploration of Use and Mythology of the Warp-Weighted Loom in Norse Greenland and Ancient Greece
    Caroline Diemer
    April 2018

    The warp-weighted loom is an upright loom that uses gravity and loom weights to tension the warp, or vertical strings, so that the weft, or horizontal strings, can be woven through. While the organic material of the cloth and loom often do not survive, the loom weights, which are made out of clay or stone, depending on the region, are present in the archaeological record. This thesis aims to gain a better understanding of loom weight material and shape impact weave structure. I will reconstruct the medieval warp-weighted loom found at the Farm Beneath the Sand (Gården Under Sandet or GUS) in the Western Settlement of Norse Greenland and will compare the affect of limestone loom weights typical of Greenland versus the clay loom weights of the Aegean. This thesis will also explore the representation of the warp-weighted loom in folklore and iconography and try to better understand the connection between weaving and war that appears in both Norse and Ancient Greek mythology. Click here for Carolyn's experimental archaeology blog about the process:

  • Sacred Shields: The Material, Religious, and Cultural Significance of Persian Ashkelon's Egyptianizing Amulets
    Sarah Elizabeth McCully
    Wed, 18 May 2016
    This thesis will explore an assemblage of Egyptianizing amulets excavated from the Persian period of Ashkelon, an archaeological site in southern Israel. Ultimately, it will aim to illustrate the way in which these amulets are used in Ashkelon as part of a religious tradition. It examines these amulets within their domestic archaeological contexts and compares those findings with the distribution of Egyptian deities and symbols represented by the amulets. Finally, it examines parallel sites in Egypt, Tel Dor, Beirut, and Maresha in order to establish patterns of usage of these amulets between Ashkelon and the larger Mediterranean.

  • A Deviation in the Deccan Tracing Social Practice in the Buddhist Monasteries of Maharashtra
    Samuel Harry Ingbar
    Wed, 18 May 2016

    This thesis works to encourage increased collaboration between historians and archeologists on material histories. To this end, looks at the social development of a number of rock cut early Buddhist cave temples in Maharashtra using a methodology known as space syntax analysis. By reading the architectural remains of the cave temples as a text, the author uncovers that the currently accepted narrative of early Buddhist monasticism overlooks a key deviation from normal practice in the Western Deccan. Shedding light on the social changes going on there creates room to reinterpret other source material, both challenging and fleshing out existing notions in the history and in the archeology of the topic.

  • Grave Concerns: Agency Theory and Post-Burial Manipulation of the Corpse
    Marina Francis Rothberg
    Wed, 18 May 2016

    This thesis aims to contribute to an agentive and comparative framework for future archaeologists to study burials in which the corpse appears to have been disturbed after initial deposition. The first case study is based on archaeological sites Winnall II from Anglo-Saxon England and Bogøvej from Viking Denmark, both of which demonstrate apotropaic burials; burials that involve post-depositional rites intended to thwart the malevolent power of the corpse. The second case study is from Tikal, a Maya site from Guatemala, and involves an aristocratic corpse being exhumed and used in a reburial ritual designed to enforce a political alliance. The third case study examines instances of grave robbing in ancient Egypt. Grounded in textual and archeological evidence, I will look at two elite New Kingdom tombs that have been ransacked and looted. In examining what the dominant structures are that determine burial treatment, the normative conception of the fate of the dead and/or of the corpse, and whether the instance of manipulation of the corpse reinforces or subverts these structures, one can determine whether or not the corpse was indeed “violated”.

  • The Material Culture and Culture of Medicine in 19th Century Middletown, Connecticut
    Amy Rose Cao
    Thu, 06 Aug 2015

    This historical archaeology thesis investigates the nature of pharmacy in 19th century Middletown, Connecticut by drawing upon materials excavated from the Beman Triangle, a historical site related to a 19th century free-African American planned community. Archaeological investigations at one of the residential properties on the Triangle revealed hundreds of glassware fragments related to chemistry activity and pharmaceutical production, including both prescription and proprietary medicine bottles, tubes, pipettes, flasks, syringes, etc. This study utilizes archival materials in the form of city directories, censuses, property records, and historical newspaper advertisements to investigate healthcare practices and perceptions in Middletown in the late 19th century in order to better understand the social and cultural context of the archaeological materials.

  • What is for Lunch? A Thin Section Optical Mineralogy Study of Cooking Vessel Fabric during the Hellenistic Period at Ashkelon, Israel.
    Emily Rosa Shames
    Thu, 06 Aug 2015

    Tel Ashkelon, located off of the southern coast of modern day Israel, was a major port city during the Hellenistic Period, ranging from ca 350 B.C.- ca 68 B.C. Determining how Hellenized, and whether such changes resulted from Greek trade or Greek migration, strengthens the current understanding of the city. Cooking vessels, created to satisfy the participants of the local economic market, act as a proxy to document the cooking culture at the time. The casserole form originates in Greece in the early 5th century B.C. and appears in local fabric at Ashkelon in the early 3rd century B.C. onwards. This study analyzes 30 sherds with thin section optical mineralogy to determine locality of cooking vessel fabric ranging from the early to late Hellenistic. Samples analysis yielded 5 distinct fabric groups. Groups 1-4 represent varying local fabrics surrounding Ashkelon. Boundaries extend north just past Ashdod, east to the start of the Shephelah, south to Gaza, and west through Ashkelon to the coast. Group 5 represents the non-local imported fabric as a point of comparison of foreign vessels. All cooking pots and casseroles come from groups 1- 4. The inundation of Greek settlers at Ashkelon in the late Hellenistic elicited the entry of the new casserole form into local fabrics, which the Ashkelon inhabitants adopted into their cooking culture though the rest of the Hellenistic Period. The acceptance of casseroles in local cook culture facilitates the post processual idea that pottery as active as it contributed to the Hellenization of the city.

  • Experiments in Cuir Bouilli: Practical Trials of Medieval Leathercraft
    Samuel James Levin
    Fri, 04 Jul 2014

    This thesis pursues an experimental investigation of cuir bouilli, a particular form of hardened leather used as armor in medieval Europe. In this exploration, I have produced a sample group of 30 distinct varieties of cuir bouilli. These samples represent the most commonly theorized and scientifically grounded production methods of this historic medium. Using a series of armor specific tests, broadly encapsulating the abuse of arrow fire, blunt force trauma, and slashing, I have measured the performance of each cuir bouilli sample. The data gathered from these tests can be used to infer physical properties about each sample, revealing the essential effects of each hardening method. Moreover, these tests indicate how cuir bouilli might have functioned in actual armor use. They demonstrate strengths and weaknesses of each variety, offering reasons for their eventual abandonment in certain contexts and the roles they might have continued to play in others.

  • Fight Like a Man or be Hang'd Like a Dog: Gender, Class, and Material Culture During the Golden Age of Piracy
    Sarah Jeanne Chrystler
    Mon, 03 Jun 2013
  • Hellenistic or Roman? A Case Study of a Mosaic in Tel Dor, Israel, in its Regional Context
    Andrea Erica Ruiz-Lopez
    Mon, 03 Jun 2013
  • Interpreting Votives, Interpreting Women: The Acropolis Korai and the Social Implications of their Dedication
    Catherine Antonia Goodrich Steidl
    Thu, 02 Jun 2011
  • Toward a "Full Biography of Obsidian": Studies of Obsidian Use and Exchange in the Maya Area
    Laura Ellen Heath
    Thu, 02 Jun 2011
  • The Menelaion: A Local Study of a Panhellenic Phenomenon
    Thea Sabrina De Armond
    Wed, 27 May 2009
  • Controlling History; Framing the Debate on Ownership of the Past
    Cori Rebecca Phillips
    Mon, 30 Jun 2008
  • Seeds of Knowledge: Palaeoethnobotany in the Classical World
    Jordana Halley Wolf
    Mon, 30 Jun 2008
  • Trial by Fire: a Comparison of Provincial Cremations within the Roman Empire and the Implications for Cultural Analysis
    Anna Colleen Kelley
    Mon, 30 Jun 2008
  • Fossiles Directeurs: Recent French Approaches to the Study of Medieval Ceramics
    Annalisa Grier Bolin
    Mon, 30 Jun 2008