University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Ninth Annual Kolb Spring Junior Fellows Colloquium

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Welcome and Introduction: Professor C. Brian Rose, Kolb Society of Fellows Faculty Coordinator

Sam C. Lin (Department of Anthropology)
Distinct Tool Types or Sharp Rocks of Various Shapes? A New Look at Middle Paleolithic Assemblage Variability and Neanderthal Behavioral Pattern

Sam Lin
Sam Lin

Abstract
Studies of Middle Paleolithic stone artifact assemblage variability have traditionally relied on classification schemes consisted of predefined artifact types. While the interpretation concerning the behavioral significance of these classifications has changed markedly in the past few decades, the conception that individual artifact type represents distinct items deliberately designed and manufactured by past hominins remains largely unquestioned. As a consequence, explanations of Middle Paleolithic assemblage variability in relation to Neanderthal behavior have been limited to factors underlying the intentional production of these typological units, namely cultural traditions and functional design. The research presented here explores the use of alternative analytical units and methodologies that do not necessitate a priori assumptions of the units’ behavioral or cognitive reality (e.g., desired end products vs. unwanted waste), and are instead based of processes that operate independently from hominin actions to detect patterns that are of behavioral interest. Specifically, approaches derived from fracture mechanics and solid geometry are verified through controlled experiments and statistical resampling and applied to three Middle Paleolithic sites in southwestern France. Results indicate diachronic variation in the formational history of these assemblages that are otherwise invisible to traditional methods, and thus provide new insight towards the understanding of Neanderthal technology and land-use dynamics.

Steve Renette (Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World Graduate Group)
Along the Mountain Passes: the Kani Shaie Archaeological Project

Steve Renette
Steve Renette

Abstract
The region of the Zagros Mountains in western Iran is a landscape of many valleys and small plains between ranges of hills and mountains. Traditional models based on theories of center-periphery, world systems, and secondary state formation, have described this region as a borderland passively absorbing outside influences. My research aims to trace indigenous developments and polity formations through a focus on the role of the unique landscape and continuous interregional interaction that connected intermontane communities with each other and with the outside world.

As one of two case studies, a new fieldwork project has been developed in Iraqi Kurdistan. Kani Shaie is a small site in the Bazyan Valley, on the road between Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyah. A first visit to the site in March 2012 suggested a long occupation throughout the Bronze Age, offering the opportunity to quickly establish a stratigraphic sequence of material culture in this archaeologically poorly understood region. During the first season of fieldwork in September 2013, excavations confirmed the enormous potential of Kani Shaie. In the Late Chalcolithic period – the second half of the fourth millennium BCE – the site was probably a local administrative center operating within a long-distance interaction network, as evidenced by southern Mesopotamian Uruk style pottery, large-scale architecture, and the discovery of a seal-impressed administrative tablet. Occupation continued into the formative centuries of the Early Bronze Age in the early third millennium BCE, when the presence of several painted traditions at the site attests to contact and exchange with various regions in Mesopotamia and Iran. Kani Shaie offers the opportunity to shed light on a period that has proven very elusive in archaeological fieldwork in the Zagros region and challenges models that suggest stagnation and regional isolation after the collapse of the Uruk period interregional network.

Amanda Reiterman (Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World Graduate Group)
Antique, Heirloom, Curiosity, or Amulet?: Identifying and Assessing “Curated” Objects in the Ancient Mediterranean

Amanda Reiterman

Abstract

Archaeologists periodically encounter artifacts that might be described as “curated” either because they significantly predate the other items in their assemblage or exhibit ancient repairs. My dissertation examines a corpus of these objects, drawn from 8th to 5th century B.C. contexts across the Mediterranean, and encompassing the Greek heartland, colonies, and non-Greek communities. The broad chronological and geographic scope of this investigation reveals a spectrum of behaviors toward old or damaged objects in diverse cultural contexts. Patterns emerge regarding the circumstances in which curated objects were deployed, the people with whom they were associated, and the types of objects selected to be preserved. Through a series of case studies, this paper will discuss how archaeologists can disentangle the economic, functional, aesthetic, and sentimental motives for ancient curation to characterize these objects.

Margaret Andrews (Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World Graduate Group)
The Decoration of Domitian’ s Forum in Rome: A Reconsideration of the Attic Storey and a New Proposal for the Setting of the Cancelleria Reliefs

Meg Andrews
Meg Andrews

Abstract

The extant frieze in Domitian’s forum in Rome is now commonly understood to have been a moralizing composition conveying the importance of ideal feminine virtues, and the forum as a whole is considered a reflection of Domitian’s domestic policy of moral reform. Domitian's military prowess and foreign policy, however, was also included in the decoration of the forum with the depiction of conquered ethne in the attic story. The women representing the nations subjugated by Rome also served the social agenda of Domitian in that they were submissive to the Roman state and Domitian as its dominus et deus. Beyond the frieze and attic reliefs, the military aspect of the decoration, as well as recent archaeological insights, make Domitian’s forum an appropriate setting for the Cancelleria reliefs, which have long eluded a fixed location within Domitian’s Rome.

Introduction of Newly Elected Kolb Junior Fellows: Professor C. Brian Rose, Kolb Society of Fellows Faculty Coordinator