Department of Anthropology
Tom, currently a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology, received a B.A. with Distinction in Archaeological Studies from Yale University in 2006. His Senior Honors Thesis involved a petrographic analysis of Formative Period ceramics from the Maya site of San Estevan, Belize, researching the standardization of ceramic styles as a way to investigate social and political complexity leading to the Classic Period.
After a brief hiatus, Tom entered the graduate program at the Penn in 2009. His current area of interest is in the south-central Andes, and he has been working in Cuzco, Peru over the last few years. Tom's specific interests have shifted from the Late Horizon (Inca Period, 1400–1532 A.D.) earlier to the Middle Horizon (600–1000 A.D.) in south-central Peru. His previous work in Cuzco has included excavations on Inca shrines in the ceque system, a set of more than 300 sacred shrines and landscape features organized into a set of forty-one conceptual lines, as well as a separate project attempting to understand and reconstruct the landscape modifications and urban development of the pre-Columbian city of Cuzco itself. Tom has also participated in the excavation of monumental architecture, on an Initial Period U-shaped temple in the Lurin Valley of Lima, Peru, under Dr. Richard Burger of Yale University in 2008, and atop the Akapana Pyramid platform at Tiwanaku, Bolivia, with Dr. Alexei Vranich of the Cotsen Institute, UCLA, in 2006.
Tom is currently conducting dissertation research at the site of Minaspata in the Lucre Basin, located at the eastern end of the Cuzco Valley near the large Wari site of Pikillacta. His specific interests are to better understand cultural and socio-political interactions between the Wari state and populations outside of its heartland—particularly, the ways in which Wari attempted to establish both political and ideological hegemony, if and how these attempts were resisted by different elements of local populations, and how the process of interaction was mediated through material objects, architecture and landscape. Though Minaspata is a large site with a local character and multi-component in nature, it presents an ideal opportunity to investigate these themes. With luck, his research at Minaspata (supported with grants from the National Science Foundation, the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences Graduate Program, and the Selz Foundation) will serve as the basis for a larger, longer-term project in the region.
In addition, Tom has presented at the Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting in 2011, in a symposium he chaired and helped organize, and has published a book review in Expedition Magazine in 2013. Tom has also served actively in the Department of Anthropology: on the Anthropology Colloquium Committee in 2011–2012, as a Graduate Student Representative, and helping to revive the Graduate Anthropology Forum, a weekly meeting of the graduate student community to provide feedback to each other regarding work and research interests.