Who says that professors don’t work in the summer?

My day as an archaeologist and professor at East Carolina University: Conducting research for a National Science Foundation grant proposal, popping in to help a grad student with her MA thesis data collection in the lab, then a phone interview with an editor at Archaeology Magazine on some current research conducted with another MA student at Qasr Hallabat, followed by the gym and beers with colleagues. I am a bioarchaeologist, someone who studies human skeletal remains along with mortuary practices, and I co-direct a field project in Petra, Jordan. We are in the field every two years, and a lot of my time in the interim is spent planning for the next field season. A colleague of mine in Geography and I are putting together an NSF grant proposal application to develop a method for documenting spatial patterning of commingled human skeletal remains within the tombs that I am working on at Petra. I hope that it tells us a lot about how the remains got commingled in the first place – was it due to mortuary practices at the time?  Natural forces?  Tomb looting in later periods? – and about any interesting patterns based on age and sex of the bones. I get excited thinking about new techniques and how they can answer questions that have been nagging me and other archaeologists. I started the Petra project wanting to focus on disease and diet of the city’s residents, but in the end, partly due to the poor condition of the skeletal remains, the mortuary practices have been the most interesting and informative aspect. I think that is how research goes… you never can truly predict what you will find, and if your data are not conforming to your initial expectations, you need to be flexible.

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Megan Perry, Associate Professor of Anthropology at East Carolina University and Co-Director of the Petra North Ridge Project