Scouting museum collections for teaching

The Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at the University of New MexicoHad to interrupt the morning identification to head over to the Maxwell Museum.    Every time I head in to the Maxwell I wonder, why don’t I come here more often?  It’s a terrific museum – definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in the Albuquerque area.

I visited the Maxwell this morning to look for a collection for my zooarchaeology class to work with this fall.  I need an assemblage small enough that students can manage it as a part of the class but large enough – and identifiable enough – for students to learn from.  Fortunately there are several options at the Maxwell, and they are well-curated  (not always a given) and so will be easy to work with.  Dave Phillips, curator of archaeology, kindly interrupted his morning to show me some possibilities.

I think we’re going to go with the faunal material from the Tijeras Pueblo archaeological site – there’s plenty of it, there’s good chronological control, and there’s the potential for the students to come up with some interesting research questions.

A Day of Zooarchaeology

My days tend to involve a lot of different projects because, well, I’m involved in a lot of different projects!  So to put my posts in some context, I figured I’d start by introducing myself and the projects that I’m currently working on.

My name is Emily Jones, and I’m a zooarchaeologist – in other words, my specialty is looking at animal bones from archaeological sites to learn about past human-environment interactions.  (You can learn lots more about zooarchaeology at the website for the International Council for Zooarchaeology).  I do go into the field from time to time, but most days I’m either 1) in the lab, identifying animal bones; 2) in the office, doing statistical analyses of the data generated by (1); or 3) in the office, writing up the results of (1) and (2), for technical reports, for scientific publications, or for the public.  Right now, I have two major projects in process: I’m working on the statistical analysis of a collection from Spain (stage 2), deposited about 15,000 years ago, and I’m in stage 1 (that is, identification) on a collection from Navajo-affiliated sites (dating to the 16th and 17th centuries A.D.) here in New Mexico.  I’ll be doing some work on both these projects during the Day of Archaeology!

As well as being a zooarchaeologist, I teach.  In a month, I’ll be teaching a class in introductory zooarchaeological analysis for the University of New Mexico’s Department of Anthropology, here in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.  And as the time till class begins is getting shorter and shorter, I’ll be working on this as well.

I’ll be posting on the blog, but you can also follow what I’m doing on Twitter (I’ll mark posts with #dayofarch).

Photo copyright Emily Lena Jones, 2011