Anthropology Goes Digital

Chelsea Walker

There’s a saying, that I’ve heard before, that, “Life is like looking both ways before you cross a street, and then getting hit by an airplane.” Now, with a chuckle and a smile on my face, I have to say that sometimes there is a smidge of truth in these sayings. For me, and I’m sure for many others, one very fine example of said saying was the summer of 2020.  After working every semester (including summers) for the last 4 years, all that was needed was an internship or practicum in my final summer semester, and I would graduate with a degree in anthropology! Dreaming of becoming an archaeologist, I was poised to join a field school in Italy, but as COVID-19 spread further, borders were then closed, and field schools cancelled. As I worried for the status of my graduation, and panic threatened to set in, I thankfully kept a line of communication open with my professors who started offering remote practicum opportunities! After much deliberation and communication, I happily ended up taking the opportunity underneath Dr. Gooding, a professor of anthropology at KSU.

 I started off the summer by simply editing websites for KSU’s anthropology department, while brainstorming ideas for an engagement video for archaeology at KSU. This practicum challenged me to be flexible, to think outside of the box, to get out of my comfort zone, and come up with ways to get people engaged and excited about archaeology remotely. I learned new skills in video design, editing, and voice overs through the length of this course that I will be able to take into any career I go into. I enjoy being creative, so once got the ball rolling, then there was no stopping the ideas that kept coming! After finishing the archaeology engagement video, I was then able to take my interest in physical anthropology and the human skeleton and create an engagement video for prospective students. I then was able to create an advice video of tips and tricks for students who have enrolled in “The Human Skeleton” course. In the end, I was able to take my love of anthropology and archaeology and make videos that will help KSU and students for years to come.

Creating an engagement video for showcasing archaeology.

Overall, this practicum taught me to be flexible, roll with what comes my way, and to think outside of the box. From student to student, don’t ever let any obstacle get in your way of pursuing your degree or your dreams! Whether you decide on (or life throws you onto the path of) an internship or a practicum, always keep an open line of communication with the people you are working with and put your best foot forward!

Creating a tips and tricks video for ANTH 2223 The Human Skeleton from a prior student’s perspective!

Mortuary Archeology in Poland: The Slavia Project’s Deviant Burials

Aleese Callum

Images of adolescent female with a copper headband and coin placed by her left mandible. There is also a bow shaped sickle that was placed with the blade firmly against her throat (Slavia Project 2012).

A Little About the Internship

This summer I got accepted to attend a Mortuary Archaeology Field school located in Ryczyn, Poland. The school is well known as The Slavia Project (http://www.slavia.org/), and the objective is to teach students from around the world the studies of Adult and Juvenile Osteology, Human Burial Excavation, Bio-archaeology in Practice, Early Medieval Funerary Practices in Poland, Archaeological Field Research Techniques, as well as Archaeological Material Processing and Curation. The other goal is to rescue the excavations at the endangered archaeological site of Drawsko (the main site for ‘deviant’ burials!)

For several weeks’ students are in both the field honing their excavation skills as well as the lab to analyze the bones and cultural material, and in turn making science look exceptionally cool! Needless to say, this is an AMAZING opportunity and one would be insane to not go for an international trip across the world to dig up bones in a Medieval Cemetery!

Unfortunately, the Summer of 2020 proved to be a very hard one for many, due to the COVID19 pandemic, so this trip, like many others I’m sure, was cancelled. But I will sit here and encourage you that with passion comes determination. So instead of physically travelling to Poland, I took a “Cyber-trip” to Poland’s Medieval Era and discovered a world of Myths, Superstitions, Archaeological finds and Scientific Debate.

Internship to Practicum: What I Did Instead

The first and most important task that I had to ensure, was to establish and maintain my communication with the lead supervisor for the trip. Dr. Polcyn and I communicated via email throughout the entire process. Even after the trip was cancelled and transformed from an internship to a practicum, she was willing to send me references, suggestions for reading material and would answer any and all my questions that I had during my research.

Since my internship had been turned into a practicum, you can guess that a lot of the work was done by digging through Research Articles, Academic Journals and Thesis’ of other researchers. All relevant material had to then be annotated and the final product is, in my opinion, an amazing paper that covers the topic of ‘deviant’ burials and the connection they have to past and modern claims to ‘vampires’! I told you I found a world of Myths and Superstition along-side Archaeological finds! If I am being honest, as fun as it would have been to travel to Poland, I don’t think that I would have discovered the deep connection that the Slavic folkloric culture and today’s modern subculture has with these deviant graves. Yes, I have discovered a modern subculture of individuals who have taken the discoveries made by archaeologist and melded it with Slavic folklore to make the claim that vampires are real and that they themselves are in fact…vampires.

In Conclusion

In the end, I have managed to form a connection with someone who is willing to guide me through my future endeavors within the field of Mortuary Archaeology, that has international experience. I am honored to say that Dr. Polcyn has invited me back to join them for the next session, given the hopes that COVID19 will be a thing of the past.

I have also learned so much and this research has peaked my interest in deviant graves. I would like to learn more about deviant graves from around the world and what cultural connections they may have. Are they as strong as the ones in Europe during the Middle Ages? I am going to work hard to find the answer to that question!

As a final note, I will encourage anyone who has a desire to travel for an internship, please, go for it. I will also encourage you to form strong connections with the individuals that are guiding you through your internship, don’t drop the ball on maintaining a connection with them, even after the internship is over. These individuals can help you in so many ways and who doesn’t want help in forming a successful career or just reaching a certain goal in life?

Works Cited

Slavia Project. 2012. “Grave 6/2012.” Slavia Foundation. Buried with sickles: early modern interments from Drawsko, Poland. Drawsko.

Summer 2020 Online Practicums

With the current pandemic, some anthropology seniors are questioning how they will complete the required 3 credit hours in ANTH 3398 (Internship) or ANTH 3397 (Practicum). If you’ve been struggling to find an internship this summer, our amazing faculty would like to offer the following research projects as online practicums (ANTH 3397) that can be completed this summer.

Please reach out to the individual faculty member listed if you are interested in their project. Registration for ANTH 3397 will only be made available after you coordinate with that professor.

Available Projects

The Effectiveness of Indigenous Peacebuilding in Indigenous Context through an analysis of the Human Relations Area Files (HRAF) with Dr. Brandon Lundy. Email Dr. Lundy for more information and check out his faculty web page.

Anthropology Community Outreach and Education with Dr. Teresa Raczek. Email Dr. Raczek for more information and check out her faculty web page.

•       Document public anthropology education projects

•       Create fun and educational activities to teach anthropology to the public

•       Learn about anthropology pedagogy

Alumni Outreach with Dr. Teresa Raczek. Email Dr. Raczek for more information and check out her faculty web page.

•       Interview alumni and write a series of articles for our Dept. website

•       Gain interviewing and writing skills

•       Explore interesting careers

South Asia Archaeology Radiocarbon Analysis with Dr. Teresa Raczek. Email Dr. Raczek for more information.

•       Contribute to radiocarbon database using published data

•       Learn about 3rd millennium BCE archaeological sites

•       Learn how to do simple analyses of radiocarbon data

Visual and Media Analysis of a Global Pandemic: Ethnographic Perspectives on Community Responses with Dr. Debarati Sen.

Professionalism in Anthropology with Dr. Alice Gooding. Email Dr. Gooding for more information and check out her faculty web page.

A Sweet Tooth for Dental Anthropology

Ashleigh Freeman

For my last semester, I chose to do a practicum with Dr. Gooding. I was lucky enough to get a practicum that was aligned with research I had done previously in an osteology field school in Greece and that I found interesting. My overall goal was to create a collection of teeth that can be used to teach various classes in the department. Also, I wanted to create a couple of extra sets for Dr. Smith to take with her to Greece. For classes like the Human Skeleton and Lab in Physical Anthropology, having hands-on access to teeth can help students gain a deeper understanding of the importance of teeth.

I worked throughout the semester, learning as much as I could about human dentition through books and articles. I then used that knowledge to create collections of wear patterns in each type of teeth. I created displays of show teeth (which is the perfect example of that tooth) and funky teeth (which contained caries, fillings, and grills). Writing the final paper at the end of the project shows how much you learn over the semester, conferring a sense of expertise in that area of anthropology. After sorting through approximately 1,700 teeth, I had all the sets ready, so I built little displays for the classroom. I hope my practicum can help someone down the road feel more confident when they learn about teeth!