Courses of study offered by MichiganX, an online learning initiative of the University of Michigan through edX
“Meme and My Friends: The Dynamics of Merry-making,” November 29, 2012
Collaborative poster presented at the 2012 Anthropology Undergraduate Research Symposium, Humboldt State University. Presented by Casey Dobbins, Jaqueline Farrington, Racheal Marte-Taylor, Cherilyn Neider and Nikki Martensen
Abstract: This project studied the public opinions and discussion of the effects contemporary humans have at archaeological rock art sites in the United States. Preservation of rock art sites is attempted by a perpetual separation of visitors, by creating physical barriers at sites, or keeping site locations a secret. Little has been done, however, to assess public access to information relating to site locations and preservation information. This project utilized open-ended questionnaires to assess the opinions of the online rock-art community in relation to this topic. These opinions were compared with the content in public texts to assess the public accessibility of information. This research represents the potential of an affiliated public to make a significant contribution to the discussion on rock art site preservation and public interaction.
Abstract: Modeling the thoughts and beliefs of ancient persons is an arduous calling for archaeologists, as this data falls into the intangible realm. Often the most direct material link to the ancient mind is found in rock art. With resilience to the elements and time, rock surfaces presented an ideal canvas for the lasting expressions of past cultures. Many of these sites, however, have been damaged or compromised due to invasive recording practices. Researchers and tourists continue to utilize outdated methods, as a result of misinformation or naivety on the subject. A non-invasive, conservation-based approach to rock art recording is presented, with the intention of diminishing unintentional site vandalism. Symbols of headdresses, messengers, and lobed circles appear across differing chronological and regional rock art style categories. These elements are often interpreted in relation to altered states of consciousness and ceremony. The petroglyph panel at the Spirit Bird Cave site in southeastern Utah provides evidence of all three of these elements, and is thus well suited for this project. This poster presents the current status of the project, with a discussion of methods and preliminary field results. This project combines standard and innovative methods of field mapping, lighting and close-range photogrammetry to produce visual models which can be analyzed in a laboratory setting without concern for panel damage. These visual models can expand access to immovable data such as rock art, allowing researchers a truly non-invasive approach.
Abstract: Humans have a common practice of altering auditory perception, with the ability to extend their sound experience through creating instruments, building acoustic amphitheater spaces, and producing rhythm and music with the body as with clapping, chanting, and singing. The field of archaeoacoustics offers insight into the use of sound in ancient societies. Previous research in this field has fixated on the auditory properties surrounding architectural spaces, for example, echo and amplification. These properties are often studied in relation to sound producing artifacts. Archaeoacoustic scholars consider altering sound experience a product of human intention–as a deliberate investment of meaning rather than an epiphenomenal environmental coincidence. This has left a void of literature for the auditory architecture of religious, political and social spaces. This research will describe the issues and implications surrounding the interpretation of acoustic data in archaeology, focusing on the relation to spiritual and symbolic social practices. Theoretical perspectives will be draw from previous archaeoacoustic research, as well as human evolutionary biology, as the evolution of auditory perception is likely to correlate with the development of art, language, and other symbolic social systems. This combination of ideas proposes deeper understanding of the role of sound that has been essential to the human experience.