Conservation after Conflict in Pakistan: A Model for Collaborative Archaeology

Dr. Luca M. Olivieri is the current Director of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan. Since 2011 he has also served as the Director of the ACT-Field School project in Swat (Pakistan) co-implemented by the Mission and the Pakistani archaeological authorities. During his 28 years of field research in Swat he has conducted 23 excavation campaign in seven sites (17 campaigns in the historic settlement of Barikot) and 15 survey campaigns. The results of his field activity have been published in dozens of research papers as well as in several books and reports. His main fields of interest are urban settlements, landscape archaeology, and rock-art.

A Look at Rudolph’s Bright Red Nose

Prompted by a question from his 4-year-old daughter, Professor of Anthropology Nathaniel Dominy wrote a paper about the properties of reindeer eyes and how they might explain the advantage of a reindeer having a bright red nose like the famous Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, writes the Associated Press in a story published by CBS News.

There’s a downside to the brightness of the nose, which is that it may cause the reindeer to use more than the average number of calories as it goes about its activities, such as pulling Santa’s sleigh, writes the AP. “One way to heat your body is to burn fuel. You do that by burning fat and calories. Children should be aware of Rudolph's condition and leave high-calorie foods for him,” Dominy tells the AP.

Quote of the Day: Jesse Casana December 2, 2015

Videos of Islamic State militants shattering ancient statues and blowing up classical temples have shocked the world. But according to a new analysis of satellite images by U.S. archaeologists, these high-profile acts obscure the actual extent of damage to Syria’s rich cultural heritage.

The team examined images of 1,450 ancient sites across the shattered nation and found that one in four has been damaged or looted in the civil war that began in 2011.

Read the National Geographic article.

EEES Graduate Program Accepting Applications

Dartmouth's new Ecology, Evolution, Ecosystems & Society (EEES) graduate program is accepting applications until January 1, 2016.  There are two overlapping tracks of scholarship and training in the EEES program, with one track focusing on Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB), and the other focusing on Sustainability, Ecosystems, and Environment (SEE).  Anthropologists interested in human-environmental relations from a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives are invited to discuss their interests with participating faculty, including Jessie Casana, Jeremy DeSilva, Nathaniel Dominy, and Laura Ogden, EEES Associate Chair.  Information about the program can be found here:

Perspective on Syria

The Islamic State's looting of important archaeological sites in Syria has been well-documented over the past year, with the damage caused to ancient cities like Palmyra causing anger and outrage around the world. Unfortunately, attempts to assess the damage caused to these sites and others like them has been limited due to the conflict and chaos that has existed in Syria over the past four years.

Jesse Casana, an associate professor of anthropology at Dartmouth, has found a way to get around that problem, using extensive archives of satellite imagery to examine nearly 1,300 archaeological sites in the country. What his research found was surprising – while it was clear that there had been significant looting in areas controlled by the Islamic State, looting may have been even more widespread in areas controlled by opposition forces or the Kurdish People's Protection Unit (YPG).

Read the Washington Post article.

Field Research in Nepal: Community Perceptions of Recent Earthquake

Yangjin and I were talking about causality when the topic of glaciers came up. She was describing the interviews she and her fellow community researchers from Mustang, Nepal, had completed this summer as part of an NSF RAPID award called “Narrating Disaster: Calibrating Causality and Response to the 2015 Earthquakes in Nepal.” Yangjin moved her hands and shoulders, narrating, through the words of others, how this living earth, jigten, balances on the back of a mythical animal. Sometimes it is an elephant, other times a white ox, fish, tortoise, or pig. “When the animal shakes its tail, there is a small earthquake. This time people felt the whole body shaking.”

This causal explanation of Nepal’s devastating earthquakes will likely prove to be a common response in our research, particularly among the elderly. Other recurring explanations include discussions of the four elements – fire, water, air, and earth – which at once comprise and course through our planet. When these elements are out of balance or in need of release, events such as earthquakes, floods, or volcanic eruptions occur, locals explained.

The Recent Discovery of a Distant Cousin: Homo naledi

Prof. DeSilva and a team of scholars at universities around the world are quickly working to place the newest fossil discovery into the history of human evolution.

Detailed analyses of Homo naledi shows a mosaic of both early and modern human features.

The recent discovery of a new human ancestor in the Rising Star cave system of South Africa shook the family tree. The newest member—Homo naledi—has a mash-up of ancient and modern human features, and the announcement stirred some controversy over whether the specimens are truly a new species.

Two studies published today in Nature Communications only intensify the debate, suggesting that H. naledi was a tree climber, long-distance strider and potential tool-user. 

Welcome New Faculty

The Department of Anthropology welcomes four new members to its faculty - Jesse Casana and Jeremy DeSilva as Associate Professors, Sabrina Billings as Senior Lecturer, and Jennifer Carballo, Visiting Professor from the Peabody Museum at Harvard University.

Jesse Casana comes to Dartmouth from the University of Arkansas with over ten years experience teaching and in the field working numerous projects in the U.S. and the Middle East. His research focuses mainly on Archaeology in the Near East.

Jeremy DeSilva moves to Hanover from Boston. His experience includes work at the Boston Museum of Science and over eight years of teaching most recently at Boston University. His research interests include human evolution; South and Eastern African fossil record; Australopithecus; origins and diversification of upright walking; primate locomotion; functional and comparative anatomy of the foot; brain evolution and ontogeny; and the evolution of human birth.

Vivek Venkataraman, PhD Student in EEB, Receives NGS Waitt Grant

Vivek Venkataraman (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Ph.D student) and Jeff Kerby (Visiting Arctic Fellow at Dartmouth College) received a National Geographic Society - Waitt Grant for $15,000 for a project entitled "The living library of primate faces: developing 3-dimensional facial mapping to link behavioral ecology and morphometrics in a wild gelada monkey population."  The size and shape of morphological traits are fundamental aspects of animals that have been shaped by natural and sexual selection. Consequently, the measurements of physical attributes in wild animals is essential for testing evolutionary hypotheses. Yet in most taxa this task is difficult due to logistical challenges and the ethical problems associated with live capture. Remote measurement of individual morphological traits via photogrammetry has become popular in recent years, although current implementations of this technique remain relatively crude and are largely confined to two dimensions.   The study involves developing a portable multi-camera array to characterize the morphological traits of wild primates in three dimensions.

Colin Walmsley '15 Named Rhodes Scholar

Colin Walmsley ’15 of Fort MacLeod, Alberta, Canada has been named a Rhodes Scholar for 2015—the 78th Rhodes Scholar in Dartmouth’s history.

The Rhodes Scholarship, the oldest and best-known award for international study, is widely considered to be the most prestigious postgraduate academic award available to college graduates.

Colin is completing a double major in Anthropology and Government and conducted research as a senior fellow on "Queer Youth Homelessness in New York City," with his advisor, Sienna Craig, an associate professor of Anthropology. His research was supported with funding from the anthropology department’s Claire Garber Goodman Fund for the Anthropological Study of Human Culture.

The Anthropology Department extends its warmest congratulations to Colin as he prepares for his journey to Oxford to pursue a master's degree in Social Anthropology.