Saturday, January 31, 2009

The SAS and Web 2.0

What do you think about our developing presence in the world of Web 2.0?

We have the SAS Bulletin, our old favorite.

We have SAS-Net, for listserv notices.

We have this blog, for odds and ends and musings from a selected group of authors.

And now for your perusal, the SAS wiki, which we can use to develop online resources in a collaborative fashion, such as the present list of coming events (largely derived from SAS-Net postings). You can see what the Society for Economic Anthropology has done with wikis at

Let us know what you think. Leave a comment below.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fryxell Award

Next week is the deadline for nominations for the 2010 Fryxell Award, presented by the Society of American Archaeology in recognition for interdisciplinary excellence by a scientist whose research has contributed significantly to American archaeology.

The winner of the 2009 award is Michael Glascock, Director of the Archaeometry Laboratory at the University of Missouri Research Reactor, an honor well deserved for Mike's many accomplishments utilizing trace element analysis for chemical fingerprinting. There will be a symposium in honor of the winner at the Society for American Archaeology meeting in Atlanta. Congratulations, Mike!

The 2010 Fryxell Award will be in the area of general interdisciplinary studies. The award will be given at the SAA's 75th Annual Meeting, 2010, in St. Louis, Missouri. The full announcement and nomination procedures are given here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

My undergraduate archaeometry course

I periodically teach a course for undergraduates titled Archaeometry: Application of the Natural Sciences to Archaeology. It is cross-listed in Geosciences and Anthropology. I am teaching it this Spring for the first time in several years. I'm pleased to be able to use Brothwell and Pollard as a text, now that it is affordable in paperback. I have a healthy enrollment of 14, about evenly split between Geosciences and Anthropology majors, with Psychology and Government majors in for good measure. It's supposed to be the ultimate liberal arts college course!

You can download the syllabus here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Teaching Archaeometry to Retirees

As a departure from teaching for the University of Illinois' Campus Honors Program, I am offering an 8-week class at our Osher Lifelong Learning Institute beginning next week. It's called "Artifact, Relic, or Hoax: Cases Studies in Archaeological Science"and currently has almost 50 students registered from diverse academic and non-academic backgrounds.

The class will feature many of the topics I have used in my undergraduate course, ANTH 221 "Materials and Civilization: An Overview of Archaeometry" including the Shroud of Turin, The Getty Kouros, fakes and forgeries, experimental archaeology coupled with materials analyses, and mummy studies. We will also explore the applications of specific techniques such as X-ray diffraction, radiocarbon dating, neutron activation analysis, PIMA spectroscopy, and SEM/EDS to sourcing North American stone, recreating midwestern cooking pots, and identifying likely forgeries such as the Ellington stone from western Illinois.

Since folks are taking this for fun, no exams or papers are required--or even readings--but I will encourage everyone to explore web links, including this blog. To check out my links, go here.

Sarah Wisseman, Director, Program on Ancient Technologies and Archaeological Materials

R.E. Taylor Student Poster Award Competition

The Society for Archaeological Sciences will sponsor a contest for the best student archaeometric poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (April 22 through 26: Atlanta, Georgia, USA). The prize will include a one-year membership in the SAS, including the quarterly Bulletin, and a monetary award of $100 (US). The student should be the first author and the presenter of the poster. Entries will be judged on the significance of the archaeological problem, appropriateness of the archaeometric methods used, soundness of conclusions, quality of the poster display, and oral presentation of the poster. The student author must be present at the poster session in order to compete and respond to judges’queries. Undergraduate and graduate-level candidates are welcome to apply. To enter, please submit the following information in the body of an email: student’s name, university/college, department, and standing; contact email and postal address (for student); coauthors’ names and affiliations; title of poster; complete abstract text (as submitted to SAA); and poster session title, date and time. Deadline for entries: April 15, 2009. Email entry information and direct questions to: AJ Vonarx, SAS Membership Development,

SAS Bulletin Seeks New Editor

The Society for Archaeological Sciences is seeking an Editor-in-Chief for its quarterly publication, SAS Bulletin: Newsletter of the Society for Archaeological Sciences. For over 30 years, the SAS Bulletin has been an integral part of the SAS as a means to share information about the latest research in archaeological science as well as jobs, training, conferences, Society business, and other relevant news. The first Editor in 1977 was R. E. Taylor, who was followed in later years by Suzanne P. De Atley, George “Rip” Rapp Jr., Patrick E. Martin, Robert S. Sternberg, Christopher L. Nagle, Robert H. Tykot, and, since 2005, E. Christian Wells. The Editor is responsible for the Bulletin's content and publication schedule. To help in this effort, the Editor is joined by a group of associate editors, each with the responsibility to collect information about a different sector of archaeological science and to share this information with the Editor for publication in the Bulletin. The current areas of archaeological science covered in the Bulletin include: archaeological ceramics, archaeological chemistry, archaeometallurgy, bioarchaeology, dating, geoarchaeology, and remote sensing and GIS. There are also associate editors for book reviews and the meeting calendar. Copies of previously published issues are available on-line, The new Editor will mail their first issue (Volume 33, Number 1) to the membership on February 1, 2010. Please send inquiries and proposals to Christian Wells,

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Positions in Chile: Bioanthropologist; Geoarchaeology Postdoc

A public call to fill the positions of a Bioanthropologist and a Post-Doc in Geoarcheology. Both jobs will be located in Punta Arenas, Chile.

The working language will be Spanish.

Download a 9-page pdf file of the job announcement in Spanish here.

Dr. Thomas Colnot
Director Ejecutivo
Fundación CEQUA
Centro de Estudios del Cuaternario (CEQUA)
Avenida Bulnes 01860, Punta Arenas
Fono-fax: 56- 61-217315

Saturday, January 17, 2009

SAS Business

The annual business will be at the Society for American Archaeology Meeting in Atlanta:
Thursday April 23, 5:30 pm–7:00 pm, room to be announced.

Before then, we will be holding elections for a new Vice President/President-elect.

We are also looking to select a new editor for the SAS Bulletin.

By-laws for SAS can be found here.

Current SAS Officers can be found here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Archaeology jobs - show me the money?

The topic is not quite archaeometry, but in these days of the
it's reasonable to wonder about the economic prospects of being an archaeologist.

An article just published online in Science Careers, focusing on the United Kingdom, says, in part:
Salaries are not the only worry commercial archaeologists face. Unemployment is another. The sector takes about 93% of its revenue from development contracts ... so commercial archaeology is highly dependent on trends in the construction industry. During a construction boom, work is plentiful and archaeologists find many opportunities.

Today, the construction industry is doing poorly, so opportunities for archaeologists have dwindled ... now is a good time to retool by investing in professional development. New skills and specialties will increase earning power and "make graduates more employable. Commercial archaeology will change and survive the current economic crisis because local and national laws requiring archaeological evaluation and monitoring of all building sites mean that there will be always a demand for the services the industry provides.

Why enter a field with such uncertain career prospects? If you like being out in the open air and if you have ability and interest for science-based work, then archaeology can be a great thing to do because it does put you in contact with new things all the time.
Read the full account here.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

SAS Blog Proposal

Proposal for SAS Blog
Rachel Popelka-Filcoff
March 10, 2008

  • To promote online conversations about archaeological science
  • To tie in the worldwide community of researchers in archaeological science
  • To create a moderated online forum for new ideas and current trends in the field
  • To create a moderated online forum for opinion on current archaeological science research
  • To create an online space for networking for all interested in archaeological science in all levels of career involvement
  • To create an online space for networking from various institutions worldwide
Proposed themes:
  • General archaeological science
  • Archaeological science in the news/current articles
  • Analytical techniques (analytical chemistry, C-14, etc.)
  • Subtopics of interest (such as analytical chemistry, faunal studies, dating, geoarchaeology, archaeometallurgy, experimental archaeology, conservation etc. These can be set from the beginning or added as interest develops).
  • Career/networking/jobs
  • Meeting calendar
  • Archaeological science in the classroom
  • Others as they develop
Approved at the SAS annual business meeting, Siena, May, 2008