54:AnthroClub:Field Trip

18 12 2008

Alecia Barela
Nestled in the agrarian community of Hanford, California is an extraordinary museum devoted to Asian art. This gem draws thousands of visitors each year from around the world to its location in the hushed countryside. The Clark Center for Japanese Art & Culture is an institution dedicated to the preservation, study, and showing of Japanese art to the public. Established in 1995, the center continues to increase in popularity while expanding its collection. Presently the institute’s collection consists of works ranging from the 10th to 21st century.

The Anthro Club visited the museum to view its fall exhibit “They Swim, Fly, Wiggle, Walk, or Slither: The Hidden Code of Animals in Japanese Art.” The exhibit’s amazing collection featured paintings, hanging scrolls, sculptures, woodblock prints, ceramics, baskets, and byobu (folding screens). Many of the pieces were created during the Edo Period (1600-1868). Club members were amazed by the artistry and the skill, some dating back centuries. We were able to learn about and appreciate the symbolic relevance of animals in Japanese culture.

The exhibit highlighted the twelve animals of the Zodiac based on a lunisolar cycle. Also displayed in the artwork were Japan’s domestic fauna as well as some foreign animals rendered by Japanese artists. The animal showcase included roosters, hawks, koi (carp), fireflies, turtles, monkeys, peacocks, tigers, ducks, crows, and dragons. In all members learned about seventeen different animals and their cultural significance. It was a humbling and rewarding experience to be able to stand up close to these objects. Through art, we were able to see how society expressed themselves in the past and formed meaning in their lives and how they continue to in modern times. Beautiful and enlightening, it is a luxury to have this institute so close in proximity and it certainly will be revisited by the Anthro Club in the near future.

Apart from the museum’s treasures, the Clark Center also features a bonsai garden, a library, and a gift shop. For more information about the Clark Center for Japanese Art & Culture, please visit http://www.ccjac.org. The center holds several exhibits a year and admission is modestly priced at only $3 for students with proof of ID.

54: Anthropologist of the Fortnight

18 12 2008

Chrystal Kinsella

Ruth Benedict was one of the first female anthropologists. She also helped shape the discipline of anthropology. She attended Vassar College on a scholarship and graduated in 1909. Ten years later she went to Columbia University, where she studied under Franz Boas. In 1923, after she had her PhD, Benedict became a faculty member. She worked there until 1948. Boas’ influence showed in her work in anthropology. She was very influenced with the idea of egalitarianism. Benedict was very good at organizing facts and summarizing. One of her most famous publications is Patterns of Culture which has been translated into fourteen different languages. This book promotes cultural relativism. She especially argued that morality could only be judged within the circumference of ones own culture.

54:Field School: Grandad 2008

18 12 2008

Steven Colagiovanni
This 2008 field school at Grandad was once again both an interesting learning experience and social experience. From scraping with trowels, to picking at charcoal, to playing “Will it roast?” the field school was constantly engaging.
This year’s excavation was focused on getting through the roof of the dwelling that was first discovered two years ago. The goal this year was to carefully excavate the roof removing as much of the daub (earth that was used to form the roof which then baked in the fire that destroyed the structure) as we possibly could in as big of chunks as we possibly could. It was slow going, but worth all the tedium when we found charcoalized roof timbers amongst the daub pieces that we pulled out. Charcoal made up a significant portion of the dig this year. Each team found at least one large chunk of charcoal in their units while some found dozens. We also found, what are most likely, the postholes in which the supporting poles were placed to hold up the roof. We also found various points, a few steatite beads, and a couple of steatite bowl fragments.
As far as the social aspect of field school, this was the “year of the fire.” For quite a few nights this year we started fires in an old barbeque that we found, this lead to many roasted hot dogs, s’mores, and the development of the fabulous “bacon-dog”. We also read through various books that we bought at a local used bookstore in Mariposa, including a few hilarious
texts on scientology. We also did karaoke again this year in Mariposa, but after a good ol’fashioned bar brawl erupted between a couple locals, we decided to call it a night and get back to camp. Thanks to all who came for a great year and we can all hope that people will sign up for the 2009 field school so that another fun year will ensue.
The class is from June 1-21, but you have to register for it in the Spring, so be sure you do so!

54:AnthroNews: Forensic Archaeology Lecture

18 12 2008

On December 1, 2008 Dr. John Pryor gave a lecture entitled “Forensic Archaeology: CSI meets Indian Jones.” His talk centered around the work that he has done throughout his Archaeological career. He talked about the work done on the Skyrocket site near Sonoma in the foothills, which contains 10,000 years of prehistory. The work at this site provided a wonderful view into California’s past.

He went on to explain what he meant by “forensic archaeology.” It is the marriage of archaeological techniques and forensics. By combining the techniques of both sciences, evidence and remains are less likely to be destroyed or ruined. He provided an example of how police do not always do the best thing in terms of collecting remains. In one case a backhoe was brought in and took the top of the skull off of the remains. Dr. Pryor and associates were brought in and excavated the body “properly.” He went through various cases and times in which they had to create new methods to get the job done. He commented that often the low-tech ways are the most accurate or helpful.

He does a lot of work for California Native Americans, like those in Table Mountain. When he works on projects for non-forensic purposes he uses the things he has learned from doing the forensic cases. His work has been extensive, to say the least. On top of the contract work, Dr. Pryor also teaches the Fresno State archaeology class over the summer semester.