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Blasket Islands

Blasket islands

2015 Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Field School, Great Blasket Island, Ireland
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, May 25 to July 3, 2015
6 weeks, 6 credits

This field school in archaeology, history, heritage, and landscape studies will examine the lifeways of residents of Great Blasket Island (Blascaod Mor) off the southwest coast of the Dingle Peninsula (Corca Dhuibhne) of the Republic of Ireland. Great Blasket and its surrounding islands have been traversed by cultures leaving traces from fort sites thousands of years in age, to monastic dwellings and Viking incursions in the medieval period one thousand years ago, and a settled village from at least the 17th century onward. The lifeways of the residents on Great Blasket were the focus of nationalist pride by proponents of the new Republic of Ireland in the early 1900s. Those lifeways, supported by maritime, pastoral, and agrarian subsistence, were hailed by nationalist advocates as representing an authentic Irish cultural identity uncorrupted by the impacts of British colonialism, racism, modernity, or new consumer markets. Great Blasket’s population decreased as emigration to America or to the mainland towns of the Republic drew families away in the 1900s. This field school will contribute to research examining the cultural landscapes across time and the archaeological record of resident lifeways. Additional information and an application form are available online at

This field school is presented through a collaboration with Micheal De Mordha, director of the Great Blasket Cultural Center in Dunquin, Ireland, and Frank Coyne, co-director and principal archaeologist of Aegis Archaeology, in Limerick. Many thanks to the University of Illinois for hosting this field school, and to the University of Chicago for funding support.

Best wishes,

Christopher C. Fennell, PhD, JD, RPA
Assoc. Prof. of Anthropology and University Scholar
Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois
Visiting Professor of Law, University of Chicago

Jamie Arjona accepts 2014 award from SHA President Paul Mullins.

Jamie Arjona accepts 2014 award from SHA President Paul Mullins.

Congratulations to Anthropology department alumna Annelise Morris in receiving the first-place award for the Society for Historical Archaeology‘s Diversity Field School Award, and to graduate students Jamie Arjona and Tatiana Niculescu for the second-place award. These awards recognized their excellent work as collaborative archaeology project managers and their successes through research designs and public participation in enhancing the diversity of our field of science. The SHA congratulates them for excellence in “making the field of historical archaeology more inclusive of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, abilities, and socio-economic background” and showing “a commitment to increasing diversity in the field.” Annelise’s field school focused on her dissertation site at Lawrenceville, Illinois, and Jamie and Tatiana’s contribution focused on the 2013 field school at the Pottersville site in Edgefield, South Carolina.

Scar1Isabel Scarborough is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Parkland College and Research Affiliate at the Anthropology Department of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 2007, while a doctoral candidate at the University of Illinois, she received a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation to aid research on ‘Market Women Mothers and Daughters: Politics and Mobility in the New Bolivia,’ supervised by Dr. Andrew Orta. In 2012, she received the Engaged Anthropology Grant to return to her fieldsite in Cochabamba, Bolivia to conduct a three-day workshop and produce a children’s book based on her research on the country’s informal markets. 

Find out more on The Wenner-Gren Blog!

A Dragon Kiln in Carolina

By K. Kris Hirst, Guide

excavation photoChinese Pottery Technology in the Antebellum American South

As modern humans, we tend to think of international trade, commercial innovation and mass production as strictly modern inventions, no more than a century or so old and certainly never dreamed of by our great-grandfathers. I know what you’re thinking–didn’t Henry Ford invent that stuff? But as archaeology teaches us over and over again, modern industrial revolutions are in fact based on centuries and even millennia of collaboration, innovation and espionage.

A Dragon Kiln in Carolina is the story of the origins of mass production of an innovative and revolutionary type of ceramic stoneware, pottery made beginning in the southern United States about 1815, with clay body and glaze recipes and equipment technologies borrowed in part from 6th century Chinese manufacturing. It is a tale of the import of an idea for an enormous, fiery pottery-making monster, aptly named a dragon kiln for its heat, length and high-maintenance characteristics, and it is one of technological transmission from China to South Carolina that the excavators have yet to completely understand.

The archaeological identification of a dragon kiln in the historic South Carolina pottery workshops called the Edgefield District was made by Christopher Fennell (U. Illinois), George Calfas (U. Illinois), Carl Steen (Diachronic Research Foundation), and Sean Taylor (S.C. Department of Natural Resources) during the summer of 2011, and I thank them sincerely for bringing the story to me, as well as providing photos and information to take the story to you.

Read full article and photo essay online


Jamie Arjona and Steve Szynal of UIUC excavate at Pottersville

Jamie Arjona and Steve Szynal of UIUC excavate at Pottersville

Unearthing the Past: Edgefield Pottery Excavations Reveal New, Surprising Information

June 30, 2012, by DeDe Biles, Aiken Standard News

Archaeological excavations are uncovering new and surprising information about the potteries that thrived in Aiken and Edgefield counties in the first half of the 1800s.

“There is a sparse documentary record of this area that is maddening, and what we’ve found has been a complete revelation,” said Dr. Christopher Fennell, an associate professor and the associate head of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Fennell and a team of graduate and undergraduate students, along with some volunteers, have been working at Pottersville, a site not far from downtown Edgefield, since just after Memorial Day. They are scheduled to wrap up this year’s efforts on Friday. Their focus in 2013 has been to add to the knowledge gained during a series of digs at the same location in 2011.

Before then, much of what was known about local potteries in the past suggested that a groundhog kiln about 25 to 30 feet in length and 9 to 10 feet wide would be found at Pottersville. Instead, the researchers discovered a kiln that was more than 105 feet long and had a sloping floor similar to the dragon kilns used in China.

“It gave us quite a new view of Edgefield,” Fennell said. “There had been a working historical theory before then that this had started out as smaller scale crafts industry. But what was found was a much bigger industrial-scale pottery.”

Read the full article online.

gottlieb_grahamMay 7, 2013 event, 7pm, at Common Good Books. “Anthropology and narrative nonfiction come together in a fascinating look at life in West Africa. In a compelling mix of braidedworldsliterary narrative and ethnography, anthropologist Alma Gottlieb and writer Philip Graham continue the long journey of cultural engagement with the Beng people of Côte d’Ivoire that they first recounted in their award-winning memoir Parallel Worlds. Their commitment over the span of several decades has lent them a rare insight. Weaving their own stories with those of the villagers of Asagbé and Kosangbé, Gottlieb and Graham take turns recounting a host of unexpected dramas with these West African villages, prompting serious questions about the fraught nature of cultural contact.” Read the full event announcement online at Common Good Books.

Prof. Kathryn ClancyFrom Science magazine online, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science — “Fieldwork is a rite of passage for anthropologists. It gives the initiate firsthand knowledge of a culture, along with a feeling of camaraderie with colleagues, often in remote and rugged locations. But for women there is also a dark side — a risk of sexual harassment and rape, according to a survey of fieldwork experiences released today. Anthropologist Kathryn Clancy, who authored the study, found a disturbingly high incidence of physical sexual harassment among respondents: More than 20% of female bioanthropologists who took part said that they had experienced ‘physical sexual harassment or unwanted sexual contact.’ Most of these victims are female, and most of the perpetrators were colleagues of superior professional status, sometimes the victim’s own fieldwork mentor.” Read the full article online (by John Bohannon, Science, April 13, 2013), and another article by the UIUC News Bureau, both with links to Prof. Clancy’s Context and Variation blog for Scientific American.



Prof. Helaine Silverman has worked with two other colleagues on campus to found a new UNESCO Center on campus!


The public is invited to the inaugural event of the new UNESCO Center for Global Citizenship

Please join us! Learn about the goals of the new Center, partnership ties with UNESCO associations across the world, upcoming activities including a guided visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Cahokia Mounds in Illinois, museum tours, reading/discussion groups, guest speakers, school events, and traveling exhibitions.

Monday, April 15, 2013 5:00 – 7:00pm Champaign Public Library Robeson Rooms A&B

UNESCO and the Mission for Peace in a Troubled World

Mr. Guy Djoken

Executive Director, UNESCO Center for Peace Washington, D.C.
Introduction by Professor Barbara Ford, Director of the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs at the University of Illinois Library Member of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO

Other events with Guy Djoken

Sunday, April 14, 2013
WILL-AM 580 radio interview on “Keepin’ the Faith” with host Steve Shoemaker Listeners are invited to call-in with questions.

Tuesday, April 16
Room 219 Davenport Hall, University of Illinois Community Activism and UNESCO’s Millennial Goals

Support for the events is provided by: University of Illinois Anthropology, African-American Studies, International Forum for U.S. Studies, Center for Advanced Studies, and Center for Global Studies. April 15th reception’s food is donated by World Harvest, Schnucks, and Strawberry Fields.

UNESCO: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

“Building Peace in the Minds of Men and Women”

For more information visit and contact or

Check out all these upcoming campus events to celebrate the launch here: UNESCO Ctr at UIUC-Opening Events Flyer

In  a new ranking published by the New York Times, the U of I ranked as #24 among the Top 100 Universities in the World!.  Read the story and see the full ranking here: Logo

We have a brand-new U of I chapter of Lambda Alpha, the National Anthropology Honors Society!  ANTH Major, Jen Freeland, has taken the lead in coordinating many details to create the chapter.  Kudos to Jen!

Membership in Lambda Alpha offers many advantages:

-opportunity to publish in the organization’s annual journal, which sets aside half its pages for undergraduate students’ essays (think: Capstone project/Honors Thesis!)–we’ll soon receive issues of the journal, which will be stored in the Undergrad Advisor’s office, where you’ll be welcome to browse through the journal

-opportunity to apply for grants: A $5,000 scholarship is awarded to a graduating senior majoring in anthropology, and the society also sponsors a Graduate Overseas Research Grant competition ($1,000 – $4,000). Only members who belong to chartered chapters are eligible to compete for these awards and grants.

-opportunity to network with peers nationally

-opportunity to wear fancy regalia (stole + pin) at graduation to display your membership proudly

-opportunity to develop leadership skills in a national organization

-prestige on your résumé

-and all this for the bargain price of $25 for a LIFETIME membership!

Make sure to “friend” the group:  Anthropology Club/Lambda Alpha UIUC.

Jen Freeland provides more details about our new chapter, how it’s merged with our Anthropology Club, and some upcoming activities for the joint group:

As of March, 2013, the newly established Mu of Illinois chapter of Lambda Alpha National Collegiate Anthropology Honors Society has 38 official members. Upon launching our new chapter, it was agreed by students and faculty that a unification between the preexisting Anthropology Club and the new Lambda Alpha chapter would be in the best interest of students and would allow for a closer community of anthropology students to grow.


It is the mission of the UIUC Anthropology Club/Lambda Alpha to create a community in which anthropology students can come together in order to share their passion for anthropos (“humanity” in Greek!) through linguistic, sociocultural, biological, and archaeological influences.  We promise to offer students social activities through the Anthropology Club as well as academic opportunities through Lambda Alpha National Collegiate Anthropology Honors Society in order to aid students through their growth and development as anthropologists.

Here is a list of our official Exec Board members:

Jenny Winkler – Anthropology Club President

Jen Freeland – Lambda Alpha President

Rachel Ogden – Secretary (will write our annual report for the national Lambda Alpha newsletter)

Kristine Parker – Treasurer

Grace Hall & Anna Prior – Academic Activities (Lambda Alpha)

Cheyenne Phelps – Social Activities (Anth Club)

Everyone liked the idea of having a movie/snack/relaxation room before finals. We are definitely going to schedule one for this semester!

I posted a link to the Facebook page about the current Lascaux exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago with a lot of positive responses. I think we are also going to arrange a day trip up there right after finals.

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