By Maria H. Sousa

Matthew Egger (CAS’14) awarded Fulbright grant

April 9th, 2014 in Alumni, Archaeology, awards, Students

Matthew Egger, Archaeology graduating senior was awarded a Fulbright grant for next year.

He will be attending the first year of a Master’s program in classical archaeology and ancient numismatics at the University of Tuebingen in Germany.  The research area of focus is a site on the Western Anatolian coast dating to the Hellenistic Period called Herakliea on Latmos.

During the summer months Matthew will be engaged in archaeological excavations under direction of Junior Professor Richard Posamentir, where he will apply the technical skills and cultural-historical knowledge gained at Tuebingen working directly in the field with a German research team.

German and American practices of archaeology are quite different; Americans approach the practice of archaeology through an anthropological lens, whereas in Germany, archaeology is its own unique discipline.  The goal of this project is to help to bridge the disciplinary gap between German and American styles of archaeology, while coming to more accurately understand our shared Western material heritage.


Professor Berlin NPR “Preserving Audio For The Future Is A Race Against Time”

March 31st, 2014 in Uncategorized

NPR “Weekend Edition Sunday”

3/23/14 (audio link)


Preserving Audio For The Future Is A Race Against Time


By Emily Siner


On the very first archaeological dig of her career, Andrea Berlin discovered the room of a house that somebody had lived in around 800 B.C. Talk about beginner’s luck.


“I felt like a time traveler,” she says.


Berlin is now a professor of archaeology at Boston University, where she teaches and studies ancient civilizations in the Mediterranean. She finds their sculptures and tools and lots of pottery — anything tangible and substantial enough to last two or three thousand years.


But even though each dig brings a lifetime’s worth of stuff to go through, Berlin says she still wishes she had more.


“I think archaeologists are jealous of historians who have access to modern information sources – audio, for example, individual interviews and shows and recordings,” she says.


Ever since the first identifiable recording in 1860, sound has added captivating and significant context to history.


“MLK’s ‘I have a dream’ speech — to hear him say it, rather than read the words, is a much more visceral and significant, I think, medium for it,” says Gene DeAnna, the head of the Library of Congress’ recorded sound section.


The Library of Congress is one of thousands of institutions, large and small, trying to make sure that future historians — and even future archaeologists — have access to those recordings. DeAnna oversees the library’s multi-decade efforts to save millions of the nation’s recordings before they’re lost.


They want to preserve things like a 1963 interview by radio personality Studs Terkel with Bob Dylan, talking about “Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.”


It’s part of the library’s agreement to preserve Terkel’s radio interviews with dozens of famous voices from the 20th century. “[Terkel] is a tremendous intellectual force, so to preserve that archive of 25, 30 years of radio is a great project,” DeAnna says.


But preserving audio like this is often an intricate, time-consuming and expensive process.


For one thing, a lot of the audio they’re working with is really old — like this 1904 recording of operatic tenor Enrico Caruso.


When you’re working with old formats, you are often racing against time. With wax cylinders from the 1890s — one of the oldest recording formats — the heat from your hands can cause them to crack. They require highly specialized, expensive equipment to digitize, as well as people who know how to use it.


Records made during World War II, constructed out of glass because other materials were going toward the war effort, are so fragile that they can break even when they’re handled properly.


And if it’s on a cassette tape, it’s automatically at risk, Deanna says — “no matter how well it was recorded, by whom, on what equipment. If it’s on a cassette, it’s just a terrible format for archiving.”


But the Library of Congress can only get audio recordings from the deteriorating formats as fast as they can play them. They’re able to digitize about 15,000 recordings a year, and that’s only a fraction of what’s in their queue.


“We’re probably acquiring between 50 and 100,000 a year,” DeAnna says. “We’re at least stabilizing them in a good environment so that their deterioration will slow down, and we’ll hopefully get to most of them before they’re lost.”


Many already have been lost, according to a Library of Congress study in 2010. Radio recordings, which the study calls “an irreplaceable piece of our sociocultural heritage” (we’re flattered), were rarely kept for safekeeping before the 1930s. At commercial record companies, master recordings of musical artists were sometimes thrown out due to space constraints.


And once recordings are made digital, they’re still at risk of being lost. Unless the digital format is updated consistently, it might not be recognized by a computer in 10 years. Modern recordings that were “born digital” — think songs streamed on Myspace — are especially ephemeral and at risk of being lost, the Library of Congress study says.


“It’s an active process, not a passive process,” DeAnna says. “It’s not like putting something on the shelf.”


Alexander Rose, director of the Long Now Foundation — an organization that strives to maintain cultural continuity over the next 10,000 years — says this is apparent to anyone who has unsuccessfully tried to open an early computer file.


“Things that were written on stone 1,000 years ago we can still read. Things that were written on books 100 ago we can still read. Most things that were written on computer 20 years ago we can’t read,” Rose says.


But Boston University‘s Berlin says, if we can figure out how to make our audio survive for millennia, future archaeologists will be thrilled.


“In 200 years and 500 years and 1,000 years, there will be other people studying us,” she says. “Maybe they’ll be able to hear us.”


© Copyright 2014 National Public Radio



Professor Marston announces the formation of the Northeast Environmental Archaeology Network (NEEAN)

February 26th, 2014 in Archaeology, Archaeology Network, Environmental Archaeology, Faculty

The formation of a new regional professional organization for environmental archaeologists and other scholars interested in the history of human-environmental interactions, the Northeast Environmental Archaeology Network (NEEAN). A new regional professional organization of environmental archaeologists and other scholars interested in the history of human-environmental interactions worldwide. While it is based in the Northeastern US, the organization is open to any interested individual regardless of location of residence or region of research interest. The goals of the organization include networking between professionals and nascent professionals (graduate and undergraduate students) and opportunities for sharing knowledge and laboratory protocols, equipment, and facilities between organizations throughout the region.

The first meeting of the organization is at Boston University on Saturday, April 5, 2014. Meetings will provide an opportunity for members to bring materials for hands-on identification, to share methodological developments, and to discuss interdisciplinary approaches to research questions with a diverse array of scholars.

For more information and to RSVP, please visit:

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Daniel Fallu (GRS’16) recipient of a GRAF and AIA Pomerance Fellowship

February 6th, 2014 in Archaeology, awards, Discoveries, Discovery, Graduate Student, Research, Uncategorized

Dan Fallu, Boston University Department of Archaeology graduate student has been awarded the long term GRAF.  The GRAF is specifically for his field work and residency in Greece. The bulk of the funding will be put towards coring the banks of the Chavos River (part of the natural fortification of Mycenae) in order to develop a history of sediment dynamics. The main goal of this coring is to determine if a dam (yet to be discovered architecturally) created a reservoir that resulted in the eventual burial of the site.
The AIA Pomerance Fellowship will pay for dating (carbon and osl) and isotope analysis to understand the effect of climate perturbuation on the stratigraphy at Mycenae.

Congratulations Dan!

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Professor John Marston’s SAA article: Navigating the Interdisciplinary Academic Job Market in Archaeology

January 27th, 2014 in Alumni, Archaeology, Job Posting, Research, Students

The SAA Archaeological Record

January 2014 – Volume 14 – Number 1

Marston SAA Record Article 2014

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Professor Saturno describes the thrill of “the find”

January 24th, 2014 in Archaeology, Discoveries, Discovery, Faculty, Guatemala, You Tube

Boston University 2013 Annual Report



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Jonathan Ruane(GRS’15) recipient of a long-term GRAF

January 13th, 2014 in Archaeology, awards, Discoveries, Graduate Student, Guatemala, Students

Archaeology student Jonathan Ruane  has been awarded the Graduate Research Abroad Fellowships, to support his research in Guatemala this Spring and Fall.  The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and the Humanities Foundation have established this fellowship primarily intended for students in the Humanities and the Social Sciences, where the opportunity to conduct foreign research is often crucial and where sources of funds are limited.  The long-term GRAF provides $10,000 to cover living, travel, and research expenses.  This award also provides, while the student is abroad for one year, Continuing Study Fees and participation in the BU student health plan.
Congratulations Jonathan!

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Environmental Archaeology Laboratory launches website

January 13th, 2014 in Archaeology, Discovery, Environmental Archaeology, Events, Faculty, Graduate Student, Students

The Boston University Environmental Archaeology Lab is devoted to the study of human interactions with past environments, focusing on the analysis of archaeological plant and animal remains from sites worldwide spanning the Paleolithic to the recent historical period.  Click here to go to the site and check it out.

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Alexandra Ratzlaff (GRS’14) awarded a Fulbright Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Haifa

December 12th, 2013 in Alumni, awards

The United States-Israel  Educational  Foundation (USIEF) awarded Alexandra Ratzlaff a Fulbright Post- doctoral Award to enable her to conduct research for twenty months at the University of Haifa during the 2013/2014/2015 academic years.  Congratulations!

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NEW EPISODE 3: “Ask An Archaeologist !”

December 2nd, 2013 in Archaeology, Ask an Archaeologist, Discoveries, Discovery, Events, Faculty, Graduate Student, Research, Students, You Tube

Published on Oct 28, 2013

In this episode, Boston University’s Department of Archaeology’s Professor, Curtis Runnels, answers questions gathered from social media and man-on-the-street questions.

Ask an Archaeologist: Episode 3, Professor Curtis Runnels

To submit questions:
Email questions to with the subject “Ask An Archaeologist”.
Use #AskAnArchaeologist on Twitter or Facebook.
Tweet us directly @AmerSchOrietRes
Comment on our facebook page.

Friends of ASOR presents “Ask an Archaeologist,” a YouTube series dedicated to finding out what you and your students want to know about archaeology. Viewer submitted questions will be answered by professional archaeologists with years of experience.

“Ask An Archaeologist” provides reliable, entertaining, and educational information about archaeology in video form. It is also an opportunity to connect students with professional archaeologists.

We are currently, and always, accepting questions. This could be used as a group or individual activity challenging students to create interesting questions, answered by real archaeologists, and viewed by thousands of people around the world.


Ask an Archaeologist Promo – September 18, 2013 with Allison Ripley, AR Graduate Student

Ask an Archaeologist Episode 1 – September 18, 2013 with Professor Andrea Berlin

Ask an Archaeologist Episode 2 – October 8, 2013 with Dr. Travis Parno

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