By: Jared Divido
It’s hard to believe that I’m already mid-way through my last semester of graduate school in the MA in Applied Archaeology program here at IUP. The saying “time flies” could not be more applicable to the feelings and experiences that come along with graduate school.
I’m currently on spring break working on the data analysis phase of my thesis research, which involves testing the feasible use of 3D scanning technology for constructing comparative faunal (animal) bone specimens. Three-dimensional technology has been making a lot of headway in the field of archaeology as a method for constructing or re-constructing 3-dimensional models of found artifacts, site structures, and even site profiles. The 3D scan of a given object enables the researcher to create a fairly accurate digital model, which could then be used in a multitude of ways for things such as digital archival storage, research collaborations via file sharing, 3D printing for educational purposes, etc. My background research has found that much of the applicability of 3D scanning has largely focused on the 3D printing aspect of the technology, yet there has been little attention given to usability of the 3D scans as raw data themselves. My thesis research is attempting to focus on an important aspect of zooarchaeology, which requires a well established comparative animal bone reference collection for the identification and analysis of animal bones that are recovered from archaeological sites.
Animals bones at archaeological sites are often found fragmented, but they can provide the researcher with a wealth of information about the past, including things such as the human subsistence strategies, tool making/tool use, environmental conditions and changes, etc. A comparative reference collection can often help identify the bone down to taxon or species level by looking at the surface features on the fragmented skeletal element. Yet, the accessibility of a well established comparative animal bone collection requires a lot of laboratory space and the availability of wide range of animal species. This often requires researchers to borrow or loan specimens from other institutions, which can be a rather costly and timely process in the end. I’m ultimately trying to determine if 3D scanning technology could complete replace this process by using the 3D scans in place of the physical skeletal specimens.
At the end of March, I will be travelling to Vancouver, Canada to present a poster presentation on my research at the Society for American Archaeology’s 82nd Annual Meeting. This will be a great opportunity to share my research findings with others in the field, while also being there to show support for my fellow colleagues whom are also presenting at the conference. Furthermore, as Danielle mentioned in her blog post, conferences are a great way to network with colleagues and other respected professionals in the field.
I will admit that my academic and professional career interests have not always been oriented toward archaeology or cultural resource management (CRM). In May 2012, I graduated from IUP with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology with the intent to pursue a career in forensic anthropology. I worked hard to make that dream a reality by travelling nearly 3,580 miles away from home to attend school at the University of Dundee, which is located in Dundee, Scotland. While at the University of Dundee, I had the opportunity to study at the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification, under the direction of Professor Dame Sue Black (a highly respected forensic professional in the UK). One might wonder how I transitioned from forensic anthropology to the study of archaeology, but there is a rather intricate connection between the two fields. My thesis research in the UK involved testing forensic methodologies for cut mark analysis, which are actually deeply rooted in past archaeological field investigations and techniques.
Thus, following the completion of my first master’s degree, I travelled to the Spanish Balearic Islands to perform my first archaeological field school, which involved the excavation and analysis of Roman funerary units and human remains, dating from the 14-16th centuries. Upon my return back to the United States after my field school, I came to the realization that I wanted to gain more knowledge and experience in archaeology. I was very happy when I discovered that IUP had an Applied Archaeology program because of my past experience with the faulty during my undergraduate program. In July 2015, I participated in my second archaeological field school with IUP, which was focused on the excavation of an identified GPR anomaly at Historic Hanna’s Town (1773-18th century) in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. I can honestly say that IUP has well prepared me for a career in archaeology or CRM. I am currently a graduate research assistant for Dr. Sarah Neusius, which has provided me with opportunities to work with the IUP faunal comparative collection, various archaeological faunal assemblages, and faunal databases from numerous prehistoric sites.
The faculty has a real concern and interest for the success of its students. I have also made some wonderful friendships and created great memories along the way that will last a lifetime. I look forward to finishing up my final semester and seeing what my future holds upon graduation in August!