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2022 Funding Recipients
Danielle Tutak, Mongolia
My summer in Mongolia was an experience I will never forget. First, it was a multiple-day drive to get from Ulaanbaatar to the main site we were working at and it was still about a 25-minute drive from our camp to the site. Needless to say, we were driving a lot, but it was an opportunity to chat, joke amongst ourselves, listen to music if your phone had any precious battery left, or nap if you could sleep through all the bumps of our daily commute before getting to work in the field. Work in the field generally meant excavation of previously looted burials and occasionally surveying the area for other sites.
When we had time off it meant a chance to do laundry or bathe. Time off also meant a chance to spend time with friends playing cards (euchre was a popular choice), swimming in the river, and often a bonfire in the evenings. We also had chances to learn about Mongolian culture outside of our normal routines, including visits to local families’ gers, a ceremony performed by a shaman where we had the opportunity to ask questions, horseback riding, attending the Naadam festival in Tsagaan Nuur, and visiting the National Museum of Mongolia.
All in all, this trip was a wonderful opportunity to learn firsthand about excavation, conservation, survey, Mongolian culture, and so much more. The chance to connect with my peers and instructors during my time in the field was invaluable and I treasure the friendships I got the opportunity to make with all of them. I, along with my peers, challenged ourselves in many ways during this field school, be it harsh weather, uncertain schedules with early mornings and late nights, adjusting to a new culture, sickness, or just plain having a bad day, we all came out with new insights and skills that we will use for the rest of our lives.
Anodari Rogers, Gobi
My appreciation for your generosity is hardly measurable. The $2000 I received from the Riggs Hoenecke scholarship allowed me to participate in field research, an infrequent opportunity for those who, like myself, are not directly tied to the archaeological subfield of anthropology.
Currently, I am a junior majoring in Biopsychology, with an emphasis on human biology and evolution. I intend to pursue graduate-level education studying the interrelations between the biological bases of the human psyche and cultural variations across ancient to modern human populations. Knowing this, it appears that archaeology deviates from my personal goals, yet archaeology is the study of cultures in the past, making it inextricably intertwined with my tentative academic destinations.
I consider my brief time at the excavation in the Gobi to be enriching: the experience was dense with interactive activities that explored work spanning from field methodologies to laboratory techniques. I helped excavate one Xiongnu burial, two Bronze Age burials, and a cave, and of the four sites, the cave seemed to yield the most fascinating results of the season.
For the first time throughout Mongolian archaeology, Bronze Age beads were found outside of a burial, and more specifically, found from our cave. That scarcity of Bronze Age beads appears to have led some archaeologists to theorize that such beads were not worn in Mongolia; however, this finding has since then weakened, if not dismantled, that theory.
Aside from archaeology, I was also able to assist in more personal endeavors, such as becoming translator and co-director for an independent documentary film featuring the lifestyle of the nomads of the Mongolian Gobi, initiated by another student volunteer. This, along with all of the wonders that are encapsulated within my archaeological field experience of this summer, was beyond my imagination. I again thank the Anthropology Curriculum Committee and the donors’ benevolence for selecting me for the Riggs Hoenecke Undergraduate Experience Award, and allowing me to partake in a wholly magnificent adventure in the Gobi.
India Pruette, Israel
In summer 2022, I was granted funds to conduct fieldwork in Israel focusing on the Early Bronze period of Tell el-Hesi, a site located on the northern border of the Negev desert. My work in Israel this summer was focused on archaeological survey with my graduate student mentor, Kara Larson. We engaged in a pedestrian survey of the area surrounding our site, as well as other sites in the area that had been flagged following a 2008 survey. Our specific focus was on looking for any Early Bronze Age pottery, lithics, or other artifacts, but we were careful to note any of our findings. We also took particular note of zooarchaeological findings, as my mentor is also conducting isotopic analysis on this site for her thesis.
This funding was invaluable for my participation in this work, and I was so fortunate to have been able to go and build these new relationships and gain hands-on experience. On-site, I developed my skills in identifying different types of artifacts, as well as learning how to set up this kind of survey as well as the things that I will need to know once I move into graduate school and start leading my own projects. I learned how to set up such a survey method with flagging tape and squares as well as the process of cataloging and analyzing all the data. I also had the opportunity to work closely with Bill Isenberger, our Hesi GIS specialist, and familiarize myself with the methods and tools for his kind of research. I really found this interesting, and was so grateful for the opportunity to work in the field with him and the rest of the team at Hesi this summer.
My visit to Israel also afforded us the opportunity to visit plenty of archaeological andcultural sites in the region. We visited Masada, the Dead Sea, Petra, Jerusalem’s Old City (and all the cultural, religious, and historical monuments therein). These were incredible and unforgettable experiences of exploring a country and culture so different from Ann Arbor, where I grew up.
I’m also excited to be bringing this trip and my new experiences with me: in October, I plan to present a summary of our survey at the UMMAA Centennial Poster Session, and also to present my own research stemming from my visit to Israel at the ASOR conference in Boston in November as well as the 2023 SAA meeting in Portland. I am so fortunate and grateful for the opportunity to have met such wonderful people working in this field while abroad, and even more grateful to be able to see them again at these events and to meet even more professionals.
I’m truly grateful for the funding I received, as it is truly my stepping-off point into my field. I send my gratitude and endless thanks.
Anna Luurtsema, Mongolia
For six weeks this summer, I participated in an archaeological field school in Mongolia. It was truly a life-changing experience, causing me to realize the importance of archaeology, cultural heritage, and connecting with people around the world. I am sincerely grateful to have received support from the Riggs Hoenecke Undergraduate Student Experience Fund in order to facilitate my participation in this field school.
The first day we visited the excavation site remains vivid in my mind. Our leaders gave us a tour of the top of the steppe, which was dotted with no fewer than twelve looted burials. Burials typically consisted of a deep pit encircled by piles of stones, often with a larger pile on one edge, signaling where the looters had dumped the dirt as they dug. They varied in how recently they had been looted: in some pits, the grass had grown thick, while fresh dirt still covered the bottoms of others. As we walked along the steppe, someone proclaimed they had found a human bone, and it struck me how real these people had been. And how despicable it was that their graves had been dug up, their bones tossed carelessly to the side. At another burial, I found a piece of a human cranium. This was the first of many bones I would find during the excavation—so many that the shock eventually faded—but I remember the anger and sadness I felt picking it up. Archaeology, I realized, had tremendous potential to do good, and I felt more and more affirmed that I had made the right choice in my future career.
With each burial we completed, I grew more confident in my excavation skills. We started each burial by peeling off the layer of grass and moss that grew on the stone circle around the pit, stopping to take a progress picture when the rocks were brushed clean. We normally found a few broken pieces of artifacts on the surface, ranging from scraps of birch bark arrow quivers to carved bone ornaments, and occasionally human bones as well. Then we began on the pit itself, where we unearthed more substantial artifacts, such as bolts of silk, gold buckles, and bronze mirrors. We also found more human remains; some burials even contained mostly complete skeletons.
In Mongolia, I found that I was capable of so much more than I had ever imagined. Not only was I successful in doing archaeological fieldwork, further affirming my love for the subject, but I discovered that I love camping and traveling to distant places. Above all, I enjoyed making friends with the Mongolians we worked with—it was an honor to be able to learn about their culture and history as we excavated alongside them. Of course, I am very appreciative of the support of the Riggs Hoenecke Undergraduate Student Experience Fund for helping me have this amazing experience.
Abigail Rieck, Mongolia
Thank you sincerely for your generous gift via the Riggs Hoenecke Undergraduate Student Experience Fund. Thanks to this grant, I was able to attend an archaeological field school in northern Mongolia this past summer. This was an incredible and enriching experience both to me personally, and to the cultural preservation of the region.
The sites we studied had been targets of heavy looting and consequently faced destruction, but with careful work, we were able to recover a number of artifacts including large pieces of silk and birch bark that had been nearly perfectly preserved in the cold and arid soil of the mountains for centuries. Additionally, we were able to recover and preserve human remains that had been disturbed by looters; later analysis of these specimens will be able to provide a wealth of information on peoples’ diets and use of landscapes in the Medieval period. I feel fortunate to have gained invaluable experience in working with these remains and artifacts in away that was both respectful and observant of important scientific methods.
I am confident that the memories I made and skills I gained on this trip will serve me well as I pursue my future career in archaeology. My summer would not have been possible without your support; thank you again for your generosity.
Josephine Schmidt, Michigan (Primate Behavior Lab)
I am extremely grateful to have been selected as a recipient, and I would like to thank you for your generous donation.
This funding allowed me to explore my research interests and gain valuable lab experience by working in the Primate Behavior Lab at the University of Michigan. The specific goal of my research project was to determine if the Dual Hormone Hypothesis is supported in mountain gorillas. This hypothesis proposes that glucocorticoids interact with testosterone to influence status-seeking behaviors such as aggression, competition, and risk-taking. Several studies have provided evidence in support of this hypothesis, showing that high levels of cortisol block the effects of testosterone on these status-seeking and reproductive behaviors. However, the results are not conclusive, and some studies have described the opposite effect.
During summer 2022, I used enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays to detect testosterone levels in male mountain gorilla fecal samples. With this data, I was able to present preliminary results at the Midwest Primate Interest Group Conference in late October – my second scientific conference – and after further analysis, I will also be incorporating these results into my honors thesis on behavioral endocrinology. Furthermore, I plan to use my work on my honors thesis to contribute to a manuscript on the Dual Hormone Hypothesis that will be submitted for publication.
Overall, this funding has provided me with the opportunity to gain hundreds of hours of lab experience, present a poster at a scientific conference, pursue an honors thesis, and co-author a manuscript. I would like to thank you again for your funding that has provided me with incredible opportunities and enabled me to pursue my passions.
Jenna Dagher, Florida
I was extremely pleased to recieve the Riggs Hoenecke Prize this year in order to complete my senior thesis project. My project, which is investigating the intraspecific variation in tooth abrasion in the genus Odocoileus, was made possible by this funding and I cannot thank you enough. It was my pleasure to be able to use this funding for travel and equipment in order to collect the data necessary for this project.
Below I have included some pictures that were taken at the museums I traveled to for this project.
As an overview, I traveled to the University of Florida Museum of Natural History where I
collected data from over 150 deer specimen, including 20 craniodental measurements and mesowear scoring (a metric of tooth abrasion). In addition to this I also used the funding to travel to the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History where I was able to collect data from around 100 more specimen. In addition to covering travel expenses, this funding was also used to purchase equipment such as digital calipers as well as statistical software for analyzing the data I collected.
Again, thank you for your generous donation which allowed me to explore my research
interests. This funding was instrumental in allowing me to collect and analyze data for this project.
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