The 2019 season was the second of the second phase of the project, projected as a series of five study seasons (to be carried out 2018-2022) in which the team will focus on the documentation of the sets of artifacts recovered in the excavation of eight houses of small to medium size that occupy one specific block in the city of Pompeii - Regio I, Insula 11 (I.11) - with a view to elucidating patterns of household consumption in the middle and lower ranges of the socio-economic scale in the final period of the town’s occupation. (figs. 2-3) This block was excavated in its entirety under Vittorio Spinazzola during the period 1912-1913 and Amedeo Maiuri during the years 1952-1962, with most of the artifacts recovered in this work remaining unstudied and unpublished.
Between July and September of 2019, I conducted dissertation research supported by a grant from the Stahl Endowment of the Archaeological Research Facility investigating how the inhabitants of 1st-century CE Pompeii (Italy) prepared their daily meals and what factors influenced their choice of cooking techniques. Through an examination of the frequencies of particular types of vessels (bronze and ceramic) and utensils used for food and drink preparation recovered in the course of earlier excavations from a series of properties in Pompeii, my research reconsiders what constituted the standard batterie de cuisine within the Pompeian kitchen and how this could be modified according to the needs and preferences of the one stocking the shelves. I also attempt to reconstruct the various cooking methods employed and preferences exhibited by the cooks who used these cookwares through an analysis of use alterations (e.g. sooting/fire blackening, scratching, denting, etc.) exhibited by these objects. My research in 2019 was principally devoted to documenting such signs of use. The properties selected for my study represent a range of property types – modest and grand houses, commercial food establishments, and suburban villas – allowing us to better appreciate how food preparation strategies differed between households, as well as residential and more commercial properties. These differences can be seen as indicators of the socioeconomic priorities and individual tastes of those who prepared and consumed the meals within these different contexts.
My research investigates the human-environmental interactions of Prehispanic peoples in the Arenal region of Costa Rica. This area is an ideal location to look at resilient practices in the past, since domestic settlements in Arenal persevered through powerful volcanic eruptions that impacted the landscape every few centuries. As a paleoethnobotanist, I collected soil samples that will help reconstruct the past foodways and environmental management strategies of these past peoples over time through the study of archaeological plant remains preserved within an ancient domestic structure (La Chiripa) that was situated near the Arenal Volcano. At this site, distinct ash deposits distinguish between periods of human occupation, with abandonments, ecological recovery, and then re-occupations after each volcanic eruption, spanning from 1450 BCE to 1530 CE. In 2018, supported by Stahl funds, I constructed a flotation machine and processed the soil samples collected from this ancient household structure in order to recover any plant remains that were preserved below the ground surface. With a theoretical framework of practice theory, historical ecology, and household archaeology, my archaeobotanical research will examine the dynamics of residential groups procurement, production, redistribution, and transmission of goods and cultural practices to subsequent generations over thousands of years of archaeological representation in this volcanic setting. This dissertation research will provide invaluable information regarding ancient household practices, long-term residence stability, and environmental resilience in Pre-Columbian Central America.
Funding from the Stahl Endowment in 2018 was used for adding more material to the Digital Corpus of Cuneiform Lexical Lists (DCCLT). Lexical texts are lists of words and lists of cuneiform signs that were used by ancient Mesopotamian scribes and scholars to teach and document the complex cuneiform writing system. These texts play an important role in the study of the history of education and scholarship, but are also of crucial and foundational importance for the decipherment of cuneiform and the reconstruction of Sumerian vocabulary. Last year's effort added, among other things, important bilingual lists of hides and leather objects and of metal objects. The editions are freely available through the internet; the data can also be downloaded in JSON format for re-use (for instance in Computational Text Analysis).