A recent episode of First Civilizations interviews UConn Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Dimitris Xygalatas on the role of ritual in the emergence of the first civilizations, religions, and priestly classes. First Civilization is a PBS documentary series that uses “the latest in archaeology, anthropology and genetics” to explore “how and why civilization first sparked into life.”
UConn Anthropology Professor Nicholas Blentoni is featured in a discussion of the 19th-century New England vampire panic on the Stuff You Should Know podcast. Stuff You Should Know is an award-winning educational podcast and one of the most popular podcasts in the world.
UConn Anthropology Department alumnus, David Leslie, is co-author of a new paper published in Science Magazine that examines evidence of symbolic and technological innovation of early Homo sapiens at a series of Middle Stone Age sites in southern Kenya. The evidence shows that hominins at the sites dating to around 320 years ago made prepare cored and points, and extracted red pigments from iron-rich rocks. This evidence has important implications for the social and cognitive evolution of humans
In a recent article in Newsweek and in light of the upcoming holiday season, UCONN Professor of Anthropology, Natalie Munro, presents evidence for evidence of a 12000-year-old holiday feast in the Hilazon Tachtit cave in northern Israel. This archaeological site was discovered and excavated by Professor Munro and her colleague Dr. Leore Grosman of the Hebrew University in the late 1990s. The site includes, among other things, the tomb of a “shaman:” the special burial of an older woman whose fine construction, plastered walls, and “eclectic array of animal body parts,” especially carnivores such as leopard, marten, and eagle, set the burial apart from other graves in the cave, and indeed other contemporary sites in the Middle East.
Based on other artifactual indicators from the site as well as other contemporary archaeological sites, Dr. Munro and her colleague have interpreted this evidence as a feast associated with the transition to agriculture. According to the article, “[t]hese feasts had an important role to play. Adapting to village life after hundreds of millennia on the move was no simple act. Research on modern hunter-gatherer societies shows that closer contact between neighbors dramatically increased social tensions. New solutions to avoid and repair conflict were critical.”
The discoveries at Hilazon Tachtit were also published by Leore Grosman and colleagues in 2008 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In a recent article published for the online media outlet The Conversation, Dimitris Xygalatas, UCONN Assistant Professor of Anthropology, examines the anthropological roots and effects of established holiday rituals, including reducing anxiety, promoting sharing, and maintaining and strengthening family ties. The Conversation is a not-for-profit media outlet for scientific and academic news, and reports a monthly online audience of 5.2 million users onsite, and reaches around 35 million people through “creative commons republication.”
Dimitris Xygalatas’ latest publications focus on the issues of morality and psychology of rituals. Professor Xygalatas is coauthor of a paper in the latest issue of Personality and Social Psychology Review entitled “The Psychology of Rituals: An Integrative Review and Process-Based Framework.” With growing interest among psychologists in rituals and the causal mechanisms of ritual behavior, this paper serves to “provide an organizing framework to understand recent empirical work from social psychology, cognitive science, anthropology, behavioral economics, and neuroscience.” In a second publication for the online media outlet The Conversation, Dimitris tackles patterns of distrust among religious people toward atheism and irreligious people, and the relationship between religious prejudice, morality, and belief. The Conversation is a not-for-profit media outlet for scientific and academic news, and reports a monthly online audience of 5.2 million users onsite, and reaches around 35 million people through “creative commons republication.” Dimitris Xygalatas is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at UCONN.
UCONN anthropology alumnae, Sarah Sportman and Mandy Ranslow, are recipients of two separate awards for their outstanding service to the archaeology and historical preservation of Connecticut. Sarah Sportman, Senior Archaeologist and faunal analyst at the Archaeological and Historical Services, Inc., is the recipient of the Lyent Russell award for service to the Archaeological Society of Connecticut. Lyent Russell was one of the most dedicated members of ASC and served as its president in the 1940s. The winner each year is chosen by the previous three winners and is presented in recognition of “outstanding contributions to the Archaeological Society of Connecticut.” Sarah will also be taking over as editor of ASC’s Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Connecticut, starting in 2019.
Mandy Ranslow is the recipient of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation’s inaugural Mimi Findlay Award for Young Preservationists for her “decades-long and far-reaching work in historic preservation.” The Mimi Findlay Award will recognize individuals or groups of people 35-and-younger involved in preservation of historic buildings, districts, landscapes or sites in Connecticut. Mandy is currently an archaeologists and transportation planner in the Office of Environmental Review of the state Department of Transportation.
“Living in Frames: Gendered Spaces,” is the title of an upcoming exhibition at the William Benton Museum of Art at UCONN. This exhibit is curated by students enrolled in Professor Françoise Dussart’s Anthropological Perspectives on Art course in Spring 2017. The exhibition’s opening reception takes place on Thursday, October 19, 2017, 4:30-6:30 PM, and includes opening remarks by Professor Dussart. For more information about the exhibition, visit benton.uconn.edu. The exhibition runs through December 17, 2017.
UCONN anthropology graduate student, Olivia Marcus, is a 2017 recipient of the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad grant. This grant allows her to conduct her doctoral dissertation research entitled Ayahuasca -Assisted Therapies for Mental Health in the Peruvian Amazon. This grant will support research in several locations of Peru’s Amazon to investigate uses of Ayahuasca shamanism and western psychotherapy for mental well-being. This investigation addresses the professionalization and medicalization of practitioners of traditional Amazonian plant medicine, with attention to how the rising presence of western-trained therapists in Peru affects local regimes of care. Insights into these relationships will shed light on how culturally-specific mental health treatments become globalized and will provide critical commentary on emergent alternative treatments to problems in global mental health.
The Norian Armenian Programs at UCONN presents the 2017 Armenian Fall Harvest Festival. The festivities this year will be held on Saturday, September 23 between 12pm and 6pm at the Nathan Hale Inn. The Festival this year will feature a lecture on film making and Armenian cinema by Arsen Bagdasaryan, the Film Commissioner of Armenia at 3pm followed by reception. Other activities include a concert of traditional Armenian music by the Huyser Music Ensemble, as well as two workshops on The Art of Rug Weaving by Hayk Oltaci, and The Making of Armenian String Cheese, by Maggie Stepanian.
This event open to all members of the UCONN community, friends, and family. To RSVP, please visit http://armenia.uconn.edu/.
This event is sponsored by UCONN’s Norian Armenian Programs, Global Affairs, and School of Social Work.