Anthropology News Archive | 2021

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  • News | 2021

    • Dr. Carolyn Boyd and her work with Shumla Archaeological Research & Education Center to document the ancient murals of southwest Texas was recently featured in The Art Newspaper and ARTnews.

    • Congratulations to the winners of the 2021 Anthropology Student Research Conference!

      PhD Level

      • 1st- Karla Hernandez-Swift, Jennifer Barron, and Niko Crobin, “Modifications of Physical Activity During a Pandemic”
      • 2nd- Emilie Wiedenmeyer, “Musculoskeletal markers in historic and modern populations: investigating relationships of human activity levels and osseous change at entheseal sites”
      • 3rd-Kaelyn Dobson, “Polyspecific Association Overlapping Feature Stack Framework in Studies: Primates in Focus”

      MA Level

      • 1st-Emily Repasky and Kai Hart-Pontejos, “College Student Experiences During COVID-19”
      • 2nd-Cole Clawson, “Phenology Shifts in Relation to Western Chimpanzee Habitat Quality”
      • 3rd-Tierney Proffitt, Kayli Lord, and Kaitlin Eldred “Modifications of Physical Activity During a Pandemic”

       BA/BS  Level

      • 1st-Amanda Rodriguez, “Association between distal humerus measurements and body mass in modern humans: applications for fossil hominin MK3”
      • 2nd-Cheyenne Hobbes, “Childhood Trauma: A Cross Cultural Comparison of Skeletal Trauma in New and Old World Child Sacrifice Victims”
      • 3rd- Raigen Jones, “’Horns’ Emblem in Mediterranean Europe”
    • Britt Bousman was asked to review and comment on a new paper in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) blog "Journal Club" discussing the Middle Stone Age to Later Stone Age transition in Africa. This paper presented new information on the site of Panga ya Saidi in Kenya and was published in the Journal of Human Evolution by Ceri Shipton and his co-authors.

    • Dr. Jill Pruetz was recently interviewed by BBC radio (BBC Sounds) series for an episode on the origins of humanity's relationship with fire and, specifically, how the mastery of fire and the energy it released gave our ancestors intelligence.

    • The Department of Anthropology is pleased to announce that Dr. Carolyn Boyd has won a National Endowment for the Humanities grant ($145,049.61) for her project, Origins and Tenacity of Myth, Ritual, and Cosmology in Archaic Period Rock Art of Southwest Texas and Northern Mexico. The grant will run from 09/01/2021 to 08/31/2024 and provide support a GRA.

      Project description:  Scholars argue that Mesoamerican cosmological concepts originated from an Archaic core of beliefs persisting across time and cultural, linguistic, and geographical boundaries. This study will identify the date, extent, and location of the oldest documented graphic expression of these concepts. Patterns in Pecos River style (PRS) murals created by foragers 4000 years ago contain evidence of the Archaic core. Archaeological fieldwork will build an inventory of PRS core elements and identify the rules governing their production and arrangement. Ethnographic fieldwork among the Huichol in Mexico, whose belief system closely reflects ancient Mesoamerican cosmological concepts, will address the persistence of the Archaic core. PRS graphic data will be shared with the Huichol to determine whether these elements are recognizable and embedded in Huichol cosmology. This work informs studies of myth, forager social organization, art history, and the origins of Mesoamerican myth and art.

    • Ivanna Robledo, 2021 COLA Outstanding MA StudentCongratulations to Ivanna Robledo (mentor Herrmann) who has been chosen as the 2021 College of Liberal Arts Outstanding M.A. Student!  The award ceremony honoring Ivanna, and the rest of the outstanding COLA students, will be live streamed on April 28 at 6:00 from the LBJSC Ballroom.

      • Undergraduate major Nadia Luis (mentor Taylor) was awarded an Undergraduate Research Scholarship for their project Sharp! The Dangers Around Inaccessibility of Sharps Containers and Needle Exchange Programs in San Antonio, Texas.
      • Undergraduate major Eliana Gutierrez (mentor Wescott) was awarded an Undergraduate Research Scholarships for her project The Differences in Decomposition in Charred Human Remains Compared to Un-Charred Remains.
      • Admitted MA students Amelia Konda (mentor Spradley) and Kaitlyn McKenna (mentor Herrmann) were awarded Graduate College Merit Fellowships for 2021-2022.
      • MA student Fatimah Bouderdaben (mentor Spradley) was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
    • The Anthropology Department is pleased to continue their Brown Bag Lecture Series and feature the work of Dr. David Kilby and Dr. Nick Carter.  A recording of the talk will be made available soon.

      David Kilby, photoDr. David Kilby | Fourteen Thousand Years of Prehistory and Four Years of Fieldwork at Bonfire Shelter, TX
      Bonfire Shelter (41VV218) is a well-known but imperfectly understood rock shelter site located in a short tributary canyon of the Rio Grande in West Texas. The site is particularly known for three “bone beds” deposited between about 14,000 BP and 2,500 years ago. Two of the bone beds appear to represent mass kills resulting from driving herds of bison over the canyon rim. A third bonebed containing the remains of horse, mammoth, and other ice age animals dates to approximately 14,000 years ago and has been proposed by previous researchers to be at least partially the result of human activity. Four years of renewed investigation by Texas State University’s Ancient Southwest Texas Project has resulted in new observations on these layers as well as lesser known occupations that lie between them. This talk will highlight the challenges of working in this difficult-to-access location, the student research that has resulted from the project, and some preliminary results of our ongoing work.


      Nick Carter, Photo Dr. Nick Carter | A Throne Divided: Reconstructing and Reprovenancing Ixtutz Hieroglyphic Bench 1
      Several recently discovered fragments of a ninth-century hieroglyphic throne from the Maya site of Ixtutz, Petén, Guatemala match two previously unprovenanced blocks looted in the early 1970s. Now located at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and in a private collection in Belgium, the two blocks had not been recognized as belonging to a single monument. In this talk, I discuss the inscription on the throne, its original context and function, its dismantling and reuse in antiquity, and the removal of some pieces from the site. I address the ethical issues involved in this kind of reprovenance work and present some happy news about ongoing repatriation efforts.

      Watch Dr. Kilby and Dr. Carter's Presentations

    • Congratulations to incoming doctoral student, Antonio Beardall (mentor Carter) who has been selected to receive a $9,000 Texas State Doctoral Merit Fellowship 2021-2022!

    • Kent Reilly's current museum exhibition is featured in the National Geographic article, "This little-known Native American society was once as powerful as the Aztecs, Incas, and the Spiro peoples were once “the single most powerful group ever to exist” in North America. This groundbreaking new exhibit in Oklahoma shares their story."

    • Dr. Carolyn Boyd was recently featured in the article and radio program “Archeologists Win a 'Race Against Time' in Documenting Ancient Canyonland Murals.

    • Texas State University Research Archaeologist Dr. Chris Lintz was interviewed for a short article with Dr. Paul Katz on Alibates Quarries in the "Off the Grid" section of Archaeology Magazine this month. Lintz is considered the expert on Antelope Creek culture in the Southern Plains and the people who intensively mined the Alibates Quarries in the 13th-15th centuries.

    • The Anthropology Department is pleased to host their first Brown Bag Lecture Series of the semester and feature the work of Dr. Deborah Cunningham and Dr. Todd Ahlman.

      Deborah Cunningham, photoDr. Deborah Cunningham | Estimation of Hominin Body Size
      Accurate estimations of hominin body size are important for understanding degrees and patterns of sexual dimorphism, life history parameters, encephalization and other features of a species’ paleobiology.  The well-known ‘Nariokotome Boy’ Homo erectus fossil has been a key specimen for interpreting evolutionary changes in body size and shape in the genus Homo because of its completeness.  Dr. Cunningham will discuss her ongoing collaborative research on this and other fossil specimens of H. erectus, and will argue that the stature and body mass of H. erectus was previously overestimated.


      Todd Ahlman, photoDr. Todd Ahlman | Apprentice and Wage Laborer Economies of Free Black Citizens in the British Caribbean: An Examination of Post Emancipation Material Culture and Housing on St. Kitts, West Indies
      This presentation examines the pre- and post-emancipation housing and ceramic assemblages from enslaved and freed African household contexts in a sugar plantation village on the British Caribbean island of St. Christopher (St. Kitts) to understand how people adapted to freedom in the post emancipation period. We find that there are differences in housing and ceramic acquisition and discard between the two households that reflect different investment strategies and agency.

      Watch Dr. Cunningham and Dr. Ahlman's Presentations

    • “Spiro and the Art of the Mississippian World,” an exhibit co-curated by Dr. Kent Reilly, is now on display at the National Cowboy & Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  The exhibition features nearly 200 artifacts and explores the history of the Spiro culture from its humble beginnings to its rise as one of the premier cultural sites in all of North America.

      The exhibit will be on display in Oklahoma City until May 9, 2021 before moving on to the Birmingham Museum of Art until February 6, 2022, and finally to the Dallas Museum of Art from March 13 – August 7, 2022.

      A virtual look at the exhibit can be found on their Spiro Exhibit website.

    • Congratulations to doctoral student, Petra Banks (mentor Dr. Nick Herrmann), who won a Forensic Sciences Foundation (FSF) Student Affiliate Scholarship for this year’s American Academy Forensic Sciences conference! The Student Affiliate Scholarship program is designed to assist students with the AAFS Annual Meeting registration.

    • Congratulations to Dr. Nicholas Herrmann who has been named a collaborator on a Humanitarian and Human Rights Resource Center (HHRRC) Award. The American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) Humanitarian and Human Rights Resource Center (HHRRC) was created in February, 2015, and seeks to promote the application of contemporary forensic science and forensic medicine principles to global humanitarian and/or human rights projects requiring special forensic assistance. The project Dr. Herrmann will work on is “Anthropological Analysis of Victims of the Soviet-Era in Georgia,” with PI Dr. Meri Gonashvili, who is a forensic anthropologist based in Tbilisi, Georgia. Other collaborators are Dr. Joseph Hefner (anthropology faculty at Michigan State University)and Ms. Kelly Kamnikar (PhD candidate at Michigan State University).

    • Dr. Kate Spradley recent published an Op-Ed titled "The Many Nameless Migrant Skeletons Buried Along America’s Border" in The Daily Beast

      "The failure to properly investigate and identify the dead at our nation’s border is a culmination of systemic failures at multiple levels, creating a humanitarian crisis."

    • Dr. Heather Smith was awarded an $8,000 Research Enhancement Program Grant by Texas State University to support her research on "Geoarchaeological Coring at Spring Lake, San Marcos, TX."

      Drs. Kate Spradley and Nicole Taylor were awarded a $16,000 Research Enhancement Program Grant by Texas State University to support their research on "Migrant Death Practices: Understanding Institutional Decision-making in the Treatment of Unidentified Human Remains."

    • The museum exhibition, Spiro and the Art of the Mississippian World, which Dr. Kent Reilly has worked on for many years, is a reality! The exhibition will be at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum from February 12-May 9, 2021. “More than a decade in the making, this 200-object exhibition with companion publication and symposium were developed in collaboration with the Caddo Nation, the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes, and scholars from over a dozen universities and museums from across the United States.”

    • Dr. Kate Spradley and Operation ID are featured in Texas Monthly magazine. “I really wanted to work in a border state,” Spradley says. “And when you’re teaching forensic anthropology, a body farm is a big draw for students. You typically get really good applications to a program like that, so I knew Texas State would be a very special place to work. It was an exciting time to join the school.”

      In addition, there is a new federal bill, the Missing Persons and Unidentified Act, which will help identify will open up funding for organizations and agencies involved in identifying and repatriating the missing and the dead.

  • Fall 2021

    • Congratulations so Dr. Tim Gocha who has been awarded two National Institute of Justice Grants!  Dr. Gocha is the PI on a grant entitled, "Improving Age-at-Death Estimates from Human Skeletal Remains Through Spatial Analysis of Intracortical Remodeling Using Geographic Information Systems Software." The total award is $349,970. Dr. Nick Herrmann is also on this grant as Key Personnel.

      Dr. Gocha is also the Co-PI on a grant entitled, "Reliability and Validity of Radiographic Comparisons for Positive Identification." The total award amount is $567,682, and the subaward for TxSt is $271,120. Both awards will provide funding for a Ph.D. student and a M.A. student to assist with the research.


    • Congratulations to Dr. Carolyn Boyd whose new exhibit on Lower Pecos rock art just opened at the Museo de Altamira in Spain.  Scroll down the page to the Dosier digital link for great images and information on the exhibit.

    • Dr. David Kilby was recently featured in an article from the Texas State University Newsroom titled "Early Chiquihuite Cave 'artifacts' likely natural in origin."  The article continues a discussion regarding the validity of findings published in summer 2020 in the journal Nature regarding evidence of human occupation more than 30,000 years ago. 


    • Congratulations to this year’s winners of the John Michael Kilby Memorial award to support graduate research.

      Ph.D. M.A.
      Kaelyn Dobson Kayli Lord
      Emilie Wiedenmeyer Emily Repasky
    • Dr. Kate Spradley was interviewed for a New York Times article questioning how the field interprets the geographic ancestry of human remains.


    • Congratulations to Ph.D. student Katie Gerstner (mentor Dr. Jill Pruetz) who has won a Doctoral Merit Fellowship from The Graduate College. This prestigious fellowship will support the pursuit of a doctoral degree and is awarded only to students of the highest quality.


    • Recently Professor Britt Bousman was invited to be a member of the Advisory Board for the newly revived journal "Southern African Field Archaeology" edited by Professor Marlize Lombard and Dr. Matt Lotter of the University of Johannesburg, and Dr. Louisa Hutten at the University of Cape Town. This will provide a new open-access publication outlet for sub-Saharan archaeological, heritage management and curation and palaeo-sciences research. The goal is to provide more open-access publishing venues for African scholars. Funding was provided by a Wenner-Gren Grant and from the Palaeo-Research Institute at the University of Johannesburg.


    • Hailey Collard imageCongratulations to Master's student, Hailey Collard (mentor Dr. Herrmann), who has been selected as the recipient of The Graduate College's Outstanding Master's Thesis Award in Life Sciences!  In addition to the $500 award, Hailey's thesis will be entered into the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools competition (CSGS). The CSGS winner will be awarded an additional $1,000 plus travel expenses to attend the 2022 CSGS meeting in Raleigh, NC.


    • Friday, November 5, 2021 at 3:00 in ELA 114 or by zoom, Dr. Michael Winkelman will discuss his views on Shamanism. Dr. Winkelman has published widely on this topic and has conducted systematic cross-cultural analysis regarding the interpretations of past religious activities.


    • Congratulations to Dr. Rich Warms who has a new book out this week titled Culture Counts: A Concise Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, 5thedition co-authored with Serena Nanda. This is his 22nd book! 


    • Congratulations to Shumla who was recently featured in Texas Coop Power magazine for the work they are doing with Comstock high school students. Since 2013 every senior takes an inter-disciplinary internship class and learns archaeological analysis and physical sciences from Shumla experts.


    • Congratulations to Ph.D. Student, Ivanna Robledo (mentor Dr. Nick Herrmann) on receiving a Texas State Doctoral Fellowship. This prestigious award of $9,000 is given to only approximately 12 students university wide and is a recognition of impressive academic achievements and great potential for success as a doctoral student.


    • Congratulations to Petra Banks, mentor Nick Herrmann, who was awarded a Love of Learning Award by the Phi Kappa Phi honor society based on her superior academic record and life/career ambitions. Phi Kappa Phi is the oldest and most selective multidisciplinary honor society in the United States.


    • Congratulations to Kaelyn Dobson, mentor Dr. Jill Pruetz, who has received a Graduate Research Grant from Lambda Alpha the National Collegiate Honor Society for Anthropology.

      Her research is on the impacts of facilities’ protocols on captive primate species’ gut microbiomes through comparisons of the biodiversity and composition of Saimiri gut microbiomes through fecal sample analysis. This research builds on previous knowledge of primate gut humanization in captive scenarios by identifying detailed information on the influencing characteristics of captive housing and management. Results will provide implications to the impacts of captive primate living with recommendations for best practices regarding housing, grouping, interactions, conservation plans, human proximity protocols for captive and wild primates and considerations for future interactions with primates.  She was additionally awarded the Lambda Charles R. Jenkins Award by recommendation of the Theta chapter of the society.


    • Congratulations to our undergraduate anthropology majors who won Undergraduate Research Fellowships, participated in the Honors College Undergraduate Research Conference, and wrote Honors Theses!

      Undergraduate Research Fellowships

      • Eliana Gutierrez, The Differences in Decomposition in Charred Human Remains Compared to Un-Charred Remains (Supervising Professor, Dr. Daniel Wescott)
      • Nadia Luis, Sharp! The Dangers Around Inaccessibility of Sharps Containers and Needle Exchange Programs in San Antonio, Texas (Supervising Professor, Dr. Nicole Taylor)

      Undergraduate Research Conference Participants

      • Lucille Lynch, Mother Nature: Gender’s Impact on Individual Environmental Actions and Perceptions (Supervising Professor, Dr. Nicole Taylor)
      • Caroline Story, Southern Dialects of English: Texas Speech ( Supervising Professor, Dr. Augustine Agwuele)

      Honors Theses

      • Jaelyn Browne, The Bone Chilling Truth: Buying and Selling Human Skeletal Remains on the Internet (Supervising Professor, Dr. Michelle D. Hamilton)
      • Lucille Lynch, Mother Nature: Gender’s Impact on Individual Environmental Actions and Perceptions (Supervising Professor, Dr. Nicole Taylor)
      • Malka Riell, COVID-19 on Campus: Protective Measures of Texas State Students Enrolled in Face-to-Face Instruction (Supervising Professor, Dr. Emily Brunson)
      • Caroline Story, Southern Dialects of English: Texas Speech (Supervising Professor, Dr. Augustine Agwuele)


    • Congratulations to our outstanding faculty members on their recent awards and promotions!

      • Dr. Emily Brunson received a Distinction Award for Scholarship
      • Dr. Deborah Cunningham received College Achievement Award for Scholarship
      • Dr. Todd Ahlman has been promoted to Associate Professor of Practice
      • Dr. David Kilby has been promoted to Professor