Dig that clam! And enter our new contest.

giant clam

The winner of the latest At Large photo contest is Todd LaJeunesse, an associate professor of biology at Penn State. His image is a stunning abstract of the mantle of a giant clam in the waters off Palau. The photo (above) is prominently featured in the October 2015 issue of Research|Penn State. In addition to publication of his photo, Todd will receive a high-quality print of the At Large spread, suitable for framing.  Continue reading Dig that clam! And enter our new contest.

A Tale of Two Cities—and Countless Scoops of Ice Cream!

Of all the committees I’ve served on in my career, the one tasked with helping the Penn State Berkey Creamery commemorate its 150th birthday has proven to be a pretty sweet gig.

Research On the Road’s two #Creamery 150 summer events began with a road-trip to Klavon’s in Pittsburgh, a beloved historic ice-cream parlor lovingly restored and reopened by Penn State alumnus Jacob Hanchar and family.


Continue reading A Tale of Two Cities—and Countless Scoops of Ice Cream!

Season’s End

Sitting in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel in Tel Aviv (on points) and watching all the American tourists, it strikes me that they are probably looking at me as well, because I’ve been here for more than two hours already and will probably sit here for another three before I head to the airport.  Flights to the U.S. typically leave at 11:00 p.m. or midnight and I had to check out at noon.  But the reality is, I’m not wearing plaid or Bermuda shorts or a fanny pack logoed Hard Rock Café.  I look like a local in a skirt and blouse and so I look out of place.  Continue reading Season’s End

The Party’s Over

Today, students and staff placed 2,500 sandbags around the excavations at Tel Akko to protect them over the winter.  All the pottery is washed, although not all is catalogued and recorded.  The field season for Total Archaeology @ Tel Akko is over.  Well, at least in the field.  Some staff will remain next week to finish up paperwork and a few more the following week in Haifa to tie up loose ends and complete some of the computer work.

I did not have to place sandbags today, which is a good thing as it is hot and very dirty work.  Instead, I was editing some student blog posts and creating a video of some of the students.  While all admit that sometimes this is really hard work, most of them loved it, even if they wouldn’t do it again.

The Remains of Plants

Pottery, metal working, glass making and building all leave fairly large, tangible remains at an archaeological site. Sherds of ceramics, pieces of glass and slag, large stones, walls and floors all stand out when excavating.  However, the remains of crop cultivation and the gathering of plants are not so easily seen, as only charred seeds and plant material remain and they are small and dispersed in the soil.

Archaeobotanists search through soil samples to find seeds and other vegetal remains.  They use water to float the lighter material, including most seeds, to the top while the heavier portion sinks and is caught in a net.  The lighter portion gets searched for seeds and charcoal and the heavy portion contains pottery, slag, iron hammer scales and the occasional bead or tiny sample of red ochre or ancient glass.

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