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Smithsonian Intern Researches 11,000 Yr. Old Site

Author: Anthropology Dept.

Debra Smetana, Summer 2013 Internship


Smithsonian Museum of Natural History               

This summer, I worked at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum’s Archaeobiology Laboratory, focusing on the faunal analysis of a collection of bones excavated from the Epipaleolithic roundhouse settlement of Hallan Çemi, an 11,000-year-old site in the Zagros Mountains of southeastern Turkey.  Our goal in studying this collection of animal bones was to determine whether or not goats, sheep, pigs, and bovines had been domesticated yet in this region of the Fertile Crescent.  The markers of domestication- from smaller stature to specific gender and age profiles of butchered animals- can all be seen through careful study of bones.  Having barely any background in faunal analysis, this internship was an intensive hands-on learning experience for me.  The first day I came into the lab, my boss, Melinda Zeder, stationed me in front of a table covered with fragmented sheep and goat bones and told me to separate them into element.  After much trial and error, I went from this first day of faunal analysis to, ten weeks later, opening up a never-before touched bag of bones from the site and identifying and recording the scraps of bone it contained, with everything from bear and elk to fox and turtle represented. …

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Meet Mary, B.A. '07

Author: Renée LaReau


Mary Boyer is a policy officer for African Risk Capacity, an insurance program led by the African Union that provides financial relief to African countries following drought.

The program, which allows African countries to pool their financial risk, uses satellite technology to monitor weather conditions across the continent. If data points to high risk of impending drought conditions, software triggers financial compensation of up to $30 million that can be used by governments for food vouchers, food-for-work programs, and monitoring of water sources.…

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