Saturday, April 24, 2010

News update: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The good news:

Now that the academic semester is almost at an end, I will spend a bit of time on the project preparing some artifacts for a new exhibition!  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Church History Museum is going to install a version of Potters of the Gathering in their lobby.  The exhibit will open May 7th.  Kirk Henrichsen is using pottery to remind people about nineteenth century foodways and domestic life, to explore the ideal of self-sufficiency in Latter-day Saint communities, and to show people how important archaeology is as a tool to increase our understandings of the past.

Mr. Henrichsen has gathered together some new material for this show.  He will be using most of the important objects from the original exhibit- including the Thompson Collection, the Utah State Parks Collection (including the Deseret Pottery artifacts), and the Utah Pottery Project collection.  He has also found some other cool items to include, such as a Deseret Agricultural and Manufacturing Association Medal from the Territorial Fair, which will be displayed with some award winning pots!  It should be a great show and will be the first time most of this material has been exhibited to the public in Salt Lake City.

The museum has invited me to give a talk at the opening and I am excited to see the new installation.

The bad news:

Both organizations declined the proposals I'd written seeking funds for more work.  One of the grants would have supported additional fieldwork. The other sought funds to allow more experiments to develop and refine ceramic rehydroxylation dating (RHX dating).  No matter how many times it happens, reviewers rejections always sting a little, even when accompanied by encouragement to "revise and resubmit."

Either way, the lack of support funds means that we will box up the artifacts and put more of the analysis on hold for the summer.  I'll be co-teaching the 2010 Industrial Heritage and Archaeology Field School this summer at the site of the Cliff Mine in Keweenaw County in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

I'll continue to collaborate with my friends in Materials Science.  Since Patrick Bowen was awarded two grants for undergraduate research, we will move as far ahead as we can investigating reydroxylation.  I think he will work with Jarek Drelich to characterize the clay and ceramic used by the Davenports and try to figure out the significance of the different water-absorbtion processes at work in ceramics.

We'll reflect on the reviewers' comments for a few days and then meet to plan the strategy for the rest of the summer and the fall term.


  1. Awesome news. Do you have the date/time info for your lecture? I will be living in Salt Lake Valley at the end of May to September!

  2. Thanks Mr. Robbins- I'll post the details about the my presentation and the exhibit soon. The plans are almost complete.