CAP CAFE! The Public and MSU Archaeology

Written by: Blair Zaid

Primary Source: Campus Archaeology Program Blog, January 29, 2016.

Last night was the first official CAP Cafe with a presentation by Dr. Jodi O’Gorman, chair of the MSU Department of Anthropology. We are excited to launch this series of public oriented lectures about some of the archaeology projects from our department and gather with archaeologists here in the area. Here are our dates for this semester:

February 25th: Dr. Lovis
March 31st: Dr. Watrall
April 14th: CAP

All presentations are at 7pm. February is in McDonel Hall C103, March is in the LEADR lab, and April is part of ScienceFest!
So come and join us to interact with archaeologists at MSU!

Here is a recap of last night’s CAP Cafe:

Dr. O'Gorman presents

Dr. O’Gorman presents Breaking Bread and Building Bridges

Dr. O’Gorman’s presentation, “Breaking Bread and Building Bridges: A Foodways Perspective on Negotiating Pre-Columbian Conflict in the Midwest” was based on her long term research project at Morton Village in central Illinois. This project is near and dear to our hearts here at MSU because most students join the site to work on the various projects and to develop their archaeological training. This 14th century village is related to a cemetery and mound complex in the Central Illonios river valley. The site is located in a region that overlaps the indigenous Mississpian cultural groups to the south and the Oneota from northern Illinois and Wisconsin.

The presentation focused on the relationships between changes in foodways and the development of multiculturalism in the Midwest during the 1300s. Dr. O’Gorman used a variety of approaches; lipid analysis, statistical analysis, and shape/form analysis to understand the production and use of bowls and plates at the site. This information may reveal that these two cultures developed an integrated way of manufacturing, preparing, and displaying food. Dr. O’Gorman highlighted a particular deep rimmed plate style that had typical Mississipian cultural form but used Oneota stylistic motiffs. She suggested that the persistence of the shape type for both groups can demonstrate a need to maintain some cultural element in the face of change as “community and group persistence were important.” Dr. O’Gorman suggested that these instances of integration and separation that occured in this boarder region can ultimately reveal how and when these two groups developed multicultural behaviors during their interactions.

After the discussion we visited the laboratories to see the artifacts up close and get a sense of the different shapes and motifs of the Misssisspian and Oneota cultural groups. This hands-on experience was a bonus addition to the presentation, a unique asset of our CAP CAFE series.

Ceramic frags in the lab

Ceramic frags in the lab

Oneota and Mississippian Jars

Oneota and Mississippian Jars

Dr. O'Gorman and Amy Michael discuss a poster presentation

Dr. O’Gorman and Amy Michael discuss a poster presentation

The first presentation of the CAP CAFE series was a hit! We learned about foodways, Oneota culture, and were able to see the artifacts up close. Be sure to join us next month to learn more about archaeology at MSU!

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Blair Zaid
Blair (Starnes) Zaid is a doctoral student in both African American and African Studies and Anthropology here at MSU. Her research focuses on the African Diaspora expansion of the Kongo Kingdom of 15th century west central Africa. Her interests include historic archaeology, community engagement, increasing diversity in archaeology, and raising a toddler. This will be Blair’s third year as a CAP fellow and like her previous project of creating a type collection for CAP, her research this year will continue to revolve around the CAP artifact collections.