Friday, February 25, 2011

Canadian Graduate Programs in Hellenic Studies and Paleoethnobotanical Research

I am asked frequently where in Canada a student seeking an M.A. and/or Ph.D. can study Classics, Classical Archaeology or other aspects of the ancient world. It is difficult in a short discussion, however, to outline all of the possibilities. In order to make this investigation easier a prospective student can now go to the Institute’s website: and go to the “Links” dropdown menu and there select “Graduate Programs in Canada”. The various graduate programs of ten of our “Participating Institutions” are listed there with the links to the specific departmental website. As one will see, universities across Canada offer a wide variety of top quality advanced degree options relating to ancient Greece and ancillary subjects.

Book of the Blog
Until recently the recovery of paleobotantical remains (one type of “ecofact”) from archaeological contexts was limited to chance finds of macroscopic materials such as charred seeds, pips and pits as well as larger fragments of charcoal. This minimalistic approach created a huge void in our knowledge of plants, bushes and trees that were not just present in past environments but more importantly used in some fashion by humans. The systematic recovery of microscopic as well as macroscopic botanical remains is now standard practice on most excavations.

The “What?”, the “How?”, and the “Why?” of this research is presented in Deborah M. Pearsall’s Paleoethnobotany. A Handbook of Procedures (Left Coast Press, 2nd edition, 2010). In brief, ethnobotany is the study of plant remains related to human activities. Paleoethnobotany is the study of vegetal remains in archaeological contexts. Recovery techniques and procedures, the identification and interpretation of “macroremains” are set forth systematically. “Microremains”, i.e. pollen and phytoliths, are each treated separately. The direct and indirect indicators of diet and health are reviewed along with the crucial issue of integrating all classes of biological data to reconstruct ancient diets and behaviors. Pearsall’s presentation is pithy and stimulating.

The books and monographs succinctly reviewed in the Book of the Blog are waiting for your perusal at the Institute’s Library!

Cordially yours,
David Rupp

No comments:

Post a Comment