The future of archaeology

first_imgWhen he first stumbled on the field that would become his life’s work, Peter Der Manuelian was a fourth-grader in suburban Boston. The object of his attention was 5,000 years old.He was transfixed by ancient Egypt. “It was the first time a subject grabbed me,” said Manuelian ’81, who is Harvard’s first Egyptologist since 1942, and who realizes that a childhood fascination with pyramids usually goes the way of dinosaurs and superheroes. “Most people grow out of it. I never did.”It was the vast scale of things he fell in love with — the huge pyramids, and the three millennia that Egypt was an unwavering civilization of pharaohs and deities and social systems as stable as salt beds. Of course there were the mummies too, and the gorgeous art, and the puzzle of the language written in hieroglyphs.Sustaining his interest through the years was the incomparable collection of Egyptian artifacts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), where the young Manuelian signed up as a volunteer. The longest running archaeological dig in Egypt and the Sudan (1905 to 1947) was the joint Harvard-MFA Expedition, and thousands of artifacts came to be housed in Boston. “I was lucky to be local,” he said.By the time Manuelian enrolled at Harvard College in 1977, he had already spent the first of what were to be numerous summers on expedition to Giza, a site filled with pyramids, temples, and tombs just west of modern Cairo. And he was in his second year as an assistant at the MFA in ancient Egyptian, Near Eastern, and Nubian art. So Manuelian was well primed for his next major Egyptological inspiration: Harvard itself.A key mentor was Thomas Oden Lambdin, the College’s senior teacher of biblical Hebrew, Egyptian, and a host of other languages, and the closet thing Harvard had to an Egyptologist at the time. “He took me in,” said Manuelian, whose present-day office at the Semitic Museum is next to the office that Lambdin (now emeritus) once occupied. (For effect, there is a mummy nearby too.)While still an undergraduate at Harvard (where he played varsity squash and bunked at Lowell House), Manuelian joined two Washington State University expeditions to Nagada, Egypt, and continued his research internships at the MFA. After earning an A.B., magna cum laude, in Near Eastern languages and civilizations, Manuelian studied at Germany’s Tübingen University on a Fulbright-Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst Fellowship.Then he took up doctoral studies at the University of Chicago, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1990. After that, Manuelian spent three six-month stints in New Kingdom temples as a staff Egyptological artist on the University of Chicago’s Epigraphic Survey in Luxor, Egypt. (An epigrapher records and deciphers inscriptions.)Returning to Boston in 1987, Manuelian rejoined the MFA as an Egyptian Department curator, lectured at Harvard, taught at Tufts University for a decade, and in 2000 became Giza Archives director at the MFA, a post he held until 2010. In July of that year, he was named Harvard’s Philip J. King Professor of Egyptology.To find a parallel you have to go back almost 70 years to George A. Reisner, who was the University’s de facto Egyptologist from 1910 to 1942. He lived and worked in the fruitful tumult of an era of fervent artifact hunting in the ancient world. “He was my predecessor and my hero,” said Manuelian, who is writing a Reisner biography. “He was one of the first scientifically minded archaeologists.”Reisner was so busy at Harvard Camp at Giza, and at 22 other dig sites, that he taught in Cambridge perhaps just a few semesters in his four decades with the University. “You could fault him” for teaching so little, said Manuelian — but not really. “He was interested in excavating.”Manuelian is a digger too, one with a grasp of computer-based tools that capture and archive data and artifacts in 3-D layers of information. The showcase of that effort is the Giza Archives Project, a decade-long effort to assemble all extant Giza materials into a comprehensive, attractive, searchable whole. (There are 37,000 photographs, 1,200 spinning 360-degree panoramas, and more than 21,000 objects currently online.) “I’m a cataloger, basically,” said Manuelian. “I’m trying to bring diverse materials together.” Helping him have been the more than 400 students and volunteers that he has recruited for the work over the last decade, in addition to more than $3 million in support to the MFA from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.At the heart of the project is the mass of maps, excavation photographs, diaries, letters, tomb records, artifacts, and other finds from the 1904-1947 Harvard-MFA Giza Expedition. To enrich the database, Manuelian has scoured Giza collections in Egypt, Austria, Germany, France, the United States, and elsewhere.Manuelian is working with colleagues from Dassault Systèmes to develop computer interfaces that let a student roam through a virtual Giza necropolis, plunge down a tomb shaft to look around, or click on a sarcophagus to link to layers of related documents. He uses these tools for teaching in Harvard’s Visualization Center at the Geological Museum, thanks to collaborations with the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.“It isn’t static,” he said of the new technology of digital excavation. “It’s an immersive way to teach Giza archaeology.”last_img read more

Scientists Seek Answers

first_img“We’re seeing tomato spotted wilt virus levels up to 70 percent in some fields thisyear,” he said. “It’s not that severe in every field. But it’s doing more damage overmore fields over a greater area than in years past.” A virus causes this killer disease that can wipe out peanuts, tobacco, peppers andtomatoes. It’s hit all four crops hard this year. And Culbreath expects the damage tocontinue. “It’s the worst we’ve seen in Georgia,” said Albert Culbreath, a plant pathologist withthe UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. At the UGA Coastal Plain Experiment Station in Tifton, CAES horticulture researcherSharad Phatak has found another way to help fight the virus. The reduction isn’t a direct result of conservation tillage. It’s an indirect way to preventthe disease. But it works. Phatak found conservation tillage leads to better quality in peanuts, too. “When the virus hits this hard, as early in the season as it did this year, the impact isgreater than when it hits late, as it did in 1996,” he said. The crop residue provides a place for beneficial insects to live, Phatak said. Thoseinsects feast on insects, including thrips, that can cause damage and yield loss. But farmers can help prevent it next year. He tells farmers to plant resistant cultivars, plant when TSW is least likely to infect andplant a good population to set a good stand.center_img Georgia farmers lost close to $75 million to TSW last year. Culbreath and othersexpect the damage to be greater this year. There’s no cure for TSW once plants are infected. And even some more resistantvarieties are infected, though not as bad as others. “It’s a matter of living with it forthis year,” Culbreath said. University of Georgia scientists are trying to help Georgia farmers stop a virus-bornedisease that has hit crops especially hard this year. John Baldwin, a CAES extension agronomist, said farmers have to workwholeheartedly to reduce TSW. “They have to use every tool available to keep it out oftheir fields,” he said. Baldwin said setting a good stand helps in several ways. Thrips, the insects that carrythe virus, don’t seem to invade thickly planted fields as much as those with fewerplants. And if they do, more plants can mean more yield overall, even if the yield isreduced by disease damage. “We found that in conservation tillage, where you have the residue of rye or wheat orother cover crops on the surface, you can see a reduction on 30 percent in (TSW)virus,” he said. Coffee County farmer Max Carter likes using no-till in his peanuts. “We’re seeing a lotof crop residue building up, making more organic matter in the soil,” he said. “Soilerosion is zero, too, and the water stays clean and clear.” The TSW reduction is only one of Phatak’s findings during six years of research inpeanuts and another 12 years in tomatoes and peppers. But it’s the most exciting tomany farmers.last_img read more

The Latest: Pan Pacific swimming won’t be held until 2026

first_imgThe Latest: Pan Pacific swimming won’t be held until 2026 Canada was scheduled to host the quadrennial event in 2022 but instead will host in 2026.Swimming Canada says charter nations Australia, Canada, Japan and the United States “agreed to defer” the event.The Tokyo Olympics were postponed to 2021. That then led to the swimming world championships being pushed back to May 2022.Swimming Canada says “organizing a third major championships in that window presented several challenges.”The 2020 Junior Pan Pacific Championships were moved to August 2022 in Hawaii. May 29, 2020 The move could help clubs stem losses from refunding ticket holders.Only neighboring Belarus is currently holding professional soccer games with fans in the stadium.___The top two divisions of the Swedish league have been given the go-ahead to start their seasons on June 14.There will be no spectators at matches. Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditThe Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:___The Pan Pacific Swimming Championships won’t be held as planned in 2022 because of a crowded international sporting schedule brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.center_img Associated Press ___Fans will be in the stadiums when the Russian soccer league restarts next month.The Russian government’s coronavirus task force says spectators will be allowed if they don’t exceed 10% of the stadium’s capacity.The Russian league previously announced it will resume games on June 21.Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko says “both players and fans have missed the vivid emotions of a match and the noise from the stands. Soon all this will return.” The season was scheduled to start on April 4 but was suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak.___More AP sports: and,Tampa Bay Lightning advance to face Dallas Stars in Stanley Cup finals, beating New York Islanders 2-1 in OT in Game 6last_img read more