Archaeology Society Hosts PA Students

Kerry Joyce ’11 and Apsara Iyer ’12 presented their archaeology research to members of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society (MAS) and the Andover community last Tuesday at Kemper Auditorium. Joyce presented her History 310 research on the portrayal of Native Americans in photography throughout history. According to Joyce, she said that her paper is mainly about the paradoxical view of the Native Americans as noble savages. “Native Americans have never really held a steady place in the view of the white people inhabiting America,” said Joyce. Joyce said that in the first European artistic representations of Indians, “The Indians looked childlike and innocent, as if they were waiting for the word of God to be bestowed upon them.” However, according to Joyce, after the Native Americans “clashed with the European civilization, they were portrayed as savage, cruel and violent.” “Once the Indians were no longer a threat to European Americans, they were then portrayed as a dying race. In other words, the demonic Indian became the doomed Indian, and photographers urgently set out to capture what was left of the vanishing race,” she continued. Joyce said that many of the earlier photographers of Native Americans sought to document the Native American race rather than take artistic photos. Photographers in later eras tried to bring justice to the race by exposing the unfair treatment of Indians, particularly the theft of their government-granted land by Americans. By displaying a variety of pictures and photos during her presentation, Joyce demonstrated the extent of the destruction and devastation suffered by the race. Joyce said, “For the most part, Native Americans have been wiped out and their previous way of life is completely gone. It’s something that I realized before but never really internalized and completely understood.” Prior to her research, Joyce was mainly interested in the Classics and classical archaeology but was attracted to the prospect of working at the Peabody Museum for her work duty. “When my History 310 paper rolled around, I realized that the Peabody would be a great resource,” Joyce said. She utilized books, images and prints from the Peabody’s collections in her research. Joyce has always had an interest in art, which influenced her paper topic selection. “I feel like when you write about what you know and what you love, it turns out well,” she said. Joyce hopes to participate in excavations in the future, especially those in Italy or Greece. Over the summer, Iyer participated in a five-week UCLA field school program, working in a site called Qochapata in the Sacsayhuaman Archaeological Park in Cusco, Peru. At the site, she learned about the basics of excavation and explored the culture and history of the area. Iyer said, “The first thing that I found was a shard of pottery. It was very interesting to think that this little piece of pottery that I separated from pieces of clay had been around for five hundred years.” The program’s research group excavated numerous ceramic pieces at Cusco, including the lid of an aryballos, a jug used to hold religious offerings. The high quality and the charred surface design of the excavated pottery shards suggested that the pottery had been the property of a royal family or tribe, according to Iyer. “One of my most memorable experiences on the trip was going to the Inti Raymi festival, a reenactment of an alleged ancient Incan festival in Cusco. Interestingly enough, I found out later that the festival is not historically accurate at all and was created to increase tourism in the area,” said Iyer. Iyer supplemented the presentation of her findings with historical chronicles as well as data, photos and maps from the excavation site sent by her instructors. Iyer said that her interest in archaeology began in seventh grade after learning about the Incas and a speculated form of Incan writing known as quipu, which uses types of letters called cords and knots. “I was inspired to research more about the quipu, and it has sort of been a growing obsession to go to Peru, to figure out more about the Incas and to engage more actively with the history of the area,” said Iyer. At Andover, Iyer has pursued her interest in archaeology by serving as a work duty student at the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology. She is also the president of the Andover Archaeology and History Club on campus. Iyer hopes to return to Peru next year, “either excavating or volunteering.” Dr. Suanna Crowley, Chair of the Northeast Chapter of MAS, called the student presentations “fabulous.” Crowley said, “Even if they don’t want to continue to be archaeologists, it’s great to have the practice of doing research and actually speaking in front of a group of professionals. I think any opportunity you get as a student to interact with professionals is a really great one.” The student presentations began last year, when Marla Taylor, Assistant Collections Manager, suggested that the society host a presentation by Charlie Cockburn ’11. Crowley said, “I noticed that Apsara and Kerry went above and beyond in their interaction with the Peabody, and [I] wanted to give them a chance to showcase their research.”