For the past several years, the UA College of Arts & Sciences has been developing the Alabama-Greece Initiative. As outlined on the Initiative website, it is an effort to “develop an extensive and formal collaborative relationship with Aristotle University in Thessaloniki (AUTh).” In 2015, archaeologist and chair of our Anthropology Department was selected for the Initiative.
Dr. Brown established a relationship with AUTh faculty developing a museum studies program & is returning this summer with UA students to conduct research at Vergina. Vergina is the site of the tomb of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, & a large, extended cemetery for the inhabitants of the city of Pella, which was Phillip’s capital & Alexander’s birthplace, before it was destroyed by an earthquake in 90 BC.
This year, I was selected to participate in the 2017 Initiative. Along with Luoheng Han, Ana Corbalan, Andrew Dewar, Vaia Touna, Rebecca Salzer, Amir Zaheri, and Arun Gupta, I traveled to Thessaloniki to meet with potential collaborators and develop a proposal for research. I met with George Kitsios and George Athanasopoulos and discussed plans for an exciting study I’ll share more about in the future. In the meantime, following are some of the photos from our wonderful visit. Thanks to Dean Olin and our partners at AUTh for making this opportunity possible and for the lovely hospitality!
Arriving over Thessaloniki
Selfie with the Thessaloniki sunset from the balcony where we were having dinner the first night
Night view from our windows of the Electra Palace hotel on Aristotle Square in Thessaloniki
Morning visit to the nearby street market
Dean Olin opening the mini-conference on the first day at AUTh
Spryros Pavlides shows us a replica of the world’s oldest computer, made in Greece, on a tour of AUTh, May 10, 2016
Getting a personal tour of AUThs cast museum May 10, 2016).
The original Petralona skull, from the AUTh vaults! May 10, 2016)
The original Ouranpithecus macedonia skull, which is a hominid /or gorilla ancestor, from the AUTh vaults May 10, 2016).
Mezes for dinner with almost the whole crew! May 10, 2016).
Getting a tour of the Archaeology Museum at Pella, May 11, 2016.
Touring the Pella ruins, May 11, 2016
A household floor mosaic in the ruins of Pella May 11, 2016).
We stopped off at “Meat Palace” for lunch between Pella and Vergina, May 11, 2016.
AUTh invited us to an exhibition by their students doing a traditional dance for the Erasmus Conference being held at AUTh, May 11, 2016.
I enjoyed a humble moment in Aristotle Square, May 12, 2016.
“Postmodern selfie” with Vaia Touna photographing Ana Corbalan on the top of the White Tower, with the Thermaic Gulf in the background, May 12, 2016.
Vaia shares the joy of really good souvlaki with me, May 12, 2016.
Palace Arch next to the Rotunda
My collaborators George Athanasopoulos and George Kitsios showing me the Rotunda of Galerius, May 12, 2016.
One of the surviving frescos in the Rotunda.
The old Roman Agora.
More Roman Agora.
You can still perform or see performances in the Roman Agora amphitheatre!
Amir and Ana discussing contemporary art, May 12, 2016.
Andrew Dewar, Danae Stefanou, and her students performed in the Contemporary Art Museum, May 12, 2016.
Andrew Dewar performing in the Contemporary Art Museum, May 12, 2016.
After the performance, Andrew gave a talk for Danae’s lecture series, May 12, 2016.
Visit to Hagios Demetrios, the main sanctuary of Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki (with a Google Photos filter applied).
This is where Demetrios was martyred (i.e., killed) by his fellow Roman soldiers for being a Christian. It is a former Roman bath, now the catacomb shrine under the Church of Saint Demetrius, May 13, 2016.
George Athanasopoulos in front of his “neighborhood parish,” which just happens to be the early 14th-century Byzantine Church of Saint Nicholas Orphanos, May 13, 2016.
Thessaloniki from the grounds of the 14th century Vlatades Monastery, May 13, 2016.
From the old city walls of Thessaloniki, May 13, 2016.
Ruins and archaeology are literally everywhere anyone needs to dig, May 13, 2016.
View of the Thermaic Gulf from our rooms in the Electra Palace Hotel on Aristotle Square during the day, May 14, 2016.
The Greek Agora (with Google Photos filter), May 14, 2016.
Filterless Greek Agora from another angle, May 14, 2016.
The old walls are everywhere, May 14, 2016.
…And under everything, May 14, 2016.
More wall, other side of town! (May 14, 2016)
The old hippodrome site right in the middle of town, May 14, 2016.
…is a great place to live downtown for humans… (May 14, 2016).
…And stray cats (May 14, 2016).
Alexander the Great with Mount Olympus in the background (May 14, 2016).
Mount Olympus at dusk (May 14, 2016).
Thessaloniki’s White Tower from one of the bar boats (May 14, 2016).
Experiential learning is important across the University of Alabama, and Anthropology is no different. Students in my “Primate Religion and Human Consciousness” (UH 300) and “Evolution for Everyone” courses had fun (I hope) this semester with a few of the activities I set up. Primate Religion & Human Consciousness is a course in the cognitive science of religion I teach every spring for the Honors College. This semester we explored cooperation and prosociality by replicating Milgram’s “lost letter” study in Tuscaloosa. Students stuffed envelopes with fake money and sheets with pre-set locations, addressed the envelopes to me, put stamps on them, and dropped them off around town to see how many would be returned from various districts. They also chose cooperative groups (two teams chose churches and the other team chose the UA swim team) to investigate how cooperation is inculcated and maintained. I was impressed at the students’ integration of the two activities in developing conclusions about the roles of sociality in communities that were contrary to many of their initial expectations.
In “Evolution for Everyone” (ANT 150), the goal is to expose students to evolutionary principles and their cross-disciplinary applications and implications. This semester, drawing instructor Charlotte Wegrzynowski introduced students to the principles of drawing, which was once a basic skill of field naturalists before the age of photography. This activity emphasized different ways of knowing and the details we often miss or can never understand without the experience of paying close attention to the parts that make up the whole and the connections between our intellectual and kinesthetic experiences.
“Primate Religion & Human Consciousness” students set up “lost letter” study.
“Primate Religion & Human Consciousness” students stuff envelopes with funny money to test pro-sociality.
Drawing instructor Charlotte Wegrzynowski teaches “Evolution for Everyone” students drawing from life.
“Evolution for Everyone” students draw their own hands.
Psychology instructor Josh Eyer shows “Evolution for Everyone” students that holding a pen in your mouth can change your emotions.
On February 12, Charles Darwin’s birthday, the UA Evolutionary Studies Club hosted the 3rd annual Darwin Day Colloquium. The event was hosted by the Alabama Museum of Natural History and featured an afternoon of talks from UA students and faculty, in addition to a talk by alumnus Dr. Amanda Glaze and keynote by University of Louisiana at Monroe evolutionary psychologist Dr. Kilian Garvey. Special thanks to the hard work of Club members, particularly Taylor Burbach, who understands why Dr. Lynn recruits students who get as stressed about things as he does—they are the type who get things done, and the result was a smashing success.
This annual event is open to anyone interested in promoting cross-disciplinary evolutionary studies in Alabama and the Southeast region. This includes students of ALL ages, teachers, and those with a personal but abiding interest in improving science-based integrative education. Neither Charles Darwin nor Alfred Wallace (the co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection) were academics!
On January 29 the Anthropology Department and Evolution Working Group hosted biomolecular archaeologist Dr. Patrick McGovern for an ALLELE (Alabama Lectures on Life’s Evolution) talk from his book, Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcohol. The event included a meeting with the ANT 150 “Evolution for Everyone” students, dinner with Anthropology students, EVOWOG members, and Wendi Schauffer from UA Press, the ALLELE talk, and an Ancient Ales tasting after the talk at Druid City Brewing.
Special thanks to the Evolutionary Studies Club for organizing the tasting and Druid City for hosting and to our students who helped with the logistics. Dr. Pat’s work is endlessly fascinating and will be included in a new spring 2016 course on the “Anthropology of Drugs.” Master’s student Cassie Medeiros, whose research focus is the archaeology of alcohol, particularly evidence of moonshine stills in Alabama, was particularly thrilled to be a part of the event.
Lynn Funkhouser with Dr. Pat
Lynn Funkhouser and Cassie Medeiros with the Indiana Jones of beer archaeology, Patrick McGovern,.
EVOWOG/Anthro dinner at Epiphany
Ancient Ales tasting at Druid City Brewery
A great turnout for our Druid City hosts!
Patrick McGovern talking with biologist Steven Secor.
EvoS Club members hosted and tended bar.
Taylor Burbach and Erica Schumann serving Ancient Ales.
Selfie with Dr. Pat and photobomb from psychologist Josh Eyer.
The UA Anthropology Department kicks off the academic year and welcomes new members to the department with an annual potlatch. A potlatch involves, ideally, the garnering of prestige thru the gifting of valued objects. These objects obtain their values through the histories of their transfers through the years. Following are some of the highlights of the 2013 potlatch, held in Smith Hall on Friday, August 30.