Anthropology Field Notes

University of Delaware Anthropology Fieldwork by students and faculty

Category: Summer Research

First Blog Post and First Day in Puerto Rico!

Hello everyone!

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Sarah Driver and I just graduated from UD with a double major in Anthropology and Political Science.  I am spending some time in Puerto Rico working as a research assistant with Professor Roe to continue an Independent Study project.  We are going to be traveling to an old Taino rock shelter to make sure that the carvings that we have in image form correctly match the actual  carvings that are on the walls.  He is going to be presenting at a big symposium for Caribbean archaeology and everything needs to be perfect.  I have Photoshop and a camera, so I’m set to help.  Currently, however, I am sitting in a lovely cool room, blogging, after the long day of traveling to San Juan, PR.

Honestly, a decent number of these blog posts are just going to be about my daily adventures.

I started off today by getting up at 6:30 am bright and early and going to the airport.  That all went well, minus two of my dear lovely siblings being insanely grumpy–Elizabeth had been at a friend’s house in the wee hours of the night and the car broke down, so Holly was asked by my mom to pick her up.  Holly was not pleased.  But anyways, they both went with me to the airport like supportive siblings, even if they muttered the whole way there.

On the plane, I managed to drool on myself while I was sleeping, so that was lovely.  I think Professor Roe may have seen that.

Anyways, we got to Puerto Rico without any troubles and then met up with some friends of his, who will be hosting us.  Their house is lovely and their dinner was fantastic.

The main thing I did today, other than travel and eat and talk, was go running.  The hills here are misery.  I eventually ended up where I was supposed to be but I definitely took a few wrong turns.  Oops.  I didn’t want to use my phone because I wasn’t sure about roaming fees so I asked some of the locals for directions in my middling Spanish.  Either their directions or my Spanish was lousy, so I caved and used my phone.  I was starting to get a little nervous because late afternoon was on its way and some of the houses I was passing were really poor.  And all of the houses here have bars on them!  That is certainly different from home.  One house had a wall with actual razor spikes on top.  And all the dogs bark like they want to eat you, though there was one little pug-looking dog that was very nice.  The chickens are leery of people and have especially long legs.  Most of the people seemed to be nice and I got a lot of sympathy smiles because, like I said, the hills were murderous.

Once I came back we chatted and had dinner.  I took a few photos of the area that I’m in and it is lovely!

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Investigation Into Health and Sex in a Prehistoric Society

My name is Anissa Speakman, I am a rising senior in the Anthropology department, and I am currently working on a Summer Scholars research project. For my research project, I will be looking into dental defects and sex differences in a prehistoric skeletal sample. Dental defects are basically anything that can go wrong with your teeth, like malformed enamel, cavities, abscesses, teeth crowding, etc. I will be specifically looking at malformed enamel (scientific name: enamel hypopalsia) and cavities (scientific name: dental caries) in men and women in a prehistoric skeletal population. Other scholars in the fields of dental anthropology (anthropologists who study primarily dentition) and biological anthropology (anthropologists who study osteology as a whole) have found that women in both living and skeletal samples tend to have higher rates of enamel malformation and cavities. Scholars debate whether this difference in the dental health of the sexes is caused by something biological or something cultural. In my research, I would like to analyze a skeletal sample, and investigate whether the dental health of the women in the sample is really worse than the men. Then, I would like to try to draw a conclusion from my data as to whether the difference in dental health, if there is one, is causes by biology or culture, or a mix of both.

Right now I am working on doing a literature review of all of the information on the topic of sex differences and dental defects. As I work proceed through my project, analyze a skeletal sample, and continue into my senior thesis, I will write updates for the Field Notes Blog.

Until next time,


5 Museums across 4 States this Summer

Sophiana Leto is a rising Junior and Plastino Scholar at the University of Delaware. She will be traveling to 5 museums across 4 states to learn about how they create effective outreach programs, engage their local communities, and act as social service providers.

Follow her travels as a Plastino Scholar this summer: