An interdisciplinary research team of Brown undergraduates led by Assistant Professor of Anthropology Parker VanValkenburgh developed a bilingual, tablet-based app for field and laboratory use.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] —Over three seasons excavating reducciones, or colonial planned towns, in Peru, Parker VanValkenburgh and his international research team collected tens of thousands of small ceramic sherds. Those tiny pieces of pottery, dating back hundreds of years, could shed light on the lives and habits of the indigenous populations forcibly resettled into towns by Spanish colonialists — what they ate, how they organized their living spaces and how they were connected to the rest of the world.
In such an endeavor, critical mass is both a key and an obstacle.
“A single sherd on its own is often mute, but with 80,000 sherds you notice patterns and establish lines of evidence that enable you to tell really interesting stories,” said VanValkenburgh, an assistant professor of anthropology at Brown University.