Happy International Archaeology Day!

In my previous life I was as an archaeologist. I went to school to study archaeology, visited archaeological sites, did laboratory work (cleaning and processing artifacts), went on digs as a student, volunteer, intern, and even for a short time a paid archaeologist. I even have my own trowel (no its not sonic)! In honor of International Archaeology Day here are a few photos from my archaeologist phase of life:

Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation

Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation is a fan made film by three 12-year olds from Mississippi, who worked on the movie for seven years (1982-1989). They filmed the whole movie, except one scene-  where Indy is fighting the Nazi on the airplane. As the years went by the movie was rediscovered and people loved it. They filmmakers eventually met Steven Spielberg and in 2014 they held a Kickstarter campaign to finally film that one missing scene. The movie is really fun. The continuity is a bit off, as you can see the kids age and actors change, but its a great job by three young filmmakers. In 2014 I backed the Kickstarter and I am “thanked” in the credits (you can also see a list of supports on their website http://www.raidersguys.com/#!thankkyou/cuot).

Checkout the film here: http://www.raidersguys.com/ and http://raidersguys.wix.com/raidersguys


Team Raiders

Dr Renata Holod Lecture

Tonight I braved the cold (19 degrees) was able to attend a lecture by Dr. Renata Holod on “On Regimes of Lighting: Vision & Memory in the Great Mosque of Cordoba.” She was at the UMN for The 3rd Annual Carl Sheppard Memorial Lecture in Medieval Art History. It was a really interesting lecture on the Great Mosque and the use or lack there of light inside. I also ran into a few people that I have not seen in years, so it was really nice to see them. Here is the blurb on the event:

“Please join us on Thursday, November 13, 2014, at 7:00 p.m., 120 Andersen Library, for the 2014 Annual Carl Sheppard Memorial Lecture in Medieval Art History, this year presented by Renata Holod: “On Regimes of Lighting: vision & Memory in the Great Mosque of Cordoba”. Professor Holod is a professor of Art History at the University of Pennsylvania and the Near East Curator for PENN Museum.

Professor Holod will present her newest iteration in a series of studies on the interior of the Mosque of Cordoba. Utilizing digital tools for the recreation of lighting, she will suggest a fuller experience of the interior. She argues that further variation so lighting could be used to understand more fully the aesthetic impact intended by the designers of al-Hakam’s complex extension and addition of the mid-10th century CE. Only by recreating regimes of lighting in interiors can one begin to gauge aspects of historical and cultural experience in such spaces of memory.

This event is presented by the Center for Medieval Studies and co-sponsored by the James Ford Bell Library. It is free and open to the public. No reservations are required.”


Chapter just published!

A book chapter I wrote awhile back has just been published! Well, apparently it came out in February 2014, but I never received my copy from the publisher (my copy is suppose to be in the mail as I type this). So I tired to ILL it at the library and the UMN decided to purchased it (no they did not buy it because of me. They tend to purchase ILL requests these days if they fit into the collection) and I finally received it. I tend not to consider anything I write “officially” published until I see it live, in person, and in print). The 2 volume book is Muslims and American Popular Culture and you can purchase it from Amazon.com for $124.45 http://www.amazon.com/Muslims-American-Popular-Culture-volumes/dp/0313379629/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398217934&sr=1-1

My chapter “Mosques in Minnesota” is based off of my masters thesis work studying mosques in Minnesota.

Here is the full citation: Aho, Melissa. 2014. “Mosques in Minnesota,” in Anne R. Richards and Iraj Omidvar, Editors, Muslims and American Popular Culture. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger/ABC-CLIO, Inc., 305-315.


Muslims and American Popular Culture Aho chapter

Terracotta Warriors

Mom and I finally got a chance to see the China’s Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor’s Legacy exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts today. It is a fantastic exhibit and the terracotta statues are incredible. You can still see original paint on some of the statues and the details are amazing. I kept expecting the statues to come alive (yep, I watch way too many movies).

Archaeology lecture at the U

One of the nice things about working at a major University is that they always have interesting lectures going on. I try to attend as many as I can, but this past year I have been so busy that I have not attended as many as I would have liked. I also occasionally run into old friends or people that I know at these things and tonight was no exception. I ran into a few archaeologists including my friend and fantastic archaeologist Vanca S. Hello Vanca!

So tonight, during my dinner break, I attend part of a fantastic talk by Cori Wegener, the Associate Curator, Decorative Arts, Textiles and Sculpture, at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Cori’s talk was “Hell Hath No Fury: How the Looting of the Iraq Museum Changed the Way Archaeologists Think About Armed Conflict.”

Here is a bit about what the talk was about:
“This lecture is part of the “Donny George Candlelight Vigil for Global Heritage” in memory of Donny George Youkhanna, former director of the Iraq National Museum, sponsored by Saving Antiquities for Everyone (SAFE). Donny George, who ardently supported protection of the world’s shared cultural heritage, was a valued colleague and a man of integrity. His sudden passing due to a heart attack on March 11, 2011 leaves a void in the soul of Iraqi archaeology. See http://www.savingantiquities.org/candlelightvigils.php.

In 2003, the archaeological community united in shared outrage over the tragic looting of the Iraq Museum. Later, damage and looting of archaeological sites in Iraq also took place, including preventable damage to sites at or near Coalition bases. With a renewed determination to prevent such damage in future conflicts, archaeologists began to think about how they could contribute to the preservation of collections and archaeological sites during armed conflict. Wegener will talk about her experiences working with archaeologists, including Donny George, both while serving in Iraq as a U.S. Army officer and later as founder and president of the U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield” (Accessed April 12, 2011 https://events.umn.edu/012811).

Touring in Minneapolis

Today I took a tour of the Guthrie Theater and the Mill City Museum with the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/TC) Twin Cities Chapter librarians. They are trying out a few different tours to see if they will work for the big conference next year.

I had not been to the new Guthrie Theater and found it amazing! I did ask about the old Guthrie ghosts and was told that ‘no’ there are no ghosts in the new theater. How sad!

Dead Sea Scrolls

Disappointing! That’s how I would describe seeing the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Tonight, I met up with Susan, an old friend and fellow survivor of library school, to go and see the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Omnitheater movie Arabia. Its always wonderful to see Susan (she was having a devastating week and I think getting away from the house, kids, pets, and significant other was good for her).

When I arrived at the Science Museum of Minnesota, I noticed right away there was something weird. In the parking ramp elevator there is a sign which says ‘bags would be searched.’ This is odd, as the museum has never searched bags before. So when I entered at the main doors, I was asked to open my purse. I asked the employee what was going on and did it concern the Dead Sea Scrolls and she said yes. My reply and yes I really did say this was, “Well that’s weird. You did not have bag searches at the Star Wars exhibit and most people would rather take home a Wookie than the Dead Sea Scrolls!” Then I laughed. Strangely, the employee did not laugh. Obviously not a Star Wars fan.

First up, was Arabia in the Omnitheater. It was a nice film. I did not learn anything new about Arabia and I was a bit disappointed on how they tended to gloss over some of the more controversial issues concerning Saudi Arabia. So lets just call it a politically correct family friendly film about Arabia.

Next up was the Dead Sea Scrolls. Susan and I picked up the hand held audio tour guides (which were FREEEE!) and we were told by the staff to turn off any cell phones and put away cameras. I guess the employee noticed me taking a photo of Susan. The exhibit is full of information, photos, dishes, jars, coins, fabrics, food remains, and a few ossuary’s, but they were all pretty dull. There was nothing exciting or exceptional about any of it, except for the fact that it was 2,000 years old (and in case you were wondering, there are actually a lot of artifacts still around from 2,000 years ago). The Dead Sea Scrolls on tour consisted of 5 little scrolls in a dark room and each scroll was housed in little boxes which were so dark you could not see the print.

My impression of the Dead Sea Scrolls? No Big deal. I was so excited about seeing them and in the end they were very disappointing. First, they displayed only five scrolls (out of the thousands they found) and you cannot even see the print. Then walking through the whole exhibit I kept wondering what was real and what was a forgery. I have read too many books on ancient artifacts over the past few years to know that a lot of stuff out there is just not real. But I am sure that all the artifacts in this exhibit were real.

At the very end of the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit there is a lovely exhibit of the Saint John’s Bible. It’s a beautiful bible and the best thing about the bible is that I actually got to touch a page last summer (I was at manuscript camp at St. John’s and we were all allowed to touch the very edge which had not yet been trimmed off).

So overall the evening was very fun because I got to go to the Science Museum of Minnesota, which is an awesome museum and has dinosaurs all over the place, and I got to have a nice visit with a good friend. Plus on the way home I stopped at the gourmet candy store called Candyland in St. Paul and bought some of their Chicago Mix popcorn and chocolate covered potato chips. Yummy!