Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Artifact, Relic, or Hoax?

This semester, I am having a wonderful time teaching retirees at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Champaign, IL. The course is called "Artifact, Relic, or Hoax: Case studies in Archaeological Science." I have 55 students, from university, business, industry, and educational settings and they ask lots of questions--including many I cannot answer right away.

We've considered topics such as the Shroud of Turin (the history, religion, and science behind the Shroud and its many websites), and the case of the J. Paul Getty Museum kouros (a Greek statue that is either an outstanding fake or an unusual original sculpture from the 6th century B.C.) and the University of Illinois' Egyptian mummy project.

Students continue to send me web links on interesting topics related to the course: residue analysis of pottery from Chaco Canyon (the first evidence of drinking chocolate north of Mexico, mysterious ruins under Lake Michigan, and a recent CT scan of a mummy at the Oriental Institute. Check out the links here: http://www.itarp.uiuc.edu/atam/teaching/Osherlinks.htm