Dr. Joyce White
Executive Director, Institute for Southeast Asian Archaeology (ISEAA)
Director of the Ban Chiang Project
Dr. White is an internationally recognized archaeologist specializing in the prehistory of Southeast Asia since 1974, especially in Thailand and Laos. She is the world’s expert on the site of Ban Chiang, Thailand, named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1992 due to significant discoveries of a previously unknown civilization. From 1981 to 2013, she was Director of the Ban Chiang Project at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, and continues there today as Consulting Scholar. In 2001, White initiated an archaeological research program in Laos, the first American to successfully sustain a modern program in that country. The Middle Mekong Archaeological Project (MMAP) is exploring the prehistory of northern Laos in Luang Prabang Province, anticipating that light will be shed on precursor societies to the Ban Chiang Cultural Tradition. MMAP combines a cutting edge, international, multi-disciplinary research program with a training and capacity-building program for Lao heritage managers. White’s research over the years has been funded by the National Science Foundation, The National Geographic Society, and the Henry Luce Foundation, among others.
Assistant Professor of Classical Studies at Penn
Tom Tartaron joined the ‘Year of Ceramics’ team to co-teach a two-semester graduate course on the analysis of archaeological ceramics. Introduction to Archaeological Ceramics was a year-long intensive course that introduced students to the techniques and theoretical foundations used by archaeologists to study ceramic collections and make inferences about the behavior of past peoples and societies.
For the past two decades, Dr. Tartaron participated in regional-scale studies of the Greek past, where he focuses principally on the Bronze Age. He has participated in major regional landscape archaeology projects such as the Berbati-Limnes Archaeological Survey, the Nikopolis Project, and the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey (EKAS). His new project, co-directed with Daniel Pullen of the Florida State University, is the Saronic Harbors Archaeological Project (SHARP). This research centers on the recently discovered Mycenaean harbor town at Kalamianos, south of Corinth. Dr. Tartaron is also working on two long-term petrographic studies of Middle Bronze Age pottery from the central Greek sites of Orchomenos and Kirrha, in collaboration with the Fitch Laboratory at the British School of Archaeology at Athens.
Year of Ceramics Post-Doc
Marie-Claude is an archaeologist specializing in the technological study of archaeological ceramics. She follows the concept of chaîne opératoire, tracing the potter’s choice and action at every step of the production sequence, from the selection and preparation of raw materials to the firing, distribution and use of finished products. The reconstruction of technological traditions and their development over time and across space as a way to approach cultural and social identity is central to her research. To achieve this goal she uses an integrated methodology, combining typo-stylistic, macroscopic, petrographic and chemical analyses of ceramics and raw materials. She is currently involved in a number of archaeological projects in Bronze and Early Iron Age Syria, Greece, and Turkey.
She was very excited to join the Ban Chiang research group for the ‘Year of Ceramics’ to conduct a detailed technological analysis of the fascinating pottery assemblage, as well as co-teach a two-semester graduate course on the analysis of archaeological ceramics.
Beth Van Horn
Bill Henderson was a volunteer for the Ban Chiang Project for over 17 years. In his former life, Bill was a partner in a graphic arts company that designed and produced flexographic printing plates for the shipping container industry. Bill started volunteer work at the Penn Museum in 1992 on the Ban Chiang Project, where he worked primarily on developing a ceramic rim typology with data from the Sakon Nakhon Basin, the area of the Ban Chiang excavations. He participated in archaeological digs in the USA and elsewhere before going to Laos. In Laos, his talents supported MMAP teams in the field and in the lab, and included artifact processing, database entry, video documentation and a quietly humorous outlook for every occasion. Sadly, Bill passed away in January 2010, but will be remembered for his hard work and dedication to both projects.Check out Bill’s YouTube video from the 2005 season, “A taste of Luang Prabang”.
UpDATE Articles by Bill: Issue #15 “Snake Soup”
Issue #13 “MMAP 2005: An Expedition to Laos Through Museum Volunteers’ Eyes”
Issue #12 “Island Adventure”
Issue #8 “My Melakan Experience”
Issue #1 “Spotlight Volunteer”
UpDATE Article about Bill:
Issue #17 “Bill Henderson: Volunteer of the Year”
Cora Arney volunteered for the Ban Chiang Project in Summer 2011. Her primary focus was on digitally photographing the Ban Chiang pottery. During her time with the project she was an Art History/Anthropology double major and wanted to eventually have a career working in a museum.
Heather Saeger volunteered at the Ban Chiang Project from June 2008 through August 2009 despite her full-time job at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Her first task was organizing the Project offices with Sasha, but her most important work was scanning and archiving the thousands of slides, negatives, and photos of the BC Project. Heather then went on to work on her Master’s degree in Museum Studies at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
David Chamberlin Smith volunteered with the Ban Chiang Project in 2010. His primary focus was on digitally photographing the small find artifacts from the original 1974 and 1975 field seasons. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico, where he learned to love both the field and laboratory aspects of archaeological research. His hobbies included evolutionary theory and photography.
Stephanie White graduated in the summer of 2008 with a BSc (Hons) in Archaeological Sciences from Bristol University (England). She spent ten weeks as a volunteer, helping with the digital archiving of images from the Ban Chiang Project. Upon her return to England she intended to apply for Master’s programs in Museology, and to look for further opportunities to work in museums.
Leila Bolce-Schick was a Junior at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, when she volunteered with us the summer of 2013. She was working towards a BA in Classical Studies; her fields of interest were language and literature. During her time here, Leila completed the collection of sherd samples from pots excavated from four northeastern Thai archaeological sites – including Ban Chiang – to facilitate future chemical analysis.
Bailey Benson calculated pot volumes for the Ceramics Monograph during her time as an intern. Bailey graduated with honors from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Classical Archaeology, Anthropology, and History of Art. During her junior year she studied abroad at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome. Bailey is interested in Roman urbanism and city planning in Asia Minor and North Africa. She has worked in a ceramics lab as well as in a cast and mold production lab.
International Interns (past)
From September 2010-May 2011, Bounheuang Bouasisengpaseuth, a Deputy Director of the Lao National Museum in Vientiane, Laos, and Sureeratana Bubpha of Thammasat University, Bangkok, studied Ban Chiang ceramics under the supervision of Dr. White, Dr. Boileau, and Professor Tartaron. They focused specifically on the more than 500 reconstructible vessels excavated by the University of Pennsylvania at Ban Chiang.
Bounheuang Bouasisengpaseuth is Deputy Director of the National Museum in Vientiane and Co-director of the Middle Mekong Archaeological Project (MMAP) in Laos. His research interests are Lao prehistory and the protection and conservation of Lao cultural heritage. Mr. Bouasisengpaseuth first worked with Joyce White on the 2001 rapid assessment survey in Luang Prabang Province that provided evidence for over 10,000 years of rich archaeological heritage in Laos and direction for MMAP work. Read Bounheuang’s blogs on the Penn Museum’s website.
Sureeratana (Joom) Bubpha received her BA in Archaeology-Anthropology and MA in Prehistory from Silpakorn University. Sureeratana’s research interests lie in prehistoric archaeology, especially ceramic ecology. She first joined MMAP in 2008, and continued with the team in 2009. She is interested in learning more about the “big picture” of Middle Mekong archeology, to better understand the relationship between Lao prehistory and the prehistory of northeast Thailand. Read Sureeratana’s blogs on the Penn Museum’s website and her article in the Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association.
Work Study Students
Kelsey Halliday Johnson was the Ceramics Collection Manager for the Ban Chiang Project in 2011-12. Kelsey’s detailed photos of Ban Chiang pottery will be used in the Ban Chiang Ceramics Monograph. These photos reveal how pots were formed, what inclusions were found in the clay, and the skill of the individual potter. Kelsey also brought specialized experience managing large photographic databases to the job. While working on the Project, she was a second year interdisciplinary M. F. A. (Masters of Fine Arts) candidate at Penn, pursuing a certificate in Landscape Studies, and also taught Intro to Photography in the Undergrad Fine Arts Department. She had received her B.A. from Princeton University in Art and Archaeology with a certificate in European Cultural Studies.
Ryan Zahalka was a freshman in Penn’s College of Arts and Sciences while he worked at the Project. He served as the bibliographer for the Southeast Asian Bibliographic Database. At the time, Ryan was undecided as to which major he wanted to pursue. His interests include enjoying the West Virginia countryside, baking, playing soccer, and writing.
Jesse DuBois was the bibliographer for the Ban Chiang Project his sophomore and half of his junior year in 2011-12. He was a student in the Penn College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in Humanistic Philosophy, tentatively concentrating in Religious Studies, and also minoring in Classical Studies and pursuing a Certificate in French Language. He spent the summer of 2010 in Tours, France, studying at “La Fac des Tanneurs.” His interests included playing his guitars and writing.
Lizz Chiarelli served as the Project’s summer 2011 work-study student. She took over as the Ceramics Collection Manager for the Ban Chiang Project to help prepare for the “Year of Monographs”. While at the Project, she was a third year Landscape Architecture graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania. Lizz has worked past summers with her archaeologist father on his projects at a West Indies sugar plantation. She worked in his archaeology lab cleaning and cataloguing artifacts as well as doing data entry.
Jenny McAuley was the Ceramics Collection Coordinator for the Ban Chiang project during the ‘Year of Ceramics’ (2011-12). She studied geology and anthropology at Penn and had a strong interest in archaeology. After the Ban Chiang Project, she went on to work at Penn Museum’s Expedition Magazine.
Rita DeAngelo was a work-study artist with the Ban Chiang Project from 2004 through 2007. Check out some examples of Rita’s illustrations on her website. Read more about being an Archaeological Illustrator in the article: “Spotlight Rita DeAngelo”. Since leaving the Museum, Rita has worked for theaters and shops as their paint charge, designing/painting scenery for local Philadelphia plays and various national museum exhibits.
Connie Ko worked for the Ban Chiang Project from Fall 2008 through 2009. As the Project Bibliographer, Connie entered new resources and looked up old ones on Southeast Asia, and compiled them in the bibliographic database. She also worked on the Ban Chiang Digital Archives Project. Connie left at the end of 2009 to concentrate on her studies at Penn.
Elena Nikolova graduated from Penn in 2010 from the College of Arts and Sciences with a major in International Relations. She worked at the Ban Chiang Project her senior year (2009-10) as the bibliographer for the Southeast Asian Bibliographic Database. She spent the Spring semester of her junior year abroad in Paris, France where she conducted independent research on French-Libyan historical relations at the Sciences Po Library.
Yanik Ruiz-Ramon graduated from Penn in 2010 with a major in Communications. He started his work at the Ban Chiang Project in 2006 as the bibliographer for the Southeast Asian Bibliographic Database. Yanik is also interested in film production, photography, and languages. He went to Laos as part of MMAP 2008 and served as a videographer.
Sasha Renninger served as a bibliographer for two years and also as the first digital archivist for the Ban Chiang Project. She graduated from Penn in 2009 with a BA in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and Anthropology and has excavated in both the US and Egypt. She currently works for the Penn Cultural Heritage Center.