Anna Arnn ’17 is taking her studies in archaeology into the field this summer as part of a program through the University of Montana Missoula. Through the project Arnn will be working with UMM graduate student Matt Walsh, performing faunal analysis, or the study of animal remains in the context of archaeology.
Arnn, an archaeology major on the pre-veterinary track, is beginning this project hot off the heels of a six-week field school experience in British Columbia, which gives students the opportunity to experience topics ranging from excavation to the archaeology, ethnography and oral traditions of the interior Pacific Northwest. That course, the Slocan Narrows Archeological Project, was run by Associate Professor of Archaeology and Department Chair Nathan Goodale, who is also advising Arnn on her UMM project.
Though she has great interest in both fields, Arnn views this summer as a chance to establish and weigh her preference between veterinary medicine and archaeology.
“I’ve worked at two vet clinics in the past and really enjoyed my experiences,” she said, but “as of now, I'm not sure which route I’ll end up taking. I’m grateful for the chance to explore both fields.” Due to its interdisciplinary nature, the faunal analysis Arnn is undertaking this summer should prove productive regardless of which field she ultimately decides to pursue professionally.
Arnn’s work with Walsh, under Dr. Anna Prentiss, is primarily focused on identifying pieces of bone found at archaeological sites. “I'm currently working on identifying some bone fragments from Anna's Bridge River Archaeological Project,” she said, “which is similar to Nathan Goodale's project and field school in Slocan Narrows.”
After the animal remains are identified and recorded, the team reports on the collection of remains holistically - the assemblage. Then they make assessments regarding the assemblage’s implications on human activities, the environment of the past, and other significant features of life contemporary with the remains.
Using the faunal assemblage at Bridge River, Arnn will help to assess cultural modifications (tool marks) on the remains, as well as research and analysis regarding what parts of salmon predominate during different occupation years of the pithouses.
Arnn said that the field and lab components of this project were particularly interesting to her, especially in how they will inform her future research and career options.
“I’ve taken archaeology courses at Hamilton, but I haven't done archaeology out in the field,” she explained. “I can't really picture my interest in faunal analysis or archaeology waning, so I think it's entirely possible that I might do similar research in the future.” She also anticipates incorporating this summer's work with faunal analysis into her senior thesis.
Arnn may not know all the specifics of her plans after graduation, however is confident that her passions and future lie in archeology and veterinary medicine. “Right now I'm planning on going to vet school after a year "off" after graduating from Hamilton,” she said. “However, I have certainly not ruled out going into archaeology. Time will tell. I'm just happy to be able to pursue my interests.”