The Department of Anthropology provides a number of hands-on training opportunities in research-active labs. Classroom lectures are great tools for providing foundational knowledge, but one of the best ways to study anthropology is by doing anthropological work. At Temple University, students in our anthropology program get the opportunity for hands-on learning in our biology, linguistic and media labs.
Temple Anthropology Laboratory and Museum
The Temple Anthropology Laboratory and Museum is home to anthropological collections from all over the world. House posts and funerary canoes from the Solomon Islands sit alongside pottery from Metepec, Mexico, feather headdresses from the Cashinahua people of Peru and 10,000-year-old spear points from right here in Pennsylvania. Temple students create exhibits on Pennsylvania’s indigenous past, textile production in Argentina and music in Papua New Guinea. They help catalog and care for museum objects, take photographs for 3D modeling and create virtual exhibits. They also analyze archaeological collections—sometimes after doing the excavations themselves.
For more information, visit the museum’s website created entirely by Temple students, (including most of the photography). Or come visit us in the lobby of Gladfelter Hall—see the website for updated hours.
Many Temple undergraduate students come through the museum doors, often as part of anthropology or Latin American studies courses. Many others participate in collections-based research projects with anthropology faculty. If you are interested in working in the museum, please contact the director for information about taking the Practicum in Curation and Collections Management. Students in this one-credit hour course choose from projects such as digitizing collections, creating exhibits or performing research on museum materials.
Our collections include:
- ethnological material from the Solomon Islands and other parts of the South Pacific;
- ethnological material from the Amazon basin;
- archaeological collections from sites in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey; and
- collections transferred from the Philadelphia Commercial Museum.
Resources and Opportunities
Laboratory facilities, internships, fieldwork and experiential learning courses provide our students with practical experiences across all anthropology’s subdisciplines.
In our course on museum curation, Practicum In Curation, students can learn practical skills in curation and collections management. Students participate in a variety of projects (i.e., cataloging archaeological collections, developing digital collections, artifact photography and documentation, developing new exhibits) related to the long-term care and preservation of ethnographic and archaeological collections housed in the Temple Anthropology Laboratory and Museum.
Our Internship in Anthropology course offers students a chance to receive credit for internships related to their study of anthropology. Students coordinate their internship activities with a faculty member as well as their internship supervisor. They keep a journal of their activities and write a concluding paper that summarizes their work and its relationship to the way they will use the experience after they graduate.
Periodically, the department offers a summer archaeological field school in which students participate in an archaeological excavation at a site in eastern Pennsylvania or in southern New Jersey. In addition to these opportunities several faculty members involve students in their personal research projects.
Leslie Reeder-Myers is an archaeologist who studies ancient sustainable fisheries. Students often help with her fieldwork in Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay and they analyze collections from archaeological excavations in Honduras and California as well. This is archaeology making a difference—using the past to understand how to get ecosystems back on track today.
Paul Farnsworth is an archaeologist who studies the development of African-Caribbean cultures and identities during the colonial period in the English-speaking Caribbean. Each summer a handful of students accompany him to Anguilla to assist in archaeological excavations, and the cataloguing and analysis of the artifacts recovered from them. The following fall semester, some of these students carry out independent studies on an aspect of the project that particularly interests them using the data recovered by the project.
Michael Hesson is a linguistic and cultural anthropologist who studies Yucatec Maya language and culture. Students often assist him with his research on linguistic relativity—the hypothesis that language structures affect ways of thinking and behaving. This research, which he has carried out with Yucatec and more recently with Japanese, has the potential to yield a deeper and more nuanced understanding of how cultural beliefs are formed.
Kimberly Williams is an archaeologist whose current research is focused on mortuary and landscape archaeology in Southeastern Arabia. Students have assisted Dr. Williams in her excavations of Early Bronze Age burial sites in Oman. This research contributes to our understanding of prehistoric mortuary ritual, funerary landscape formation and use, interred material culture, and archaeological human skeletal remains all recovered through survey and excavation.
Other faculty members also may involve students in their research. Interested students should consult our faculty’s profile pages to find out more about their research activities.