David AnthonyProfessor of Anthropology
What is your position at Hartwick?/What career path did you take to your position?
I am a Professor in the Anthropology Department, teaching Archaeology and related subjects. My career path led from graduate study in Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania in the 1970s through a 10-year career as an Archaeological Consultant working for various businesses that provided archaeological services for U.S. government-funded construction projects in the 1980s, and then in 1987 back to academic work with my appointment to a teaching position at Hartwick. I've been in the Anthropology Department at Hartwick since 1987.
What brought you to Hartwick?/Why Hartwick?
Hartwick offered several advantages. First, I can teach a wide range of subjects, such as linguistics, a particular interest of mine, that I might be prevented from teaching at a more specialized research university with its own linguistics faculty. I can range across my discipline here. Second, Oneonta is a sweet little town with tremendous natural beauty and the Pine Lake campus made that beauty accessible, while providing a great spot for an archaeology field school, which I wanted to start. Third, at the time I came to Hartwick, I was ready to abandon my consultantcy career, even though I had to take a cut in pay to move into academics. Construction-related archaeology is a tension-filled job where the bulldozers are always breathing down your neck and the client (usually a construction engineer) generally wants the archaeology out of the way as quickly as possible, so doing that kind of archaeology can be frustrating.
Where are you from?/Where did you go to school?
I was a "government brat", following my father from one post to another in different places in Virginia and Germany when he served in the CIA. I went to Princeton for my BA in History and the University of Pennsylvania for my MA and PhD in Anthropology.
Why is the "Liberal Arts in Practice" method an effective way for your students to learn?
Archaeology is very much a hands-on discipline, and at Hartwick we have archaeological collections in the Yager Museum and a Field School at Pine Lake that permit students to enagage with the actual doing of archaeology.
What about your work energizes/excites you?
Teaching and exchanging ideas with students is always energizing. My archaeological research in the steppes of Russia and Kazakhstan is pretty exciting and constantly provides new discoveries.
Do you consider yourself a mentor to students? In what way?
I try to be a living example that if you are determined and dedicated to attaining a personal goal you can get there. It was not a simple thing to begin an archaeological field research program in Russia just after the breakup of the USSR, but I was able to do it because I kept trying. I have helped a number of students to pursue careers in archaeology, and a few of them have been very successful as archaeologists in the Park Service, in state museums, and in university teaching/research positions.
What are your classes like?/What is your best place to teach?
My classes are a mixture of lectures and discussions. Often I bring actual artifacts into class. Usually there is no problem in getting students to join in and respond to questions. I almost always teach in Yager Hall.
How do you describe our students to colleagues, friends and family?
The best Hartwick students could be at Harvard. We have a wider range, however -- some of our students face a variety of significant challenges, and I sometimes spend large amounts of time trying to get them to the point where they can succeed. My favorite Hartwick student is a person who is able and curious, and willing to work hard on things that they find important or interesting, but who has never regarded school work as very important or interesting before. When you get those people excited about their academic ability, they grow wings and fly right in front of you, and it's very gratifying.
Have you won any awards/special honors/recognition?
My 2007 book, "The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World" (Princeton Univ Press) was chosen as the best scientific archaeological book of the year by my professional organization, the Society for American Archaeology, in 2010. That was quite a moment. I wrote it at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton during a fellowship there, another rewarding experience. My archaeological research in the Russian steppes has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among others.
What research are you doing, how do you engage your students in your work?
I am working on at least three research projects, sometimes more.
One is an effort in cooperation with geneticists at Stanford University to obtain ancient human DNA from 100 or more skeletons from archaeological sites in Bulgaria. We have all the necessary permits and have visited and made agreements with the museums in Bulgaria that control access to the skeletons, but $1.4 million in funding is delayed, possibly permanently, by an internal disagreement about heritage program strategy within the America For Bulgaria Foundation. I use photos of archaeological sites in Bulgaria in my lectures in Fundamentals of Archaeology and Old World Archaeology, and I now teach in both classes about ancient human DNA, an important but difficult-to-master subject.
The second project is a study of the marks that bits leave on horse teeth, a subject I have pursued on-and-off for 25 years with my wife Dory Brown (MA Museum Studies CGP), in order to use the presence of bit wear on horse teeth to determine when and where humans first rode on horseback. Recent advances by others have expanded the range of pathologies possibly caused by bits, and we are now looking for these new kinds of features on our unique collection of modern and ancient horse teeth in the Anthro lab. Last Spring Chandler Guptil '12 helped us as a non-credited research aide. Chandler's solid work was featured in the Student Showcase in May 2012. He is now accepted into the PhD program in Anthropology at SUNY-Buffalo, a good program. Many Hartwick students have listened to classroom lectures on bit wear and horseback riding. See 2011 publication below.
The third project is the planned completion during summer 2012, with Brown, of the final report for the Samara Valley Project, an excavation project that Brown and I directed in the middle Volga steppes, in Russia, between 1995-2002, with grants from the NSF, NGS, and others. The final report will be issued by Harvard's Peabody Museum as a monograph in the American School for Prehistoric Research monograph series (see http://peabody.harvard.edu/node/536). The book will contain chapters by 18 different specialists, some of them submitted in Russian, which we are translating and editing into English. Students can't help us edit or compose the report, but nine Hartwick students went to Russia during the Samara Valley Project, and I use it as an example or illustration in many different classes.
What are your most recent publications, scholarly works, exhibitions, performances?
2012 Anthony, David W.
‘On multi-regional pastoralism', comment on Michael Frachetti's "Multi-regional emergence of mobile pastoralism and non-uniform institutional complexity across Eurasia" Current Anthropology 53(1): 21-22.
2011 Anthony, David W. and Dorcas R. Brown
The Secondary Products Revolution, horse-riding, and mounted warfare. Journal of World Prehistory 24(2): 131-160.
2009 Anthony, David W. (ed.) with Jennifer Y. Chi (maps by Dorcas Brown)
The Lost World of Old Europe: The Danube Valley, 5000-3500 BC. New York and Princeton: Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) & Princeton University Press. Edited museum exhibit catalogue with articles by nine specialists, two articles by me, 252 pp, color plates; for a museum exhibit I curated in 2009-10 in NYC at ISAW that was featured in the NY Times.
What is your most valued Hartwick experience?
Getting the 1993 Teacher-Scholar award was very gratifying. But probably my favorite experiences occurred when I was directing Hartwick students in the field on an archaeological excavation, either in Russia or at Pine Lake. Working together on a shared project where they have to pull their weight, and they do, or they even pull more than their own weight, is a very enjoyable experience. Meeting former students who have now become colleagues at professional archaeological conferences is also a big deal.
What do you consider your most important contribution to Hartwick?
My most important contributions are in two areas: teaching (I think I'm an unusually effective teacher and mentor for students interested in archaeology) and bringing scholarly recognition to Hartwick College through awards, talks, exhibits, and publications. Since we are blessed with many unusually effective teachers at Hartwick, I see my principal contribution as the second one. I have been invited to curate a highly visible museum exhibit at ISAW in New York, I have given invited lectures at many colleges and universities, I review book manuscripts for Oxford and Princeton presses, I review NSF grants for the NSF, I am the archaeology editor for one scholarly journal, I review submitted articles for other journals, I write blurbs for other archaeologists' dust jackets, and I am engaged in research projects with three distinct sets of external colleagues in three countries. I maintain this activity because I want to have an intellectual and interpretive impact on my field. But my external activities also carry the name of Hartwick College into corners of academia and the public awareness where people have not heard of us, and that helps to raise the academic reputation of Hartwick as an institution. The academic reputations of colleges and universities depend very much on faculty who 1. train good students and 2. engage in visible external professional activities involving the public at large and the leading peer institutions in their fields. I do an unusual amount of the latter, and I do my share of the former.