Archaeologist Dr Diana Pickworth. She is presently a Visiting Scholar in the UC Berkeley Near Eastern Studies Department. Formerly Assoc Prof of Mesopotamian Art and Archaeology and Museum Studies at the University of ‘Aden in the Republic of Yemen.
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Speaker 2: Okay. [inaudible].
Speaker 1: Welcome to spectrum the science and technology show on k [00:00:30] a l x Berkeley, a biweekly 30 minute program bringing you interviews featuring bay area scientists and technologists as well as a calendar of local events and news.
Speaker 3: Hey, good afternoon. My name is Brad Swift. I'm the host of today's show this week on spectrum. Our guest is archaeologist Dr Diana. Pick worth. She is presently a visiting scholar in the UC Berkeley Near Eastern studies department. Dr Pick worth is completing the work related to the publication of two volumes [00:01:00] on excavations carried out by a university of California team at the site of Nineveh in northern Iraq. Formerly she was an associate professor of Mesopotamian art and archeology and museum studies at the University of a sudden in the Republic of Yemen. Diana pick worth is an elected fellow of the explorers club and a member of the American School of Oriental Research. Here is that interview. Hi, this is Brad Swift. In today's spectrum interview, Rick Karnofsky [00:01:30] joins me, Rick [inaudible] and today's guest is Diana. Pick worth Diana, welcome to spectrum.
Speaker 1: I'm honored and delighted to be here.
Speaker 3: Diana would you begin by talking about archeology and how it got started and how it's blossomed into its multifaceted current state.
Speaker 1: There's no doubt that the enlightenment in the 19th century sparked a huge interest [00:02:00] in the eastern part of the Ottoman Empire. And so during this period, the European countries, England, France, Germany, Austria, and Italy, we're sending consoles and ambassadors to visit the Parshah and Istanbul. What happened was these countries became competitive in their desire, both the land and knowledge. And this was fueled somewhat by [00:02:30] Darwin's research and in 1830 his work on the Beagle and subsequently his publication of origin of species spoked enormous questions about the Bible. And it was this desire to understand the truth about the Bible. It had been viewed up until that point is a given that it was correct [00:03:00] and it challenged the world view at the time. And avast and I think changing Manoj and so layered from England, Botha from foams moved east of Istanbul into northern Iraq. And what we see is these two men really pitching at each other to stake a claim for that country to excavate in there tells that they [00:03:30] both discovered in the appetite risk space on and is that how the Fertile Crescent got started?
Speaker 1: That whole idea of Fertile Crescent, that was a little later, but the Fertile Crescent represents an area where settlement could first begin and so the ice Asya hat is really a points on a map. It's a way of looking at how [00:04:00] geography, rainfall, and natural geographic circumstances create a circumstance where humankind can prosper and it can farm in what is called dry farming. And so what we find, it's an all running up from about the middle of their Dead Sea on the Palestinian literal all the way up in a circle across the top of what [00:04:30] is today, northern Syria and northern Iraq. Those sites date from as early as 9,000 BC and there's no doubt that's where we are. We all finding humankind's first farming and settlement currently. Then what's notable about the transition from the 19th or the 20th century in terms of archeology? I think on the one hand a tremendous continuity so [00:05:00] that those sites that would claimed in the 19th century tend to still be excavated by the same country.
Speaker 1: There's an unspoken but still I think quite rigorous concept that a site is handed on. The perspective has become much more global so that we have people excavating in the Middle East, from South Africa, [00:05:30] from South America, from the United States, and these teams in most we would call the new world are essentially funded or sponsored by their universities. That still remains in the European countries. A tradition of sponsorship by the government and this makes a huge difference. They are able to continue with a very shore knowledge of funding [00:06:00] year after year. You talked a little bit about the Fertile Crescent. What are other examples of old settlements? What's the oldest settlement? I think in photo Cresson, certainly one of the most remarkable sites is Choteau here. And this was excavated by the University of California by Ruth Traynham and has some of the earliest illustrative material and [00:06:30] war paintings in that area. And representative, uh, no doubt of the earliest farming settlements. And it's a dense occupation. Surprisingly, there are dense a little later we see sites that we defined by this ceramic heritage, so at this point we have new written documentation but how suna and hello laugh of these very early pottery sites that are named [00:07:00] essentially from the first site, but we find a spread of occupation across the area. Further east, I'm a hindered Daro 2,900 BC is in what is modern day Pakistan and without doubt one of the earliest settlements
Speaker 4: [inaudible]
Speaker 5: you were listening to spectrum on k a l experts like archaeologist, [00:07:30] Diana [inaudible] is our guest.
Speaker 1: How closely does archaeological training in universities track with the real world application of archeology? I think in many cases very well. One of the requirements of an archeologist above all others I think is flexibility and sturdy resilience, but there are three aspects we're trained theoretically [00:08:00] and this I think is where to refer back to your earlier question. There is a change from 19th century archeology today. We're trained to pose a theoretical question to come up with a hypothesis that we will try to test on the ground. I think an area background knowledge is essential training varies in this regard. For example, [00:08:30] in Germany, archeologists are expected to work all over the world whereas we tend to direct our training two area studies say that my area Mesopotamia and Arabian studies really requires a basis of language study under knowledge of the history of the area and so one becomes a specialist in a particular area.
Speaker 1: The practical training [00:09:00] is fairly consistent. I think we begin in in the states, the students are sent in the summers to excavations and throughout their graduate career it's hope they'll have an opportunity to really work in different types of sites and all of us begin or hope to with a semester in a field archeology school so that ones practicing perhaps in a situation where one can't cause too much [00:09:30] damage within the United States field of study, how much might one drift from their graduate area into another area of the world as they start their career? That's an interesting question. In my experience, people do really tend to stay within their area of specialization. We're talking about as much as maybe six to eight years of a language study. The geography and the history of an area [00:10:00] becomes embedded in one's training and in one's doctoral dissertation, so I personally don't think there is such a broad shift.
Speaker 1: I think theoretically once capable, there's absolutely no doubt and we find also that students who find themselves not to have strong language studies tend to move into pre history. If you're working in pre history, then really one can go anywhere. It doesn't matter. [00:10:30] There are loopholes in the system, some of the technical methods that are being applied to dating things. Does that mess up the history of it all, the timing, the dating, a lot of the earlier work, does it get overturned in terms of how old is this settlement? I think DNA has made an enormous, perhaps the most significant difference and whole groups of people have been shown to not be native to where [00:11:00] they have claimed in their own written literature that they've always left that spin. I think a delightful surprise, very interesting surprise. Certainly high and duel found that everyone going to the Polynesian islands was going in 150 degrees opposite direction from what he had anticipated.
Speaker 1: So we do find that as time passes, the studies can be refined, but I would say it's rather a question [00:11:30] of refinement than are there just totally wrong assumptions. Can I call it it all about what proportion of work is done on newly found settlements, settlements that might've been found in the past couple years versus settlements that we've known about for some time? I think the introduction of Google and satellite imagery has made a vast difference to what we can do most recently in [00:12:00] a northeast Iraq in what is now the Kurdish settlement. Recent work by Harvard has discovered an enormous number of settlements and all of the previous research before they went into the field was done using satellite imagery and so that was unavailable until quite recently. It saves money. There's no doubt with satellite imagery. We can sit in an office in Berkeley and look at the satellite [00:12:30] sites surrounding a large site. We can see a pattern perhaps of movement along a track through mountain ranges from settlement, so that's enormously expanded. What we can do in the office before we go into the field. [inaudible]
Speaker 6: spectrum is a public affairs show on KALX Berkeley. Our guest is archeologist in Diana. [00:13:00] She is a visiting scholar of the Near Eastern studies department.
Speaker 1: Can you start to talk about some of your own work in Iraq? I first went to Iraq as a graduate student at UC Berkeley. I was invited by Professor David Stronach who is the director of the excavation for our first season. There were six graduate students and it was a relatively short season [00:13:30] to explore the site and decide how an excavation would be approached and what would it be involved. I was very determined to go. I had spent most my undergraduate time studying art history and museum studies, but as time went on I became more and more interested in archeology and really love living in the Middle East. I had lived in the Middle East a long time before. I have [00:14:00] a degree in education. And so I had worked as a governess in the Middle East in Yemen, and I was very keen to go back and the first day I climbed up onto Keon check, which is the tail of Nineveh.
Speaker 1: I just knew that I'd found what I wanted to do and it was so wonderful and I liked it very much indeed. And I've been there ever since. Okay. And is there any prospect of going back to Nineveh [00:14:30] presently knew? No. Saul is extremely dangerous at the moment, and so unfortunately that's not a possibility. Certainly we've been invited back and I know that I could go back if it ever becomes a safe to do. So what's happened to the tail is hard to know. The other sad aspect is that there has been an enormous growth in the size of Mosul, the city adjacent on the other side of the [00:15:00] Tigris river. Your time in Nineveh. What was the big accomplishment that you thought you folks had achieved? I think in the three years that we were there assessing everything. Today as we write up the reports, it's incredibly encouraging.
Speaker 1: We chose about six different areas of exploration that would represent aspects of the long duration at the site. It's an extremely [00:15:30] old city. And so one exploration on the side of the tail was a step trench down and this has been aided by erosion from water so that we were able to get down to 2,500 BC, um, without digging down through it. We could go in from the side. So there was a component that was of a very early period. The Small [00:16:00] Eminence just south of the sail or the citadel of the city where the royal family lived was also explored. And we expose there a really beautiful elite house, you could say, an administrative house and the surrounding area of that. We also worked up on the northern Northwestern corner by the sin gate. And inside of that we found a very fine [00:16:30] industrial area so that we were able to demonstrate that there was pottery making on the site as well as some metalla Jay, I think.
Speaker 1: And then on the wall on the southeast corner, David [inaudible] excavated the [inaudible] gate to Housey. Uh, no gate had really been fully excavated by a Western team, although some of the other gates had been partially [00:17:00] excavated by the Iraqis. And that was where we found the evidence of the destruction of the city, which was extremely exciting. After Iraq, you moved back to Yemen? Yes, I had always studied Yemen. I have roped both my masters degree and my phd on the material culture of Saudi Arabia. And so I had written on the stone [00:17:30] statuary of the mortuary temples and it's very fascinating. A great deal of the material had been moved to Europe, so that had one tried to estimate how much there was there. It would have been easy to say very little, very little at all, but long detailed research program made it very clear that it wasn't, that there was very little, it was that it had been so widely dispersed.
Speaker 1: [00:18:00] And so I eventually visited maybe as many as 25 museums and brought it all together again, which proved to be very interesting. And I was able to do a lot of dating from that. And then my doctoral dissertation, which I wrote here at Berkeley, was on the gemstones and stamps, seals of South Arabia and that I used to demonstrate the connection between these South Arabians, small kingdoms [00:18:30] and the greater empire, tight polity of a neo, Syria or other later Syrian period. And so what one found was that this trading network connected all the way across the Arabian peninsula up to Gaza and then on into the Assyrian Kingdom. And so there are in the British Museum at Gates that were sent by the king of Saba from Maarib to Gaza [00:19:00] and then on to Nimruz. And these were buried underneath the temple and they're signed with the king's name. So we knew that they had to been used in that way. So I had an enormous interest in Yemen and stayed there and taught in the university, essentially in Aiden, continue to work there until rather recently.
Speaker 6: This is spectrum [00:19:30] k, Aleks, Berkeley archaeologist and visiting scholar at UC Berkeley. Diana, pick work. Sorry.
Speaker 1: What advice would you give to people who are considering getting into archeology? I think an undergraduate degree in a hard science is really important in the long term and I think that was advice that perhaps [00:20:00] was less prophet earlier. I think there was more stress on art history and I think students today a well-served with incredibly sturdy technological skills, computer skills and science backgrounds and I think to avoid that is to invite a short career. I really do. I think the training of a hard science is also useful. I [00:20:30] think it makes for a strict discipline, critical thinking, theoretical background in thinking on analytical studies is really useful, very, very useful. And then field training this, no doubt. I think that field training prior to going into the field for the first time at least exposes warm to some of the surprises that will arrive.
Speaker 1: I think for most archeologists [00:21:00] you have to think on your feet and so unless one is well-prepared and has made detailed studies of what one's going to do, then it's vital to err on the side of caution when you put the first spade in because otherwise it's destroyed and gone. And so those types of preparations, which are easily available. Field schools are available everywhere. So that prepares, I think an archaeologist for the field work aspect. [00:21:30] But Sonia, small part, the fieldwork is such a small part of the overall, it's like a blip in the middle in a way. There's a long lead in of preparation and research and location choice. Then that's the excavation and then an incredibly lengthy period of um, producing the data and getting it out. And the computers help that most excavations today. It's all of the data is going straight [00:22:00] into the computer and can be sent back to the university, which was an advantage, an enormous advantage.
Speaker 1: How do you see archeology going forward? What is its future? What I find is that as one area closes, another will open rather recently, the northern Iraq area of what is now Kurdistan has opened up. It became rather safe up there for awhile. [00:22:30] So that an ability to move say from Syria into that area was seized by many archeologists. So that many teams have been in the field, I would say for the last five years in northeast Iraq. And Kurdistan, I googled to check for you where everyone is digging at the moment. And so there's sort of a narrow tight band of Middle Eastern scholars in Israel and down into [00:23:00] Jordan and that's a huge concentration. And then upon the northeastern potting Kurdistan and we've seen an opening up in Saudi Arabia, so wonderful materialists coming out of the tame excavation, which is led by the Germans, uh, by iHuman. That's been very, very exciting. And they are expanding. There's also been a lot of expansion by more than just [00:23:30] the British into the Emirates and say we have a lot of excavations at the moment and Kuwait behind [inaudible] Ku, Wayne and down into Dubai. So when one door closes, another opens and there are people in Oman as well. No one stays home. It's not appealing. We like to be in the field.
Speaker 1: Is there anything we haven't asked you about that you want to mention? [00:24:00] Maybe China. There's an enormous ongoing excavations in China at the moment. It's definitely overturning and changing their own knowledge of their own history. And I find that fascinating. And as a northern southern divide about where the origins of China's more recent civilizations came from and so it's been fascinating for me to watch that. As I said [00:24:30] earlier, I think that we're very flexible people and I suppose that would be where I would move if I could never go back to the Middle East. Diana, pick worth. Thanks very much for being on spectrum. Thank you. I've enjoyed myself. Thank you.
Speaker 6: Spectrum shows are archived on iTunes university. We have created a simple link for you. The link is tiny [00:25:00] URL [inaudible] dot com slash KALX at spectrum.
Speaker 3: Now a few of the science and technology events happening locally over the next two weeks. Rick Karnofsky joins me when the calendar on May 7th from seven to 9:00 PM UC Berkeley, professor of psychology and neuroscience, Matt Walker. We'll be it. Ask a scientist at the summer street food park, four to eight 11th street in San Francisco. [00:25:30] They'll discuss research showing that sleep is a highly active process that is essential for many cognitive functions including learning, memory, creativity and brain plasticity. The event is free, although you can purchase stuff to eat from the food trucks there. Visit, ask a scientist S f.com for more info. Why are many body problems in physics so difficult? A quantum information [00:26:00] perspective determining the physical behavior of systems composed of several particles is in general very hard. The reason is that the number of possible combinations of states increases exponentially with the number of particles for quantum systems. The situation is even worse in his talk. Ignacio Ciroc will explain this phenomenon in detail and we'll review several approaches to assessing this difficulty and to overcoming it under certain conditions. [00:26:30] NASCIO Ciroc has been director of the theory division at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum optics since December, 2001 this lecture is Monday May 12th at 4:00 PM in [inaudible] Hall, [inaudible] Auditorium on the UC Berkeley campus. This event is free.
Speaker 7: Counter culture labs is hosting a few free talks at the pseudo room. Hackerspace two one 41 Broadway in Oakland over the next few weeks. [00:27:00] On May 9th at 7:00 PM we'll hear from Ben Novak, who is it? Paleo geneticist working on using clone cells from cryo-preserved museum specimens and genome editing in an attempt to revive the passenger pigeon from extinction. Then on May 15th at 7:00 PM they will host Anthony Evans who was on the glowing plant project. This project raised a half million dollars on Kickstarter to add firefly DNA to [00:27:30] plants to make them glow. He'll discuss the process, how they've handled the public perception of GMOs and why open source science matters. For more information on these in future events, visit counterculture labs.org
Speaker 3: now, Rick Karnofsky with an interesting news story,
Speaker 7: nature news reports on an article by Gary Frost and Jimmy Bell from the Imperial College, London and [00:28:00] others that dietary fiber may act on the brain to curb appetite in a paper published in nature communications. On April 29th the team discussed how fiber that is fermented in the colon creates colonic acetate and using radioactively tagged Acetate and pet scans. They showed that colonic acetate crosses the blood brain barrier and it's taken up by the brain of rats. They also showed that acetate [00:28:30] administration is associated with activation of Acetol Coa, a carboxylase, and changes in the expression profiles of regulatory neuropeptides that favor appetite suppression. These observations suggest that Acetate as a direct role in the central appetite regulation.
Speaker 4: Mm, thanks to Rick Karnofsky [00:29:00] for help with the interview calendar and with the news music heard during the show was written and produced by Alex Simon. Thank you for listening to spectrum. If you have comments about the show, please send them to us via email,
Speaker 8: email addresses spectrum, dedicate a email@example.com join us in two weeks at the same [00:29:30] time. [inaudible].