Arthur Wold

Arthur Wold, Undergraduate student, Anthropology, Math

Excavates Iowa's history


What is your degree program and expected graduation date? Anthropology Major, Math Minor, Spring 2020

Please describe your research: I identify and analyze the shells excavated from the archaeological site of Woodpecker Cave, in Johnson county, Iowa. These shells are from freshwater mussels eaten by native people over a thousand years ago.

In simple terms, why does this research matter? It allows us to understand the behavior and cuisine of native peoples, and also lets us better understand the history of the Iowa River. The mussels came from the Iowa River, and because mussels are sensitive to the environment, the knowledge of which mussels lived in the river tells us about precisely what kind of environment the river was.

How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I started taking classes in the Spring of 2015, and began doing research during the Summer of 2017. I also worked in my parents biochemistry labs during High School.

How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? It has made me feel much more invested in the University of Iowa, and the Department of Anthropology specifically. I’ve also gained skills which will be usefull in my career, including excavation, laboratory analysis, leadership, and work ethic.

What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? I plan to attend graduate school in Paleoanthropology. Although I may end up doing genetics as opposed to archaeology, being successful in Paleoanthropology is impossible without a good understanding of archaeological excavation and methods. I plan on engaging with archaeology in some form or another for the rest of my life.

Faculty mentor/advisor: James G. Enloe

Hometown: Iowa City, IA



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