Artifact replicas provide chance to watch pit firing

July 17, 2013

Much goes on behind the scenes of a museum exhibit. Currently, the staff of the Arizona State University Museum of Anthropology is hard at work constructing displays and arranging the loan of artifacts from major national museums in preparation for this fall’s “City Life: Experiencing the World of Teotihuacan.”

And, across town at Mesa Community College, Linda Speranza’s ceramics students have been working with ASU museum studies graduate student Brian Asdell to create reproductions of ancient pieces not usually found in museum collections due to their ordinary, and often undecorated design. Download Full Image

Asdell conducted research and received an introduction to ancient pottery-making techniques from local expert and ASU alum Charles Matthew Thomas before guiding a class of 10 in making the replicas.

Since the upcoming exhibit focuses on the everyday lives of the people of Teotihuacan, most of the recreated ceramics are utilitarian vessels.

The group employed simple pinch and coil techniques that have been used for millennia to create basic storage and cookware vessels.

“As we began making these objects, we started to understand the labor that went into producing them, and the significance of how important these objects were to make everyday life a lot easier,” Asdell says.

He points out that the medium is a low-fire clay, or terracotta, and is not as strong as the stoneware or porcelain we typically use today. Its short lifespan before breaking or wearing down explains why archaeologists often find only broken pots and shards when excavating a site.

The recreated vessels will next be transported to ASU’s Deer Valley Rock Art Center, where they will be fired using an authentic, ancient method. They will be placed in a pit dug into the desert ground and heated by wood fuel over a period of about an hour and a half.

The pit firing originally scheduled for July 26 was cancelled due to rain, but visitors attending the Deer Valley Rock Art Center on August 9 at 5:30 p.m. will be able to witness the unveiling of the vessels after the firing is complete. Reservations are required for the tour and general admission charges apply.

Both the center and the museum are part of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which also oversees the Teotihuacan Research Laboratory. The lab is one of the few research facilities located near the ancient metropolis in the Basin of Mexico. For around 30 years, it has been the base for numerous scholarly explorations of the ruined city by researchers from institutions from around the globe, as well as ASU.

While Teotihuacan is known for its massive pyramids and artistic objects associated with the elite and warrior classes, it once was home to around 100,000 people, most of whom were commoners. The ASU Museum of Anthropology exhibit will strive to get inside the experience of being one of those commoners by surrounding visitors with the sounds residents might have encountered in their daily lives and also providing opportunities to view authentic artifacts and handle replicated ollas.

Deer Valley Rock Art Center is located at 3711 W. Deer Valley Road. Reservations can be made by calling the center at 623-582-8007. The tour starts at 6:30 p.m.

“City Life: Experiencing the World of Teotihuacan” opens Oct. 11 and runs through May 16, 2014, at the ASU Museum of Anthropology. The museum is located in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change Building on the ASU Tempe campus. Admission is always free. For more information call 480-965-6224.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 The Deer Valley Rock Art Center and ASU Museum of Anthropology are research units in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Rebecca Howe

Communications Specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change


ASU names 2013 Spirit of Service Scholars

July 18, 2013

16 future public service leaders excel in diverse efforts to strengthen their communities

Shireen Nouri, inspired by her immigrant parents’ struggle to obtain health care when she was younger, will work with underprivileged communities to provide access to medical services.  Download Full Image

Growing up in the Arizona desert and seeing firsthand the deplorable conditions of the Ganges River contributing to a health crisis in India, Amy Umaretiya will use her environmental civil engineering degree to make a meaningful impact on policies governing our water supply.

Krissy Bergen will use the non-profit leadership training she is undergoing to help reverse the high rates of child abuse and suicide that plague the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation where she grew up.

Nouri and Bergen, of Chandler, and Umaretiya, of Sevenmile, are among the 16 dynamic student leaders selected as Spirit of Service Scholars in recognition of their dedication to public service, and for embracing the challenge of creating and preserving public goods. Arizona State University’s College of Public Programs will honor and celebrate the achievements of the 2013-2014 cohort at the fourth annual Spirit of Service Scholars luncheon, which will take place Oct. 23, in downtown Phoenix.

The program supports exceptional students from diverse backgrounds who wish to pursue careers in public service, providing $5,000 scholarships, hands-on learning, mentorship and networking opportunities.

Initiatives to attract and prepare young, talented and dedicated leaders to move into key positions in the public and nonprofit sectors have become increasingly necessary and urgent as current leaders of the Baby Boomer generation prepare for and enter retirement.

“More than 60 percent of the federal workforce and 35 percent of state and local government employees are expected to retire in the next 10 years,” said Jonathan Koppell, dean of ASU’s College of Public Programs. “Advancing efforts to prepare professionals to take leadership positions in the public and nonprofit sectors is a need of great urgency.  

“The Spirit of Service exemplifies ASU's commitment to preparing students for lives of community engagement,” Koppell says. “Attracting exceptional students from diverse backgrounds to careers in public service is essential to finding innovative solutions to vexing problems.”

This is why former Arizona Attorney General and Phoenix Mayor Terry Goddard has joined Spirit of Service Leadership Council Chairman Rick DeGraw and other Arizona public and private sector leaders in supporting ASU’s Spirit of Service initiative.

“Encouraging extraordinary individuals to embrace public service in a professional or volunteer capacity is a responsibility that all engaged members of society share,” Goddard said. “I’m privileged to partner with ASU in presenting the Spirit of Service Scholars program.

“Through this program, ASU is playing a vital role in helping students from diverse backgrounds and academic disciplines develop a deeper understanding of the role and value of public service within American society, while building their capacity to enter and advance in careers focused on tackling community issues and needs.”

Members of the current cohort represent nine colleges and schools across the university including: Barrett, the Honors College; the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering; the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College; the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences; the College of Nursing; the College of Public Programs; the Sandra Day O’Conner College of Law; and the W. P. Carey School of Business.

These students aspire to serve the community as engineers, attorneys, social workers, economists, public policy leaders, educators, nurses and in other professions.

Additionally, the program includes 20 Junior Scholars, representing five area high schools. The high school participants, selected for the program as a result of their expressed interest in public service, will be mentored by their university counterparts in the program.

“With growing support from local businesses, corporations and many civic-minded individuals, we are pleased to announce the fourth Spirit of Service Scholars cohort,” said DeGraw, well-known for his corporate leadership as executive vice president and chief administrative officer of SCF Arizona.

The scholars, who will each receive a $5,000 scholarship award, were selected based on their demonstrated commitment to work in the public sector and for their promise as transformational leaders. 

“Unlike most scholarship programs, the Spirit of Service Scholarship focuses on the extent to which a student is committed to helping others,” DeGraw said. “A surprising number of Spirit of Service Scholars have faced adversity and yet, are driven to give back. They are truly an inspiration for us all,” DeGraw said.

Local corporate leaders and public sector partners will attend the fourth annual Spirit of Service Scholars Luncheon that will take place at noon, Oct. 23, at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, 340 N. Third Street, Phoenix.

The 2013-2014 Sprit of Service Scholars include:

Krissy Bergen, senior, psychology, Sevenmile, Ariz.

Ashley Brennan, sophomore, psychology, Tucson, Ariz.

Stephen Calderon, junior, nonprofit leadership and management, Phoenix, Ariz.

Jasmine Clarke-Telfer, junior, business/urban policy, Phoenix, Ariz.

David Fike, third year, PhD social work, Lexington, Ky.

Cary Kelly, junior, economics, Tucson, Ariz.

Josue Macias, senior, public service and public policy, Phoenix, Ariz.

Shireen Nouri, second year, master of applied ethics and the professions, Chandler, Ariz.

Allison Oaks, senior, nursing, Nashotah, Wis.

Jennifer Papworth, senior, public service and public policy, Goodyear, Ariz.

Marshall Pimentel, senior, political science, Glendale, Ariz.

Davier Rodriguez, third year, master of public administration and master of higher education, Miami, Fla.

Natali Segovia, third year, law, New York City

Amy Umaretiya, junior, sustainable engineering and the built environment, Chandler, Ariz.

Karen Voyer-Caravona, second year, master of social work, Greenville, S.C.

Mackenzie Woods, third year, law, Albuquerque, N.M.

Media contact:
Carmen D’Angelo,

Sharon Keeler

associate director, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering