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Anthropology

A Conversation about Art and Biology with Ellen Dissanayake '57

Ellen Franzen Dissanayake came to Washington State College from Walla Walla in 1953 as a music major. At the time, undergraduates were required to take four science classes. After taking the legendary BioSci 101 from Winfield Hatch and Human Physiology from Donald S. Farner, she found it easy to “think biologically,” which influenced her subsequent interest in the evolutionary origins of the arts.

At graduation, she married fellow student and zoologist John Eisenberg, and they moved to Berkeley, where he would attend graduate school. He was well on his way to becoming a prominent mammalian ethologist and was a rich source of thinking on behavior … » More …

Ozette Art and the Makah Canoe

Many questions remain concerning the contents of the longhouses  excavated at Ozette. One of the most intriguing is the nature of its art, which was pervasive. More than 400 artifacts stored at the Makah Cultural Center might be considered art. Although a few pieces, such as the well-known carved whale saddle, are (presumably) ritualistic, most are everyday objects, combs, bowls, clubs, embellished with designs.

Jeff Mauger (PhD ’78), an archaeologist at Peninsula Community College in Port Angeles, earned his doctorate from WSU, analyzing the shed-roof style of the houses at Ozette and their relation to the style throughout the Northwest coast. Since then he … » More …

Winter 2008

A reburial eases a clash of culture and science

On a bluff above the Snake River, a few miles upstream from the Tri-Cities, people are gathering on a July morning to bury their dead. Or rebury, actually. The bones that fill the ordinary cardboard boxes sitting next to a deep open grave have spent decades in a laboratory storeroom. On one box is printed in neat letters, “woman and child.”

A warm breeze rustles the sage and wild rye, as people approach the grave in small groups, people of the Yakama, Colville, Nez Perce, Umatilla, and Wannapum. Although the identities of the remains are uncertain, they are certainly ancestors of many of those gathered … » More …

Dem bones

The Conner has one of the biggest collections of bird skeletons in the nation. Kelly Cassidy opens a drawer and pulls out a box the size of a small microwave oven. It rattles. It contains a disarticulated golden eagle skeleton, each piece labeled with a number (except for the very smallest, which are about the size of a sesame seed).

“Our skeletons are literally boxes of bones,” she says. The Museum has a few dozen skeletons that have been fully assembled, which are useful for public display, but not for research that requires being able to look at the bones from all angles.

The most … » More …

Summer 2008

A Dialogue with the Past

A fierce Pacific storm in February 1970 revealed early remains of Ozette, on the Olympic Coast between Cape Flattery and La Push. Worried about the site's vulnerability to looters and further storms, Makah tribal leader Ed Claplanhoo '56 called archaeologist Richard Daugherty at Washington State University, commencing an 11-year excavation of the site. The excavation yielded thousands of well-preserved artifacts and a wealth of clues to the history and culture of Makahs and other coastal tribes. » More ...
Fall 2002

An expert on human evolution, a long-distance driver

Grover S. Krantz, world-renowned anthropologist and longtime Washington State University professor, died on February 14, 2002 in Port Angeles, Washington after an  eight-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Professor Krantz, or Grover, as everyone knew him, was born November 5, 1931, in Salt Lake City. He obtained a B.A. and M.A. in anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley.

After receiving his doctorate from the University of Minnesota in 1968, Grover came to the Department of Anthropology at WSU in 1968. When he came to Pullman, Grover planned to spend a “couple of years at WSU.” Those couple of years turned into 30, until he … » More …