WBEZ | The Field Museum http://www.wbez.org/tags/field-museum-0 Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Secrets from the Tomb: The hunt for Chicago's mummies http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2014-03/secrets-tomb-hunt-chicagos-mummies-109934 <p><p>Who would have thought the ancient dead could actually break news? But that&rsquo;s exactly what happened when I embarked on my hunt for Chicago&rsquo;s mummies.</p><p>The Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) invited me to tag along in February as they took their two mummies, Paankhenamun and Wenuhotep, to be scanned at the University of Chicago.</p><p>The video below will give you a good idea of what that trip involved, and why everyone - from radiologists to Egyptologists to ambulance drivers, were fascinated by the process.<a name="video"></a></p><p><strong><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/gopKCYXkdOg" width="620"></iframe></strong></p><p>The results of the scans are already coming in, and though the mummies are not currently on display, if they do go back to the galleries some relabeling will be in order - listen to the radio story above to find out why.</p><p>It was news to me that the AIC even had mummies. Like The Field Museum and the Oriental Institute (OI) of the University of Chicago, the AIC got theirs toward the end of the 19th century, when people on science expeditions and tourist junkets alike became captivated with ancient Egypt.</p><p>Mummies continue to&mdash;bad pun alert&mdash;walk the line between cultural object and scientific specimen. What sometimes gets lost beneath the bandages and elaborately decorated coffins is the fact that mummies were humans too.</p><p>Until a few decades ago, if someone wanted to verify that fact, they would simply unwrap it - as in this somewhat ghoulish photograph of a researcher undoing the linen wrapping on one of the Oriental Institute&rsquo;s mummies.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Unwrap%20mummy.jpg" style="height: 422px; width: 620px;" title="Date/individual unknown. Bad mummy tech: An unidentified employee unwraps one of the Oriental Institute’s mummies in approximately 1910 (archival photo courtesy of The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago) " /></p><p>I&rsquo;m struck by how casual it all seems, this act that we now view as a desecration. The two people conversing in the background, the fact that the researcher&rsquo;s not even wearing gloves!</p><p>But many mummies were unwrapped, some by institutions and others by upper crust tourists, who thought they&rsquo;d have a little fun with the souvenir they picked up on their tour of Europe.</p><p>The mummy in this photograph is still at the Oriental, though it hasn&rsquo;t been displayed since the 1960s or &lsquo;70s. Oriental Institute Egyptologist Emily Teeter took me back to see her and despite being prepared, I was still startled.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mummy%20unwrapped.PNG" style="height: 282px; width: 620px;" title="Unwrapped mummified remains. (WBEZ/Alison Cuddy)" /></div><p>But now we can see inside mummies, thanks to images generated by CT scans. Scanning is the cutting edge of mummy research and exhibition, and it&rsquo;s driving a new interest in the ancient dead, among the public and at institutions.</p><p>Here you see the incredibly detailed views these machines allow, from a recent scan of the Field&rsquo;s mummy known only as the Gilded Lady (a woman who died in her early 40s and was entombed in the early Ptolemaic period).</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mummy_sidebyside.jpg" title="(images courtesy of the Field Museum)" /></div><p>Given Chicago&rsquo;s rather large mummy population, local hospital scanners are sure to be kept busy over the coming years.</p><p>The chart and map below gives you a sense of how many we have, and what the main collections include, from Peruvian mummy &ldquo;bundles&rdquo; at the Field, to mummy parts, including a monkey&rsquo;s paw and other bits of animals at the Oriental.</p><p>I haven&rsquo;t verified this, but Chicago might just be the mummy capital of America.</p><p><strong>What sort of mummies are in the Field Museum&#39;s collection?</strong></p><p><iframe height="360" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/WBEZ-Graphics/mummy_graphs/field.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p><strong>What sort of mummies are in the Oriental Institute collection?</strong></p><p><iframe height="460" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/WBEZ-Graphics/mummy_graphs/oriential.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Bob Martin, emeritus curator at the Field, said they are planning to re-do their permanent Egyptian collection, and include more digital elements (like a touch-screen table top display that allows you to virtually unwrap one of their mummies).</p><p>The Art Institute&rsquo;s mummies aren&rsquo;t currently on display, though curator Mary Greuel hopes any information gleaned from the University of Chicago scans will eventually be part of an exhibition..</p><p>I also found some stray mummies. There is one in the Social Studies department at Naperville Central High School.</p><p>And if you pay a visit to the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary library you can view the mummy of a young girl, known as Hawara Portrait Mummy #4.</p><p><strong>Map: Where are Chicago&#39;s mummies?<a name="map"></a></strong></p><p><strong><iframe frameborder="no" height="300" scrolling="no" src="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?q=select+col1+from+1O8JcaqBRIzHJbqYxbjLyLBBTiZXqw7z4Pg9T6oV6&amp;viz=MAP&amp;h=false&amp;lat=41.88994363687098&amp;lng=-87.93986547851563&amp;t=1&amp;z=9&amp;l=col1&amp;y=2&amp;tmplt=2&amp;hml=ONE_COL_LAT_LNG" width="620"></iframe></strong><br /><br />Do you know of any local mummies we may have missed? Let us know - we&rsquo;d love to add them to our inventory!</p></p> Fri, 28 Mar 2014 11:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2014-03/secrets-tomb-hunt-chicagos-mummies-109934 Contemporary artist Bunky Echo-Hawk blends pop culture and Native American imagery http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/contemporary-artist-bunky-echo-hawk-blends-pop-culture-and-native-american-imagery <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/bunky.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Science-fiction icon Yoda wears a feathered headdress, and a traditionally-dressed Native American rides a horse-sized iPhone.</p><p>Contemporary artist Bunky Echo-Hawk combines such pop culture references with Native American imagery to challenge stereotypes and highlight social issues in his community. He is a member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma and the Yakama Nation of Washington.</p><p>The painter, photographer and writer helped curate a new exhibit at The Field Museum that runs through September 2014.</p><p>&ldquo;Bunky Echo-Hawk: Modern Warrior&rdquo; displays his work alongside several Pawnee artifacts that he helped to pick out of the Field&rsquo;s collection. He selected both decorative items and everyday objects to show how they can inspire people 100 years later. These items include a &ldquo;Ghost Dance&rdquo; dress, a deer-skin drum and a pair of the sneakers he designed for Nike.</p><blockquote><strong>Do you value learning more about Chicago cultural events like this? </strong></blockquote><blockquote><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/donate" target="_blank">Help support WBEZ by making a donation today.</a></strong></blockquote><p>Alaka Wali, the Field Museum&rsquo;s curator of North American Anthropology, co-curated the exhibition with Echo-Hawk.</p><p>&ldquo;Despite (the Native American peoples&rsquo;) severe displacement and the very traumatic experiences that they&rsquo;ve had with Europeans since 1492, why have they been able or how have they been able to be resilient?&rdquo; Dr. Wali asked.&nbsp; &ldquo;To come back and maintain cultural identity despite very severe odds?&rdquo;</p><p>One of the ways Echo-Hawk seeks to keep his culture alive is through live painting, creating a work in front of an audience. He said it&rsquo;s a modern adaptation of a traditional Native American winter pastime, in which an artist recreates an event by drawing on animal hide, and talks with the people gathered around to get enough information to make an &ldquo;honest&rdquo; portrayal.</p><p>Echo-Hawk continued that tradition this past Saturday with a few tweaks:&nbsp; Instead of recreating a &ldquo;buffalo hunt&rdquo; or a &ldquo;great battle,&rdquo; audience members suggested he illustrate a racial stereotype or a historical or current event on canvas.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s an opportunity to kind of bridge the gap between then and now,&rdquo; Bunky Echo-Hawk said. &ldquo;It shows how we once lived and shows how we kind of live now, the things that were changed, the things that were gained and the things that were lost.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Lee Jian Chung is a WBEZ arts and culture intern. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/jclee89" target="_blank">@jclee89</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 03 Oct 2013 13:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/contemporary-artist-bunky-echo-hawk-blends-pop-culture-and-native-american-imagery Advice for amateur mushroom hunters http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/advice-amateur-mushroom-hunters-103274 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chanterelle%20mushrooms%20flickr.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px; " title="Be very, very quiet. We're hunting chanterelles. (Flickr/Brock Topia)" /></div><p>When Patrick Leacock goes mushroom hunting the first thing he checks is the weather. The Field Museum mycologist knows that rain means mushrooms. A week of heavy rain like the one we&rsquo;ve had could produce a bumper crop of savory chanterelles or nutty morels, or <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-09/huntress-gatherer-cuisine-102176">a massive cluster of hen-of-the-woods</a>.</p><p>Next he considers location. He already knows what some urban chicken owners <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/10/dining/worries-about-lead-for-new-yorks-garden-fresh-eggs.html">learned the hard way this week</a>: Mushrooms soak up whatever&rsquo;s in the soil &mdash; lead included &mdash; so he heads for the forests outside of town, like some of the plots he and his colleagues have monitored near Palos Hills for the last 14 years.</p><p>Leacock is often looking for unnamed species, or deceptively boring looking specimens. &ldquo;If you&rsquo;re paid to study them, like I am, you find that they can be quite interesting,&rdquo; Leacock says. &ldquo;A lot of these boring mushrooms might have cool features under the microscope.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, Leacock knows that when most of us go looking for &lsquo;shrooms we&rsquo;re not looking to untangle the secrets of complex fungal DNA &mdash; we&rsquo;re considering what will taste best chopped, sautéed and served with a glass of Merlot. So when he spoke to Chicago Culinary Historians in June, he tailored his remarks for the Chicago chef set.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/louisa-chu/2011-10-11/first-rule-mushroom-club-93031">The first rule of mushroom hunting</a>&nbsp;&mdash; NOT all mushrooms are edible &mdash; certainly applies. Mushrooms can be deadly and should never be eaten unless positively identified. But if you want to find the ones that are edible, he has a few tips. Leacock says look for the ones that have symbiotic, or mutually beneficial, relationships with other, easier to spot plants, like the species of bolete mushrooms that only grow on the roots of white pine trees. &nbsp;And, don&rsquo;t waste your time trying to ID everything; just figure out what you want and go and get it.</p><p>You can hear the rest of his advice in the audio above.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a></em>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Patrick Leacock spoke at an event presented by the Culinary Historians of Chicago in June. Click</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/amplified/mushrooms-chicago-region-100403">here</a></em>&nbsp;<em>to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></p> Sat, 20 Oct 2012 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/advice-amateur-mushroom-hunters-103274 'Fox hole' opens passage to Neolithic past, possibly Hades http://www.wbez.org/sections/lifestyle/fox-hole-opens-passage-neolithic-past-possibly-hades-103199 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cave-crop.jpg" title="Alepotrypa Cave was home to a Neolithic community more than 5,000 years ago. The first archaeologist to dig inside unearthed hundreds of burials and hypothesized that the cave was believed to be Hades, or the underworld in Greek mythology. (Photo Courtesy of Bill Parkinson)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F63885878&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>A Field Museum curator is digging around a cave in Southern Greece that&rsquo;s been compared to the mythical underworld, Hades. &nbsp;That cave might help explain why people choose to migrate to big cities or high tail it to the suburbs.</p><p>And it has a surprising Chicago tie.&nbsp;</p><p>William Parkinson is the associate curator of Eurasian anthropology at the Field Museum. He is on a research team, called The Diros Project, made up of two Greek and two American archaeologists (both Chicago natives).</p><p>They are excavating Alepotrypa Cave, which is nearly four football fields long. The researchers compare the most striking room in the cave to a Cathedral.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a very awesome place, in the literal sense of the word,&rdquo; Parkinson said. &ldquo;I can only think that, several thousand years ago, when it was lit by torches, not by electric lamps like it is now, it would have been all that more striking.&rdquo;</p><p>They have unearthed tools and pottery that remain from a Neolithic (Stone Age) community between 5,000 and 8,000 years ago. Under the dripping stalactites, skeletons dating as far back as 8,000 years rest under layers of sediment.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s the closest thing we have to something like a Neolithic Pompeii in the Mediterranean,&rdquo; Parkinson said.</p><p>Alepotrypa was not resettled by later civilizations, so the authenticity is extraordinary, Parkinson said.</p><p>The settlers used the cave as a shelter, a cemetery and a sacred worship place. The population expanded outside of the cave and bloomed into an early urban center.</p><p>The pottery and &ldquo;ancient people&rsquo;s garbage&rdquo; the settlers left behind are the strongest evidence of a densely populated village, Parkinson said. A two-by-two meter unit revealed more than 30 pounds of pottery. The archaeologists unearthed materials and pottery styles from different regions, which indicate economic activity and a mingling of cultures.</p><p>&ldquo;If you&rsquo;re in an area where there is more trade more interaction, there&rsquo;s more variety in not just in food, but in life and the people you meet,&rdquo; Parkinson said. &nbsp;People may have gravitated toward Alepotrypa just for the sake of &ldquo;wanting to live together.&rdquo;</p><p>But Parkinson said all life in Alepotrypa abruptly ended, around 5,000 years ago, when the cave&rsquo;s population was most dense and dynamic. The cave entrance collapsed, possibly due to an earthquake. The cave&rsquo;s occupants were buried alive.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s sealed,&rdquo; Parkinson said. &ldquo;And it&rsquo;s not opened again until the 1950s.&rdquo;</p><p>After the collapse, settlers outside the cave fled the peninsula. Even today, the area surrounding the cave is scarcely populated.</p><p>&ldquo;The area is geographically marginal, you have to want to get there,&rdquo; Parkinson said.</p><p>Greeks have gravitated toward financial opportunities in big cities, like Athens.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cave-2.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Paul Kondraros shared photos of his family in Diros, a village in Southern Greece. He said his uncle discovered Alepotrypa Cave when he was hunting with his dog. (Cassidy Herrington/WBEZ)" />Some, like 74-year-old Paul Kondraros, moved to Chicago. In 1953, Kondraros left Diros, the closest village to Alepotrypa and his hometown, &ldquo;to make more money&rdquo; as an electrical engineer.</div><p>Kondraros has a startling connection to Alepotrypa. He claims his uncle discovered the cave and is responsible for the name, which means &ldquo;fox hole&rdquo; in Greek. &nbsp;</p><p>Kondraros said his uncle was out hunting with his dog in the late 1950s, when the dog took off in pursuit of a fox and darted into a small hole.</p><p>&ldquo;After two hours or so, the dog never came out,&rdquo; Kondraros said. He said his uncle widened the hole and ventured inside. That hole, he said, was the opening to Alepotrypa Cave. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Anastasia Papathanasiou, a Diros Project archaeologist who works for the Greek Ministry of Culture, said the story &ldquo;might be true,&rdquo; but adds that there are several different tales of discovery circulating in the village.</p><p>An even greater legend, from Greek mythology, might be linked to Alepotrypa.</p><p>The first archaeologist to dig inside Alepotrypa was 90-year-old Greek Archaeologist Giorgos Papathanassopoulos, in 1970. He&rsquo;s spent 40 years studying the relics of the cave&rsquo;s Neolithic people and describes feeling a sense of awe when he imagines what their lives might have been like.</p><p>&ldquo;To this day, the richness and variety of the findings never cease to amaze me,&rdquo; Papathanassopoulos said in an e-mail. &ldquo;There is abundant scientific work for at least three more generations.&rdquo;</p><p>His initial findings included kilos of painted funeral vases and the remnants of blazing funeral rituals, Papathanassopoulos said. During the ceremonies, people intentionally broke pottery and set the cave walls on fire.</p><p>These rituals &ldquo;combined with the impressive, enormous hall,&rdquo; lead Papathanassopolos to an intriguing theory. He posited that the Neolithic people believed the cave was Hades.</p><p>&ldquo;You can easily see why Giorgos would make that hypothesis,&rdquo;Diros Colleague Michael Galaty said. &ldquo;The cave really does recall the underworld, Hades and the River Styx.&rdquo;</p><p>Colleague Anastasia Papathanasiou said she&rsquo;s hesitant to endorse her colleague&rsquo;s theory because &ldquo;it&rsquo;s just a scenario&rdquo; that obviously cannot be proven.</p><p>&ldquo;It might be, it might not be,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>She and the other team members have their sights set on big sociological questions: What was it about this cave that attracted people from all over the region? And why did they leave?</p><p>The reason for the exodus might help us understand why modern people migrate, The Field&rsquo;s Parkinson said. The source that brought people to the region was cut off, and the settlers outside the cave fled. Parkinson said they also may have abandoned the village due to the stresses of urban life like crime and disease.</p><p>&ldquo;People had never lived in groups this big before, and then they decide &lsquo;This isn&rsquo;t working,&rsquo;&rdquo; Parkinson said. &ldquo;Rather than dealing with the social stresses of having to live with your neighbor or on top of your neighbor, people just choose to establish settlements elsewhere.&rdquo;</p><p>Kind of like Chicagoans fleeing for the suburbs, Parkinson said.</p><p>The diversity of urban life could have been what made Alepotrypa so attractive to Neolithic settlers, much like downtown Chicago in recent decades.</p><p>&ldquo;Now it&rsquo;s bustling, there are restaurants, we&rsquo;re seeing more people living downtown,&rdquo; Parkinson said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s exactly those similar kinds of processes that were going on several thousand years ago.&rdquo;</p></p> Thu, 18 Oct 2012 12:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/lifestyle/fox-hole-opens-passage-neolithic-past-possibly-hades-103199