© K. Douka,  T. Higham, E. Mastora

Sampling in the Smithsonian


PalaeoChron spent some time in Washington DC this November sampling material from Iran and Iraq. We were working with Melinda Zeder at the Smithsonian Institute. Material from several key sites are housed there. We obtained material from the sites of Yafteh, Shanidar and Eshkaft-e Gavi (see picture left).


The main Smithsonian Natural History Museum, where Melinda works, is located on the famous National Mall near to the Washington Monument and Congress. The archived material of the Smithsonian Institute is held in the Museum Support Center (MSC) which is in Suitland, Maryland. Getting to Suitland involves taking a shuttle bus from the main Institute. The MSC is in a highish crime area, so colleagues advise using the shuttle and not to be independent. 

The MSC contains several massive 'pods' which house collections from all periods, from Native American ethnographic collections to Easter Island statues, to archaeological material from all around the world. It's a stunning place. The Institute is the largest group of museums in the world; some 19 museums form the nucleus. They have more than 100 million items in the collections. 

Walking through the MSC pod in which we were working was a fabulous experience, but easily distracting where there is so much of general interest that are not on show in any of the museums. 

We obtained lots of very good samples from the sites were are interested in. Now we have to see how they fare in chemistry...







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