Exciting Archaeological Discoveries Made by Joint BYU-Jordanian Team

In a June, 2019 press release, the Ad-Deir Monument & Plateau Project (AMPP) revealed that a joint Brigham Young University-Jordanian team recently made groundbreaking archeological discoveries in Petra, Jordan.

These findings are important contributions to the overall mission of AMPP, which is to identify, map, excavate, study and restore the major ancient Nabataean water control and containment systems that were originally built to protect the Ad-Deir Monument (the Monastery)–the largest rock-cut façade in Petra from seasonal erosion.  AMPP’s archeological efforts in Petra began in 2013 with drone linked GPS photography and mapping of the entire Ad-Deir complex.

The press release reports that one of the most important discoveries of the 2019 Field Season was the uncovering of a huge deposit of whole and partially whole Nabataean pottery dating to circa 40 BCE to CE 350. This discovery was particularly monumental because as Dr. Cynthia Finlayson of BYU’s Anthropology Department and Director of the AMPP project explained, it is “one of the largest deposits of complete Nabataean pottery assemblages ever discovered in its original contexts in Petra.”

In the AMPP Press Release, BYU students also explained how retrieving and transporting the pottery to the AMPP lab for processing, along with their overall experience in Petra, had a lasting impact on their academic and professional growth.  MA Archaeology student Elizabeth Whisenhunt reported that it “has given me a whole new perspective on archaeology, its potential intensity, and processing levels.  I also really liked the dynamics of working with our local crew and learning about Jordanian culture.  Being immersed in this every day was very important to me.” Archeology undergraduate BA student Jake Hubbert added that it “gave me more professional experience as well as seeing the progression of a project long-term. Working with our local Jordanian crew is always exciting and fun.”

Among the other significant discoveries was discovery of “the ancient rock-cut entrance and exit ramp to the Great Circle itself,” which is “the world’s largest known rock-cut circular water containment pool,” and 400-500 pound stones that were a part of a “built dam wall” on its eastern side.  Also, south of the Great Circle’s Outer Ring Wall, MA Archeology student Josie Newbold found “an undisturbed burial” which “in Petra is always a rare event.” To learn more about the Field Schools offered in Archeology, visit the BYU Anthropology Department website.

Gerontology Students Get Hands-On Experience at Miami Jewish Health

An unexpected connection began between a Jewish care facility in Miami and the BYU Gerontology department when Dr. Marc Agronin, VP of Behavioral Health and Clinical Research at Miami Jewish Health (MJH), came to BYU to speak at the annual Russell B. Clark Gerontology Conference. The connection between the department and MJH led to a new internship program, which helps students earn a minor in gerontology, the study of old age and the process of aging. The BYU Gerontology department offers students the opportunity to earn the minor, which complements other majors. Four students minoring in gerontology recently returned from Miami, where they experienced a professionally and personally enriching internship at MJH.

The four interns had the opportunity to observe staff members at MJH and provide hands-on care. They lived on campus and alternated weekly between the various branches of the facility. One of the interns, Meagan Proffit, an exercise science major, reported that living on site was great, because she enjoyed “passing other guests and residents each day during meals, activities, and their ‘porchtalks’ near the front of the building which helped us build special connections with them and lifted our spirits as well as theirs each day.” Another intern, Grant Flindt, a biochemistry major, enjoyed learning about the different aspects of MJH, including entertaining and interacting with patients during the P.A.C.E. (new form of geriatric healthcare) week. Flindt found the P.A.C.E. week to be “one of my favorite weeks because the doctor we shadowed, was so willing to take us on and answer any question that popped in our heads. We got a good view at what a gerontologist/internist will deal with in the hospital, which was encouraging!”

Among the highlights of the internship for the students was their interactions with the staff and patients. Seth Smith, a neuroscience major, found that staff members “genuinely care about the geriatric population of Miami Jewish and about us…Dr. Agronin does everything he can to make our experience there specifically meaningful to each participant… he is dedicated to helping the interns.” Profitt added that they made many close connections with people, and that “many of them were asking if we could stay for longer, the whole summer if not a whole year. I felt deeply touched by the number of people who had that kind of response.”

Because of the connections they made and the practical knowledge of gerontology that they gained, the interns felt that their time at MJH impacted their future beyond what they had imagined. Mandy Gilmour, an exercise and wellness major, gratefully reported: “I can’t explain how much this [internship] was a blessing in my life to learn and grow from. I have gained knowledge that will help direct my future as well as continual service for the rest of my life. I have also made relationships with individuals that I will be able to take with me and carry through the rest of my life.”