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Scholarship for archaeologist Catarina Guzzo Falci

In the beginning of December 2016 PhD candidate Catarina Guzzo Falci was awarded a scholarship for a collections study by Musée du quai Branly. The Musée du quai Branly has implemented this scholarship programme to document its collections.

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Catarina Guzzo Falci

Documenting collections

The scholarship’s purpose is the funding of field investigations and/or documentation on the museum’s collections on the arts and civilisations of Africa, Near East, Asia, Oceania and of the Americas. This is a grant for a short period of time, financed by the Society of Friends of the Museum, amounting to € 6,000. The money is intended to cover the costs of a field survey and/or of archival work to document the museum’s collections, as well as the analysis and writing required to present the results of the research work. Research may pertain to a single work, a series of objects or images (stamps, photos, etc.) a collection, an archival group (including audio archives) or ancient documents.

Studying ethnographic ornaments

The research project of Catarina Guzzo Falci is entitled: “From the lowlands to the Caribbean Sea : exploring the potential of microwear analysis of composite ornaments from lowland South America for understanding body ornamentation in the pre-colonial Caribbean”. She will travel to Paris for a few months to study ethnographic ornaments from different indigenous communities of Lowland South America.

The method of analysis will consist of microscopic observation of the objects, similarly to how Catarina is studying the beads from archaeological sites in the Caribbean  (read her blog about Experimental Archaeology at El Flaco, Dominican Republic). The main difference is that the ethnographic ornaments are composite pieces, i.e. the beads are still attached to strings and are made of multiple raw materials.

The sample includes whole necklaces, ear and lip ornaments, bracelets and belts. The study of these objects will not only provide more information on their biographies, but also shed light on the use-wear produced on individual beads as a result of contact with strings, other bead raw materials, and the human body itself.

Ultimately, this study will give more insight on how to interpret the use of archaeological ornaments. For this research, Catarina will be collaborating with André Delpuech, the curator for the Americas, and with the museum’s Atelier de conservation et restauration.

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