How Easy Is It To Get Ordained?

As of next week (November 19) I will have been ordained through American Marriage Ministries for two years.  Weird, huh?  I’m one of the least religious people I know, and yet technically I’m an ordained minister.  Why?  I was curious.  At the time, I was in an ehtnography class, so I spent a lot of time talking about, and thinking about, the ways different cultures recognize milestones and ceremonies.  One of those was marriages.

 

Being a non-religious person, I’ve always wondered how non-religious people handled weddings, funerals, and the like, because all of those I’ve ever been to have had a distinctly religious bent.  Whether that’s a 3-hour wedding mass when a friend’s aunt got married, or the touching but very religious funeral service for my grandfather, all of these ceremonies, in my experience, have been tinged with religion.  Then, I read about getting ordained online, almost instantly.  It really is almost instant.

I became an ordained marriage minister through them!

 

I logged onto the American Marriage Ministries website, filled out a few forms, and was confirmed as a member of their ranks.  There are plenty of licensing “ministries” out there, including Universal Life Church, another biggie.  Personally, I love that it is so easy for someone who matters to the couple getting married to officiate their wedding.  I love that there are options for the non-religious other than the relatively impersonal city hall/justice of the peace route.  While that totally works for some people, it’s always good to have options.  So far, I haven’t performed any marriages, and I don’t know if I ever actually will.  I got ordained mostly out of curiosity.  But I definitely would if someone asked me to.

 

The thing about being non-religious in America is that in almost everything it makes no real difference (except that people are going to assume you’re religious, especially in this area) but when it comes to celebrating milestones and having ceremonies, your options become instantly limited.  But I honestly think that the ease of online ordination for officiating weddings is indicative of a shift in our cultural opinions about these ceremonies.  It’s a shift to accepting that there are many different ways to celebrate a milestone – be it a wedding, or a funeral, or a sweet 16.  American culture, as a rule, tends to sit back on Christian traditions, which can be a problem for the many Americans who aren’t Christian.  Be they Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Atheist, or simply non-religious with no opinion one way or another about the existence of a deity, there are millions of people who don’t want to have the traditional church wedding.  Instead, with this kind of easy ordination, they could have a friend or family member, a person who has been important to both parties, officiate and make their wedding day truly special.  I’m all for it (obviously) because I’m all for anything that expands people’s freedoms and possibilities, even in a small way.

 

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Bog Bodies | Topics In History

Everyone’s heard of the Egyptian mummies.  And most of us have heard of the Peruvian ice mummies, unearthed 500 years after their deaths in the mountains of Peru.  But what about the bog bodies?

Throughout Europe, these bog bodies have been turning up, in incredible condition, for centuries.  The first recorded bog body was found in 1640 in Germany.  Early ones were reburied in consecrated cemeteries, because locals believed they were recently deceased.  It wasn’t until the nineteenth century that anyone realized they were ancient.

 Bog Bodies | Topics In History

Ancient peoples believed that bogs were entrances to another world.  A world where gods and spirits mingled, entangled, and ran free.  A place to deposit their most feared, most beloved, and possibly their most powerful dead.

 

The bodies that have been pulled out of these peat bogs are usually around 2,000 years old, dating to the iron age.  Over the past few centuries, peat cutters and others have found over 1,000 of these bodies.  The most famous is probably Tollund Man.

Tollund ManBog Bodies was unearthed in 1950 in Denmark, naked and curled up like a child.  He wore nothing but a leather belt and a sheepskin cap, but a rope hung from his neck. The researchers who worked on him did not have the capability to preserve an entire body; however, they did preserve his head and neck.  Before the body decayed, researchers were able to determine what he had last eaten (stew), and approximately how long after that he died (12-24 hours).  Several of his internal organs were in perfect condition.  Due to his incredible preservation in the peat, they could tell that he was about 40 years old, 5’3” (1.61m) tall, with short hair and stubble on his face, and that he had died from hanging.  But what happened to his clothes?  Why was he wearing a belt and cap but nothing else? 

It’s likely that he was clothed when he was placed in the bog two thousand years ago, but that those clothes were made from plant based fibers such as flax or linen.  Since peat is, itself, plant based matter in various stages of decay, the clothes would’ve simply rotted away, leaving no trace.  Other theories are that he was not afforded clothes if he was executed, or that his death was a ritual sacrifice, and clothing was not a part of that ritual.

Bog Bodies

Yde Girl By Ruud Zwart (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5-nl (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/nl/deed.en)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Bog bodies are often deemed ritual sacrifices, killed by their own people, though a few, namely Kayhausen Boy, seem to be murder victims.  Yde Girl,found in the Netherlands, is frequently considered a victim of ritual sacrifice.  She was about 16 when she was killed, and stood at just 4’6” (137 cm) tall.  Cashel Man, at 4,000 years old, has provided the oldest example of a bog body with skin still intact.  Archaeologists have also concluded that he was a victim of ritual sacrifice.   In the 1980s, similar corpses were found in a calcareous bog in Florida, becoming the first American bog bodies.

 

We’ve established that bog bodies occur, and that many are preserved so well you can see wrinkles and fine hair, but how does that happen at all?  Well, let’s get to it.

 Peat, the substance in most of these bogs, has been used for centuries to thatch roofs, treat soil, and create bedding for animals in Europe, so peat cutters are usually the discoverers of these bodies.  The chemical construction of the peat, which is created during the slowed decomposition of vegetation and moss, creates a boggy, acidic wetland.

In one type of bog, the acidiferous bog, acid leaches into the skin and preserves it like leather.  But when this acid reaches the bones, it corrodes them.  Bog bodies thus end up twisted in strange manners, or sometimes appearing deflated, because of their decayed bones.  Essentially, the skin in an acidiferous bog is treated like a cucumber in pickling brine.  The acidic tannins in these bogs turned the skin into human leather.  It also dyes the bodies’ hair to a bronze-red color.

Bog Bodies

Osterby Man by Wikipedia Uploader Bullenwächter

In calcareous bogs the acid is more closely aligned to the chemical makeup of the bones, and eats through the skin.  This leaves bog bodies as perfectly preserved skeletons with little to no soft tissue left.  Osterby Man (pictured above) has only a small patch of skin, along with hair exhibiting a Suebian knot style.

The peat also blocks oxygen from reaching the bodies, which aids in the preservation process by preventing bacterial growth.

 

There have been hundreds of bog bodies found throughout Northwestern Europe, and they have provided valuable clues to what life was like in Iron Age and Bronze Age Europe.  We will likely continue to find them for hundreds of years, preserved so well you can still see the patterns on their toes.

 

 Further Reading

Continue reading

Undergraduate Research Guide

Undergraduate Research Guide

 

I’ve been doing academic research for many a year.  Not longer than any of you have likely been alive, but I did start doing research projects in sixth or seventh grade, so it’s been about 11 years.  In that time, I’ve learned how to gauge a good, credible website versus a bad, not credible website.  Which by the way doesn’t mean the information is automatically right or wrong.  A lot of history (and anthropology) is about your interpretation, so information is always subjective.  Additionally, history professors can make mistakes just as easily as history enthusiasts with no training can.  So always keep a critical eye no matter what you’re reading.  

 

WEBSITES | .gov .edu .org

Evaluating websites before you cite them is important.  I trust the websites that I’ve cited above, but there are plenty of other sites.  Most sites that end in “.edu” or “.gov” are credible, because they’re produced by educational institutions or government organizations.  When I was first learning to research I was also told “.org” but the rules have changed.  Be careful with “.org” sites.  Some of them are by religious organizations, which means the facts will be reflective of their religious views.  Which is not to say that religious websites are bad, but they are subjective.

This is not to say that no “.com” websites are reliable.  But anyone can get a “.com” website, so they require further vetting.

A web search can result in lots of options, but you should always look for an author.  Then take that author’s name and google them.  You never know, MarxInHistory.com (not a real website, but one someone should totally make) could easily be run by Dr. John B. Doe, PhD in History.  But you won’t know unless you check.  I’m less critical of databases of texts, because they’re so easy to vet with other sources.

 

 

DATABASES

If you’re in university, you have access to your college’s library.  Most of them have subscriptions to various databases.  If you’re in high school, your library may still have some database access, or an agreement with a local college.  These are usually accessible through the library website.  Some are bigger than others, so it couldn’t hurt to ask a friend at a different, bigger school if their library has access to a database yours doesn’t.  A lot of city libraries also have access to a lot of databases.  I was spoiled during high school because I lived in New York and had an NYPL card.  The NYPL had a HUGE database.  It was easy to find just about anything I needed.  During college I used the DCPL database as well.  Most major cities have a lot of databases, and plenty of towns have some kind of database search.

 

LIBRARY RESEARCH

If you are struggling, I can’t recommend enough to go ask a research librarian for help.  They’re trained to do research, they can suggest new keywords, new databases, maybe they even know a book or two before researching.  Just go in and ask for help.  Especially at a university.

 

OPEN SOURCE ACADEMIA

I talked about this slant-wise in the Academia.edu section of my History Source Guide.  Lots of scholars, when legally possible, make their articles available for free.  Sometimes their doctoral dissertations too.  For my thesis I cited a doctoral dissertation I found on the internet.  Which sounds sketchy, but I researched the doctoral candidate.  (She’s a professor in Scotland now).  Google Scholar is a great source for this.  Sometimes you can find things like newsletters within departments that have been put online.  Sometimes, as a project, professors will have students create websites or blogs, and their citations can be very handy.  Sometimes professors blog, and cite sources within their blog posts.

 

Emailing A Professional

I have to preface this by saying I have never done it.  But, if you read an article, you can often email the person who wrote it.  Find an article through a database you really love?  Want to have a conversation with the professor?  It can’t hurt to email them. Their emails are often on the paper itself.  My classmate, lets call him B, actually emailed a PhD who had written a lot of books and articles in his topic, and that PhD responded!  The professor sent him an article, and gave him some ideas of where else to look.  So great things can happen from emailing a professional.

 

 

Scholarpedia | http://www.scholarpedia.org/

An alternative to Wikipedia, this is a peer-reviewed online encyclopedia written by professors.  They write comprehensive, easily accessible articles with citations.  They do focus on science and math, but if that’s your topic, you’re probably set with the articles here and their citations.

 

Google Scholar | scholar.google.com

When searching for academic articles without a university database, Google Scholar is your best friend.  While your results will sometimes be met with paywalls, you can also find some freely available sources here.

 

Directory of Open Access Journals | http://doaj.org/

Many scholars want their research to be available to all.  If only five people read your article, you’re not going to get much discussion out of it.  So some journals have made their contents freely available through the Directory of Open Access Journals.  You will have to search, but nothing is behind a paywall.

 

REFERENCE PAGES

Once you’ve found one source, you’ve got a foothold.  Check the reference page of that book or article.  They have to have referenced someone else.  Then check that article’s reference page.  Search the authors’ names.  Chances are if they’ve written one article about English piety under viking rule in Jorvik, they’ve written two.  Or they’ve written something related.  Use keywords from that book/article in your search.  Really, finding your first source is the biggest sigh of relief moment.

 

Thank you for making it all the way to the end of this long, everlasting guide.  Check back to my website (JeanniFloyd.wordpress.com) for an anthropology guide, a history guide, and more.

To download this guide as a PDF click here: Undergraduate Research Guide

Anthropology Resource Guide

Anthropology Resource Guide copy

My minor in college was Anthropology.  For a while I was actually a double major in history and anthropology, but I wanted to graduate a semester early.  Within anthropology my favorite section was physical anthropology.  If you know me, you know I find human skeletons incredibly fascinating and beautiful.  The first anthropology class I ever took was actually Human Osteology.  It was an incredible class that then led to taking Biological Anthropology.  I also got to go behind the scenes at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum in DC twice and handle their skeletal samples.  Over the years I’ve gathered a few resources, so I’m going to share them.

 

DEFINITIONS

Several universities have created glossaries of anthropological terms.  You can find a bunch by googling, but I’ve listed a handful below.  It’s always good to consult a couple of these because one glossary may not have the definition you need, and you may find nuances by reading two or three different definitions.

 

Anthrobase Dictionary | http://www.anthrobase.com/Dic/eng/

This site, run by a freelance anthropologist from Norway, has a great wide-ranging dictionary.  Not only can you look up anthropological terms, but anthropologists as well.

Glossary of Terms from the University of Alabama | http://anthropology.ua.edu/glossary.htm

This glossary is a searchable one, which is different from all the others I’ve found.  You can search single terms, or use boolean operators to get closer to what you need.

Anthropological Terms from Oregon State University | http://dft.ba/-ae-o

The definitions here are quite simple, written in short sentences.  It boils the complex terms down to the most concise meanings.

Cultural Anthropology Terms from Palomar College | http://dft.ba/-aevW

This glossary also uses short definitions, and links terms together with cross-references.  If you don’t know how to pronounce a term, don’t fret.  Beside the words is a little button to help you out with that.

Biological Anthropology Terms from Palomar College | http://dft.ba/-aeKP

This site has a cultural anthropology twin, which is linked above.  Here you’ll find lots of terms that are useful for biological anthropology classes.  This site also has audio links to help you pronounce the terms.

Kinship Glossary from the University of Alabama | http://dft.ba/-afyS

For a lot of anthropology classes and topics, family and kinship groups are important.  Family shapes the human experience after all.  So when you need to write a paper about kinship groups, but just can’t think of the right term, here’s your life saver.

 

ONLINE ENCYCLOPEDIAS

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy | http://www.iep.utm.edu/

A lot of anthropology includes philosophy and theory.  Maybe you need to find some data about Karl Marx or Emile Durkheim.  Maybe you need to understand a topic quickly.  This is your spot for that.  It’s provided by the University of Tennessee, so it’s credible.

Encyclopedia Mythica | http://www.pantheon.org/

Here you’ll find comprehensive information about mythology from all over the world.  It includes everything from Native American myths, to Greek epics, to Arthurian romances, to Chinese fables.  Need a source for your folklore discussion?  This is it.

 

SKELETAL SAMPLES

eSkeletons | http://www.eskeletons.org/

The eSkeletons project is maintained by the University of Texas at Austin.  I stumbled across it a couple of years ago while researching primate anatomy relating to bipedalism.  They have digitized the skeletons of 13 species of primates.  You can look at different individual bones, different angles, and even compare skeletons.  Bonus: the same team created eLucy and eFossils.

eLucy | http://elucy.org/

The eLucy project was created by the same people who created the aforementioned eSkeletons project.  On the site you can check out different aspects of Lucy’s anatomy, and compare each bone or joint to that of a modern human or chimpanzee.  What’s really great about this site is that because it’s maintained by a university, it’s a credible source.

eFossils | http://efossils.org/

The eFossils project is the last of the three projects on this list by the University of Texas at Austin, and is related to eSkeletons and eLucy.  On eFossils you can look at the fossil remains of hominin species from many genera, not just the genus homo.

Becoming Human | http://www.becominghuman.org/

Maintained by the Institute for Human Origins, this site focuses on human ancestors.  Click on a fossil human, and you can learn all about them.  There’s even an interactive timeline.  This is the best source I’ve found for human ancestry study.

The Skull Practical Exam | http://dft.ba/-skpe

Loyola University Chicago supplies the internet with a great source to test your knowledge of the human skull.  Complete with images, arrows, and labels.  Need to study for your osteology exam?  This site has your back.

 

 

FREE OPEN COURSES

MIT Open Courseware | http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/anthropology/

While MIT also has other departments, their open courseware offerings in anthropology are excellent.

Coursera | https://www.coursera.org/

Coursera allows people all over the world to take courses in all different departments from many different universities.  Totally free.  The courses in anthropology are currently a bit light, but let’s keep hoping for more. On Coursera you can even get a verified certificate that you completed the course, though you have to pay for it.  (I wrote about Coursera here).

edX | https://www.edx.org/

edX is similar to Coursera, but different in that many of the courses on edX are at-your-own-pace.  While there are some courses that are on a schedule, these courses are more free form.  This is great for if you just want to learn about a topic on your own for your own enrichment.

 

SCHOLARLY ARTICLES

Directory of Open Access Journals | http://doaj.org/

Many scholars want their research to be available to all.  If only five people read your article, you’re not going to get much discussion out of it.  So some journals have made their contents freely available through the Directory of Open Access Journals.  You will have to search, but nothing is behind a paywall.

Academia.edu | https://www.academia.edu/

Here you can search for papers that have been made accessible by the authors.  This is great, because so much academic research is behind a paywall, which blocks anyone who doesn’t have the database access from the research.  But with a search on Academia.edu you can find plenty of possibilities!

Google Scholar | scholar.google.com

When searching for academic articles without a university database, Google Scholar is your best friend.  While your results will sometimes be met with paywalls, you can also find some freely available sources here.

 

EVERYTHING ELSE

Australopithecine Morphology Song | http://youtu.be/HrfT5q6oUUY

A fellow anthropology student made this song a few years ago.  Teachers always say to create a memory device, and songs are great memory devices.  While not everything in this song is perfect, and it may not have everything you need for a human origins exam, it’s a great starting point.   Additionally, there are lots of other videos on YouTube about anthropology.

Human Origins at the Smithsonian | http://humanorigins.si.edu/

The Smithsonian Institution consists of 19 museums, and one of those is the National Museum of Natural History.  In the NMNH there is an entire section devoted to human origins.  They even have a website with lots of information and plenty of links.  It’s a great resource.

Anthropology Toolbox on YouTube | http://dft.ba/-anthrotoolbox

In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube channel.  I make anthropology videos, and they include short lessons on anthropology topics.  These usually take the form of “term + definition” -> “history of term” -> “discussion + context”.  Sometimes they’re even mini biographies of anthropologists.

 

Thanks for checking this guide out.  I hope it’s helpful for your anthropological needs.  Check back to my website (JeanniFloyd.wordpress.com) for more guides.  

 Download this guide as a PDF here.

I Love Skeletons

Who doesn’t love a good skeleton?  Okay, so maybe not everyone loves the human skeleton as much as I do.  But I really do love the human skeleton.  It’s beautiful, it’s functional, and it’s generally incredible.  Adults have 206 bones, but newborns have over 300.  The bones grow, stretch, and fuse into the bones we have as adults.

ILS copy

As a freshman I took a human osteology class, and I still dream of becoming a forensic anthropologist.  We got to handle skeletal samples from our university, and then go to the Smithsonian labs to learn from their skeletal samples.  We even got to see a femur of a man that had been shot with buck shot, and then the bone grew around it.  Incredible!

 

So what’s a girl to do with no hands-on access to skeletons?  Well, turn to the internet of course.  There are several websites where you can easily check out different features of the skeleton, and even compare different species.

eskeletons

eSkeletons

The ESkeletons project is maintained by the University of Texas at Austin.  I stumbled across it a couple of years ago while researching primate anatomy relating to bipedalism.  They have digitized the skeletons of 13 species of primates.  You can look at different individual bones, different angles, and even compare skeletons.  Bonus: the same team created eLucy and eFossils.

The Skull Practical Exam

Loyola University Chicago supplies the internet with a great source to test your knowledge of the human skull.  Complete with images, arrows, and labels.  Need to study for your osteology exam?  This site has your back.

Becoming Human

Becoming Human

Maintained by the Institute for Human Origins, this site focuses on human ancestors.  Click on a fossil human, and you can learn all about them.  There’s even an interactive timeline.  This is the best source I’ve found for human ancestry study.

The Australopithecine Morphology Song

I used this one to study for my human ancestry class.  This girl, Leah, also had a class to study for, so she wrote a song about australopithecines.  It’s catchy, and songs always help to cement information in your brain.

 

The best skeleton-related decision I ever made was to take a human osteology course my freshman year of college.  Not only did I learn from someone who really knew what she was talking about, but that class is why I have The Human Bone Manual, which is considered the seminal text.

 

Do you also love skeletons?  Or maybe you have a different, but equally unorthodox, interest.  And my favorite skeleton?  Well that’s definitely the pigmy marmoset.

pygmy marmo

From a trip to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

Anthropology Toolbox

On my YouTube channel I create videos on lots of topics.  One of those is Anthropology.  I was an anthro minor, and I spent a lot of time on anthropology as an undergrad.  Part of me still wants to study fossil hominids.  One day I’d like to expand my videos into this area, but for now, I’m filling the anthropology toolbox.

Anthropology Toolbox

But what is an Anthropology Toolbox?  Well, it’s the metaphorical box where you store your theorists, theories, terms, and other tools for anthropological analysis.

I started referring to the anthropology toolbox while I was an undergrad, when writing anthropology papers and choosing which way to analyze a situation, event, or culture.  I’d pick and choose from the tools I had – like functionalism, structuralism, or Durkheim’s theories – and put some of them into use when appropriate.  Not all tools are useful in all situations.  You wouldn’t try to loosen a stripped screw with a sledgehammer would you?

 

Study The Dead

Sorry I’ve been so absent friends.  I had every intention of posting this cool non-valentine history of valentine’s day about everything else that has happened on valentine’s day in the past several millenia, but then I got sick and I was in bed for days.  I’m still not quite up to snuff, but I’m a lot better than I was.  I also never got around to posting my Satiated Saturday for this week.  Oops.  Well, today’s also my uncle’s birthday (I won’t tell you how old he is, since I don’t think even he wants to know).  Anyway, I drafted this post a while ago, and then never posted it, so here you go.  Have a bunch of graphics with quotes about dead people from Emily Graslie.

 

I often make graphics in photoshop or Paper for my favorite quotes.  My obsession with quotes goes back to at least the seventh grade.  Which is when I discovered quote websites.  Ever since I’ve kept notebooks upon notebooks of my favorite quotations, the ones that are just beautifully phrased, or that tell a good story, or that represent something I believe in.  Recently, one of my favorites has been from an episode of The Brain Scoop.  “We study the dead to know more about the living.”  I studied history and physical anthropology, which is basically studying  the dead.  So this quote really spoke to me.

Study the Dead picture copy

(This picture is actually from a Brain Scoop episode called the Spirit Collection).

I was then stuck in bed, and bored, so I made a few graphics for it.  Then, I popped them up on tumblr, figuring one or two people might like them.  Instead, the Brain Scoop tumblr reblogged them and they now have over 300 notes.  I’m completely floored that more than a handful of people could have enjoyed something I made.  That’s never happened before.  So I figured I would post them here so that anyone who reads this blog and enjoys studying the dead in one form or another could enjoy them.   Study The Dead Photo copy

This photo is from the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries.  At the time photographs took a long time for exposure, and this family moved on before the photographer was finished.  You can see the trail they made along the left of the photo.

Study the Dead cemetery copyThis old label is in the public domain, and when I found it on the Graphics Fairy blog, I knew I needed to download it.

This is my favorite.

This is my favorite.

If you click here, you can find the desktop background size version.  I had a lot of fun making these, and I hope you guys enjoy them as well!