– A University of Texas at Arlington graduate student in anthropology has
helped to unearth a rare find: ancient images of a woman giving birth. What
makes the discovery so unique is that it could be the earliest representation
of childbirth in Western art, and the student, William Nutt, is legally blind.
The scene was discovered at an Etruscan site in
Italy on a small fragment, about 1-3/4 x 1-1/4 inches (4 x 3 cm), from a
ceramic vessel that is more than 2,600 years old.
image is unique because in the classical world, we don’t see a lot of birthing
scenes,” said Nutt, who found the image in early July while working on the Poggio
Colla excavation site northeast of Florence.
real question is if we don’t see these types of birthing scenes anywhere else
in classical art, then why is it on this pot? It obviously meant something to
the people who were there and who made it,” he said.
Nutt became interested in civilization studies
while taking an archaeology class at UT Arlington, which he attends on a National
Science Foundation fellowship. The highly competitive fellowship provides tuition,
travel expenses and a $30,000 annual stipend that will help him study the
Bronze Age collapse.
number of kingdoms broke down and changed over a short period of about 100
years,” Nutt said. “Looking at the culture change helps us to learn a lot about
how societies adapt to stress, what being a part of a society means and it
helps us to learn about ourselves.”
Smith, professor and chairperson of the UT Arlington Department
of Sociology and Anthropology, feels
fortunate to have Nutt in her program.
is a remarkable individual with intellectual curiosity covering a wide range of
subjects,” she said.
he cannot fully see, Nutt does not view his blindness as an impediment to his
research. He described his excavation during the summer as very careful work.
used dental tools and a sharpened trowel to slide along the ground. I’d run my
hands along the soil, feeling and uncovering different layers,” Nutt explained.
“If I started to notice a soil change, I’d check with another excavator. I was
really very fortunate to work with a great group of people.”
The Mugello Valley Archaeological Project oversees the
Poggio Colla excavation. It is a project of Southern Methodist University in
Dallas, Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Penn., and the University
of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, in collaboration with
The Open University in Milton Keynes, England.
A paper about the find will be presented at the annual
meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in Philadelphia in January.
University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of 33,449
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