Student Finds Career Direction in Summer Anthropology Program

A hands-on examination of Bronze Age bones brought classroom lessons to life this summer for Hannah Jeanlouis.  

 Jeanlouis joined the Bioarchaeology of Bronze Age Social Systems Program at the University of South Alabama during the summer of 2021. The program offers students a chance to live in Alabama for two months as they study skeletal remains housed at the Center for Archaeological Studies in the University of South Alabama.   

 The program is funded by the National Science Foundation: Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF REU) 

 The students collaborate with a group of scientists as they dive into their assigned projects of studying and researching two Arabian Bronze Age skeletal collections (2400-2100 BCE). Jeanlouis’ project involved analyzing the fragments of adult bones using Transition Analysis 3 software on adult-aged skeletal fragments in order to identify older-aged (50+ years) individuals. While the evidence was plentiful, with fragments from over 600 individuals, age estimation is based on multiple components of the skeleton instead of one fragment. That limited the scope of the investigation, but exposed Jeanlouis to the methodologies commonly used by archaeologists.   

 We didn’t have the full skeleton, so it was difficult figuring out the age of the bones because they were just fragments, but we were able to use the little that we have to finalize our project,” Jeanlouis said.  

Part of the program also allows students to get more of an idea as to what their career path would be as they receive advice and guidance from undergraduate research workshops. Jeanlouis has dreamed of becoming an archaeologist since she was a little girl digging up “artifacts” with a little yellow shovel. The program steered Jeanlouis toward the subfields of bioarchaeology, with an emphasis on African American mortuary archaeology.  

  The program offers a stipend for students, which Jeanlouis says she’s grateful for as she didn’t have to worry about paying bills. 

 “I’m very thankful for the program because I was able to focus on the thing that I cared about the most: archaeology,” Jeanlouis said. 



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