Students Present at Anthropology Conference

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Alumni Hero
Lee anthropology majors, along with a recent alumna, presented their research at the Southern Anthropological Society (SAS) conference in Cherokee, N.C. last month.

Lee senior Allie Webb presented “Petroglyphs in Paradox Valley, Colorado.” Her presentation described various types of rock art left behind by the “Ancient Ones” along the escarpment of Paradox Valley in southwestern Colorado. The petroglyphs are in the formation of Fremont, Anasazi, and Ute that incorporated a variety of anthropomorphic figures, totems, clan symbols, maps, and panels that relay the mythology among these people groups. Webb has spent three field sessions in Paradox Valley excavating an Anasazi rock shelter and recording petroglyph sites.

Emma-Leigh Evors, a senior anthropology/archaeology major, has spent two field seasons excavating in Colorado and exhibited her work in a presentation titled “Eagle Rock Shelter along the Gunnison River.” Situated along the Gunnison River, the site of her excavation has produced material that dates from approximately 14,000 B.P. (before present).

Lee senior Samuel Rumschlag’s presentation displayed how discoveries have demonstrated this site to be unique, including the discovery of the earliest known evidence of corn domestication in the Americas. Through a detailed discussion of this site’s groundbreaking discoveries, his research highlighted just how important the Eagle Rock Shelter site has been in revolutionizing our understanding of the Native Americans who occupied it.

Lee alumna Erin Williamson (‘12) recently completed her master’s in cultural anthropology at University College London (UCL) in London, UK. Her presentation was based on her thesis on serpent handlers in Tennessee. Her paper titled, “Becoming Famous in Appalachia: What to do When Your Informants Get Noticed,” examined the roles which anthropologists must navigate while conducting ethnography of traditional practices in modern societies. The narrative stems from Williamson’s personal experience conducting ethnographic research in Appalachia among a small group of fundamentalist Christians that follow a century-old tradition of handling venomous snakes in the context of worship.

The anthropology program at Lee University includes cultural studies, archeological excavation and curation, and linguistics. Murl Dirksen, a member of the anthropology faculty, commented about the high quality of research that anthropology students at Lee are conducting. “Our anthropology students have access to research projects that interface with the best universities and organizations in the world. They learn in the field what anthropology is all about and develop skills that make them uniquely situated to succeed in graduate school and prospective careers.”

For more information about the Southern Anthropological Society visit For more information about Lee’s anthropology program, contact Dirksen at

Pictured here are Lee SAS presenters (left to right) Emma Leigh Evors, Allie Webb and Sam Rumschlag.