Charles A. Reed— 1985 Pomerance Award for Scientific Contributions to Archaeology

Award Citation:

Charles A. Reed, as an old friend and colleague recently mused, is a kind of scholar they don't make any more: the complete natural historian. On excavations in his native Oregon, as archaeozoologist on missions to the Near East and Turkey, and as director of the Yale Expedition to Nubia, Charles Reed has exemplified the spirit of interdisciplinary research, bringing the resources of biology and a generous measure of common sense to bear on archaeological problems.

His publications display at every turn the enormous diversity of his interest, skills, and training. An undergraduate degree in history and geography led via doctoral studies in zoology to university appointments in biology, zoology, anatomy, pharmacology and pharmacognosy, and most recently anthropology. Following service as Curator of Mammals and Reptiles at Yale's Peabody Museum (1961-1966) he moved to Chicago and soon assumed duties as the first head of the Department of Anthropology at the University of lllinois at Chicago, where he holds the rank of Professor Emeritus today.

The range of Charles Reed's publications is staggering: golden hamsters feed happily with australopithecines on his curriculum vitae. Among members of the AIA, he is best known for his pioneering contributions to the Iraq-Jarmo Project of the Oriental institute of the University of Chicago. It was at Jarmo that he shared in the development of the very model of the modern archaeozoologist. At a time when field archaeologists in the Near East considered their duty done when they had brought a few examples of animal bones back home for analysis in isolation from their cultural and ecological contexts, Reed chose instead to follow the diggers into their trenches, to organize the collection of bone and to control processing, and, most important, to interact decisively in establishing the goals of archaeological research and its design.

Charles Reed's method of research was comparative from the beginning. He built a corpus of modern species; he interviewed hunters on their butchery practices; he examined the behavior of animals in their natural habitats; and in ·spare moments he raised turtles in the excavation bathtub and penned poetry. Early in his tenure at Jarmo, Reed rejected the commonly held assumption that sheep and goats found at Neolithic sites were obviously by definition domestic and, with this adventuresome step, opened the doors to years of fruitful research ahead. He himself noted that an animal was judged "domestic" either on the basis of "identifications made by local laborers ... or upon the archaeologist's intuitive feeling as to where the site should be placed on a chronological chart ... " The search for objective criteria for distinguishing wild from domestic species led him to consider still more complex issues: environmental reconstruction, problems of sampling and recovery, animal ethnology, and ultimately the motivations for: the adoption of an agricultural life.

Friends and students of Charles A. Reed know him also as a man of irrepressible spirit and bountiful good will, and most deserving of this award which we bestow on him today. Always eager to share his vast knowledge and experience with a younger generation of archaeologists, he continues to evidence in his publications today the same breadth and scope that have always given him that special interdisciplinary perspective. Nor has he retreated from the still lively debates nurtured under his tutelage. The Origins of Agriculture (1977) and Prehistoric Archaeology along the Zagros Flanks (1983) will remain required reading for many years to come.

 

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