Celebrate Women’s History Month with Prehistoric Finds from Special Collections

This blog post was authored by Shyla Banar and Samantha McCormack, interns in the Library’s Special Collections unit from the UTC Department of Anthropology in Fall 2018 and Spring 2019.

March is Women’s History Month! To celebrate, we’ll explore the diverse roles of women in Mesoamerica and South America by sifting through material culture from Special Collections. These unique archaeological finds show us how women may have been depicted in the pre-Columbian era and hint at roles they played. Artifacts featured in this post are from the George and Louise Patten collection of Salem Hyde papers and cultural artifacts housed in Special Collections, which is located on the 4th floor of the UTC Library in room 439.

Pre-Columbian hollow ceramic bust of a woman with minimal facial features. Courtesy of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Collections.

Pre-Columbian hollow ceramic bust of a woman with minimal facial features. Courtesy of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Collections.

Figurines

Valdivian female figurines have been found in a variety of contexts all along the coast of Ecuador. Some have been found in important burials while others have been found in piles on the floor. A lot of them have been found in food preparation areas as well as in front of hearths, which are both typically associated with women during this period. The main portion of the figure is formed by pushing two rods of clay together. The hair, which is often elaborately styled, is formed separately and added on like a slab of clay. Most of these ceramic figurines appear to be female with prominent breasts and voluptuous bodies (The Metropolitan Museum of Art).

Pre-Columbian solid figure depicting a human head. Courtesy of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Collections.

Pre-Columbian solid figure depicting a human head. Courtesy of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Collections.

 

Pre-Columbian solid figure depicting a human head. Courtesy of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Collections.

Pre-Columbian solid figure depicting a human head. Courtesy of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Collections.

 

Small pre-Columbian ceramic figurine depicting a woman with a large headdress compared to the body. Courtesy of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Collections.

Small pre-Columbian ceramic figurine depicting a woman with a large headdress compared to the body. Courtesy of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Collections.

 

Pre-Columbian ceramic figure depicting the head and partial torso of a female, indicated by a breast. Courtesy of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Collections.

Pre-Columbian ceramic figure depicting the head and partial torso of a female, indicated by a breast. Courtesy of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Collections.

Vessels

Women were also largely involved with agriculture as well as food preparation. Vessels like this one were often used for storing and cooking food as well as possible water transportation. Many others were painted and decorated according to the artistic style of the period and culture and may have been decorative rather than functional. These decorated ones were possibly used for ceremonial purposes or in burials.

Pre-Columbian vessel with a pedestal base. Courtesy of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Collections.

Pre-Columbian vessel with a pedestal base. Courtesy of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Collections.

Spindle Whorls

Large quantities of ceramic spindle whorls with delicate incised or carved designs, are evidence of widespread textile production (The Metropolitan Museum of Art). Spindle whorls, or malacates in both Spanish and Nahuatl, are perforated disks used in the production of spun fiber. Handspinning involves a wooden spindle and whorl, with the whorl acting as a flywheel to maintain inertia when the spindle is given a sharp twist. Ethnohistoric accounts also suggest a symbolic role in the construction of female identity. Spindles and whorls were presented to baby girls during their bathing ceremony. The principal deities of the Mother Goddess complex were closely affiliated with spinning and weaving as symbolic of sexual reproduction and also female production. As diagnostic attributes of their costumes they wore spindles, whorls and spun fiber stuck into their hair and headdresses. Interestingly, prestigious women from the Mixteca de la Costa weaving town of Jamiltepec, Oaxaca, are known today as “malacateras” (loosely translated as “spinners”), and they continue to wear spindles in their hair” (S. McCafferty and G. McCafferty, 1991).

Pre-Columbian Manteno spindle whorls or beads with incised designs on them. Courtesy of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Collections.

Pre-Columbian Manteno spindle whorls or beads with incised designs on them. Courtesy of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Collections.

 

Pre-Columbian ceramic spindle whorls. Courtesy of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Collections.

Pre-Columbian ceramic spindle whorls. Courtesy of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Special Collections.

References

Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. Valdivia Figurines. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved February 20, 2019. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/vald/hd_vald.htm

McCafferty, G. (n.d.). Spindle Whorls. University of Calgary. Retrieved February 20, 2019. https://antharky.ucalgary.ca/mccafferty/cholula-mexico/material-culture/spindle-whorls.


“A New Institution with A Running Start”: Celebrating 50 Years of UTC Exhibition on Display

Did you know that this summer will mark the 50th anniversary of the merger that created the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga? On July 1, 1969 the Agreement of Merger and Plan of Transition uniting the University of Chattanooga and the University of Tennessee went into effect and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga was born.

Learn more about this merger, UTC’s predecessor institutions, and the changing campus landscape over the years by visiting the Roth Grand Reading Room located on the 4th Floor of the UTC Library. There you will find an exhibition of materials from Special Collections that document UTC’s growth and development into the vibrant and engaged metropolitan university it is today.

Alumni Memorial Gateway on McCallie Avenue, circa 1950s

Alumni Memorial Gateway on McCallie Avenue, circa 1950s

Aerial view of campus, circa 1960s

Aerial view of campus, circa 1960s


New 2018 Palgrave Humanities and Social Sciences Ebooks!

The UTC Library now has access to over 2,500 Palgrave Macmillan ebooks from 2018 in the following disciplines:

  • Behavioral Science and Psychology
  • Business and Management
  • Economics and Finance
  • Education
  • History
  • Literature, Cultural and Media Studies
  • Political Science and International Studies
  • Religion and Philosophy
  • Social Sciences

Full Title List   Access Palgrave Books and More on SpringerLink

Here are a few interesting titles from this collection:


Faculty Workshop Series

The UTC Library is pleased to offer a new series of workshops this semester, focusing on topics of interest to faculty. The series will cover scholarly identity and scholarly communication topics such as author rights, open access, open educational resources, identity management and identity management tools. While the workshops were designed with faculty in mind, graduate students and other researchers are welcome to attend all workshops. The complete list of workshops

Authorship & Agency in Scholarly Communication
You’ve done the hard work of research and writing, now learn how to care for those works as they go out into the world! We will explore author rights and other copyright concerns, as well as what to consider when choosing venues for publication.
Wednesday Feb 20, 1:00-1:30, LIB Room 205
Thursday Feb 21, 11:00-1:30, LIB Room 205

Measuring & Maximizing Research Impact
Develop a more holistic vision of measuring research impact through the exploration of both traditional and alternative resources in addition to learning helpful tips for maximizing exposure to your research.
Wednesday March 6, 11:00-11:50, LIB Room 205
Thursday March 7, 11:00-11:50, LIB Room 205

Managing Your Scholarly Identity
Learn more about ORCiD (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) and how to manage your scholarly identity. We will explore what author identity means, how ORCiD supports scholarship, and provide assistance in setting up and updating an ORCiD account.
Wednesday March 20, 1:00-1:30, LIB Room 204
Tuesday March 26, 11:00-11:30, LIB Room 204

Introduction to OER
Find out more about Open Educational Resources (OER) and the Open Education movement in this workshop. We will cover where can you find OER materials, why use OER, how to create OER, and what is Open Pedagogy.
Thursday, April 4. 11:00-11:30, LIB Room 205
Friday April 5, 1:00-1:30, LIB Room 205

These brief workshops are designed to fit in to your busy schedule, we hope you can attend!
If you have suggestions for topics to cover in future faculty workshops, please let us know!


Civil Rights Movement in Chattanooga Exhibition Opening and Panel Discussion

Join us for the opening of “We Demand an End to Racism!”: The Civil Rights Movement in Chattanooga, an exhibition authored by students in Professor Eckelmann Berghel’s Modern Civil Rights Struggle class in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) Department of History in Fall 2018. Student curators will participate in a panel discussion to discuss their process and themes, including integration in public schools and universities, youth activism, white opposition to the Civil Rights Movement, and Black Power through the lens of the Chattanooga community.

Date: Thursday, February 21, 2019

Time: 3:05 PM to 4:20 PM

Location: UTC Library, Southern Writers Room (LIB 440)

This event is open to the public and light refreshments will be provided courtesy of the Department of History. To learn more about the exhibition and the students’ interpretation read our Notes on an Exhibition series.

Howard High School students protesting at the S. H. Kress department store in Downtown Chattanooga in February 1960.


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