New Project in Oklahoma!


Sarah Trabert recently joined a team of archaeologists from the Oklahoma Archaeological Survey, University of Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State University in the investigation of the Deer Creek Site, a fortified ancestral Wichita site.

Excavating a fortification ditch at Deer Creek

Deer Creek dates to the mid-18th century when many Native peoples, such as Wichita, had very complex relationships with French and Spanish explorers as well as other neighboring tribes. Deer Creek is one of only a few fortified sites on the Southern Plains where Native peoples built a series of ditches, ramparts, and possibly wooden walls to protect their villages.

The Deer Creek site had not been previously excavated by professional archaeologists and had been covered in a dense forest for the past three decades. Our team worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (land owners), the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes, and the Oklahoma Anthropological Society to decide how best to test the site.

Broken iron hoe


The dense forest on the site presents challenges to archaeological investigation and at the same time could be damaging the cultural deposits under the surface. A primary goal of our 2016 work was to determine whether the tree roots were harming the integrity of the site. We chose to test several areas of the site including part of one fortification ditch and trash mounds to see how deeply buried the materials were and if they were being harmed.

We discovered a number of very interesting artifacts including bone tools (bison scapula hoes), projectile points and hide scrapers, pottery sherds, pipes, beads, and an iron hoe.

We also found that roots were impacting the site—roots have moved artifacts, they’ve grown through bone artifacts, and disturbed underground features such the trash pits.

Root activity at the site

We only excavated a very small portion of the site and have not completed our analysis. We’ll be posting more updates as the analysis continues.

Exciting news!  We have received permission to hold the next University of Oklahoma Archaeological Field School at Deer Creek—more information will be coming. Stay tuned!

Empathy Guesthouse

As I had come to Korea well before the semester was set to begin (March 3rd), I had ample time and little idea what to do with it.  My Korean friend with whom I’d planned spending most of my time ended up being much busier than he had originally thought.  Now I had three weeks in Daegu and was unsure what to do.  Last summer, I had stayed in Empathy Guesthouse in downtown Daegu, and they’d just opened a new branch- Empathy Dongseongno Hostel. I decided to stay there.

When I stepped through the entrance to the hostel, the staff immediately recognized me, greeting me with warm smiles.  I felt like I was already at home even though I’d never been to this location before.  I was shown to my dormitory-style room, where I rested after a day of travel.  That night, I was feeling a little bored and a little lonely.  Then, I heard a knock on my door. The staff invited me to share their dinner.  A little effort on both sides to communicate in a mixture of English, Korean, and Spanish led to some fun conversations assisted by the ample use of body-language.

During my three weeks at Empathy Dongseongno, I was treated like a member of their family.  We ate, drank, played games, and even went on a day trip to Andong.  The Empathy staff showed true generosity to me when I was going through a rather difficult time and were patient with my shyness.  They pushed me to practice my Korean so that we could better communicate.  I visited a couple times during my semester and also attended a presentation by a former North Korean dancer who used to perform at parties there.

While talking with some of the guesthouse staff, I learned more about the fact that Empathy Guesthouse was founded by the Center for North Korean defectors and that twenty percent of its profits go toward supporting resettlement programs.  Empathy Guesthouse is a social enterprise, which refers to a company that sells or produces goods or services as a means to raise the local community’s quality of life by providing jobs or social services to vulnerable members of society.  On top of that, Empathy SEEDS works to increase tourism and international exchange in Daegu. After learning about these efforts, I began to appreciate this enterprise and my new family even more.

 If you find yourself in Daegu, be sure to stay at Empathy!  

Global Standards of Beauty

Modeling at Daegu Arts University and Part-time Princess

I’ve never considered myself particularly beautiful.  Of course, there are some features of my appearance that I like more than others, but, overall, I’d consider myself to be quite average … And I’m perfectly content with this.

When I came to Korea, I became aware that my appearance was ‘exotic’.  Strangers would tell me that I was beautiful and inquire as to where I came from.  … This led to some interesting opportunities which I could never have entertained back in the U.S.  At my internship company, I was asked during the interview if I would be okay to model for them.  Thinking it was a joke, I laughingly agreed to the suggestion. A couple of weeks later, I was called upon by my superior to receive free facial treatments which they would record and use for advertisement purposes.

Later, my friend offered to recommend me for a part-time job which she held—acting as a princess in an amusement park.  I just had to smile, hold a sign, and take pictures with guests while dressed as Alice (Alice in Wonderland).  The pay was good, there were free meals and snacks, and the job was actually pretty fun! I am not the type who fantasizes about working as a princess at Disney World or anything of the sort, but I enjoyed the part-time work nonetheless.

Most recently, I met some art students while drinking with friends in downtown Daegu.  They took my contact information and requested for me to be a model for their final projects. Along with two of my French friends, I made my way to the little arts school tucked away in the nearby mountains and modeled in some different outfits and themes.

Never before had I imagined these types of opportunities during my semester abroad in Korea. Modeling and the like  are certainly not an area in which I excel, and I don’t plan on pursuing anything related to that in the U.S. (not that it would even be an option :P) . Either way, these were certainly some memorable experiences.

Second First Impressions

Landing for the second time at ICN, I carried with me memories of my previous summer, expectations for the coming 5 months, and two giant suitcases.  As I wandered out from customs, I was bewildered again by my surroundings.  All of my senses were bombarded at once, so much that I didn’t even notice the face of my friend who had taken time out of his busy schedule to surprise me. Having a friend with me immediately removed my stress of having to navigate my way to the guesthouse alone. Instead, I could enjoy the taxi ride and take in the sights of Seoul.

My next few days in Seoul, I saw the city through new eyes.  What had before seemed hectic and crowded was now a beautifully orchestrated performance –each person had a role to fill and a place to go.  But what was my role? Where did I fit in?  These are questions that many foreigners ask ourselves as we try to find our place in Korean society.  The former Joseon ‘hermit nation,’ which has become increasingly friendly to Western foreigners, is a precarious place to reside.  As foreigners—waygookin—we may never succeed to become ‘Korean,’-but- nor will we be held to the same standards as Koreans.  Many western foreigners residing in Korea find freedom in this. I am beginning to navigate my way through the language and culture and hope to learn many new things during my time here.

David C. Lindberg. “Theories of Vision from Al-Kindi to Kepler.” Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976.

Thesis: The history of optics up to Kepler incorporate three prevailing traditions: the medical, philosophical, and mathematical, all of which were given more prominence or less prominence depending on the place and time. And significantly, all three of these were integrated together quite masterfully in the work of the Islamic scientist, Alhazen, who established the conceptual framework employed by Johannes Kepler.

Critique: Lindberg privileges the intellectual, scientific ideas over the social situations.

David Lindberg’s Theories of Vision from Al-Kindi to Kepler is the standard textbook for the history of optics. I suspect any book that addresses the history of optics will undoubtedly cite Lindberg at some point in the opening sections, indicating the prominent position of the book in the field. Historiographically, the issue which Lindberg addresses in this book is the relationship between the medieval and early modern period for the history of optics, and as a result the significance of Johnnes Kepler. As it becomes clear, while Kepler’s theory of the retina is certainly an achievement in the history of optics, of greater importance is the achievement of the medieval Islamic character Alhazen. As Lindberg argues, much of Kepler’s theory of optics is appropriated from Alhazen. Although the book itself is organized into distinct epochs, there is an internal structure which evidences four distinct sections: Ancient Optics, Islamic Optics, and Perspective Optics, Kepler’s Optics. My review will be organized around these four topics after first addressing the interpretive assumptions Lindberg makes.

To best appreciate Lindberg’s book, one must consider his methodological choices, of which he points out two. The first is that he has chosen a linear history, even at the risk of creating a Whig interpretation. The second is that he has provided an interpretation of the Arabic sources without a reading knowledge of Arabic. In addition to these, I also think a third methodological choice may be included: he has consciously avoided all psychological and epistemological aspects to the story in an attempt to keep his narrative from getting out of hand (p. X). In addition to these two (or three) methodological choices, one must also consider the way in which Lindberg has framed the question. In the Introduction Lindberg indicates that there were two fundamental issues for the field of optics: the nature and propagation of light and the process of visual perception. His book addresses the second question, and he suggests that the first question, regarding the nature of light, is essentially addressed in the process of understanding visual perception (p. X). I will have more to say about these methodological assumptions at the end of the review, but suffice it to say at the moment that Lindberg’s approach is endemic of the history of science in the 1970s, a time in which the scientific ideas themselves were given more prominence than the social circumstances in which the ideas originated.

The first section of the book, contained to chapter 1, addresses the ancient background to optics. In his analysis there were three strands of ancient optics: medical (Galen), physical-philosophical (Aristotle, Plato, Epicurus), and mathematical (Euclid, Hero, Ptolemy). Each of these strands approached the topic of optics in a way that fit their respective discipline. The medical individuals, essentially Galenists, studied optics in a manner deeply dependent on the theory of humors in the eye. The mathematicians, largely influenced by Euclid, studied sight as a geometrical problem of sight. And the philosophers, widely divergent in the ancient period, understood optics in a manner fitting with their own philosophical interests, such as the differences between Plato and Aristotle. Despite the fact that these three strands of optics are only minimally covered in Lindberg’s book, they become an information reprise that he continues to return to throughout the book, assessing the reception of these various strands as well as their interpretation.

The second section, chapters 2-4, is an analysis of the Islamic background to optics, mainly in the work of al-Kindi, Alhazen, and Avicenna, during the 9th-10th centuries. The main focus of this section is the divide between those favoring extromissionism and those favoring intromissionism. Thus, he demonstrates al-Kindi’s difficulty with the intromissionist view, citing al-Kindi’s Euclidian argument that a circle is perceived with respect to geometric rays and not in its entire form (p. 23). The most interesting aspect of Lindberg’s understanding of al-Kindi is the fact that Lindberg indicates the way in which al-Kindi interprets Euclid through the lens of Galen, especially since al-Kindi understands sight as the transformation of the ambient air caused by the visual power of the eye, an important aspect of Galen’s theory of vision (p. 31). However, in his narrative about the development of optical theory, it was not until Ibn Ishaq, with his “Ten Treatises on the Eye” and “Book of the Questions of the Eye” that Galenic theories of vision entered Islam (p. 34). Despite the fact that early on extromissionism was the prevailing view of optics in the Islamic world, it certainly was not uniform. It received the biggest critique by Avicenna, who favored intromissionism, and was later further expounded upon and defended by Averroes (p. 50-54). Thus, in Lindberg’s narrative, the role of Avicenna is quite significant for increasing the widespread acceptance and propagation of intromissionism.

Yet, within the Islamic world, the principle figure for Lindberg is that of Alhazen, who comes to stand for the drawing together the separate disciplinary stands: mathematica, philosophical, and medical. For instance, although his perspective on optics was that of intromissionism, similar to Avicenna, his justification was significantly different. It was fundamentally based on the fact that a point on a surface of a body radiates in all directions. Radically different than previous intromissionist theories, such a theory derived a visual process based on the independent or incoherent sources of radiation, thereby incorporating the medical, mathematical, and philosophical into one consistent theory (p. 67). And, as Lindberg later indicates, the significance of Alhazen is largely on account of the fact that much of Kepler’s theory of optics may be understood as utilizing the “conceptual framework” which Alhazen instituted (p. 86).

In the third section, chapters 5-8, Lindberg turns his attention toward the way western Europeans incorporated optics, all of which was significantly influenced by the optics of Alhazen. It is noticeable, though, that the traditions of optics subtly changed during the medieval period. The philosophical and mathematical traditions still existed, but in place of the medical tradition there arose a theological tradition of optics, such as what is evidenced by Peter of Limoges. A significant cause that Lindberg attributes to such a shift in emphasis was the rise of universities and the increased focus on Aristotelian natural philosophy, with its focus on ontology. Lindberg even goes so far as to suggest that this contributed to a waning in optical development during the period (p. 144). Yet, despite the “staleness” in optical development that Lindberg attributes to the schoolmen of the late medieval period, he also recognizes the role of the perspective artists in furthering optical thinking. Many of these figures, though, only receive a passing mention – nothing compared to what the previous intellectual giants had received.

The crowning achievement of Lindberg’s narrative is Johannes Kepler, in his Ad Vitellionem paralipomena (1604). As mentioned, Lindberg goes to great lengths to indicate the way in which Kepler employs an analytic similar to that of Kepler. Similar to Alhazen, Kepler utilized the uniform punctiform analysis of sight in which visual rays have a one-to-one correspondence between the eye and the perceived object. Such a distinction is important for Lindberg’s narrative. In contrast to other historians, such as Crombie and Straker, who recognized Kepler essentially as a mechanical philosopher, and thus in contrast to the medieval period, Lindberg is working to recognize him as in close relationship to the medieval tradition. As he states, “that his [Kepler] theory of vision had revolutionary implications, which would be unfold in the course of the seventeenth century, must not be allowed to obscure the fact that Kepler himself remained firmly within the medieval framework…Kepler presented a new solution (but not a new kind of solution) to a medieval problem, defined some six hundred years earlier by Alhazen” (p. 207-208). Thus, while Kepler’s understanding of the retina is significantly different than that of Alhazen, his utilization of geometric rays in analysis is quite similar to Alhazen’s own analysis.

Overall I think Lindberg’s book has much for which it ought to be commended. For instance, prior to the book there had hardly been a study of optics that covered such a vast amount of information, integrating not only a western perspective but also that of the Islamic world as well. And, the plethora of quotations and diagrams throughout the book made it an indispensable aid for understanding the history of optics, a field which can be rather technical at times. In addition to this, Lindberg admirably addresses one of the most important matters in the history of optics – the role of Kepler – and provides a convincing explanation as to why Kepler ought to be understood as operating within the medieval tradition of optics.

However, nearly forty years since its original publication, the style of narrative and methodological approach which Lindberg established is quite telling. For instance, it is clear, from beginning to end, that Lindberg is most interested in the technical developments which were occurring within optics and that he privileges the formulaic and textual progression of the discipline throughout time and place, as texts, theories, and ideas are subtly transformed. He is significantly less interested in the social contexts of these transformations, a concern that has become quite important for historians since the 1980s. As a result, the biggest critique I have is that he has overemphasized the ideas of science and their transformation to the detriment of the social (perhaps sometimes epistemological and psychological) contexts in which the matters were discussed. Optics is a discipline that may be studied from a variety of perspectives, in part because it involves a variety of questions and issues, some of which are more scientifically technical others of which are more psychological and epistemological. But, to divorce the two is certainly to do injustice to the topic at hand.

Nevertheless, Lindberg’s assessment is certainly correct, the historian is only able to address so much at once and certainly has to make methodological decisions which affect the content. One might wonder, though, what fascinating narratives will develop when the psychological and epistemological are not limited. This is something I hope to address in my dissertation.

Remembering A Wonderful Person

I always remember Ellen Jayne’s nice smile and her kindness. She was always interested in me to attend the Women’s Fellowship Group 1, which she was the leader. I will miss her very much.

When I Was A Student in College

Soon after I became a college student, I found out the Ellen Jayne was a professor at the same university that I was attending, Oklahoma City University. My mother and I asked her what she was teaching, and she talked about the courses she taught. And we asked her about certain general education courses that […]

My Love for Ellen Jayne

I have so many wonderful memories about Ellen Jayne. From the moment my husband, Craig and I started dating one of the first places he took me was to meet Dr. Wheeler and Ellen Jayne. She always refered to me and treated me as a daughter. There was no such thing as a bad day […]

Dancing Queen

Besides having the pleasure of attending the Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert with Ellen Jayne and George, my favorite memory is getting to share dancing moments at Ingrid’s Restaurant. She and George covered the dancefloor with smooth moves and a lot of smiles. George even coaxed my husband and I out on the dance floor to join them. Some other times I was honored to share moments with Ellen Jayne were family gatherings/celebrations. We watched fireworks together at Paige and Keegan’s home in Norman several times. EJ watched them and responded as though it was the first time she had seen them. She leaned against a very tall George and oohed and awed with great excitement. Ellen Jayne was a wonderful inspirational person! I will cherish her memories forever.

A Nice Time At Her House

One day about 10 years ago a few fellow church members and I were at her house for some food and fellowship. I think we ate lunch and then we sang some songs while she played the piano. It was a nice time at her house that I now regret taking for granted. It’s times […]