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Dean Receives Imagine Fund Award for Research at Marana Mound

Posted by Cassidy Long '17, Joliet, Illinois on Friday, May. 23, 2014


Rebecca Dean, associate professor of anthropology, received a 2014 all-University Imagine Fund Award for research at the Marana Mound archeological site in Marana, Arizona. Her work will focus on the use of animals in ritual and symbolic practices at the site.

Marana is the site of a once-large village, with a distinctive raised platform. The platform, an equivalent to a temple at the time, was an uncommon commodity. People would flock to it, continuing to travel there even after the village was abandoned. While there, they would gather for feasts and ceremonies. Anthropologists have since studied the remains of the site to learn about the years of human habitation.

Dean has been working with animal bones for 20 years. Her interest in these remains stems from the variety of ways in which people interact with and use animals (food, labor, company). According to Dean, the ways in which a person prepares some animals for food, but keep others for pets or sacrifice, can reflect his or her ethnic background and beliefs.

“I am looking at what they were doing there through the lens of the trash that they left behind,” says Dean.

Dean will be working at the Marana Mound site through the summer, identifying and analyzing bones she finds there. She will be writing on her findings after returning to Morris this fall.

This project is supported by generous funding from the University of Minnesota’s Imagine Fund Awards.