David Stone is a Government of Ireland Irish Research Council doctoral scholar at the School of Archaeology, University College Dublin. His research focuses on the study of archaeobotanical material from excavations in Azerbaijan dating to the 6th15th centuries. As a Fulbright-Creative Ireland Museum Fellowship student, he conducted research at the Department of Anthropology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC., drawing upon techniques used in leading international museums for the curation and digital archiving of archaeobotanical remains.
What does your research / work do for citizens?
“Archaeobotanical research plays a prominent role in world archaeology and is paramount to the understanding and interpretation of many aspects of life in past societies, including subsistence strategies, diet, agricultural practices, plant husbandry and can also reveal information on the function of archaeological structures, food production, processing techniques and the evolution of societies and their hierarchies.”
What problem are you trying to solve?
“My aims was to collaborate with establish guidelines of best practice for the curation and storage of environmental remains from archaeological investigations and establish codes of practice for best practice procedures and systems for display, storage, preservation and digital communication of this material, addressing current issues in archaeological practice in both the Republic of Ireland and the Republic of Azerbaijan.”
Where did you go on your Fulbright Award and why?
“For the duration of my Fulbright Creative Ireland Museum Fellowship I was based at the Anthropology Department at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. The Smithsonian Institute is the largest museum, education, and research complexes in the world and the leader in the field of protecting and preserving national heritage. The institution curates over 150 million artefacts, works of art and specimens, maintains 10 million digital records and curates over one square kilometre of world class archaeobiological collections, including some of the earliest domesticated plants and animals in both the New and Old Worlds.”
What were the chief learnings from you Fulbright Award? What are you able to do better now?
“Working in the Anthropology Department was a truly rewarding experience. Collaborating with the museum experts there provided me with valuable hands on experience in the curation and archiving of plant materials and insights into implementing best practice procedures on archaeological investigations. My time at the Smithsonian NMNH has also revealed new paths of research for me and has linked me with other experts in related fields throughout the world.”
What have been the highlights of your Fulbright experience so far?
“My experience with Fulbright has been absolutely amazing both professionally and personally. I have not only had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s leading environmental specialists, curators and archaeologists at the Smithsonian Institute, but through Fulbright Ireland I have met some of the most academically impressive and motivational people from different Irish institutions and from many different disciplines here at home. This Fulbright community links the best of Irish researchers and scholars with world leading institutions and provides interesting and exciting opportunities for collaborations in the future.”