Accidental archaeologist: memoirs of Jesse D. Jennings by Jesse David Jennings

By Jesse David Jennings

Few archaeologists have had as nice an influence on American archaeology as Jesse Jennings. A founding father of nice Basin archaeology, professor of anthropology for greater than 40 years, founder and director of the Utah Museum of common background, director of the Glen Canyon salvage
team and such well-known excavations as probability, Hogup, and Cowboy caves, Jesse Jennings is a legend within the archaeological occupation. Opinionated, rough-edged, direct, and insightful, Jennings takes readers from his early life in New Mexico, Baptist university, via graduate institution on the collage of Chicago within the '30s, early expert postings within the Southeast, the conflict years, paintings at the plains, Kaminaljuyu in Guatemala, and directly to his long tenure and influential paintings on the college of Utah as archaeologist and mentor. Jennings concludes his memoirs with a glance on the present perform of archaeology.

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I pondered the matter for a long time, but without great understanding of the situational nuances. Sometime later, another woman, also greatly upset, came over. She had a houseful of children, one of whom was so sick she couldn't leave home, and somehow she had failed to realize she was out of kerosene for her cookstove. It was late in the day, and what could she do? My mother volunteered me to go about four blocks to the neighborhood store and get her some oil. With a five-gallon can and twenty-five cents, I strolled to the store, gave the can and the money to the storekeeper who promptly filled itkerosene, it seems, then being five cents a gallon.

I was, by then, becoming aware of the poverty to which the family had been reduced, and giving everything I earned to my mother seemed entirely reasonable. That pattern continued until I was out of college, and even then I sent small amounts home until about 1950. However, I was allowed to keep some of what I made herding the dairy cattle. With $15 of it I bought a skittish and thoroughly bad-mannered pony which I called Foxy, along with a broken-backed saddle. Neither proved to be a bargain. The saddle created saddle sores, but I didn't know the saddle was at fault; I credited my own ineptitude for them.

Dr. Jennings came to the University of Utah in 1948 from a background of Federal service, of which much was gained as an archaeologist with the National Park Service. He had received his doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1943. At Utah, he was the recipient of a number of academic distinctions, among them the Reynolds and Leigh Lectureships, the Distinguished Professorship he currently holds, and, in 1980, bestowal of the Doctor of Science degree. Furthermore, during his career there he established the Utah Museum of Natural History, developed the Utah Statewide Archaeological Survey, and directed the Glen Canyon Archaeological Salvage Project.

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