Blog Post

My Introduction!

Hello fellow HASTAC Scholars and the rest of the HASTAC community! This is my second attempt at writing this (took a break, came back and finished, hit "Post" and got asked to login again, *sigh*), but I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself to the rest of you!

My name is Joshua (Josh) Schnell and I am a junior at Michigan State University. I am majoring in Anthropology and Religious Studies and my focus is bioarchaeology and ritual among the ancient Maya, specifically in a mortuary context and super-specifically in the framework of power systems. I am particularly interested in the applications of mapping, GIS, and 3D to archaeology, especially in my area of interest, and am currently working on several research projects involving these technologies.

The Ritual Soundmap Project: Michigan State University Department of Religious Studies. I will be doing another blog post about this project later so I will keep what I say here brief. The project is an ongoing effort between Michigan State University and the Ohio State University to document religious diversity in the midwest via sound. Students enrolled in REL classes at both universities go out to a religious institution in groups (led by a team of undergraduate researchers) as a class assignment to audio record a service. These services are then edited down to a one minute audio clip which are archived with the raw files and hosted on the mapping platform online. Learn more about this project in an upcoming blog post! (Summer 2014 work presented at Network Detroit 2014 and Cyberinfrastructure Days 2014)

Three-dimensional Osteometry: A comparative study of 3D model generation techniques for cranial osteometry: Michigan State University Bioarchaeology Lab, Department of Anthropology. The primary goal of this study is to test the accuracy of two of the most popular techniques for digital osteometry. A sample of crania was digitized using a NextEngine 3D Laser Scanner and 3D models were created with the accompanying ScanStudio HD software. The same crania were then modeled with a photo capture/photo stitching technique using Agisoft PhotoScan Professional software. Standard measurements were taken from each of the models after generation according to major osteometric cranial measurements and subsequently compared to results taken from the original crania using traditional osteometric instruments. 

(Unknown Title) A comparative analysis of ritual landscapes among large, palisaded Mississippian villages: Michigan State University Department of Anthropology. The concept of this project has its roots in the discovery of ritual use associated with a gravel knoll at the Mississippian site of Aztalan, WI. The lead excavator at this site had no prior knowledge of an association between ritual and the presence of gravel at any other large Mississippian villages. I am currently gathering data for a statistical analysis of physiographic attributes and structural layout of 12 other Mississippian sites to investigate whether or not ritual use has any association with the presence of gravel at other sites aside from Aztalan.

Past Projects:

Understanding the Heart of MSU Using Geographic Information Systems: Michigan State University Campus Archaeology Program. (Presented at the 2014 University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF))

When I'm not in the lab or doing research, I get heavily involved with extracurriculars and volunteering. I have been on the eboard of MSU's Anthropology Club for three years now, I am the President of the MSU Paranormal Society (it's actually a lot of fun!), I'm a recruitment ambassador for the College of Social Science at MSU, I am a member of Spartan Board Gamers, I am in my third year working in the MSU Bioarchaeology Lab (where I am doing my osteometry project) as well as my third year interning with the Campus Archaeology Program (where I learn and do GIS work and analysis), and I am an avid hiker/backpacker.

I am excited to get to know all of you, please don't hesitate to say hi or ask me a question!

All my best,




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