College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences
Culture, Society and Justice
Students & Alumni
Exploring Ecuadorian Artifacts Exploring Ecuadorian Artifacts
Senior Kristina Cockerille studies unique donated collection from Ecuador at home in Idaho
Idaho archaeologists routinely study remnants of mining camps and 19th century settlements. But, thanks to John Wallace ’78, senior Kristina Cockerille is exploring a more diverse set of artifacts.
Wallace donated a collection of Sarayacu Quichua pottery, masks, textiles, sculptures and tsantsas (shrunken heads used for ritual or trade) he gathered while living and traveling through central Ecuador in the 1980s.
“This collection is a unique set of materials, the scope of which is not widely available in the United States,” said Mark Warner, archaeology professor.
“Collections like this provide researchers a glimpse of people’s material lives and present great hands-on learning opportunities for our students,” Warner said.
Cockerille, an anthropology student from Boise, studied the collection – taking pictures, creating an inventory and learning more about the collection’s unique items.
She and Wallace met to discuss the collection, the artists who designed some of the pieces and the recurring symbolism and themes among many of the items.
“I really like looking at and researching the meaning behind the different motifs,” she said. “The recurring animal motifs show the importance of several indigenous animals.”
Cockerille, who plans to become a forensic anthropologist, has enjoyed working hands on with a contemporary collection, which she believes will help her in graduate school.
“U of I’s anthropology program has so many opportunities to get involved,” she said. “I have developed skills and conducted research in all areas of anthropology.”
Warner expects to display the collection at U of I and give more university students research opportunities.
“I started acquiring these items because I was inspired by their quality and workmanship,” Wallace said. “I hope others will be able to enjoy the work and beauty of this collection.”
Article by Kathy Foss, College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences
Photography by Joe Pallen, Kathy Foss and Kristina Cockerille
Published April 2020