What's On @ Otago Museum | Week of 2 December 2019



Q+A with PhD Candidate Jonathan Paige

Place of study
I am a PhD candidate in Anthropology at Arizona State University. in Tempe, Arizona. I focus on the evolution of stone tool technologies. 

Tell us about your visit
I am here in Dunedin thanks to financial support from the Leakey Foundation, working on collecting data for my dissertation project. Archaeologists like me often use stone tool technologies that we find in archaeological sites sort of like bread crumb trails that are used to trace human migrations in the Pleistocene. But, it is unclear how reliable stone tool technologies are for that kind of migration reconstruction. It could be that similarities are likely to happen by chance, or maybe people tend to rapidly change their technologies, making it harder to trace migrations, and cultural relationships.

This project investigates how quickly people tend to change their technologies as they move into new areas, whether those changes tend to erase evidence of cultural continuity, and how often we find similarities between groups that are very distantly related. Part of this involves looking at lithic (stone) technologies relating to the expansion of Polynesian groups across the Pacific.


Why visit Otago Museum?
One of the islands I am hoping to sample is Pitcairn Island. Otago Museum has some of the only archaeological material from Pitcairn recovered from carefully controlled, scientific excavations. The late Peter Gathercole led an expedition to Pitcairn in the ‘60s that was supported by the Bishop Museum in Honolulu and the National Science Foundation. The assemblage is really rich. There are adze preforms, lots of debris from adze making, hammerstones used to make tools, but also evidence of other kinds of tool use, including drills and scrapers.

What do you hope to achieve from your research visit here?
I am hoping to reconstruct a bit of how people made tools at the sites Gathercole investigated. This information is going to be compared to a few other contexts across Oceania to investigate how rapidly people changed their technology across the Polynesian expansion.



Climb inside a pilot sphere and experience the isolation of Cameron’s record-making dive in his DEEPSEA CHALLENGER to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. See the deep-sea specimens he collected there under a microscope, watch rusticles grow, and be intrigued by the effect water pressure has on a polystyrene cup.

James Cameron – Challenging the Deep
$9.50 Children | $14 Concession | $17.50 Adults | $45 Families | Combo tickets available 
Open until 9 February 2020


Pockets of History

Dr Ariane Fenneatux, Associate Professor of the Université de Paris, France, discusses how pockets may seem obscure now, but when restored to our attention, they open up a nexus of historical questions ranging from women’s domesticity to financial independence.

5.30pm, Tuesday 3 December
Barclay Theatre

More information here

Eavesdropping Underwater

Dr Giacomo Giorli and Olivia Price will take you on a journey exploring the science of marine acoustics, the sounds of whales and dolphins, and the chilly business of researching in Antarctica.

5.30pm, Thursday 5 December
Barclay Theatre

More information here

Christmas Mysteries
Planetarium Show

What could the science of astronomy tell us about the Star of Bethlehem? Where did the Mars lander disappear to on Christmas Day? And just how can Santa manage to reach all those good children in one night?

1.30pm daily + 3.30pm weekends
Child $7, Adults $10
Perpetual Guardian Planetarium
Book tickets here

Inside the Nobel

Six short talks presented by university academics, discussing the significance behind each of the 2019 Nobel prizes in their fields of expertise – Peace, Physics, Medicine/Physiology, Literature, Chemistry, and Economics.

5.30pm, Tuesday 10 December
Barclay Theatre

More information here