Student Perspective: Alex Taylor

By
Alex Taylor
I am a senior double majoring in Chemistry and Archaeology at JHU (Class of 2018). As a freshman, I took a course on Cypriot Archaeology, fell in love, and never looked back. Outside of archaeology, I have research experience in gilded silver conservation and organic photochromic polymer synthesis. My interest lies in approaching art through a scientific lens – the two aren’t all that different sometimes! This project excites me because it is a great opportunity to use both science and art to answer a pretty unique question.
Alex Taylor (far right) with (from left) Kate Gallagher, Thaara Sankar and Meg Swaney

Alex Taylor (far right) with (from left) Kate Gallagher, Thaara Shankar and Meg Swaney

Chemistry and archaeology don’t fit together often, but this project was a dream opportunity for me to use both of my major passions to approach the same problem. Over two years, I was able to learn from the students and professionals that were a part of this project as we worked to uncover the faces of history. I gained a new appreciation for how museum conservators and curators approach artifacts and exhibits by being a part of that process. This hands-on experience took me above and beyond my classroom learning and gave me a chance to take an active role in my interests. From this project I experienced the multifaceted approach to reconstructing, not only the face, but also the story of these individuals and how they came to be at the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum today.

An essential aspect of this project is the respectful and ethical stewardship of the remains. Throughout these two years, I learned how essential this consideration is and I learned how we, as members of the project, can set a good example for future projects. Personally, I reflect on how my approaches to research and material culture have changed because of our work. This project was the most valuable experience of my time at Hopkins and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to participate and see the research to the end.