Pitt Professor Scores Archaeology Coup

By Erdley, Debra | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 17, 2010 | Go to article overview

Pitt Professor Scores Archaeology Coup


Erdley, Debra, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


He isn't Indiana Jones, but the work of University of Pittsburgh professor Jeffrey H. Schwartz could invite comparisons.

Schwartz, a physical anthropologist, is honored in the latest edition of Archaeology magazine for recording one of the field's top 10 finds of 2010. The journal hailed him as leader of a team that debunked a long-held claim of routine infant sacrifice in ancient Carthage.

"To be included on Archaeology's list is quite an honor when you consider the thousands of distinguished archaeologists around the world who work in the field year after year and spend a lifetime analyzing their finds," he said.

Schwartz, 62, of Squirrel Hill worked on digs in Africa, southeast Asia and the American West. He served as forensic consultant on coroners' cases, studied links between humans and apes, and led the team that created life-sized reconstructions of George Washington at ages 19, 45 and 57, displayed at Mount Vernon.

His team's findings on ancient Carthage's Tophet burial ground, located in modern-day Tunisia in north Africa, are the work of a lifetime.

The report, published in February, had its genesis in fieldwork Schwartz did from 1975-79, when he was part of an American team on a United Nations project excavating Tophet.

The burial site contained hundreds of urns containing cremated remains of infants and animals, leading scholars to believe it supported long-held claims of widespread infant sacrifice from the 8th to the 2nd centuries B.C.

But Schwartz wasn't sold.

"I take these things as an intellectual challenge: Are the questions too simple? …

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