Archaeology and Ancient Beer: New Duckwall Professor Will Excavate Florida’s Past

Professor John Arthur is the recipient of the Frank E. Duckwall Professorship in Florida Studies for 2020-2022.

(May 13, 2020) – Anthropology professor John Arthur has been selected to receive the next Frank E. Duckwall Professorship in Florida Studies. Rotating every two years among tenured College of Arts and Science faculty members, the endowed professorship provides access to approximately $12,500 per year in funding to support research activities, travel expenses and events centered on the study and understanding of Florida.

“I’m extremely excited to receive the Duckwall Professorship in Florida Studies,” Arthur said. “My goal is to contribute to the exceptional faculty who make up the Florida Studies program by bringing in an anthropological and archaeological perspective.”

As an accomplished archeologist, Arthur’s research into shell mounds at St. Petersburg’s Weedon Island Preserve offers students a new setting to appreciate Florida’s ancient history and combines perspectives from multiple fields.

“Archaeological investigations are interdisciplinary in nature and include marine science, environmental studies and sustainability,” Arthur said. “This provides a broad scope of studies for Florida Studies students to begin to unravel important questions related to critical issues such as social interactions, land conservation, environmental change, sea level rise and global warming.”

In addition to his archeological research in Florida, Arthur studies ancient beer. He is currently writing a book on the archeology and ethnography of beer production and consumption across time and geography. Slated to be published by Oxford University Press in 2021, the book will focus on the themes of technology, health, political economy and ritual.

“My book addresses the link between Florida’s craft beer industry with ancient and contemporary beer production,” Arthur said. “This research could add a new dimension to the Florida Studies Program and tie it with the University’s Brewing Arts Program, where I teach the first module on the archaeology and Indigenous knowledge of brewing.”

Duckwall Professors are expected to teach a graduate level course each academic year that deals in a substantive way with Florida, as well as deliver a significant public presentation each spring semester on their Florida-related scholarship undertaken during the year.

Arthur will use the funding to organize the following public events and presentations:

  • “Preserving Our Coastal Heritage” event, focusing on the conservation of coastal archaeological sites from future sea-level rise.
  • “Indigenous Knowledge, Archaeology and Florida’s Future Challenges” event, addressing how archaeology and indigenous knowledge can contribute to solving current issues related to climate change, historic preservation and environmental sustainability.
  • “From Florida Craft Beer to Stonehenge and Beyond” presentation, examining the nexus between Florida craft beer production and ancient and contemporary Indigenous beer production regarding issues of local ingredients, sustainability, technology and innovation.
  • “They Never Left: Daily Life of a Safety Harbor Settlement at the Weedon Island Site” presentation, examining his archaeological discoveries at the Weedon Island site.

The Frank E. Duckwall Professorship, which launched in 1997, is supported by generous donations from the Duckwall Foundation. In past years, the Foundation has helped support maternity programs, performance studios and college scholarships from Polk to Sarasota County and everywhere in between. It has also played a vital role in supporting some of the most innovative and cross-disciplinary research on Florida history and studies.