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Amanda Shero Granstrom '01
October 13, 2016
It was 1999 and I had to petition to get into the Archaeoastronomy course, as I was the only sophomore in a class of juniors and seniors (and a bit naive). I remember one of the first assignments we had to complete: Professor Aveni took us all to see the replica of Copan Stela B in Alumni Hall and asked us what we could see … and everyone had an answer but me! It was all just a jumble of impressions to me, but after a few more weeks of one of the most challenging classes I have ever taken, the imagery finally coalesced into artistic understanding! I was hooked! That semester I pored over the art in Kerr’s Maya Vase archives and Graham’s Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions every chance I got, which pulled me into writing about the imagery and astronomy of God K for many years to follow. The trip portion of the class just reinforced my love of Mayan art and culture by seeing it with my own eyes, and traveling to the jungle for the first time changed my “worldview” forever! I went on to do a summer of cave archaeology in Belize, independent language study at Colgate, and was the proud teaching assistant for the class and trip in January 2001. I returned to travel with the group again in 2003 and 2007. In 2004 & 2005 I spent the summers learning the Yucatec Maya language in Mexico and went on to get my Masters in Cultural Anthropology at the University at Buffalo. Throughout my time studying the Maya, Tony was a constant inspiration: his patience, his critical observations, the depth of his knowledge, his dedication to his students’ education, his warmth and witty humor and especially his ability to point out that which we do not know. But what I learned most was the way he challenged all of us to think about the motivations of humans in the past, to see not just the evidence but the reason, the WHY behind the art, behind the buildings, what the life of a Mayan person might have been like and how it drove everything that they did and built.
…and of course, the re-introduction of “the asshole glyph” (…and I won’t say any more because you students all know what I mean…!)
Although I am now a professional artist and no longer in academia, these lessons have stayed with me and made me the person I am today. Participating in Tony’s coursework and travel was one of the highlights of my Colgate education and I am thankful to this day. Have a wonderful retirement Tony and Lorraine, full of travel and joy!