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Tim Parsons Defends His Dissertation at Florida State University


SOAN Alumnus Tim ParsonsTim Parsons (Millsaps class of 2003) successfully defended his dissertation at Florida State University on November 17, 2010. Tim's dissertation, "Places, Pots, and Kurgans: Patterns of Late Copper Age Settlement and Material Culture Change on the Great Hungarian Plain," examines how material cultures change over time and especially addresses issues of migration and the potential impact of migratory cultures on local material cultures. In his dissertation, Tim concludes that migration is not the best explanation for the changes at the end of the Late Copper Age and that converging interaction spheres can create complex signatures across the archaeological landscape that are the result of independent processes.

While at Millsaps, Tim was president of the Anthropology Club, an R.A., an employee computer services, and a P&W staff member for four years. In 2002, he went with Dr. Michael Galaty to Albania. When asked about his experience at Millsaps, Tim said, "my time in the Sociology and Anthropology Department at Millsaps taught me, more than anything else, the value of critical thinking. The ability to separate the analytical wheat from the chaff, so to speak, is invaluable in every field - but it's especially useful for those of us who choose to continue with higher education and scientific research. This doesn't mean always being right, but it means recognizing flaws in your own thinking and being willing to listen to and learn from other people. You can find knowledge in the most unexpected of places."

Tim started graduate school in 2005 at Florida State University (Department of Anthropology). He chose Florida State for the opportunity to work with Dr. William Parkinson, who specializes in the study of the Copper Age on the Great Hungarian Plain. Tim's interest in Hungarian prehistory began when Dr. Galaty encouraged him to apply to Dr. Parkinson's field school in Hungary in 2001 (The Körös Regional Archaeological Project, or KRAP). After participating in that project and writing a research report with Dr. Galaty on Early Copper Age ceramics, Tim was hooked on the region's prehistory. After he graduated from Millsaps, he returned to Hungary and KRAP as a teaching assistant and research assistant a couple of times and ultimately decided that he wanted to continue his work in Hungary in graduate school.

To conduct his field research, Tim applied for and was awarded a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant. He spent a total of twelve months in Hungary over three years visiting archaeological sites, analyzing ceramics, and mapping sites and burial mounds. Tim says that his "time in Hungary was actually the best part of the whole research experience. Not only did I have the privilege of meeting and learning from world-class researchers and conducting an independent research project, I also made some amazing friends that I'll be in touch with for, hopefully, the rest of my life. My dissertation became more than work for me in that respect, it became an important part of my life. After spending last nine years of my life in and out of Hungary, the people I've worked with are as much my friends as my colleagues. That's a pretty amazing thing that most graduate students don't get to experience, and I'm extremely lucky to have worked with such wonderful people."

Tim is starting the process of locating appropriate post-doctoral and visiting scholar positions, which he will be applying for now that he has finished with his dissertation. The next steps are to find a post-doc, move on to a teaching position at a college or university, and continue his research in Hungary.

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