Excerpt from the Collegian:
Baughan will research and write the final chapters of her coming book. Her work is the first comprehensive study of funeral couches and their social and cultural significance in the area that is now Turkey.
Baughan said ancient funeral couches were burial places and made of stone to replicate wooden furniture of the type used during Greek and Roman antiquity.
The funeral beds Baughan researches replicate the wooden couches that were used for dining. This type of burial was popular when Anatolia was part of the Persian Empire.
Baughan became interested in the couches during an excavation near Turkey. The work gave her the idea for her thesis about funerary couches in Anatolia.
The couches had never thoroughly been collected and studied, and Baughan said she wanted to research where the idea for funeral couches came from and its significance.
“My focus is on the origins and significance [of couches] as a marker of elite and cultural identity,” she said.
People would recline while eating at banquets, so Baughan said she thought the couches might signify the belief that one continues banqueting after death, or that the couches may have identified the dead as people who had been elite enough to attend banquets.
Before Baughan’s work, it had been argued that the couches must be a Persian custom, but Baughan has researched couches that predate the era of the Persian Empire.
Baughan is in her third year at Richmond and previously taught at Trinity College.
“She’s just a really great colleague to have, a wonderful addition to the department,” Laskaris said. “She does fantastic work and has excited so many students about archaeology. She’s just a delight.”
Baughan’s research began as her dissertation in graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley.
“Since then I’ve just been doing more and more research,” she said. “I applied [for the fellowship] because it’s a research institution that is close by, so I can stay in Richmond with my family but be a part of the academic center, a researcher and a fellow, part of a community of scholars,” she said. “I’ll probably go up once a week to work for the day or stay overnight.”
Part of the application process for fellowships included writing a proposal about the work applicants hoped to accomplish at the center, writing a statement of career goals and submitting recommendation letters. Baughan was notified in December that she had been selected as a fellow.
According to the center’s Web site: “The center will fund proposals that (a) show scholarly promise as indicated by the merits of the project, (b) demonstrate the capability of the researchers to achieve the proposed outcomes as reflected in their academic records, prior publications and supporting letters, and achieve results that will have a broad impact both on the immediate field and on the humanities in general.”
Baughan said she looked forward to working with more professionals in her field of study.
“It’s exciting for me to become a part of this scholarly community,” she said. “From what I understand it’s sort of like a family in that you develop strong bonds with other fellows.”
The fellowship with the center is special because many fellowships in the United States are only open to Americans, but this fellowship is available for international scholars as well, Laskaris said.
Baughan will continue to teach at Richmond after her fellowship.
“Hopefully I can use the funding to take leave to finish my book,” she said. “Then I look forward to getting back to teaching.”