Ancient technology for today – WSU News

Long fascinated by early civilizations, Robert Ullerich signed up for a class in ancient art and culture at Washington State University this spring expecting to gain new insights to human history but not ancient skills – surely nothing he could apply in his 21st-century life.

But just finished with his bachelor’s degree and now preparing for graduate school, Ullerich is working in construction and landscaping this summer and using what he learned in his art history course beyond aesthetics to practical matters as well.

In a hands-on lesson about the art of Coptic bookbinding, for example, he learned how ancient people stitched together sheets of papyrus to allow the pages to move while staying aligned. And, as he recently discovered, securing a 120-square-foot landscaping tarp isn’t so different from binding a six-by-nine-inch book.

Whether using silk thread or nylon rope, the stitching techniques are much the same and the measuring, knotting and tying are similar too.

“Before this, I’d probably sewn a button onto a teddy bear once,” said Ullerich, who majored in psychology and minored in fine arts. He now looks for opportunities at work and at home