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Cleveland Archaeological Society 2017-18 Lectures


The Cleveland Archaeological Society (CAS) is a local chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA). Each year, CAS sponsors a series of lectures, which are held at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in the Museum’s Murch Auditorium on the second Wednesday of the month. A reception with coffee, tea, and cookies follows each talk at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History that affords attendees an opportunity to meet and talk with our speaker. An archive of lectures over the past several years can be found here. All lectures are free and open to the public. For directions to the Museum, click here and enter the words “Cleveland Museum of Natural History”.

“Island Kingdoms of Ancient Hawai‘i”
Dr. Mark McCoy, Department of Anthropology, Southern Methodist University
Wednesday, September 13, 2017, 7:30p.m.

The evolution of the archaic form of state society marks a turning point that was fundamental to the creation of modern society. New research suggests the formation of an archaic state in the Hawaiian Islands. This archipelago is so naturally isolated that it remained undiscovered by people until Polynesian voyagers established a new settlement there around AD 1000. By the time of first contact with Europeans, 800 years later, it was home to hundreds of thousands of people governed by independent kingdoms. How did this occur, and what does it tell us about the moment in history when chiefs became kings? In this lecture, Dr. McCoy will outline what we currently know about the creation of these island kingdoms through archaeology and local oral histories, with the goal of explaining why society transformed and what these changes tell us about the larger course of human prehistory.

“Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks: The Archaeology of Hopewell Culture National Historical Park”
Dr. Bret J. Ruby, U.S. National Park Service, Hopewell Culture Historical Park
Wednesday, October 11, 2017, 7:30p.m.

Nearly 2000 years ago, Native Americans built dozens of monumental mounds and earthen enclosures in the valleys of southern Ohio. These earthwork complexes were ceremonial landscapes used for feasts, funerals, and rites of passage associated with an American Indian religious movement that spread to hundreds of communities, linking half the continent. The earthworks are unique and exceptional among ancient monuments worldwide in their enormous scale, geometric precision, and intricate astronomical alignments. Associated ritual deposits contain finely crafted objects fashioned from exotic raw materials obtained from distant parts of North America. Surprisingly, these gigantic sacred places were built and used by societies without hereditary leadership or intensive agriculture. Seven of these earthwork centers are poised for nomination to the UNESCO World Heritage List as “Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks.”This presentation will sketch the history of Hopewell archaeology from its beginnings in the 19th century, through to a recent large-scale, high-resolution magnetic survey completed in collaboration with the German Archaeological Institute. The latest research is revealing a rich record of ritual architecture in the vast spaces between the mounds, including a huge Hopewell “woodhenge” that may have hosted prayerful feasts at the summer solstice.

“Recovering Stories and Histories of Medieval Cambodia: Archaeological Sites and Sculptures at the Cleveland Museum of Art”
Dr. Sonya Rhie Mace, Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art, Cleveland Museum of Art
Wednesday, November 8, 2017, 7:30p.m.

“The Discovery and Conservation of the Red Monastery Church (late 5th c. C.E.), Upper Egypt”
Dr. Betsy Bolman, Department of Art History, CWRU
Wednesday, February 14, 2018, 7:30p.m.
The results of a ten-year conservation project at the Red Monastery church in Upper Egypt have revealed a fabulously dynamic, painted interior with close aesthetic and iconographic ties to major early Byzantine monuments. The church dates to the late fifth century, a formative period in the history of monasticism. It illustrates one of the earliest conjunctions of spectacular monumental architecture and asceticism, a fusion that has become so familiar that it seems natural. Initially, however, the choice to deploy such tools in a desert community of men who had chosen to leave the world behind was a contentious one.

“Archaeological Research at Notion, Turkey”
Dr. Christopher Ratté, Departments of Classics and Art History, University of Michigan
Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 7:30p.m.

Notion is a well preserved and almost completely unexcavated Greek city on the western coast in Turkey. The site was occupied from the early first millennium B.C. until the Middle Ages, and it played an important role in the history of the surrounding region in all periods, from the Ionian migration to the fall of the Roman Empire. The goals of archaeological research at Notion, begun in 2014, are to make a new map of the site and to begin to develop a long-term conservation plan. Notion is an ideal laboratory for the study of the long-term history of a Graeco-Roman city in Anatolia. Archaeological research at the site will contribute valuable new information on major issues of contemporary west Anatolian archaeology and secure the future of this invaluable cultural resource.

“Armed and Dangerous: An Iconography of Protective Ancient Egyptian Daemons”
Dr. Kasia Szpakowska, Department of Classics, Ancient History and Egyptology, Swansea University
Wednesday, April 11, 2018, 7:30p.m.

One of the most obvious characteristics of Middle Kingdom Egyptian iconography is the surfacing of new populations of beings, many of them creatively composite. They appear as both two and three-dimensional images on objects and as figurines themselves. Many are armed with weapons or potent religious icons, seemingly engaged in fierce warrior dances.  During the New Kingdom, mundane household pieces of furniture also began to be decorated with strikingly similar imagery. However, these feature one remarkable transformation that is initially easily overlooked—the beings were depicted as wielding weapons not only in their front or primary limbs, but also on their feet or secondary limbs. This idiosyncrasy is rare not only in Egyptian art but in the religious art of other cultures as well.

The Ancient Egyptians’ goal in creating all these representations in the first place was to make visible and tangible powerful liminal beings capable of efficiently dispatching a range of anxieties, terrors, and afflictions, that troubled them in their everyday life. To make these publicly accessible, our Ancient Egyptian Demonology Project: 2K BC developed an online catalogue. Participants at the lecture will be introduced to this DemonBase: The Imaginal Realm of Ancient Egyptian Supernatural Beings.

CAS Annual Fundraiser “Pompeii from the Bottom-Up: Excavations into the History of Pompeii’s Working-Class Families”
Dr. Steven Ellis, Associate Professor of Classics, University of Cincinnati
Thursday, May 10, 2018, 5:30p.m., The Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Tucked away in a corner of ancient Pompeii lies a largely forgotten corner of the city once packed with houses, restaurants, and workshops. All of them quite humble, their (re)discovery and excavation by the University of Cincinnati’s ‘Pompeii Archaeological Research Project: Porta Stabia’ (PARP:PS) now offers us a rare chance to piece together the livelihoods of Pompeii’s sub-elite. In this presentation we take a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at some of the stories that emerge from these newest directions and latest discoveries in Pompeian archaeology: from the topographic layout of the volcanic landscape prior to earliest human activity, to the discovery of household items under the collapse of the buildings when the city was destroyed in AD 79. This new look at a more ‘plebeian’ Pompeii reveals some of the complexities of Roman social and urban networks, ultimately helping us to determine the role that sub-elites played in the shaping of the ancient city, while also registering their response to city- and Mediterranean-wide historical, political, and economic developments.


General $45, Friend $60, Patron $100
Includes appetizers. Cash bar.
(The cost of the ticket over $35 is tax deductible)

Proceeds Benefit:
The Internship in Archaeology

(This internship fully funds a promising Ohio college student
with interests in archaeology. The selected student works
alongside Cleveland Museum of Natural History
archaeologists in both field and lab techniques.)

Tickets may be purchased by completing the payment form. If you prefer to pay via PayPal, please make a “donation” on the CAS Membership page.

Page last modified: March 8, 2018