The Importance of Cacao at Ancient Copan (Honduras): Ancestor Trees and Fertility
Wednesday, September 17, 2008, 7:30 pm
Professor Cameron McNeil (CUNY/Queens College)
AIA Borowski Lecture
Intensive study of cacao residues and iconography at Copan, Honduras has elucidated the role of this important ancient food in the ritual life of the polity. At Copan, cacao had been found in three Early Classic period royal tombs and one elite burial. The types of food containing cacao appear to have been varied, encompassing more than beverages. By the Late Classic period, cacao iconography was common, appearing on monumental structures, stone sculptures, and ceramics. Through this iconography, cacao is linked to fertility, the rebirth of ancestors, the feminine, and maize. While these same themes are found at other contemporary Maya polities, the presence of all of these associations in one location has not been found at other sites, possibly because so many more excavations have occurred at Copan, or possibly because of Copan’s position on the crossroads between Maya and non-Maya traditions meant that it adopted a range of ancient ritual traditions.
KV-63 — The First tomb found in the Valley of the Kings since King Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered in 1922
Wednesday, October 22, 2008, 7:30 pm
Professor Earl Ertman (Emeritus, University of Akron)
A review of the events leading to the discovery of KV-63 in the Valley of the Kings (Luxor, Egypt), including the varied finds, the process of treatment and the removal of the artifacts to nearby KV-10 for storage, conservation and further study. Coffins, many badly damaged by termites, include four with yellow-painted faces, three of which had descending canthi much like those on some images of Queen Nefertiti and King Tutankhamun. These topics and a general review of the key finds and the plans for the resumption of the work will be discussed.
The Metamorphosis of Ruins for Cultural Identity
Wednesday, November 12, 2008, 7:30 pm
Professor Marcello Barbanera (University of Rome)
AIA Kress Lecture
Ruins are emblematic of transience and yet also of persistence over time. Both dimensions are crucial to understanding the meaning of ruins, which are comprehensible as a historical phenomenon only from a cultural perspective. This presentation will elaborate on how a ruin can be interpreted as an object that speaks to us of the past. Today ruins may seem a matter mostly for archaeology specialists, but they had interpast and a much wider relevance due to their semantic ambiguity; on the one hand they served as metaphors for Roman poets of the vicissitudes of fate or as a symbol of the decay of a universe without God for Christians, while on the other hand they served as a powerful allegory for the rebirth of ancient culture in the Renaissance and beyond.
This talk will explore the perception of ruins from the perspective of ancient Greco-Roman culture to the present, distinguishing the appreciation for ruins among early Humanists from that of the 18th century philosopher Diderot or Marcel Proust in the 20th. It will also consider how one should treat ruins, care for them, study them, and how powerful their meaning has been over the centuries.
Roman Colonies in Asia Minor, with a Focus on Central Turkey
Wednesday, February 11, 2009, 7:30 pm
Visiting Assistant Professor Andrea De Giorgi (Case Western Reserve University)
How Could a Rabbi Bathe in Front of a Naked Statue of Aphrodite?: Living Amidst the Sculptural Landscape of Roman Period Palestine.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009, 7:30 pm
Professor Elise Friedland (George Washington University)
AIA Feinstone Lecture
The Second Commandment demands, “Thou shall not make unto thee any graven images.” Thus, the visual landscape of ancient Palestine, home to Rabbinic period Jews and early Christians, is commonly thought to have been “aniconic” — bereft of painted and sculpted images of men, women, animals, and gods. Certainly, then, we would not expect to discover a statue of Aphrodite in excavations of Roman period Palestine. But, there are plenty of statues of Aphrodite — and other Graeco-Roman deities — found at sites throughout Roman period Israel. In addition, a lively exchange between a pagan man and the famous Rabbi Gamliel, debating whether a Jew can bathe in front of a naked statue of Aphrodite, is preserved in the Mishnah, the tractate of Jewish laws written around AD 200. This talk will demonstrate that many of the urban cities of Roman period Israel, which had mixed populations of pagans, Jews, and early Christians, were filled with statuary — like other typical cities throughout the Roman empire. It will then discuss how Jews negotiated this urban, sculpture-filled landscape and will offer an example of how they became acculturated to and even adopted this pagan, sculptural mode of communication and to the common visual vocabulary of the Roman world.
The Beautiful South: Investigating Imperial Properties in Roman Puglia
Wednesday, April 22, 2009, 7:30 pm
Professor Myles McCallum (St. Mary’s University, Halifax)
Recent excavations at the site of San Felice have investigated properties believed to have been owned by the Roman emperor himself. Indeed, both field survey and excavation in the Basentello and Bradano River Valleys have produced evidence that suggests the emperor or the imperial fisc owned several properties in this part of Puglia (southeastern Italy). This lecture will consider the evidence for these imperial estates, and examine who lived on them, what they produced, and how they were integrated into local, regional and extra-regional markets. In particular, this lecture will focus on the excavations carried out at San Felice from 2004 to 2008, the ownership history of this property, and how it was integrated into a network of nearby imperial properties. The presentation will include a discussion of the results of field survey, magnetometry survey, excavation, and artifacts analysis and the significance of each of these categories of evidence to understanding imperial properties within Italy.
Looting of the Iraq Museum, Loss of a Nation’s Memory
Wednesday, May 13, 2009, 7:30 pm
Professor Donny George Youkhanna (SUNY, Stony Brook)
Professor Youkhanna will be talking about the circumstances surrounding the looting of the Iraq Museum along with latest estimates and accounts of losses, as well as the material repatriated. He will also address the looting of the archaeological sites, the latest information about them, and the efforts to rebuild the antiquities institutions.