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The Cleveland Archaeological Society 2009-2010 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 that affords attendees an opportunity to meet and talk with our speaker. 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”.

“Silk Route and Diamond Path: The Archaeology of Tibetan Buddhism.”
Wednesday, September 9, 2009, 7:30 pm
Professor Mark Aldenderfer (University of Arizona)
AIA Lecture

For most westerners, Buddhism is timeless, and Tibet remote and romantic. For the archaeologist, though, the two are intimately connected. There is a substantial material expression of Tibetan Buddhism that is tied to pre-Buddhist political institutions, imperial expansion and collapse, and subsequent transformation into the monastic and temple tradition found on the plateau today. In this paper, I will discuss what is known of Tibetan Buddhist archaeology within this outline, and will describe the historical and cultural influences on the expression of Buddhism on the plateau, and the transformations it is undergoing in the modern political climate. My perspective is unique: at present, I am the only western archaeologist conducting research in the Tibet Autonomous Region.


“New Insights into Fort Ancient Social Structure and Settlement Patterning.”
Wednesday, October 14, 2009, 7:30 pm
Professor Robert Cook (Ohio State University, Newark)

Fort Ancient peoples were the last prehistoric inhabitants of the Middle Ohio River Valley, circaA.D. 1000-1650. The best known of their villages is the SunWatch site, located in Dayton, Ohio along the Great Miami River. Recent analyses at the site and other settlements in southwest Ohio are revealing new details about Fort Ancient social structure and settlement patterning with respect to interactions with neighboring Mississippians and responses to environmental fluctations. This presentation highlights these recent findings as well as discusses work in progress.


“Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Extreme Fermented Beverages.”
Wednesday, November 11, 2009, 7:30 pm
Professor Patrick McGovern (University of Pennsylvania Museum)
AIA Lecture

The history of the human species and civilization itself is, in many ways, the history of fermented beverages. Drawing upon recent archaeological discoveries, molecular and DNA sleuthing, and the texts and art of long-forgotten peoples, Patrick McGovern takes us on a fascinating odyssey back to the beginning when early humanoids probably enjoyed a wild fruit or honey wine. We follow the course of human ingenuity in domesticating plants of all kinds – particularly the grapevine in the Middle East, rice in China, and the cacao (chocolate) tree in the New World – learning how to make and preserve wines, beers, and what are sometimes called “extreme fermented beverages” that are comprised of many different ingredients. Early beverage-makers must have marveled at the seemingly miraculous process of fermentation. When they drank the beverages, they were even more amazed – they were mind-altering substances, medicines, religious symbols, and social lubricants all rolled into one. The perfect drink, it turns out, has not only been a profound force in history, but may be fundamental to the human condition itself.

The speaker will illustrate the biomolecular archaeological approach by describing the discovery of the most ancient, chemically-attested alcoholic beverage in the world, dating back to about 7000 B.C. Based on the analyses of some of the world’s earliest pottery from Jiahu in the Yellow River valley of China, a mixed fermented beverage of rice, hawthorn fruit/grape, and honey was reconstructed. The laboratory’s most recent finding is a fermented beverage made from the fruit pod of the cacao tree, as based on analyses of ca. 1200 B.C. pottery sherds from the site of Puerto Escondido in Honduras. As the earliest chemically attested instance of chocolate in the Americas, this beverage might well have been the incentive for domesticating the cacao tree. Like grape and rice wine, chocolate “wine” – in time made only from roasted beans – went on to become the prerogative of royalty and the upper class, and a focus of religion. Some of these beverages, including the earliest alcoholic beverage from China (Chateau Jiahu), the mixed drink served at the “King Midas” funerary feast (Midas Touch), and the chocolate beverage (Theobroma), have been re-created by Dogfish Head Brewery, shedding light on how our ancestors made them and providing a taste sensation and a means for us to travel back in time.


“Building Power: The Architecture of the Emperor Maxentius in Rome (306-312 CE).”
Wednesday, February 10, 2010, 7:30 pm
Professor Elisha Dumser (Ursuline College)

Acclaimed emperor against the wishes of the reigning Tetrarchy during a popular uprising in Rome in 306 CE, Maxentius fought to legitimize his rule and solidify his power for all six years of his reign. Unlike the Tetrarchs, who had forsaken Rome to establish smaller capital cities across the Empire, Maxentius promised to renew Rome as the seat of the imperial power. He styled himself as Rome’s conservator urbis suae, the ‘preserver of the city’, a slogan popularized on his coinage that publicly proclaimed the importance of Rome and his architectural patronage there for his political platform. His prominent building commissions – which included the city’s largest temple and the world’s most expansive cross-vaulted interior space – were located in the heart of the ancient city. In antiquity, they reminded Romans daily of his commitment to the Urbs; today, their innovative architectural forms testify to the skill and creativity of the late-antique architects working under his command. This talk introduces Maxentius, his turbulent times, and his striking architectural works, and hopes to convince the audience that Maxentius was unusually adept at manipulating the political and economic leverage of large-scale public benefactions – in Rome, Maxentius sought to truly build power.


“Myth, Athletics and the Iconography of the Parthenon’s West Pediment.”
Wednesday, February 24, 2010, 6:00 pm
Cleveland Museum of Art, Recital Hall
Free and Open to the public
Sponsored by the CMA Julius Fund Lecture on Ancient Art
Professor Peter Schultz (Chair, Concordia College Department of Art)

Peter Schultz received his BA in Art History, Philosophy and Latin from Concordia College in 1994, his MA in Art History from Vanderbilt University in 1997 and his Ph.D. in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Athens in 2003. His dissertation — the first written by an American in the Department of Art History and Archaeology for the University of Athens — treated the sculptural program of the temple of Athena Nike on the Athenian Acropolis. He lived and worked in Greece from 1996-2004 as a research fellow of the American School of Classical Studies. Prof. Schultz joined Concordia’s Department of Art in 2004. He is Chair of the Department and Director of the Cyrus Running Gallery. He is currently engaged in a number of research projects. These include the publication of his book on the Nike temple, a collaborative project with Athenian architect Chrys Kanellopoulos and Gustavus Adolphus classicist Bronwen Wickkiser treating fourth century B.C. performance spaces, a book length manuscript treating the iconography of the Parthenon’s west pediment as well as several articles on Athenian art and topography.


“Pharaoh at the Bat: Ancient Egyptian Bat and Ball, the Earliest Archetype of American Baseball.”
Wednesday, March 10, 2010, 7:30 pm
Professor Peter Piccione (University of Charleston)
Donald R. Laing, Jr. Lecturship of the Cleveland Archaeological Society

This colorful lecture examines the history of the Egyptian gaming-ritual, “Batting the Ball” and compares it to baseball in a manner that balances serious erudition with popular appeal. It illustrates scenes on the walls of temples and discusses the ancient game’s equipment and aspects of play, including the results of new findings the author made this spring (2009) in Egypt. It recounts its probable origins as a recreational children’s game and its deep connections to Egyptian cosmology, religion, specific deities, etc. Then the lecture essentially asks the question, “did the Egyptians invent baseball?” It compares Egyptians’ notions about their ball game to the historical American passion for baseball and how the legends and traditions Americans have created derive from a myth-making process similar to that of the Egyptians. Likewise, it draws illustrated parallels among Egyptian ball-gaming, Mayan ball games, and modern cinema films about baseball, such as “Field of Dreams” and “Bull Durham”. It also presents the possibility of professional female ball players in Egypt long before the short-lived All-American Girls’ Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), 1943-1954.


“Significant Others: The Construction of Identity in Greek Art.”
Wednesday, April 14, 2010, 7:30 pm
Professor Timothy McNiven (Ohio State University, Marion)

Men in ancient Athens defined who they were, and why they held power, by creating images of all the “others” – women, barbarians and monsters – and showing why members of these groups were inferior. By examining these images, we can get insight into what it meant to be a citizen in the new democracy of Athens.


“Yours, Mine or Ours?: A Discussion of Stewardship and Ownership of Ancient Artifacts.”
Wednesday, May 12, 2010, 7:30 pm
Professor Patty Gerstenblith (DePaul University)
The Pat Douthitt Lecture

In the past few years, a New York antiquities dealer was convicted for conspiring to deal in stolen artifacts, and major museums in the United States, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the J. Paul Getty and the Cleveland Museum of Art, have returned antiquities to Italy and Greece. As a result, the debate among museum curators and directors, collectors, dealers and archaeologists over the appropriate disposition of ancient artifacts has intensified. This slide-illustrated lecture will address the international market in antiquities and the ethical responsibilities of museums to avoid acquiring undocumented artifacts and works of art. It will explore the importance of preservation of archaeological context, the legal regime that aims to protect the archaeological heritage, and the need for museums, in fulfillment of their public educational purpose, to adopt stringent ethical acquisitions practices that will assist in the preservation of the past.

Page last modified: December 20, 2013