Pleistocene Dispersals and the Paleolithic Archaeology of Anatolia (Turkey)

Evidence from genetics has revolutionized our understanding of population movements in the deep past, painting a more complex picture of early human dispersals than had previously been imagined. Accounts of dispersals into Eurasia often assume that Anatolia (Asian Turkey) served as a land bridge connecting Europe with the Near East and ultimately Africa. Predictably, the situation on the ground is less clear. In fact, very little is known about the presence of humans and human ancestors in Anatolia during the Pleistocene. The scarcity of evidence is partly a consequence of limited research, but it also reflects the difficulty of locating Pleistocene-aged deposits in central Anatolia. Excavations at the site of Kaletepe Deresi 3 and a five-year survey project within the Göllü Dağ volcanic complex has helped sketch out a general framework for early human presence in central Anatolia. The area was especially attractive to Pleistocene humans because it contained an abundance of obsidian, prized for tool making.
The excavations and survey reveal that hominins occupied the area during the Lower and Middle Paleolithic periods, beginning more than 500,000 years ago. Evidence for occupation during the Middle Paleolithic period, probably by Neanderthals, is especially well represented. Surprisingly, surveys identified no evidence for presence of humans during the Upper Paleolithic, raising questions about the route of the most recent dispersals of Homo sapiens from Africa to Europe.

Date: December 9, 2015

Location: Bahen Centre BA1200, 40 St George St, University of Toronto

Kuhn Poster

Mughal Caravanserai Architecture: Amritsar to Agra, India

The medieval world was one of high movement, with a large amount of goods and people in transit across the Indian subcontinent. To support the flow of people and goods an elaborate trade network developed, anchored by the transit infrastructure available along roadways. In this talk I present a review of my summer 2015 architectural survey of the medieval caravanserai (protected stopping points along caravan routes) located on the trunk road between Amritsar and Agra, India. The research presented involves the detailed documentation (using photography and laser measurement devices) of surviving serai architecture and addresses several questions. First, what are the typological forms and functions of Mughal caravanserais found in northwestern India (specifically on the route between Amritsar and Agra)? Second, why were some of these structures reused through time and how do continuing uses relate to the memories, identities, and life histories associated with these places? Third, how can we use expedient survey techniques to record detailed information from sites, and how can three-dimensional virtual models aid in our interpretation of historic structures?

Date: November 24, 2015

Location: Anthropology Building AP130 19 Russell Street, University of Toronto

Campbell Poster

A Society that Self-Destructed? Recent Archaeological Research on Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

Mulrooney_web_photoRapa Nui (Easter Island) is often portrayed as the locale of a dramatic societal collapse triggered by overpopulation and environmental degradation during the late pre-European contact period (before A.D. 1722). Despite the popularity of this collapse narrative, there is very little solid evidence for it. In this presentation, Dr. Mulrooney shares the results of recent archaeological research into settlement and land use on the island. This research suggests that the island’s history is characterized by successful adaptations and continuity through time instead of punctuated, detrimental changes during the late pre-contact period.


Date: Tuesday, September 22, 2015 at 6:00 p.m.
Location: Anthropology Building AP130 19 Russell Street, University of Toronto

Mulrooney Easter Island Poster

Pompeii: The Making of an Exhibition by Paul Denis

On June 13, 2015, the ROM opened its major exhibition Pompeii – In The Shadow of the Volcano to the public. Paul Denis, a member of the curatorial team will present a lecture on the making of this exhibition. Starting at the beginning of the process in 2012, he will discuss developing the basic story line and themes while at the same time creating a list of objects that would be borrowed from the National Museum of Archaeology in Naples and the Depository at Pompeii. Among the many departments the curators worked with, Paul will focus on Exhibit Design, the Preparators and Conservation. Most of “The Making of an Exhibition” is presented chronologically in the context of the construction of the exhibition and the installation of the graphics, labels and objects.

This free lecture kicks off our 2015/16 season.
Date: Tuesday, September 22, 2015 at 6:00 p.m.
Location: Anthropology Building AP130 19 Russell Street, University of Toronto


The Friends and Patrons Program 2015

Private Members Seminar @ROM: The World of Heroes

Date: Sunday, April 19th 2015, 2pm

Location: The Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen’s Park, Toronto, ON, M5S 2C6 [meet at the Bloor st. entrance lobby]

Overview: The concept of the hero is ubiquitous through space and time. Every culture, every historical period, every society has and needs its heroes, whether they are mythical, legendary or real. This 2 hour seminar is a first hand exploration of their origins in the ancient Greek world, through a private tour of the Greek and Roman galleries at the Royal Ontario Museum. Not only will we discuss the artistic representations of Greek heroes, focusing largely on the archetypal figure of Herakles in vase painting, we will trace the heroic sphere of influence through other artistic media, and how the notion of the hero fundamentally informed the daily lives of the Greeks and Romans.

Pricing Information:

Members and Patrons of the AIA Toronto Society – Free with General Admission

Non-­‐member students – General admission + $15

Non-­‐member general public – General admission + $50

[Please bring cash or check payable to AIA Toronto Society; all proceedings will go to the AIA Toronto society funds]

See Poster for more details.

Augusta Emerita (Mérida, Spain): Monument of Imperial Power in the Roman West by Jonathon Edmondson

Jonathan Edmondson

Jonathan Edmondson

This lecture examines the monumentalization of the Roman colonia of Augusta Emerita (Mérida) from its foundation in 25 B.C. to the early second century A.D. Founded by Augustus for demobilized veterans of two legions who fought in his Asturian and Cantabrian Wars, it was soon selected to become the Roman administrative centre of the new province of Lusitania. The lecture will give due weight to the initial town-planning and construction that took place under Augustus, but will stress that the full monumentalization of the colonia, modeled in significant ways on the architecture of the imperial centre, Rome, took over one hundred years to complete. The lecture will also assess the impact of the monumental architecture of the city on the lived experience of those who lived in or visited this impressive monument of Roman power at the western fringe of the Roman Empire.

CRANE SYMPOSIUM: Archaeological Data Analysis and Cross-Project Collaboration

The Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations and Archaeology Centre of the University of Toronto warmly invites students and faculty to attend our upcoming Symposium on Archaeological Data Analysis and Cross-Project Collaboration (Claude T. Bissell Building 205, March 27-28). Sessions will cover everything from computational approaches to reconstructing ancient environments to the rise of the Islamic State in Syria and its implications for the region’s cultural, archaeological, and architectural heritage.

Organized by the Computational Research on the Ancient Near East (CRANE) Project, this interdisciplinary symposium will be of interest to researchers in many fields, including anthropology, geography, history, archaeobotany, geology, museology, computer science, forensic science, information science, and the digital humanities. We welcome the participation of anyone interested in new techniques in spatial, geographical, chronological, or anthropological data visualization. All sessions are free and open to the public.

Join us to explore the role of Big Data in modern archaeology. Learn more about the current crisis in the Middle East. Meet new colleagues and potential collaborators. For more information, please see the attached program or visit

Sorcery in the Soil: Finding Magic at Graeco-Roman Karanis in Egypt by Andrew Wilburn

Andrew Wilburn

We often imagine magic around every corner of the ancient village: old women who curl fingers around thumbs to avoid the evil eye, ill townspeople seeking out spells and cures from the local wise woman at the edge of town, or ne’er do-wells enchanting young girls with more than their good looks. Indeed, individuals in the ancient world frequently employed magic to achieve solutions to everyday problems as well as unusual crises. Continue reading

From Mastodons to Parliament: Conserving the Archaeological Past of Toronto by Ron Williamson

The first European settlement of Toronto was simply a continuation of patterns that had been in place for thousands of years. The Aboriginal occupants of the encampments and semi-permanent villages that lined the former water courses in the City left no written record of their lives. Their legacy consists of the oral histories and traditions passed on to descendants and the surviving traces of those settlements. This talk will summarise this rich archaeological record and discuss how the City of Toronto is ensuring its conservation.

The Legacy of Peking Man: the Story of Human Evolution in East Asia by Dr. Chen Shen

Dr. Shen 85 years ago, a group of hominid fossils, including 5 late-mysteriously-missing skulls, were named the “Peking Men” by the Toronto anthropologist Davidson Black. Since the 1920s, the Peking Men has been  included in the history of Anthropology and archaeology, and has been mentioned throughout numerous classrooms as part of the theories associated with the origins of human beings. Today, what the legendary  human fossils can tell us about the story of the human evolution in East Asia? In this talk, Dr. Shen will share preliminary results of recent fieldwork at the Zhoukoudian site near Beijing.