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.


“Seamanship and Sailing Rigs in the Ancient Mediterranean” by Julian Whitewright, University of Southhampton

It is often stated that the sea is central, in more ways than one, to our understanding of the Mediterranean World, particularly in Antiquity. At the heart of this lie the unprecedented levels of maritime connectivity between people and cultures afforded by the sea and the ships and boats that plied the waters of the ancient world. Our understanding of those vessels has been greatly expanded in the last half a century through a wealth of archaeological evidence that has allowed a detailed understanding to be developed of the construction of such vessels, the goods and products of trade and the trade routes themselves. By contrast, the archaeological remains of the rigging and sails by which such vessels were used in antiquity has received less attention. However, these remains, in conjunction with the rich iconographic and literary sources can paint a detailed picture of the nature of seafaring in the ancient Mediterranean, including an understanding of the potential performance of such sailing vessels. For the most part, the mariners of the ancient Mediterranean utilized a square-sail that we can identify as having a specifically Mediterranean tradition of use. This lecture addresses how maritime archaeologists have understood the practical aspects of sailing in the ancient Mediterranean in the past and highlights and discusses a number of key elements that are not currently widely understood. This includes the development of the sail itself, the evidence for whether or not ancient mariners could sail to windward. Finally, it is possible to address the eventual disappearance of the Mediterranean square-sail altogether and its replacement with the lateen sail during the late-antique and early medieval period.

Footwear and Families in a Roman Fort: The shoes of women and children at Vindolanda – Prof. Elizabeth Greene

The Roman fort at Vindolanda has one of the largest assemblages of archaeological leather in the Roman world. The most common artifact–shoes of all shapes and sizes–are found in almost every occupation level (AD 85 to the 4th century) and in several types of environments. Shoes offer a wealth of information for archaeologists today, most importantly demographic information, which has allowed us to understand far more about the people that lived in this military community. This talk will introduce the site and its anaerobic archaeological environments that preserve leather, and give an overview of the collection of Roman shoes found on site. Discussion will focus especially on the shoes that once belonged to women and children and the implications this has for our understanding of Roman military settlements.

“Framing Victory: Salamis, the Athenian Acropolis, and the Agora” – Dr John Papadopoulos, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA


Although long considered the most significant architectural project of Classical Athens, the Periklean building program still has much to reveal. In questioning modern conventions of viewing buildings on the Acropolis, this presentation reappraises how victory monuments were observed and perceived in the fifth century BC. The starting point is to show that the Mnesiklean Propylaia, the ceremonial gateway into the sanctuary on the Acropolis, is also a monumental exit that frames the island of Salamis, the location of a watershed event in the history and topography of Athens—the defeat of the Persian armada in 480 BC. Instead of seeing the Propylaia as an anomaly, it is argued that it was instrumental to a new tradition of using architecture to orchestrate sightlines between monuments across the city. Buildings on the Acropolis worked in tandem with the stoas in the heart of Athens, the Classical Agora, to create a ritual topography that showcased Athenian heroism and triumph. This analysis therefore widens the canonical perspective of the Periklean program, proposing for the first time that it extended to and incorporated the Classical Agora.

“Myth and Fantasy in Roman Painting” – Dr Bjoern Ewald: Art Department, University of Toronto


“Roman houses were decorated with a wealth of figural and architectural imagery that is as attractive as it is alien to our modern aesthetic sensibilities. The talk surveys this rich and varied imagery and explores the meanings it may have had for ancient viewers. Particular emphasis will be placed on notions of myth and fantasy, as well as the ways in which the paintings reflected and distorted lived experiences and ancient role models.”

“High Altitude ‘Big Bang’: Formation Period Archaeology of the Lake Titicaca Basin, Bolivia”. – Dr Andrew Roddick, Anthropology Department, McMaster University


“The site of Tiwanaku, located on the edge of Lake Titicaca in the high planes or altiplano of the Bolivian Andes, has intrigued archaeologists for over a century. In recent years, however, we have seen an explosion of research both at the Middle Horizon (475-1100 AD) occupations at Tiwanaku, and neighbouring earlier Late Formative (300 BC-475 AD) sites. Questions concerning the “evolution of the state” and the “emergence of inequality” drive many projects, including that of the Taraco Archaeological Project (TAP). I have been part of this project for over 10 years, contributing to a more nuanced perspective to the environmental and historical processes prior to Tiwanaku hegemony. This substantial research, and of colleagues working in the region, has revealed a deep and complex past in the region, a palimpsest of social, political, economic and ideological processes. In this talk I discuss some of the recent research on this Late Formative Period. I highlight some of the practices of everyday life, including crafting, farming, and food consumption, and present evidence for regional ceremonial ritual traditions. I argue that while some of these social changes were gradual, there was a “big bang” – an explosion of sociopolitical, economic but also creative output, around the end of the 4th century AD that echoed across the highlands of Peru and Bolivia. I present some of the current explanations for this “big bang” and discuss some of the intra-community processes that lead up to one of the first forms of urbanism in the highlands of Andean South America.”

“Tribes, Seals, Statues, Diplomats, and Holdups–archaeological work in Iraq during the 1930’s.” – Dr Clemens Reichel, ROM and NMES University of Toronto


Archaeological work in the Middle East during the 1930’s attained an air of adventure and romance through numerous novels and movies, not the least through the character of Indiana Jones. A period of well-funded expeditions that undertook large-scale excavations resulting in groundbreaking discoveries, these years could indeed be classified as a “Golden Age” of archaeology. The Diyala expedition, conducted by the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute between 1930 and 1938, was one of the largest projects undertaken in Iraq. Using photographs and documents from the expedition’s archives this lecture follows this project’s remarkable story from its establishment, to its groundbreaking discoveries that still influence archaeological research today, the luxuries and hardships of life on site, and the expedition’s entanglements in European and Middle Eastern politics during the pre-World War II era.

“Reflections from a Middle Eastern Archaeological Diary” – Dr Marie-Henriette Gates, Dept of Archaeology, Bilkent University,Turkey


This talk will present personal observations drawn from forty years of archaeological experience in Syria, Iran and especially Turkey, where I worked as student, team member and project director. Dramatic changes in lifestyles, technology and communication during these decades have transformed the way field research is practiced and disseminated. Some intangible  aspects of the archaeological experience remain constant, however, and provide a backdrop whose impact — both light-hearted and serious –must also be acknowledged.

To illustrate the outside forces that affect fieldwork, I will show how personal experience may inspire interpretation in preference to “scientific” determinations. I will consider the frequent disconnect between a project’s technological ambitions and their realization; and the role of chance and forces of nature in modifying a field project’s results. Finally, I will discuss the manipulation of archaeological research by the public sector, and its impact on excavations, such as occurs in Turkey today.

“1812: The Big Picture” – Dr Carl Benn, History Department, Ryerson University


The War of 1812, which engulfed United States, Great Britain, her Canadian colonies, and the First Nations of the Great Lakes and upper Mississippi regions, was a dramatic and formative event in North American history. In this illustrated presentation, Carl Benn explores the war’s complex origins, confused campaigns, and misunderstood conclusions in order to clarify the course of the conflict and its larger historical meanings.

Ira Schwartz – Travel Fellowship Winner

Dear Prof. Nakassis,

I am writing you in partial fulfillment of my “obligations” to the AIA for receiving the Joseph and Maria Shaw Travel Scholarship this year. I would first like to express my deep gratitude for the aid you, the AIA, and its members have provided me. Without this bursary I would quite literally have been unable to attend the Tel Huqoq excavation project this summer. I truly found the experience invaluable. By excavating, attending the various lectures and field trips, and through interaction with the myriad of intelligent, friendly, and helpful individuals that comprised the staff, I feel that my knowledge and prowess in archaeology were greatly increased through my participation in this project.

As you may already know, the Tel Huqoq project aims to excavate the c. 5th century A.D. synagogue at the site, as well as parts of the village in which the synagogue was situated. My work this season took place in the synagogue (referred to on-site as area 3000). I was fortunate to be in one of the new squares that were opened this season, square 2/5 – the northern most square in area 3000 – and even more fortunate to have been a part of the team that discovered and excavated two of the three mosaics found this season. First, a very small rectangular section of a mosaic was found in the Northwest of our square. Situated in a stratum that appeared to be from the “Mamluk period” (as it was referred to by staff), it was not as extravagant as the “Samson” mosaics discovered over the past two years, but none-the-less seemed to hold promise of more mosaics to come, and was considered significant for its presence in a medieval synagogue – something I understand was not very common at the time in that region. The second mosaic found in our square seems to have been contemporary with the two Samson mosaics that have been uncovered at Tel Huqoq, and consisted of three registers, each containing a different scene, perhaps parts of a story. The general consensus thus far is that this second mosaic represents a telling of the stories from the books of Maccabees.

Other important discoveries from square 2/5 included the continuation of the Eastern wall of the synagogue (labeled Wall 310), which was constructed using well-hewn ashlar blocks. Interestingly, located perhaps no more than a half meter to the West of this ashlar wall was a second ashlar wall, referred to as Wall 311. It is believed that this wall represents a top course of Wall 310 that was reused in a later period, possibly contemporary with the “Mamluk” period mosaic previously mentioned. Though it was carved into Wall 310, an entrance threshold that was found appears to have been contemporary with Wall 311 and supports the notion that the threshold and Wall 311 represented a repartitioning of that part of the synagogue. Also, besides pottery and other artifacts that were found in square 2/5, a number of coins were discovered that helped us to date our various strata more concretely.

Importantly, we also excavated the bulldozed remnants of the modern Arab village that once stood on the site. This has provided an ongoing window into the most recent habitation levels at the site, and enriched our understanding of the way-of-life that existed at the village of Yakuk (the modern Arabic name for the site), as well as its use-history after the village’s “depopulation” by the IDF in 1948.

In all, this season at Huqoq has allowed me to improve previous skill sets, develop new ones, gain an increased knowledge of the late Roman-era Galilee, and perhaps most importantly interact with and learn from a number of professionals in a field I wish to enter. As a result of my work this season, I have been offered to return to Huqoq, possibly as a square supervisor and, given the approval of Prof. Michael Chazan, fill a sort of liaison role between UofT and the Huqoq excavation project, hopefully furthering the school’s participation at Huqoq.


Respectfully yours,

Ira Schwartz


August 28th 2013