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
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.
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.
“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.”
“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.”
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.
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.