2016-2017 Lecture Series

   The Archaeological Society of Staten Island &

       The Archaeological Institute of America

Staten Island Society

    2016- 2017 Sunday Lecture Series


Sunday, Sept 25, 2016 at 3pm           Archaeological Institute of America Lecture

Dr. Kathleen Gibson

Tools, Language, and the Evolution of the Human Mind

Darwin and Wallace, co-discoverers of evolution by natural selection, held contrasting views about the origins of the human mind. Wallace considered the human mind to be qualitatively distinct from that of other animals, while Darwin postulated that animal and human minds differ in degree but not in kind, a position that represented a sharp break with traditional Cartesian views that human behavior is rational, but animal behavior is instinctive. Manufactured stone tools from Lomekwi, Kenya (3.3. mya), complex tools from Africa which long predate the Upper Paleolithic, Indonesian paintings dating to about 40,000 years ago, and increasing evidence of Neanderthal “symbolic” activities and of interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans, continue to challenge old views. This talk discusses this new evidence in light of continuity versus qualitative gap perspectives of human/animal and modern human/fossil hominin mental differences. It concludes that much of what we see in the archaeological record accords with an increased information processing model of tool-making, cooperative, and communicative abilities, and, hence, with Darwinian views that differences of degree, rather than of kind, distinguish human from animal minds (and by extension modern human minds from those of other hominids).


Sunday Oct 23, 2016 at 3pm                    The Helen H. Loeffler Memorial Lecture

Dr. Jonathan Bernard Marcoux

Documenting Native American Diasporas in the Early Colonial Southeast
The colonial trade in deerskins and Native American slaves had profound effects on the cultural landscape of the Southeast during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Indeed, this economic system forged a dynamic even chaotic landscape ruptured and dissected by disease, violence, and slavery. In adapting to this new colonial landscape, many southeastern Indian groups employed a combination of migration and social coalescence as a strategy to ameliorate population loss. In this lecture, I explore the diasporic communities that emerged across the colonial Southeast, focusing on how archaeology can contribute to our understanding of these ethnically diverse refugee settlements.


TUESDAY Nov 8, 2015, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm       

Staten Island Museum Event – Archaeology & Museums

This event will be a workshop day for the local Staten Island High School Teachers and Administrators at the Staten Island Museum, sponsored in part by the Staten Island Society of the Archaeological Institute of America.


December 4, 2016                                             The Lynda Nilsen Memorial Lecture

Dr. Dawn Marie Hayes

On the Significance of Roger II of Sicily’s Antiquated Loros in the Mosaic in Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio, Palermo

In his well-known portrait “Martorana” in Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio, Palermo, Roger II of Sicily dons an antiquated loros. The stole is not a “modified” loros that hangs in a straight line down the ruler’s torso and legs, but a “traditional” loros – a piece of cloth that wraps his body and crosses diagonally over both of his shoulders. One might speculate that his outdated appearance is the result of simple ignorance of the changes to Byzantine imperial vestments that had occurred during the 11th and 12th centuries. However, this is not an adequate explanation as the kingdom and empire were in close contact with each other during this time. Additionally, Roger is shown wearing a modified loros on a gold seal attached to a diploma dated 1131 as well as in an enamel plaque in Bari which dates ca. 1140, both of which predate the Martorana, which was likely mounted between 1140 and 1151. The loros was deeply symbolic, an icon of empire as well as a garment that was associated with Easter, the Feast of the Resurrection. The Matorana antiquated loros, combined with the fleurs-de-lis that appear on the robe Roger wears underneath, were designed to symbolize Roger’s hopes to forge a Franco-Sicilian alliance that would resurrect an imaginary past. A time when the ancestors of the Normans and the French ruled territory that was, in Byzantine hands by the 12th century.


Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 3pm The Dr. George G. Hackman Memorial Lecture

Dr. Peter DeStaebler

Aphrodisias, a Greco-Roman City and its Hinterland

The ancient city of Aphrodisias is one of the most important and evocative Greco-Roman archaeological sites in Turkey. Famous in antiquity for its sanctuary of Aphrodite, the city’s patron goddess, Aphrodisias enjoyed a long and prosperous existence (2nd century BCE – 7th century CE). The great beauty and extraordinary preservation of this site combine to bring the civic culture of the Greco-Roman world vividly to life. The site was first identified in the early 18th century and a systematic program of archaeological research was begun in 1961 by NYU and continues to the present. Three aspects of the archaeology of Aphrodisias stand out: the remarkable preservation of the city’s most important civic and sacred buildings, residential areas, and rural sites; the recovery of an unusually high percentage of sculptures, both architectural reliefs and free-standing statues; and the a great number of inscriptions, many formulaic and others unique, that played such an important role in the configuration of ancient Greek and Roman public space. The Regional Survey project (2005-2009) helped us better understand the setting of the city within its territory, the local resources that were the source of its prosperity, and that the countryside is as archaeologically rich as the city itself


Sunday, February 12, 2017 at 3pm

Dr. Heather JH Edgar

Ethnicity and Biology: Case Studies in Mexico and New Mexico.

How do cultural trends and historical events shape the biology of populations? What are the biological correlates of culturally-defined groups? These two questions will be examined in two contexts, post-classic Mexico and contemporary New Mexico, using techniques from bioarchaeology and human biology Results show how the bicultural approach can be used to illuminate complex human population dynamics, and to draw connections between the past and present.


March 26, 2017 at 3pm                                                   Archaeological Institute of America – Norton Lecturer

Lothar von Falkenhausen

Trying to Do the Right Thing to Protect the World’s Cultural Heritage: One Committee Member’s Tale

This is a personal account of the author’s service as a member of President Obama’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee. It reflects upon the purpose of the committee, its composition and the nature of its work, as well as the wider impact of the United States government’s efforts to contribute to cultural-heritage preservation worldwide. Lothar von Falkenhausen’s area of expertise is the archaeology of ancient China.


April 30, 2017, at 3pm                                                                     The Dr.Esther Grushkin Memorial Lecture

Dr. Thierry Petit

Unveiling the Greek Sphinx

The Greek Sphinx always has been a fascinating topic. From the Renaissance to the present day there has been much speculation about the figure. Its encounter with Oedipus as well as the famous riddle are the main part of the mystery, and its true nature and function have never been clearly explained. We shall see that the key lies in its Near-Eastern background, in particular the “Kerubs” in the Old Testament. However the images on Greek vases and Oriental objects are at least as important as the texts and a major source to solve the riddle.


Unless otherwise noted Lectures are on Sundays at 3pm in Spiro Hall 2, Wagner College, 631 Howard Avenue (1 Campus Road), Grymes Hill, Staten Island, NY 10301


AIA lectures (Oct 18 & April 24) are FREE and open to all

ASSI lectures are free for ASSI and AIA members, students 22 years or younger

And Wagner Faculty and Staff – Please show ID

Others may attend ASSI lectures for a $10.00 donation or may join the ASSI at the door.

Meet the speaker over coffee and cake following each lecture

For more information write: The Archaeology Society of Staten Island, P.O. Box 140504, Staten Island, NY 10314-0504 or visit our website www.siarchaeology.orghttp://www.assi-aia.org/

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