March 25, 2017
The Ark Before Noah
Dr. Irving Finkel
In his lecture, “The Ark before Noah,” British Museum expert Dr. Irving Finkel reveals how decoding the symbols on a 4,000-year-old piece of clay enabled a radical new interpretation of the Noah's Ark story. A world authority on the period, Dr. Finkel's real-life detective story began with a remarkable event at the British Museum: the arrival one day in 2008 of a single, modest-sized Babylonian cuneiform tablet brought in by a member of the public. Such palm-sized clay rectangles were used by the Babylonians to create the first documents, and this particular tablet proved to be of quite extraordinary importance. Not only does it date from about 1850 B.C., but it is a copy of the Babylonian Story of the Flood, a story from ancient Mesopotamia revealing, among other things, instructions for constructing a large boat. Dr. Finkel will also describe the further series of discoveries which allowed him to decode the Flood story in ways which offer unanticipated revelations. The lecture will also describe how a replica of the boat, following the ancient instructions, was built in India—the subject of the documentary film The Real Noah’s Ark.
February 18, 2017
A Nubian Walks into a Christian Bar at Philae and Asks …
Dr. Eugene Cruz-Uribe, Indiana University East
During the Roman and Byzantine periods in Egypt, the frontier area at the south displayed a number of interesting long term interactions between various Nubian groups (such as the Meroites, Blemmyes and Nobadae) and the Roman rulers of Egypt. As with many frontier areas, there does not seem to have been a clear distinction of cultural identity, political control, and religious affiliation. This situation often led to serious conflicts with both sides claiming legitimate control of the temples and administrative places in the Aswan area. The introduction of Christianity to Egypt exacerbated the situation and affected the local populations. This talk will look at these complex interactions and center them through the use of “A man walks into a bar …” scenario. Slides of the speaker's own field research in the Aswan area, especially at Philae temple, will be highlighted.
Jan. 21, 2017
Mastodon Trail Mix: foraging behavior of the ‘original forest elephant’ based on Aucilla
Dr. Lee Newsom, Flagler College
Well preserved dung deposits at the Page-Ladson and Latvis-Simpson sites in the Aucilla River provide evidence of mastodon (Mammut americanum) foraging patterns over a span of several thousand years. A distinct suite of fruits, nuts, and woody browse comprise the dung samples. These plant species demonstrate mastodon food preferences and provide an indication of the ecosystemic influences of this original forest elephant, including acting as a keystone species. This in turn lends insights into the landscape and natural resources available to the "First Floridians," Paleoindians. The plant taxa in the dung samples also reflect a long history of co-evolution with mastodons and other extinct megamammals, with specific adaptations for protection and seed dispersal. Mastodons tolerated noxious plant compounds that guard against herbivory, allowing them to consume and benefit from otherwise unpalatable species, later dispersing the seeds in their dung, thus benefiting the plant taxa. In general, the results highlight the presence and some of the inter-species dynamics of an ancient no-analog forest community in Florida.
Nov. 19, 2016
Archaeology Goes to the Opera
John Ehrenhard, former director of the National Park Service Southeast Archaeological
A sliver of land formed sometime in the late Pleistocene in the Atlantic Coastal Plain physiographic province, now known as Cumberland Island, exists in a semi wild state, somewhat protected by its status as a national seashore. Human occupation over the centuries has left the imprint of a checkered social history filled with much adventure, misfortune, and sorrow. One story of love, trust, and betrayal is the account of a young woman of mixed ancestry named Elizabeth Bernardey. The account is based in archaeological and historical research conducted by the Southeast Archeological Center, National Park Service, related to stabilization evaluations of a slave quarters complex supporting the early 19th century Stafford Plantation. A most unanticipated series of events resulting from this research led to the even more improbable production of a full-length dramatic opera entitled “ZABETTE” related to historic events in the life and times of Elizabeth Bernardey. Now retired, John Ehrenhard will give an anecdotal account of events which led up to the production of the opera “ZABETTE.”
Oct. 15, 2016 International Archaeology Day
Native American Travels and Travails in the Colonial Southeast
Charles R. Cobb, Florida Museum of Natural History
Between the pull of trade with towns like Charleston and St. Augustine and the push of slaving and European land encroachments, Native Americans in the Colonial Southeast moved frequently and often over long distances. As a result, many localities became home to plural communities as diverse Native American groups grouped together for defense and mutual support. This process, often referred to by archaeologists as “coalescence,” led to completely new political and economic arrangements between Native Americans in the Southeast, and between Native Americans and Colonial powers. This presentation will compare patterns of coalescence on the frontiers of Spanish Florida and of English Carolina, focusing on recent archaeological research in both of the regions.
September 17, 2016
Clay Pans and Pita Bread in Early Medieval Europe (6th to 7th century), from Spain to
Dr. Florin Curta, Professor of Medieval History and Archaeology at the University of Florida
A number of 6th- to 7th-century sites recently excavated in southern and central Spain have produced evidence of an intriguing ceramic category—hand-made, circular clay pans. They appear both on urban (Cartagena) and on rural sites (Gózquez). Such pans are also known from sites in southern and southwestern England, as well as Central and especially Eastern Europe. A great number of them were associated with stone ovens, inside which the pans served for baking most probably pita (unleavened bread), as suggested by ethnographic analogies. Other sites suggest that clay pans were associated with communal ceremonies that may have involved the consumption of special foods, such as pita bread. The clay pan phenomenon coincided with, or immediately followed, a number of culinary changes, the most important of which is reflected in the adoption of closed ceramic forms most appropriate for the cooking of beef or pork. Such culinary changes, as well as the accompanying clay pans appear occasionally on military sites in the northern Balkans, or even in cities, such as Caričin Grad (Serbia). In both Spain and East Central Europe, clay pans became an important component of ceramic assemblages shortly before or after AD 600. The paper offers some possible answers to the questions raised by that parallel.
May 21, 2016
Painted Capstone and Codical Texts from the Northern Maya Lowlands: Agricultural vs.
Elite Rituals in Late Classic to Postclassic Yucatán
Dr. Gabrielle Vail
The northern Maya lowlands provide a rich corpus of painted texts associated with the interior and exterior walls of buildings; capstones serving to seal off vaulted chambers, which sometimes contain burials; and painted screenfold books, or codices. In a number of cases, these texts and their associated pictorial component were painted to commemorate—or provide the template for —important rituals. Many of these rituals can be identified based on ethnohistoric sources, including Diego de Landa’s Relación de las cosas de Yucatán, which highlights the “festivals” associated with each twenty-day month of the year, many of which are agricultural in nature. This information, in combination with that from hieroglyphic and iconographic sources, provides important clues for determining context and audience. This presentation examined the underlying meaning of capstone and codical texts and explored what the different media, time periods (the former date to the Late and Terminal Classic periods and the latter to the Late Postclassic period), and hieroglyphic captions tell us about elite versus agricultural rituals, and what they reveal about a group’s social memory.
April 16, 2016
Archaeology of the Confederate Submarine H.L. Hunley
Dr. Robert S. Neyland, Head of the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the Naval History
and Heritage Command
One hundred and forty six years after its historic naval engagement with the Union sloop-of-war USS Housatonic in 1864, the Confederate Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley was successfully raised from the Atlantic Ocean in August 2000. In 2001, a multi-disciplinary team composed of archaeologists, conservators and forensic anthropologists excavated the crew compartment and uncovered the remains of the ill-fated crew along with numerous artifacts and revealed the inner workings of the submarine and its machinery. This presentation discussed the archaeology of Hunley from its discovery through the recovery, excavation, identification and reburial of the eight crew members. It concluded with the current theories of why Hunley was lost and the current status of the conservation and archaeological analysis.
March 19, 2016
The Paleoindian Survivalist: Enduring the Demise of Keystone Species, Fire, and Surface
Water Oscillations and Iceberg Armadas off the Southeast Coast
Dr. James S. Dunbar
The late Pleistocene Southeast was a warm thermal refuge protected from the ice age cooling and containing a greater number and diversity of animal species than the rest of North America. However, by the beginning of the Holocene, the extinction of species was greatest in the Coastal Plain of the Southeast U.S. Many researchers have theorized that late Pleistocene wild fire regimes increased due to human causes, but there is another, more subtle explanation. Perhaps it was the failing populations of two keystone species affected by humans, rather than humans themselves, that caused the change. At the same time many Florida river systems were transforming from Pleistocene channel-fill to Holocene channel-cutting systems. Dr. Dunbar, formerly with the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research, addressed the questions: What happened? What climate alterations, if any, took place when iceberg armadas grounded off the Charleston, South Carolina coast?
Feb. 20, 2016
The Traveling Art and Artisans of Ancient Florida, AD 200 to 800
Dr. Neill Wallis of the Florida Museum of Natural History
Florida’s most ornate pottery traditions were developed almost 1800 years ago in the northern part of the state. Beyond technical skill and sheer aesthetic beauty, the pottery of the Middle to Late Woodland periods (ca. AD 200 to 800) also reflects patterns of vessel production and distribution that yield unexpected insights into pre-Columbian social organization. Dr. Wallis presented his latest research that revealed evidence of ancient social networks stretching hundreds of miles within an integrated sociopolitical landscape tied together by mortuary rituals and other ceremonial events.
Jan. 23, 2016
EARLY HUMANS IN THE AMERICAS: When Did They Arrive and Where Did They Come From?
Dr. Steven and Kathleen Holen
National Archaeological Institute of America lecturers discussed the controversy surrounding the topic of the first humans in the Americas and offered new evidence from their research that suggests that humans arrived earlier than previously thought. His work with museums and as State Archaeologist and Tribal Liaison with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in South Dakota has formed the foundation for his theories and publications.
Nov. 21, 2015
SLEUTHING IN THE AEGEAN BRONZE AGE: ‘Agamemnon’s Dagger’ or a Modern Forgery?
Dr. Nancy Thomas, Professor Emeritus at Jacksonville University
When a beautifully inlaid dagger, said to be from Greece at the time of Agamemnon, Achilles and Helen of Troy, appeared on the auction block in Switzerland in 1990, scholars around the world were astonished. Only twelve such weapons were known to exist, most of them found at Mycenae by Heinrich Schliemann in 1876. Where had this new dagger been all this time? Who owned it? Was it a bona fide Mycenaean weapon? If genuine, it would be priceless. Nancy Thomas, Jacksonville University art historian and a specialist in Greek Bronze Age art, tried to get answers to these questions. She first wrote to the British scientist who had chemically tested the dagger and who vouched for its authenticity. When she asked for details of his tests, strange things began to happen. The audience enjoyed a true detective story involving archaeologists and scientists, collectors and curators, and the behind-the-scenes world of the international antiquities market.
Oct. 17, 2015 International Archaeology Day
DIGGING INTO THE BUSINESS OF ARCHAEOLOGY
Brent Handley, M.S., R.P.A., Vice President and Senior Manager of Environmental Services,
Inc. of Jacksonville
An archaeologist, Handley highlighted the practical aspects of his company's work. Discussion included the selection of a project and site for investigation and mapping; the role of the archaeologist in analysis of historic structures; the collection and storage of artifacts; and the preparation of predictive models for use in industry.
Sept. 19, 2015
THE MIAMI CIRCLES: UNCOVERING 3000 YEARS OF MIAMI’S HISTORY
Mr. Robert Carr
This lecture described archaeological discoveries made at the mouth of the Miami River. After the preservation of the Miami Circle on the south bank of the river in 1999, archaeological excavations were conducted on the north bank since 2012 when over 2,000 post holes have been uncovered representing numerous Tequesta structures, including eleven circles. On the same parcel evidence of a Seminole War fort and the foundations of Miami’s first hotel, the Royal Palm, have been uncovered. These discoveries and their dilemmas for preservationists and developers were discussed
May 16, 2015
Chaco Canyon: From the Outside Looking In
Dr. John Kantner, Associate Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School
University of North Florida.
The ancient ruins of Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico stir our imagination with questions about their origins, purpose, and demise. Historically, research has concentrated on the stunning architecture and what transpired within the canyon walls. In the past few decades, however, archaeologists have turned to a consideration of Chaco’s tremendous impact across the American Southwest, especially in distant villages that lived in the shadow of Chaco Canyon. In this colorfully illustrated lecture, Southwest archaeologist Kantner described how new interdisciplinary research is answering critical questions about the ancient Chacoan world.
April 25, 2015
Mill Cove Complex of Northeast Florida: A Possible Gateway Trade Center Between the
Caribbean and Mississippi Culture Area
John C. Whitehurst, Archaeologist for NPS, Timucuan EHP
Grant Mound (8Du14) and Shields Mound (8Du12) comprise the Mill Cove Complex where research over the last 25 years has established a cultural connection between the Mississippian Period component of the complex with Cahokia cultural area in the middle Mississippi valley. Recently, artifacts have come to light from avocational archaeologist Ken Fowler, a Jacksonville resident who in 1987 salvaged archaeological materials from Grant Mound prior to its destruction by a residential housing project. He, along with other professional and avocational archaeologists, was fighting to obtain as much information about this important site before access to it was denied. His discoveries appear to possibly link the Mill Cove Complex with the Taino culture of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. This lecture was Ken’s story of these artifacts and an assessment of their relationship to the Caribbean prehistoric culture and the possibility Northeast Florida was a gateway of trade between two disparate cultural regions.
March 21, 2015
The Lost Cemeteries of St. Augustine
Dr. Kathleen Deagan, Florida Museum of Natural History
The cemeteries that remain marked above the ground in St. Augustine are only the most recent chapter in the history of the town’s reverence for the deceased. Less well-know are the many buried graveyards from St. Augustine’s First Spanish Period (1565-1763) that have been largely forgotten and covered over by modern construction. At least six of these cemeteries have been relocated and partly restudied by archaeologists and bioarchaeologists. This talk considered what we have learned from them over the past 75 years.
Feb. 21, 2015
3D Survey and New Technologies for Heritage Preservation and Documentation Projects
Dr. Lori Collins and Dr. Travis Doering, Co-Directors of the Alliance for Integrated Spatial Technologies (AIST) University of South Florida
Today, much of the world’s cultural heritage is at risk from natural and human-induced causes. New technologies such as terrestrial laser scanning, advances in imaging and photography, 3D printing, and other spatial and visualization techniques are greatly advancing capabilities for heritage preservation and research. The ability to rapidly and accurately document the world around us is revolutionizing survey capabilities and are creating new areas of research integration. Using case study examples from our projects around the world, Dr. Collins showed the latest in 3D research involving heritage and archaeological documentation in Florida, the Southeast U.S and from international projects.
Etruscan Human Sacrifice in Ritual and Myth
Dr. Nancy de Grummond, professor at Florida State University
Scholars have been reluctant to believe that the Etruscans practiced human sacrifice. However, there are many representations in Etruscan mythic art that clearly depict human sacrifice. While the myths may show a kind of surrogate for actual killing, they nevertheless may also reflect actual rituals and beliefs associated with such killing. This presentation assembles literary, archaeological and iconographical evidence to be studied anew with an open mind in order to determine what is most likely to have represented real sacrificial practice as opposed to fictional, exaggerated, symbolic, or mythological matter.
November 8, 2014
Mission Impossible? Tracking the Lives of Early Bronze Age Pots from the Dead Sea Plain, Jordon
Dr. Morag M. Kersel, DePaul University
Early Bronze Age (3600-2000 BCE) artifacts from the Dead Sea Plain in Jordan have long held a fascination for locals, pilgrims, and tourists, which can often be tied to a substantiation of faith based on the material past. These pots have led varied lives as grave goods, as excavated artifacts, as looted objects, and as collected items revered in private homes and in exhibition cases in museums. Demand for these archaeological objects has resulted in decades of illegal excavation and the destruction of the archaeological landscape. Tracking the movement of these pots is an important aspect of understanding the emergence of prehistoric urbanism and increasing social complexity at these early mortuary and domestic landscapes. Piecing together how artifacts go from the ground to the consumer is at times an impossible mission – or is it?? Archaeological evidence, archival documents, ethnographic interviews, and aerial surveys using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones and hexacopters) all provide valuable clues from the past and present, enhancing our knowledge of Early Bronze Age society during this vibrant period.
18 October, 2014
Villa Romana del Casale Piazza Armerina, Sicily
Prof. Sharon E. Keefe, University of North Florida
The Villa Romana del Casale located in central Sicily, near present-day Piazza Armerina is a late Roman Provincial villa built in the early 4th century CE, and is regarded as one of the most important examples of provincial architecture from this period, illustrating the predominant social and economic structure of its time. Some scholars believe that the villa was built by a wealthy aristocrat, while others contend that it belonged to an Emperor – possibly Maximian, or his son, Maxentius. The mosaics of Villa Romana del Casale are extremely important because they are in such a well preserved state, and because almost all of the floors have remained intact. The villa was rediscovered in the mid-eighteenth century, and sporadic destructive exploration continued through the 19th century. Between 1950 and 1954, the bulk of the remaining excavation was carried out by Gino Gentili, then current Inspector for the Dept. of Antiquities and Fine Arts for Eastern Sicily. From 1957 to 1960, the entire structure was covered with transparent Perspex to protect the mosaics.
20 September, 2014
Fort Caroline Debate
Dr. Buzz Thunen, Dr. Anita Spring, and Dr. Fletcher Crowe
This year is the 450th anniversary of the establishment of Fort Caroline by the French in 1564. After all this time, Fort Caroline has recently generated controversy regarding its actual location. Tradition has it located on the St. John's River in Jacksonville, but a group of archaeologists has proposed that it was actually built on the Altamaha River in Georgia. Dr. Robert (Buzz) Thunen from UNF presented the case for the St. John'sRiver in Jacksonville, and Dr. Anita Spring and Dr. Fletcher Crowe from the University of Florida presented the case for the Altamaha River in Georgia. Dr. Crowe spent the summer excavating the area in Georgia where he believes Fort Caroline was built and revealed the results of that research.
May 17, 2014
Living with the Dead: Unusual Mortuary Treatments from the Prehispanic Southwest
Gordon F.M. Rakita, University of North Florida.
The American Southwest has been called by some scholars a natural laboratory for Anthropology. This characterization is based in part upon the tremendous richness of both ethnographic peoples and preserved archaeological remains. Moreover, as a famous archaeologist once noted, there is more information per cubic meter of a human burial than any other part of an archaeological site. Combined, these two observations suggest that human burials from the American Southwest and contiguous regions should present archaeologists with unique insights into the peoples that have made this region their home. In his talk, Gordon Rakita examined several cases of unusual mortuary treatments from the Southwest and discuss what he thinks they tell us about these fascinating cultures. He also discussed some of the work he and his students have recently been doing in historic cemeteries here on the First Coast.
April 26, 2014
Early Maya Ruins at Holmul, Guatemala
In 1910, Harvard’s Peabody Museum Expedition investigated, a small buried structure named Building B of Group II. It would be the first structure to be scientifically studied in the Maya lowlands. This study would produce many surprises. It provided the first proof that the Maya built new structures on top of existing structures. It also provided the first burial found inside a structure and not just one burial but six burials containing 22 skeletons. These burials contained the first polychrome ceramics found. The large and varied selection of ceramics produced the first ceramic sequence. Yet, one hundred years later the same structure provided an additional early burial, the largest sample of Pre-Mamon ceramics in the Lowlands and a pair of large witz masks dating from 400 B.C. This lecture reviewed what we have learned from this small structure located at a small and remote Maya site.
March 15, 2014
Civil War Shipwreck Maple Leaf
Dr. Keith Holland
Dr. Holland presented an informative discussion of his work locating and excavating the Civil War shipwreck Maple Leaf in the St. Johns River. The Civil War troop transport Maple Leaf sank in the St. Johns River on April 1, 1864 when it struck a Confederate mine. Dr. Keith Holland and other amateur historians located the wreck in 1984. After forming the St. Johns Archaeological Expeditions, Inc., they excavated the site and recovered a large amount of material culture that revealed what life was like at the time. It has been called "the most important repository of Civil War artifacts ever found . . . . "
15 February 2014
Life and Death at Windover: Excavation of a 7,000- Year-Old Pond Cemetery
Dr. Rachel Wentz, FPAN East Central regional Director
According to Dr. Ben Brotemarkle, the Executive Director of the Florida Historical Society, "The Windover site has been called 'one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the world' because of the quantity and quality of the human remains and artifacts uncovered, which are 3,200 years older than King Tutankhamen and 2,000 years older than the Great Pyramid in Egypt. The presence of intact brain matter in more than ninety skulls, tools made of animal bone and other materials, and some of the oldest woven fabric found anywhere all add to the significance of this archaeological site. It is important to note that the Windover Dig would probably not happen today with the current federal laws regarding the excavation of Native American remains. It may be one of the last such archaeological excavations to take place in the United States."
January 25, 2014
Excavation of the Well at Cetamura Del Chianti, Italy
Prof. Cheryl Sowder, Jacksonville University
Prof. Sowder presented work as a member of the team excavating the well at Cetamura del Chianti in Tuscany, Italy. This is an ongoing, collaborative project of Florida State University, associates from other universities, and the Italian archaeological firm Ichnos. Excavation of the well has now reached a depth of 107 feet. Extracted have been numerous levels, each filled with a plethora of artifacts and organic remains. From pottery and coins, these levels have been identified as dating between the Etruscan Hellenistic era and Roman early Empire, or 4th century B.C.E. and 1st century C.E. Analysis of the finds is yielding new insights regarding Etruscan and Roman habitation of this ancient site.
November 16, 2013
The Archaeology of the Storm Wreck, a Revolutionary War Refugee Vessel Lost off St. Augustine
Chuck Meide, Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP)
In 2009, archaeologists from the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP), the research institution of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, discovered a sunken shipwreck off the coast of St. Augustine during a remote sensing survey. Divers began excavation of the ship, which lies in about 25 feet of water and usually is obscured by very poor visibility, in 2010, and have continued excavation each summer thereafter. After four seasons of fieldwork LAMP divers have completed 898 dives on the shipwreck for a total of 733 hours of underwater time, and have recovered thousands of artifacts dating to the late 18th century which are now undergoing treatment in the conservation laboratory. Artifact analysis and historical research carried out in the U.S. and the British National Archives indicates that this vessel was a participant in the last fleet to evacuate Charleston of Loyalists and Redcoats at the end of the American Revolution.
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