​​Jacksonville Society
Archaeological Institute of America

Sept. 16, 2017  Dr. Terry G. Powis from Kennesaw State University
Early Monumental Construction and Middle Preclassic Maya Development at Pacbitun, Belize
The practice of sub-surface excavations of plaza space is not often a highly sought after method of investigation for those researching the ancient Maya. What is more, the usefulness of plaza excavations is generally thought to be limited to merely recovering datable artifacts belonging to successive construction phases associated with the buildings along a plaza’s edge. However, some archaeologists have begun to realize the utility of this investigative approach – one that emphasizes the search for early Maya buildings, or even entire communities, beneath plaza surfaces in site centers. The amount of data recovered can significantly impact one’s understanding of a site’s formation and development. In the Belize Valley, there has been a concerted effort since the early 1990s to recover information about the Preclassic Maya through sub-plaza research. This approach has been very effective at Pacbitun resulting in the recovery of an abundant amount of data pertaining to the earliest inhabitants of the site’s two main plazas, Plaza A and Plaza B. Initial occupation in the 9th century BC begins with the construction of domestic structures in Plaza B; its households focusing on the mass production of shell bead adornments. In Plaza A, we see the erection of the first non-domestic buildings occurring within the next two succeeding centuries. The first temples built are truly monumental in size and, given the separation of residential and non-residential space between Plazas A and B, they provide a glimpse into the nature, structure, and extent of sociopolitical changes at the site throughout the Middle Preclassic (800-400 BC) period. These transformations observed at Pacbitun can now be compared to other sites in the Belize Valley and elsewhere in hopes of identifying similar patterns of early Maya sociopolitical development.

Oct. 21, 2017   International Archaeology Day


The Archaeological Institute of America--Jacksonville Society and the Beaches Museum and History Park will present the fourth annual International Archaeology Day fair on Oct. 21, 2017 at the museum, 381 Beach Boulevard, Jacksonville Beach from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A lecture by Vicki K. Rolland will take place at noon in the historic 1887 chapel in the park.  See next entry below for further information on this lecture.


Vicki Rolland, Archaeology Lab Administrator and Adjunct Professor at the University of North Florida
What’s Cookin’, February 16, 1017?
Zooarchaeology is a relatively new field of study based on analysis of animal remains found at archaeology sites with the goal of discovering how humans and animals interacted in the past. These remains provide information about the people, their culture, and their environment at various periods of occupation. Zooarchaeological studies begin with the identification and quantification of faunal remains to  place the site in context of time, zoology and biology, climate and environment with patterns of cultural choice. Rolland will explain how identification of the condition of skeletal elements allows scientists to attempt to link preferences of prey age and size with appropriate capture methods and equipment (bone fusion and teeth wear in mammals, ¼” or 1/16” fish vertebrae/otoliths, or bones utilized as informal tools).  By comparing these observations between local sites, Rolland and her colleagues have learned the range of faunal selections favored by the St. Johns II (A.D. 900-1300) people in the estuaries of Northeast Florida.



Nov. 18, 2017   Dr. Nancy de Grummond, Professor of Classics at Florida State University​

​​Demons at the Door:  To Hell, with the Etruscans​​

Dr. de Grummond's lecture reviews Etruscan beliefs about the afterlife.  It was originally conceived of as a happy place for the deceased among the ancestors.  In later times, however, it  radically changed and became populated with a variety of monsters and demons, often hovering at the liminal point of the doorway to the tomb.  In addition to these creatures, Etruscan tomb paintings and sculptures reveal numerous details of Etruscan concepts of the afterlife:  the journey (on foot, by chariot, by boat, on horseback), the gate to the  Underworld, activities in the afterlife (games, banqueting, love-making), the nature of the landscape, and the rulers of the Underworld. Finally, Dr. de Grummond compares the Etruscan concept of the Underworld with those  among Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and others.​

Upcoming Lectures

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Lectures are held at 12 pm in building 51 (Social Sciences) on the University of North Florida campus in Jacksonville.

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