​​Jacksonville Society
Archaeological Institute of America

​​March 25, 2017 Dr. Irving Finkel

The Ark Before Noah

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.

April 22, 2017  Dr. Susan Milbrath, Florida Museum of Natural History

The Role of Solar Observations in Developing The Preclassic Maya Calendar
Intervals of 260 days are recorded by architectural orientations at a number of Maya sites, a pattern that may have developed early at sites like Nakbe. The 260-day calendar, emphasizing sets of 13 and 20 days, dates back to the Middle Preclassic, when early architectural structures, E-Groups, in the Maya area were used for solar observations. These observations were probably linked with a maize cycle spanning 260 days. By the end of the Late Preclassic, however, most E-Groups were abandoned or modified for a different function, serving as a stage for rituals performed by rulers at a time when the Long Count calendar was being developed. The changing role of E-Groups relates to the rise of royal rituals associated with the detailed historical records documented in Maya Long Count inscriptions.

May 20, 2017  Peter Fix from Texas A & M

The Recovery of the La Belle

In 1684 famous French explorer La Salle left France with plans to establish a colony at the Mississippi River but got lost on the way.  Instead, he landed the colonists on the Texas coast between Galveston and Corpus Christi at a settlement  called Fort St. Louis.  HIs  ship the La Belle sank in 1686 and was lost until the Texas Historical Commission began searching for the ship in 1995.  The story of the ship's location and  excavation in Matagorda Bay, its conservation at Texas A & M's Conservation Research Laboratory, and its reconstruction in Austin's Bullock Museum is the subject of Peter Fix's lecture.  As the conservator and head of reconstruction , Fix knows every piece of the puzzle after working on it for around 20 years.  It is a story of dedication and hard work by many archaeologists and workers in related fields with a rare complete  ending--a reconstructed historic  ship.

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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