AIA - Worcester Society 

Archaeological Institute of America

Bringing the best of the world's

archaeological discoveries

 to central New England


PLEASE CLICK HERE or scroll down

for a description of our upcoming lectures.  Unless combined with a Special Event, all of our lectures are free and open to the public.  Direct your requests for more information on a specific lecture or on membership to the AIA -Worcester Society, we look forward to hearing from you.

From before the Bronze Age to today's Internet Age, encompassing art, history, science, architecture and exploration, we cover the width and breadth of all archaeological endeavor. 



18 September 2012  at 7:00 PM

Hagan Campus Center Hall, Assumption College    Worcester, MA


Jerusalem, whose name to some means the ‘City of Peace,’ has been anything but peaceful during the past four millennia.  A new study by the present author indicates that there have been at least 118 separate conflicts in and for this city since 2000 BCE — conflicts which ranged from local religious struggles to strategic military campaigns and which embraced everything in between.  Jerusalem has been destroyed completely at least twice, besieged 23 times, attacked an additional 52 times, captured and recaptured 44 times, been the scene of 20 revolts and innumerable riots, had at least five separate periods of violent terrorist attacks during the past century, and has only changed hands completely peacefully twice in the past 4,000 years.  Many of these conflicts left evidence in the archaeological record and recent discoveries have shed new light on many of these successive struggles, including those involving Egyptians, Canaanites, Israelites, Jebusites, Neo-Assyrians, Neo-Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Moslems, and Crusaders.  This study of 4,000 years of conflict in a single city also illustrates how archaeology, politics, and nationalism are frequently linked in the troubled environment of the Middle East today, especially when ancient conflicts and their archaeology are used as propaganda by modern military and political leaders.  

Dr. Cline is Associate Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the George Washington University and Director of the GWU Capitol Archaeological Institute. He holds his degrees from the University of Pennsylvania (Ph.D.), Yale University, and Dartmouth College. His areas of specialization include the military history of the Mediterranean, and the international connections between Greece, Egypt, and the Near East during the Late Bronze Age. Professor Cline is also the Associate Director of the Megiddo Expedition, and Co-Director of the excavations at Tel Kabri.

The AIA - Worcester Society is the local chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America:  our members are both enthusiasts  and professionals.  We welcome everyone with an interest in archaeology and its related fields, and depend upon member support to fund archaeological research, publications, and lecture programs.  Please join us at the next lecture and sign up!  Enjoy member-only events and meeting other people with similar interests.   Read more about the AIA...

An informal reception immediately follows all the lectures to meet with our speaker and other members.



2011 - 2012 LECTURES

Masada: Last Stronghold of the Jewish Resistance Against Rome

Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 7:00pm   Hagan Campus Center, Assumption College

500 Salisbury Street, Worcester  MA


The mountain of Masada rises 400 meters above the southwest shore of the Dead Sea. In the 1st C BC, Herod the Great, client king of Judaea, built a fortress and lavishly decorated palaces on top of the mountain. Seventy years after his death, in 66 AD, the Jews living in Judaea rose up in revolt against Roman rule. A band of 960 Jewish rebels took over the top of the mountain and occupied it for the duration of the revolt. They continued to hold out against the Romans even after the official end of the revolt with the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. In 72 or 73 AD the Romans arrived at the foot of Masada and set up a siege. The dramatic fall of the mountain to the Romans, which ended with the famous and controversial mass suicide of the Jewish rebels, is related in great detail by the ancient historian Flavius Josephus. This slide-illustrated lecture describes the archaeological remains from Herod's fortress and palaces (excavated by the late Yigael Yadin in the 1960's), and those connected with the Roman siege.

Dr. Magness is the author of numerous books, including 'The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls' (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002) which won the 2003 Biblical Archaeology Society’s Award for Best Popular Book in Archaeology in 2001-02 and was selected as an “Outstanding Academic Book for 2003” by Choice Magazine. Looking for an in-depth opportunity to learn about the archaeology of Israel and its surrounding area? Dr. Magness is the featured expert for the 36-lecture DVD course "The Holy Land Revealed" offered by The Great Courses.

Jodi MagnessSuggested Reading for this lecture: Yigael Yadin, 'Masada: Herod's Fortress and the Zealot's Last Stand'. (Random House: NY, 1966)

Jodi Magness is with the Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism. She holds her degrees from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Pennsylvania (Ph.D.), and her areas of expertise are the archaeology of Palestine in the Roman, Byzantine and early Islamic Periods, ancient pottery, ancient  synagogues, Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Roman army in the East. Professor Magness is currently the Co-Director of excavations at the Roman fort site of Yotvata, Israel and has also worked at Khirbet Yattir and Masada in Israel, Caesarea Maritima, the Athenian Agora, and ancient Corinth, Greece.  She has published widely and is an active AIA member, having served on the AIA Governing Board as an Academic Trustee.


Etruscan Human Sacrifice in Myth and Ritual

Tuesday, 20 March 2012 at 7:00pm   Alden Trust Auditorium K 112, Assumption College

500 Salisbury Street, Worcester  MA


Scholars have been reluctant to believe that the Etruscans practiced human sacrifice. There are many specific references in written sources and in representations of human sacrifice that have at one time or another been dismissed as not sufficient for determining if the Etruscans did in fact engage in this practice. Recent excavations in the monumental sacred area on the Pian di Civita at Tarquinia by the University of Milan (directed by M. Bonghi Jovino and G. Bagnasco Gianni) have proven once and for all that human sacrifice was indeed practiced by the Etruscans, through the discovery of a number of burials in this non-funerary context, of infants, children and adults. Some individuals were demonstrably “marginal” in society, as diseased, foreign or of lower social status. One child, an 8-year old, was decapitated and his feet placed at the base of and underneath a wall, evidently as a foundation deposit. A stone altar, a sacred building, and a ritual deposit of symbols of secular power (an axe, a shield and a lituus trumpet) were all part of the archaeological context in which the killings took place.

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 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.

Nancy T. de Grummond is a Distinguished Research Professor with the Department of Classics at Florida State University in Tallahassee.  She received her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and specializes in Etruscan archaeology, religion and myth, and Scythian archaeology.  Professor de Grummond has been honored for her work and teaching, is a past holder of the AIA’s Joukowsky Lectureship, and is Norton Lecturer for 2011/2012.  Recent publications include The Sanctuary of the Etruscan Artisans at Cetamura del Chianti (2009), Etruscan Myth, Sacred History and Legend (2006), and The Religion of the Etruscans (co-edited and co-authored with Erika Simon, 2006). 



2010 - 2011 LECTURES

From Sea to Sahara: The Romans in North Africa

Tuesday, 26 October 2010 at 7:00pm   Hagan Campus Center, Assumption College      500 Salisbury Street, Worcester, MA


This lecture will include a general survey of the cities, villages and farms established in North Africa (in particular in the area of modern Tunisia) in the Roman period. Of particular importance and interest are the monuments of Carthage (the capital of the Roman province Africa Proconsularis) and Dougga (the “Pompeii” of North Africa); the lecture will look at these two sites in some detail. The lecture will also include an examination of the rituals of death and burial in the Yasmina cemetery, an important cemetery in Carthage that was excavated by the lecturer and a team from the University of Georgia. Excavation in this cemetery uncovered two magnificent funerary portrait statues, several tomb monuments with figured reliefs and funerary inscriptions and a number of  interesting children’s burials. The focus of the lecture will be the process of Romanization of the province and will include an examination of some of the evidence for continued and strong indigenous influence on the Romans living in the area.


Naomi J. Norman, a classical archaeologist holding the rank of Associate Professor in the Department of Classics, is currently the Department Head and Director of the University of Georgia Excavations at Carthage (Tunisia). Educated at Bryn Mawr College (A.B) and the University of Michigan (Ph.D), she was also a fellow of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. She was awarded the M.G. Michael Award for Excellence in Research from UGA and has received major grants, fellowships and awards from the American Philosophical Society, American Council of Learned Societies, Parker Center at Brown University, NEH, Earthwatch and the Kress Foundation to support her research.  She was recently named a Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor in Classics at the University of Georgia. She has presented over sixty lectures, workshops and papers, and has authored eleven major articles or book chapters on a variety of archaeological topics, over a dozen interim excavation reports and numerous book reviews. Current projects include a book on the archaeology of Roman Carthage and the multi-volume, multi-author publication of the Carthage excavations. She is the Editor-in-Chief of American Journal of Archaeology; past Vice President for Publications of the Archaeological Institute of America.


Monumental Architecture and Political Power in Central Africa:

The DGB Sites of Northern Cameroon

Thursday, 24 March 2011 at 7:00pm   Alden Trust Auditorium (Kennedy Hall 112) Assumption College      500 Salisbury Street, Worcester, MA


The northern Mandara Mountains of Cameroon and Nigeria are culturally one of the most complicated areas on the continent, with more than two dozen languages spoken sometimes at distances of only a few kilometers, with ethnic and social diversity to match. Research over the last 30 years has provided us with in formation on the prehistory of regions around the Mandara massif, but we know far less about the settlement of the mountains themselves. The discovery of the DGB sites promises to change this situation. These sites are complexes of dry-stone terraces and platforms that make up some of the most striking examples of indigenous African stone architecture between Ethiopia and Great Zimbabwe. Their function is, at this point, enigmatic, but they seem to have played a significant role in political relations in the southern Lake Chad Basin five centuries ago.

Over the last 500 years, Mandara communities were involved in complex social and economic interchanges with Islamic states, while remaining culturally distinct on the frontiers of the Islamic world. Small-scale chiefdoms and even more egalitarian societies dominate the Mandara political landscape, and seem to have done so in the past as well. Anthropologists usually think such societies are destined to evolve toward more-centralized states, but the Mandara case suggests that they can function as independent sociopolitical units over the long term. Dr. MacEachern's work on the DGB sites examines the ways in which prehistoric Mandara communities maintained their independence in this very complex political landscape.

Scott MacEachern is Professor of Anthropology at Bowdoin College.  He holds his degrees from the University of Prince Edward Island and the University of Calgary (M.A. and Ph.D. in Archaeology), and his areas of specialization are African archaeology, ethnoarchaeology, state formation processes, and archaeology and genetics.  He has conducted fieldwork in Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana, as well as a number of sites in Canada, and is Director of the DGB Archaeological Project in Northern Cameroon.  He has published extensively, and has been the recipient of many grants and fellowships.



Communicating Conservation in Archaeology
Sunday, 3 April 2011 at 1:00pm       Conference Room, Worcester Art Museum          55 Salisbury Street, Worcester, MA

Conservation in archeology is a practice that is undergoing a continuous evolution, both in principles and in techniques. This lecture will illustrate the contribution that the Center for Archeological Conservation of Rome provided to this process during the last 30 years. This presentation will feature three vignettes of how to communicate conservation efforts at archaeological sites: 

“Open for Restoration: “The conservation of the Centaurus of the Capitoline Museum”; “The conservation of the mosaics of the Transfiguration in the Monastery of Saint Catherine” and the “Conservation of the Prehistoric Sculptures of Monteprama, Sardinia”, which is an incredible news, still unpublished, of the Mediterranean archeological world. Please visit the Centro di Conservazione Archeologica (CCA) website for more information.  






Clockwise from right: mosaic from Santa Caterina; Capitolino Centaur; Prehistoric sculpture from Sardinia.Roberto Nardi

Roberto Nardi received his degrees in archaeology from the University of Rome and in conservation of archaeological materials at the Istituto Centrale per il Restauro, Rome.  In 1982 he founded the Centro di Conservazione Archeologica (CCA), a private company carrying out public commissions in the field of conservation of ancient monuments and archaeological sites. Since then he has directed over 50 projects and training courses in 14 countries, including on the Arch of Septimius Severus and the Temple of Vespasian in the Roman Forum, the Great Baths in Masada, Israel, the Roman town of Zeugma, Turkey, the mosaic of Saint Catherine in Sinai, the mural paintings of the Madrasa Amiriya in Yemen. He has published 80 technical articles and served as an Associate Professor at ICCROM. He is a Fellow of the IIC and vice president of the International Committee for the Conservation of Mosaics (ICCM).  Dr. Nardi is an AIA Kress Lecturer for 2010/2011. There is an excellent article written by Nardi on the AIA website page  for Heritage, Conservation & Archaeology.





What kinds of topics does the AIA - Worcester Society feature in its programs? Check out some of our past events to see our diversity:

Caves, Chocolate and Christianity: Maya Archaeology in Belize

Check out the article "Maya Doomsday? The Truth Behind 2012" in the latest issue of Archaeology magazine!

For six years, archaeologist Ben Thomas and members of the Xibun Archaeological Research Project (XARP) conducted a comprehensive archaeological survey of the Sibun River and its environs in Belize, Central America. XARP is focused on political, ritual, and economic transformations of Terminal Classic Maya society. The project’s main objective was to document and evaluate the myriad factors that affected the settlement choices made by the ancient Maya settlers who lived along the banks of the Sibun River.  While searching for Maya settlements, ancient cacao groves and the remains of a lost church, the team uncovered 22 ancient Maya sites and evidence for ritual use of caves in the shadow of the Sleeping Giant mountain ridge. One of the most interesting finds were unexpected round temples or structures associated with stone monuments, such as stelae and altars.

These finds increased our understanding of Maya adaptive strategies and how they were affected both by geography and ideology: while the fertile alluvial plains of the Sibun River attracted settlers it was the proximity of the sacred caves in the limestone karst bordering the settlements which imbued the landscape with symbolic significance. Examples of geographic adaptation include the location of settlements to control access to waterways and resources: at the confluence of river and streams, at the place where the river emerges from its mountain sources on to the plain, and at the mouth of the river to control the movement of goods and information from the Caribbean. Ideological adaptation is shown in the extensive evidence of considerable movement between caves and settlements: the removal of cave formations like stalactites and stalagmites from the nearby caves, as well as the placing pottery and stone tools in the caves.

Dr. Ben Thomas is the Director of Programs for the Archaeological Institute of America and Assistant professor of Art and Archaeology at Berklee College of Music. An informal reception to meet the speaker immediately follows the talk.  This event is free and open to the public, courtesy of the Archaeological Institute of America-Worcester Society and the Worcester Art Museum.


The Sea of Galilee Boat

In 1986 a 2,000-year-old boat was discovered in Israel on the banks of the Sea of Galilee (Yam Kinneret) near the ancient site of Migdal. In a daring and hair-raising non-stop
adventure, directed by the speaker, the boat was excavated, packaged in its entirety, and moved to a specially-prepared conservation pool. The boat lived its life during the first centuries B.C.-A.D. This vessel is apparently representative of the large-type all-purpose fishing boats common on the lake during that time. Research reveals , beyond reasonable doubt, that this is the type of boat mentioned in the Gospels, used by the disciples of Jesus. It is also the type of boat used by the Jews in the brutal nautical Battle of Migdal in A.D. 67, against a makeshift Roman fleet. The lecture describes the adventure of the boat’s discovery and excavation, and then delves into what research has revealed about the boat and its milieu.

Dr. Shelley Wachsmann is with the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, and the Meadows Professor of Biblical Archaeology with the Nautical Archaeology Program atTexas A& M University.  He received his degrees from the Institute of Archaeology at Hebrew University (M.A. and Ph.D.); his areas of specialization are Biblical archaeology, nautical archaeology, the Near East, trade, and archery.  He has done extensive fieldwork, and his publications include “The Sea of Galilee Boat” (3rd edition 2009) and “Seagoing Ships and Seamanship in the Bronze Age Levant” (1998, 2nd printing 2009).  In 1997 his book "Sea of Galilee Boat: An Extraordinary 2000 Year Old Discovery" (Plenum: New York) received the Biblical Archaeology Society’s Biennial award for best popular book on archaeology.

Websites of interest:  the Homepage for Dr. Wachsmann, The Danaos Project, and the Persian War Shipwreck Survey
Short bibliography on lecture topic (for lay reader):
Wachsmann, S., 1988. The Galilee Boat: 2,000-Year-Old Hull Recovered Intact. Biblical Archaeology Review 14/5: 18-33.
Wachsmann, S., 2009. The Sea of Galilee Boat. College Station, Texas A&M University Press.


Meanings in Early Celtic Art  

The style known as Early Celtic Art appeared around 500 BC in central and western Europe, replacing the geometrical ornament of the Early Iron Age.  This new style, with its dynamic patterns of floral forms and abundant use of human and animal faces and figures, became the basis not only for the Celtic art of the Late Iron Age, but also for the art styles of the Late Roman and early medieval periods, Anglo-Saxon and Viking ornament, and later decorative fashions.  Recent archaeological discoveries enable us to examine the first uses of this new style and to address the question of its meaning to the people who created and used it.

The two artifacts pictured here are both made of bronze, recovered during excavations at the Late Iron Age settlement site at Kelheim in Bavaria, Germany. The site is situated at the confluence of the Altmühl River into the Danube, and it was an important center of iron production and trade. Its peak of activity was around 100-10 BC.  Iron Age coinage was important both for economic reasons and as a vehicle for messages conveyed through the iconography - the pictures on the coins. Vultures, such as the figurine pictured left, found at the Kelheim excavation site, played a major role in Celtic iconography, and were important in Celtic myth and ritual.

Professor Peter S. Wells is with the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota.  He received his degrees from Harvard University (Ph.D), also studying at the University of Tübingen, and specializes in European archaeology, especially of the Bronze & Iron Ages, the Roman Period, and the early medieval period.   Dr. Wells has done extensive fieldwork in Germany and his recent main publications include “Barbarians to Angels: The Dark Ages Reconsidered” (W.W. Norton, 2008) and “Image and Response in Early Europe” (2008, Duckworth).

Short bibliography on lecture topic (for lay reader):  Megaw, R. and V. Celtic Art. Thames and Hudson, 1989; and Wells, P.S. Beyond Celts, Germans and Scythians: Archaeology and Identity in Iron Age Europe. Duckworth, 2001.


Homer and the Muses in Roman Luxembourg: The Vichten Mosaic

Accidentally unearthed by a farmer in 1995, the exquisite 3rd century AD Vichten Mosaic is a large mosaic of great importance from Northern Gaul. It originally covered the floor of the central reception room in one of the most remarkable Roman villas ever discovered in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Exceptionally well preserved, it shows in very detailed iconography the nine Muses, the goddesses protecting the arts, in the company of Homer, the prince of poets.  Taking this spectacular discovery as a starting point, Professor Michel Polfer, Director of the Musée National d’Histoire et d’Art in Luxembourg and Associated Professor at the University of Luxembourg, will present the major results of ongoing archaeological excavation and research. The focus of the illustrated talk will be on Romanization: the process of gradual and progressive integration of local populations into all the aspects of the Roman Empire. Professor Polfer will take the audience on an illustrated tour back into the three centuries following the conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar (c. 50 BCE) and its administrative reorganization under Augustus.

Prof. Dr. Polfer (pictured at right) has a PhD in Roman Archaeology from the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg-im-Breisgau. His research interests include the archaeology of Northern Gaul in the Roman and Merovingian period as well as the archaeology of crafts in the northwestern provinces of the Roman Empire, as well as the history and archaeology of early Christianization in northwestern Gaul. Since 2007 he has been a   member of the National commission for monuments and sites of the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg . He is this year's guest speaker of the Henry J. Leir Luxembourg Program-Clark University. This program invites prominent Luxembourg citizens and scholars to give lectures on themes related to Luxembourg and/or European affairs. Born in Germany, Mr. Leir (1900 - 1998, pictured below left) was an extremely successful businessman who eventually emigrated to the USA fleeing Nazi persecution. His love of languages, literature and the arts laid the groundwork for the numerous awards and honors he received in his life, and continues today in the provisions and gifts he made to countless programs benefitting the public.


Spying on Antiquity:

Declassified US Intelligence Satellite Imagery & Near Eastern Archaeology

In 1998, President Clinton declassified 800,000 photographs from CORONA, the United States’ first spy satellite program, in order to make them available for environmental and historical research.  Archaeologists working in the Near East have been quick to embrace this newly available resource, which capture images of sites and landscapes in the 1960’s.  Many of these landscapes have been damaged or destroyed in the intervening 40 years.  This presentation will discuss how CORONA imagery has been used to study ancient landscapes in the Near East, with case studies from Bronze Age Syria, Iron Age northern Iraq, and late Antique north-western Iran.

CORONA was the first operational space photo reconnaissance satellite,  approved by President Dwight David Eisenhower in February 1958. The project was conceived to take pictures in space of the Soviet Bloc countries and de-orbit the photographic film for processing and exploitation. Early imagery collections were driven, in part, by the need to confirm purported developments in Soviet strategic missile capabilities. Worldwide photographic coverage was also used to produce maps and charts for the Department of Defense and other U.S. Government mapping programs.

Dr. Jason Ur is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University, specializing in Near Eastern Archaeology, especially urbanism and landscape studies. He holds a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago. His areas of specialization are landscape archaeology, ancient urbanism, Mesopotamian and Near Eastern archaeology, and GIS and remote sensing applications in archaeology. His current field work includes surveys in NE Syria (Tell Brak), SE Turkey (Upper Tigris Vally), and NW Iran (Mughan Steppe); he has also done field work in Jordan, Egypt and Israel.  He is also a Project Member of Modeling Ancient Settlement Systems (MASS) Project (University of Chicago-Argonne National Laboratory), a NSF Biocomplexity in the Environment Program-funded project to develop a dynamic social model of Ancient Near Eastern civilization.


The Archaeology of Ireland's Western Shores

Our Travels In Archaeology Series continues as we follow a driving loop starting in Limerick (just outside Shannon Airport), up along the western coast of Ireland to include the Dingle Peninsula before sailing across the water to Inis Mor, the main island off the west coast (the Aran Islands grouping). On our return drive we'll follow the coastal route along the beautiful Cliffs of Mohr. In addition to medieval stone 'bee-hive' huts and sunken churches, we will focus on the four extraordinary prehistoric stone ring-forts of Inis Mor. Dún Aengus is the most famous of these mysterious sites, cited by the 19th-century archaeologist George Petrie as ‘the most magnificent barbaric monument extant in Europe’ and still one of the most visited sites in all of western Ireland. Dún Eoghanachta (Fort of the Eóganachta), Dún Eochla, and the spectacular Dún Dúchatair (the Black Fort) represent stunning examples of these cashels, which range in timeframe from roughly 1500 BCE to 800 AD. We will explore their common features which include terracing of the walls, chevaux de frise construction, stone steps leading to upper levels, and  passages and chambers within the walls. Neolithic tombs and medieval sacred wells complete this journey around the Gaeltacht part of Ireland.

We will also discuss driving tips, great B&B's and other lodging options, recommended reading for archaeology fans, and ideas for excursions. One of the most interesting daytrips is a visit to the Great Blasket (Na Blascaodaí), an island off the coast of Dingle, which is famous for its wealth of literature (many have likened the stories and poems to the Homeric style), much of it born of sadness: the island was officially abandoned in 1953 as its isolated life no longer proved viable for the islanders, many of whom emigrated to Springfield, MA. We finish with an exploration of the challenges and concerns of archaeological tourism in a wider context.

Alexandra Cleworth serves on the Governing Board of the Archaeological Institute of America as the Vice-President for Societies; she also chairs the AIA Conservation and Heritage Management committee. Her most recent trip to Ireland was to present at the World Archaeological Congress, held in Dublin June/July 2008.  Interested in protecting Ireland's cultural heritage and archaeological areas? Please visit the AIA's webpage  Archaeology Watch to learn more about current threats to the beautiful Hill of Tara, the most well-known place in Ireland for its historic and cultural importance.


The Social Archaeology of Bronze Age China

Based on a new book by Dr Lothar von Falkenhausen, entitled Chinese Society in the Age of Confucius, this lecture explores the most up-to-date archaeological discoveries from the second and first millennia BCE that can illuminate the social structure during the formative period of Chinese civilization. This illustrated presentation will also discuss the cataclysmic social changes that preceded the founding of a centralized autocratic state by the First Emperor of Qin in 221 BC. The Late Bronze Age (ca. 1000-250 BC) was a crucial period during which the Chinese Classics came into being and famous thinkers such as Confucius (ca. 551-479 BC) laid the intellectual foundations of traditional Chinese civilization. In his work, Falkenhausen analyzes clan and lineage organization, social stratification, gender and ethnic differences, as well as social change over time. He not only presents new data, but also thinks about these data in new ways, emphasizing the nexus between the social order and ritual practices and introducing anthropological approaches as-yet rarely tested in China.

Lothar von Falkenhausen is Professor of Chinese Archaeology and Art History and Associate Director of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA. He received his PhD in anthropology(1988) from Harvard University; he also attended (for two years each) the University of Bonn (1977-79), Peking University (1979-81), and Kyôto University (1984-86). His specialty is East Asian archaeology, with an emphasis on the great Bronze Age of China (ca. 2000-200 BC).

He has published approximately one hundred articles, books, and edited volumes on a number of different topics; the two most important being his book Suspended Music: Chime Bells in the Culture of Bronze Age China (1993), and his chapter on the archaeology of the late Bronze Age in The Cambridge History of Ancient China (1999).


“Let the Dead Bury the Dead”:

The Forensic Science Behind the Recovery & Identification of U.S. War Casualties

The United States is virtually alone among countries in its commitment to search for, recover, and identify the remains of its soldiers lost in military conflicts. Beginning with the work of the U.S. Army's Central Identification Laboratories (CILs) that operated following World War II, and continuing through the Korean and Vietnam wars, the United States has maintained a proactive program to account for its war dead. Today, the Department of Defense Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) has 18 search-and-recovery teams deployed almost continuously-from the ice-covered peaks of the Himalayas to the depths of the Mediterranean Sea, from the triple-canopy jungles of Papua New Guinea to the rock-strewn deserts of the Middle East-in search of the almost 90,000 American servicemen still unaccounted for since the end of the Second World War. The current CIL, the largest skeletal identification laboratory in the world, is identifying approximately two men a week.

Excavation areas can look like typical archaeological squares, laid out with pegs and strings in geometrical precision. Where they take place can be anything but typical: remote sites difficult for maneuvering people and equipment, such as a grid of four meter squares climbing down the mountainside, or knee-deep in cold water and mud. Added to this can be the danger of excavating explosives which must be disarmed and reburied to prevent accidental detonation. DNA samples along with recovered personal artifacts are examined by a variety of specialists to piece together the story. Here archaeology is used not to tell us about how people in ancient cultures lived, but how army service personnel in living memory died.

Holland routinely briefs high-ranking military and government officials including the secretaries of State and Defense, and has served in scientific advisory roles to the National Institute of Justice and the International Commission on Missing Persons. Holland and his laboratory are frequently featured on such programs as Discovery, Nightline, 60 Minutes, NPR, and Nova. He is also a writer: please see Dr. Hollland's website for information about his thrillers One Drop of Blood and the upcoming (January 2008) K.I.A.


For more local events relating to archaeology, be sure to visit these links:

Massachusetts Archaeology Society (MAS) stimulates the study of archaeology and Native American cultural history, especially in Massachusetts. There is a Central Massachusetts Chapter that meets in Worcester.

College of the Holy Cross (Classics Department)

Old Sturbridge Village occasionally offers archaeology-related events, please ask the Visitor Center for information.