Upcoming Lecture: Ten Amazing Things about the Unusual Ancient City of Teotihuacan, Mexico

Ten Amazing Things about the Unusual Ancient City of Teotihuacan, Mexico
Speaker: Dr. Dr. Michael E. Smith, Arizona State University
October 22, 2015, 6pm
Pueblo Grande Museum, Community Room

Teotihuacan was the second largest city in the ancient New World, and today it is the most heavily visited archaeological site in Mexico. The grid-plan layout of Teotihuacan makes the city look normal and familiar to modern eyes. Yet decades of fieldwork lead to a single conclusion: Teotihuacan was one of the strangest cities of the ancient world. Teotihuacan lacks a royal palace, one of the standard features of most ancient cities. Does this mean there was no king? Was the city ruled by some kind of committee or council? Small-scale luxurious villas were abundant; in fact they were the standard form of housing. What kind of city had nearly its entire population (80,000 people) living in small palaces? Quantitative research shows that Teotihuacan had one of the lowest levels of wealth inequality of any city known to history. Yet, the distant Maya kings looked to this egalitarian city as the major trendsetter in Mesoamerica; they couldn’t get enough of Teotihuacan’s clothing styles. This talk shall explore recent archaeological discoveries at Teotihuacan, highlighting the contributions of researchers from Arizona State University. It will also describe ten amazing facts that reveal how Teotihuacan was the most unusual and fascinating city of the ancient Americas.

Dr. Michael E. Smith is a Professor at Arizona State University in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. He is an archaeologist with two research themes: The Aztecs and other societies in ancient central Mexico, and comparative urbanism. He has directed fieldwork projects at numerous sites in the provinces of the Aztec empire in central Mexico. His fieldwork focuses on the excavation of houses and the study of daily life. Dr. Smith also publishes on comparative empires, economies, and systems of social inequality.

For a printable PDF flyer for this lecture, click here: Smith Flyer

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Upcoming Lecture: Monsters and Vision in the Preclassical Mediterranean

Monsters and Vision in the Preclassical Mediterranean
Speaker: Dr. Nassos Papalexandrou, The University of Texas at Austin
September 24, 2015, 6:00 PM
ASU Tempe Campus, Durham Language and Literature Building, Room 2

The vision of monsters is a quintessential component of religious experience in Early Greece. One area of focus is the so-called orientalizing cauldrons, vessels equipped with oriental or orientalizing attachments in the form of human-headed birds and griffin or lion protomes. These objects have traditionally been viewed as allomorphs of the revered and symbolically charged tripod-cauldrons. This lecture, which summarizes the results of a forthcoming book, it will be argued that responses to these objects involved ambivalence, resistance, and outright rejection. They were perceived as monsters or provided models for conceptualizing physical and moral dimensions of early Greek teratology. Scholarship has traditionally labeled them as dedications, but this interpretation would account for only a small percentage of the excavated materials in sanctuaries such as Olympia, Delphi, and Acropolis of Athens.

Nassos Papalexandrou is an associate professor of art history at the University of Texas at Austin.  He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University with a focus on the ritual dimensions of Early Greek figurative art, and previously taught at the at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.  His first book, The Visual Poetics of Power: Warriors, Youths, and Tripods in Early Greece, was published in 2005.

For a printable PDF flyer for this lecture, click here: Papalexandrou Flyer

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Upcoming Lecture: Weaving as Worship: Reconstructing Ritual at the Etruscan Site of Poggio Colla

Weaving as Worship: Reconstructing Ritual at the Etruscan Site of Poggio Colla
Speaker: Dr. Gretchen Meyers, Franklin & Marshall College
April 16, 2015, 6pm
ASU Tempe Campus, Business Administration Building C Wing Room 116

Excavations on the acropolis of the Etruscan site of Poggio Colla have uncovered a monumental structure with at least three construction phases, spanning the seventh-second centuries B.C.E. Sacred architecture and votive deposits, including a hoard of women’s jewelry, secure the designation of this space as a sanctuary with a history of ritualized usage. The discovery in 2010 of a ceramic fragment with stamped image of a female figure giving birth, together with numerous tools for both weaving and spinning uncovered within the confines of the sanctuary, point to the veneration of a female deity as well as the potential involvement of female craft production in ritual.

This lecture examines how archaeological evidence can be used to reconstruct Etruscan ritual through an analysis of the architecture and finds from the sanctuary at Poggio Colla. In addition to more than ten votive contexts, production of sacred cloth or garments is indicated by the distribution of weaving tools on the site into distinctive areas for spinning and weaving. Two of the site’s votive deposits appear to contain gold adornment for cloth alongside other ritual implements. Analysis of this evidence, together with comparative material from Etruria, Latium and Southern Italy, suggests a particularly inclusive role for Etruscan women as producers of ceremonial cloth, and hence active participants in ritual.

Gretchen Meyers is with Franklin & Marshall College, and holds her degrees from the University of Texas at Austin (Ph.D.) and Duke University. Her research interests are Roman and Etruscan Archaeology, the Tiber River and Roman topography, Roman space and urban theory. She is Director of Archaeological Materials for the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project (Poggio Colla) in Italy.

For a printable PDF flyer for this lecture, click here: Meyers Flyer

For a printable PDF parking map for this lecture, click here: Parking Map

Upcoming Event: In the Shadow of the Monuments of Bahariya Oasis, Egypt

In the Shadow of the Monuments of Bahariya Oasis, Egypt
Speaker: Dr. Hussein Bassir, University of Arizona and Ministry of Antiquities, Egypt
March 5, 2015, 6pm
ASU West Campus, Kiva Lecture Hall

Dr. Hussein Bassir is an Egyptian archaeologist and former Director General of the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza. He is one of the field directors of excavations at the Bahariya Oasis in Egypt, and he is completing his post-doctoral work at the University of Arizona. He received his BA in Egyptology from Cairo University, and his MA and Ph.D. in Near and Middle Eastern Studies from The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. In addition to his scholarly pursuits, he has written extensively on Arabic literature and cinema and has published several fictional novels.

For a printable PDF flyer for this lecture, click here: Bassir Flyer

For a printable PDF parking map for this lecture, click here: Parking Map

CANCELLED – Upcoming Lecture: Monsters and Vision in the Preclassical Mediterranean

Due to a last-minute emergency, the February 5th talk by Dr. Nassos Papalexandrou has been cancelled. We will do our best to reschedule Dr. Papalexandrou on a future date. In lieu of the talk, the AIA Central Arizona Society will be having a movie night starting at 6pm at the ASU Tempe Campus, Business and Administration Building, C Wing (BAC) Room 116. We will be showing “The Man Who Discovered Egypt”, a BBC special on Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie, one of the foremost Egyptologists of all time. Snacks will be provided for all attendees.

We apologize for this sudden change, and we hope that you will join us for the movie and the remainder of the springtime lectures.

Upcoming Lecture: Monsters and Vision in the Preclassical Mediterranean

Monsters and Vision in the Preclassical Mediterranean
Speaker: Dr. Nassos Papalexandrou, The University of Texas at Austin
February 5, 2015, 6pm
ASU Tempe Campus, Business and Administration Building, C Wing (BAC) Room 116

The visual apparatus of Orientalizing cauldrons introduced radically new technologies of visual engagement in the Preclassical Mediterranean of the seventh century BCE. Hitherto the Orientalizing innovation has been understood in terms of the wholesale importation or adaptation of objects, techniques, iconographies from the Near East. Dr. Papalexandrou’s study proposes instead that change was ushered in by a radical shift in ways of seeing and interacting with what today we call “art.” The new technologies of visual engagement (new ways of seeing and being seen) he explores in this study reshaped the cognitive and aesthetic apparatus of viewing subjects. He argues that the griffin cauldrons were devised to establish an aesthetic of rare and extraordinary experiences within the experiential realm of early Greek sanctuaries or in sympotic events of princely elites of Orientalizing Italy. This aesthetic was premised on active visual engagement as performance motivated and sustained by the materiality of these objects.

Professor Papalexandrou received his Ph.D. from Princeton University focusing on the ritual dimensions of Early Greek figurative art. Prior to teaching at The University of Texas at Austin, he taught at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and spent the 2001-02 academic year as a research fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington DC. His first book, The Visual Poetics of Power: Warriors, Youths, and Tripods in Early Greece, was published in 2005. He is currently working on a second book that explores the role of monsters in the arts and rituals of Early Greece. He is currently involved in two projects that have to do with the archaeology of ancient Italy. One focuses on the translation/reception of the Greek tripod cauldron in Magna Graecia and Sicily in the Geometric, Archaic, and Classical periods. The other has to do with the importation and emulation of griffin cauldrons from the Aegean to Italy, especially Etruria, in the Archaic period.

For a printable PDF flyer for this lecture, click here: Hasaki Flyer

For a printable PDF parking map for this lecture, click here: Parking Map

Upcoming Event: The World of the Ancient Greek Potters: Their Places, Practices, and Prayers

The World of the Ancient Greek Potters: Their Places, Practices, and Prayers
Speaker: Dr. Eleni Hasaki, University of Arizona
October 16, 2014, 6pm
ASU Tempe Campus, Schwada Building (SCOB) Room 152

Greek pots, with their delicate shapes, lively scenes, and varied contexts of use and deposition. have enjoyed great popularity with ancient and modern viewers alike. They have also been scrutinized as documentation of gender roles, extent of literacy, social and economic status, and as media for political propaganda. Scholars have recently widened their research scope to highlight the potters who produced these vessels. A closer look at the spatial layout and technological equipment of their workshops and at the workforce relationships brings these establishments alive with masters, apprentices, middlemen, and purchasers, constantly negotiating their roles inside and outside the workshop. Inside their workshops, potters operated the wheel or the kiln not by using high-tech settings but by applying low-tech techniques, fine-tuned over decades or even generations. Even when technical secrets were well-guarded in an environment of relentless competition, everyone knew and appreciated the long hours that a potter had to practice to achieve perfection. A potter’s apprenticeship at the wheel was so long and arduous that even Greek philosophers used it as the most effective metaphor for conveying the importance of mastering all topics in a slow and structured manner. But, while patiently controlling forms and fire, Greek potters often prayed to gods to secure successful firings and to protect their businesses from local and global competitors in ever-changing configurations of trade networks.

Professor Eleni Hasaki is born in Athens and received her BA at the University of Athens (summa cum laude) and went to the University of Cincinnati with a Fulbright fellowship where she received her Ph.D. with a dissertation on ceramic kilns. She is now an Associate Professor at the School of Anthropology and an Honors Professor at the Honors College at the University of Arizona. She co-directs the Laboratory of Traditional and Experimental Technology and is a collaborating partner at the Center for Mediterranean Archaeology and the Environment. Her publications cover the themes of the craft technologies of Classical antiquity, the spatial organization of workshops, craft apprenticeship, and the negotiation of social status through crafts, especially ceramics. Her archaeological fieldwork in Greece (Paros, Cyclades), the ethnoarchaeological project in Tunisia (Moknine) and an experimental open-air lab for pyrotechnology locally (Tucson) promote the knowledge of crafts both in antiquity and its relevance for modern societies.

For a printable PDF flyer for this lecture, click here: Hasaki Flyer

For a printable PDF parking map for this lecture, click here: Parking Map