Monday, September 29, 2014

Gregory Aldrete on "Floods of the Tiber in Ancient Rome: The Eternal City Goes Under"

Saturday, October 4, 2014 at 11am in the Pillsbury Auditorium at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts,_Italy_-_12_Dec._2008.jpg
Lecture summary: Ancient Rome was perhaps the largest and most architecturally sophisticated western city until the Victorian era, but this impressive metropolis was frequently the victim of violent floods.  The Tiber river could rise as much as 15 meters above normal water levels and left large sections of the city submerged for up to a week at a time. This lecture will survey the history and characteristics of these floods, their effects on the city, and how the Romans attempted to prevent or alleviate flooding.  Finally, it will suggest some surprising ways in which ancient Rome was unusually well-suited to surviving the onslaught of these natural disasters. As we have seen with the devastation caused by hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and recurrent flooding in the Midwest, floods remain a serious threat today.  Given this reality, it is worth examining how the largest city of the ancient world met this danger.

About the speaker: Gregory Aldrete is Frankenthal Professor of History and Humanistic Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.  His particular areas of research interest are the history of the Roman Empire, rhetoric and oratory, military history, and urban problems in the ancient world.  He is a recipient of several awards for excellence in teaching at the university level, including the 2012 Wisconsin Professor of the Year.   Professor Aldrete has published a number of books and articles on his research, including Floods of the Tiber in Ancient Rome (Johns Hopkins 2007), Gestures and Acclamations in Ancient Rome (Johns Hopkins, 1999), Daily Life in the Roman City: Rome, Pompeii and Ostia (University of Oklahoma, 2009), The Long Shadow of Antiquity: What Have the Greeks and Romans Done For Us? with Alicia Aldrete (Continuum 2012), and Ancient Linen Body Armor: Unraveling the Linothorax Mystery with S. Bartell and A. Aldrete (Johns Hopkins, 2013) The lecture is free and open to the public.  Dr. Aldrete will be giving a Joukowsky Lecture, named for Martha Sharp Joukowsky, past President of the Archaeological Institute of America and Professor of Old World Archaeology at Brown University.  The Joukowsky Lectureship is part of the AIA’s National Lecture Program.

A no-host lunch open to AIA members with the speaker will follow the lecture at Christos Greek Restaurant, 2632 Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Crowd Sourcing for Society Outreach Grants

Our upcoming Archaeology Day event is once again made possible by an Outreach Grant from the national Archaeological Institute of America. The AIA’s Outreach Grant Program was designed to help local societies to fulfill the AIA's mission of educating the public about the significance of archaeological discovery by  planning and implementing outreach activities beyond the free lectures already provided to our local community. The Minnesota society has benefitted from this grant 4 years in a row, allowing us to support and celebrate the work of MN graduate and undergraduate students on International Archaeology Day. It has been wonderful to see this event grow as we share the variety of interesting projects that Minnesota students are working on. Sadly, the program is in danger of disappearing without more support, so the national AIA has launched a crowdsourcing campaign with a goal of raising $11,000 and we hope that you will help the AIA meet that goal by making a (tax-deductible!) contribution in any amount.

Please visit the campaign page below, and share with all of the archaeology lovers you know!

Call for Posters -- Students in Archaeology: Poster Presentation of Recent Fieldwork and Research Projects Related to Archaeology, Repatriation, Preservation and Presentation

Graduate and undergraduate students: Please consider sharing your work!

Our fourth annual student poster event will be held on Saturday October 18, 11am-2pm at Macalester College. The event be funded by an AIA Society Outreach Grant and held in conjunction with a lecture by U of M Law Professor Stephen Cribari on "'Monuments Men (and Women):' Cultural Property in Conflict Today." The lecture will be at 11am, followed by a poster presentation and reception from 12-2 pm that will allow social time and informal discussion while posters are on display.

We encourage students to present posters about their recent archaeological fieldwork or research projects related to archaeology, repatriation, preservation or presentation of antiquities. By presenting the vibrant student involvement with archaeological fieldwork and research projects, we hope to inspire students and the general public and encourage life-long interest in preservation of archaeological heritage. The poster session should also bring together students and professionals from different institutions, and encourage membership in the AIA and its MN Society. We expect that students presenting posters of their work will introduce their classmates, families and friends to the AIA and to its global work.

The AIA Outreach Grant will allow us to contribute toward the expense of printing posters and produce a booklet of abstracts, which will be available to attendees at the Saturday poster event. We will also serve light refreshments and beverages at the Saturday poster event to encourage conviviality while members of the Minnesota archaeological community visit with one another.

To be included in the poster session, students must submit an abstract with the following information via e-mail to Dr. V. Schrunk at by Weds., October 1:

  1. Name of student presenter(s) and academic institution

  2. Title of poster/research project. The title should make the topic clear, including the site’s name and country in the case of field reports (speakers must get permission from the project director to speak about the site and to use any photos).
  3. Abstract of maximum 300 words
Please direct questions to Vanca Schrunk at or 651-962-5740.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

2014-15 event schedule

Here is our 2014-2015 event schedule:

Saturday, October 4, 2014 at 11am: Gregory Aldrete, "Floods of the Tiber in Ancient Rome: The Eternal City Goes Under," in the Pillsbury Auditorium at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Saturday, October 18, 2014, International Archaeology Day lecture and student poster session 11am-2pm:Stephen Cribari lecture on "'Monuments Men (and Women):' Cultural Property in Conflict Today." U of M Law Professor Stephen Cribari will discuss humankind's tradition of cultural property depredation, and consider how cultural property is (or is not) protected, and highlight some of the major conflicts involving cultural property today. 11am in Hewitt Hall, Fine Arts Center, Macalester College.“Students in Archaeology: Poster Presentation of Recent Fieldwork and Research Projects Related to Archaeology, Repatriation, Preservation and Presentation” 4th annual poster presentation and open house with refreshments made possible by an AIA Outreach Grant. 12:00-2pm, Fine Arts Commons, Fine Arts Center, Macalester College.
++ call for posters to come in early September

Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 6pm: Greg Brick, “The Rediscovery of French Saltpeter Caves in Minnesota,” Hewitt Hall, Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center, Macalester College

Friday, December 5, 2014 at 6pm: Joan Breton Connelly, "Tombs and temples: Death, War and Remembrance on the Athenian Acropolis," O'Shaughnessy Educational Center Auditorium, University of St. Thomas

Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015 at 6pm: Robert Blanchette, "Tombs, sunken ships and historic huts: studying ancient wood reveals secrets from the past," in Davis Court, Markim Hall (1595 Grand Ave), Macalester College

Thursday, March 26, 2015 at 6pm: Jimmy Schryver, "The Petra Garden and Pool Complex," in the John B. Davis Lecture Hall in the Ruth Stricker Dayton Campus Center at Macalester College

Saturday, April 11, 2015 at 11am: Richard Buckley, "Richard III, The King Under the Car Park: the story of the search for the burial place of England’s last Plantagenet king," in the Pillsbury Auditorium at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Eva von Dassow on “Making Myth in Mesopotamia: The Reign of Erra, God of War"

Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 6pm in the John B. Davis Lecture Hall in the Ruth Stricker Dayton Campus Center at Macalester College

Myth is often thought of as something primordial, transmitted but not created, as if it were part of a culture’s genome.  Actual myths were of course composed in historical time.  From ancient Mesopotamia myths survive together with historical context: we often know when a myth was written and what events gave rise to its composition.  In one case we even know who wrote it.  This one is the poem relating how Erra, god of war, seized the reins of cosmic power and so wrecked the world.  It was written in the late eighth century BCE by a Babylonian author who reports that he received it from the gods in a dream.  His poem, composed in response to the unremitting warfare that beset Babylonia during the expansion of Assyria’s empire, when the land of southern Iraq was riven by factions and overrun by foreign fighters, achieved notable popularity in its day.  Many exemplars and excerpts, some in the form of amulets, have been found at various sites in Iraq.

The present lecture will illustrate how the poet transmuted lived experience into myth, drawing upon and transforming his literary tradition to compose an apotheosis of war.  It will examine the historical background of the myth of Erra, the intellectual and material world in which it took shape, and how contemporary audiences received it.  Recognizing that violence could be forestalled by understanding it, knowing its course and its consequences, people took the poem as a prophylactic to ward off war.

About the speaker: Eva von Dassow is Associate Professor in the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Minnesota. Professor von Dassow teaches the history and languages of the ancient Near East. She is the author of State and Society in the Late Bronze Age: Alalaḫ under the Mittani Empire (2008), co-author of Cuneiform Texts in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. III (2000), and editor of The Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Book of Going Forth by Day (1994; 1998), in addition to numerous articles. Professor has also participated in several collaborative projects including a theatrical production based on the Epic of Gilgamesh and archaeological excavations at Alalakh. Her recent research focuses on the conceptualization of citizenship and the constitution of publics in ancient Near Eastern polities, written records as artifacts of cultural practice and temporal process, and the nature of writing as an interface between reader and reality.

A no-host dinner open to AIA members with the speaker will follow the lecture at Pad Thai Grand Restaurant, 1681 Grand Avenue, St. Paul

Monday, February 24, 2014

Annette Giesecke on “Roman Green: Ancient Roman Gardens and the Green Ideal”

Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 11am in the Pillsbury Auditorium at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Mention of ancient Roman gardens conjures images of lavish suburban estates with far-reaching views and outfitted with sprawling gardens containing specimen plantings from around the world, aviaries and fishponds, pergolas for outdoor dining, and sculpture-lined swimming pools such as those described by the younger Pliny in his letters or evidenced by the remains of Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli. Such gardens would influence Byzantine, Islamic, and monastic gardens as well as gardens of Renaissance Europe; they would resonate in gardens from the seventeenth century onwards, their underlying presence felt to the present day. 

These Roman estates and their gardens are generally viewed as resulting directly from a desire to emulate the palaces of Hellenistic nobles, experienced first-hand by Romans when they became masters of the Mediterranean in the second century BCE. It is said, in turn, that Romans of lesser means replaced kitchen gardens with decorative plantings and, in the absence of space for planting, even covered their walls with garden murals, all out of a desire to live as luxuriously as the elite. This, however, is just part of the picture; fashionability is hardly enough to explain the extent and longevity of the garden movement in the Roman world. 

This lecture addresses the origins and underlying principles of the Roman Green Movement as manifested in Roman domestic gardens of the mid second century BCE and thereafter. The movement had its origins at a most volatile point in Roman history, a time ripe for utopian reverie.  It was a time when citizens worried deeply about the effects of Roman conquests and of extravagant building efforts on an increasingly depleted Earth—and when it appeared most desirable to “return” to simpler times, to the imagined comforts of a hallowed agricultural past idealized by tradition. 
Combining a full range of paradisiacal associations, sacred and profane, Roman domestic gardens and their painted counterparts came to express an ideal of living harmoniously with nature.

Annette Giesecke is with the University of Delaware, and holds her degrees from Harvard (Ph.D.) and UCLA; her research interests include gardens in the Classical world, Greek and Roman art and architecture, and urbanism and ethics of land use in classical antiquity.  Her most recent publications include The Epic City: Urbanism, Utopia, and the Garden in Ancient Greece and Rome (Harvard University Press, 2007) and EARTH PERFECT? Nature, Utopia, and the Garden (contrib. and ed., Black Dog Publishing, London 2012). Forthcoming books include The Mythology of Plants: Botanical Myths from Ancient Greece and Rome (Getty Publications, 2014) and The Good Gardener? Nature, Humanity and the Garden, editor and contributor (Black Dog Publishing, 2014).

A no-host lunch open to AIA members with the speaker will follow the lecture at Christos Greek Restaurant, 2632 Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis

Friday, January 31, 2014

Joshua Feinberg on “Magnetic Applications to Archaeological Studies”

Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 6pm, in the John B. Davis Lecture Hall in the Ruth Stricker Dayton Campus Center at Macalester College.

A few of the 1400 obsidian artifacts collected from a Middle Palaeolithic cave site in Armenia.  Magnetic measurements of the artifacts help determine where the obsidian was collected, and allow researchers to address questions about how early humans procured material for tool production
Look closely at any archaeological material and you will find trace amounts of magnetic minerals. Whether your passion is in ceramics, metals, glassware, obsidians, or cherts, the magnetic properties of such artifacts and the materials in which they are found often retain valuable, quantifiable information about an artifact's original age, as well as the age of the deposit in which it was discovered. This talk will share several recent efforts at the University of Minnesota where magnetic methods were used to provide information about the age of archaeological features or the origin of archaeological artifacts. Projects to be discussed will include obsidian research in Syria and the American Southwest, archaeomagnetic dating of ceramics in Israel and Syria, metallurgical slag from Cyprus and Israel, Clovis sites in Texas, and footprints preserved in volcanic ash in Mexico.

 About the speaker: Joshua Feinberg is Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth Sciences and Associate Director of the Institute for Rock Magnetism at the University of Minnesota. His research uses a combination of geophysical approaches (e.g., rock magnetism, paleomagnetism, gravity), material characterization techniques (e.g., scanning and transmission electron microscopy, scanning force microscopy, X-ray diffraction), and field geology methods to critically examine a broad range of scientific problems. These tools enable my group to collaborate with specialists from a variety of disciplines, including the geosciences, anthropology, soil science, planetary geology, material sciences, physics, chemistry, and biology. Our research aims to understand the fine details of processes that operate on global, tectonic, outcrop, and nanometer scales.

 A no-host dinner open to AIA members with the speaker will follow the lecture at Pad Thai Grand Restaurant, 1681 Grand Avenue, St. Paul