Archaeological Institute of America • Kentucky Society

Lectures in Archaeology, 2016-2017

Throughout the 2016-17 academic year, the Kentucky Society of the Archaeological Institute of America, in collaboration with the University of Louisville Department of History, will bring five internationally-recognized archaeologists to the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky campuses to present public lectures about their research. Topics range from the collecting of Holy Land relics to the underwater exploration of harbors in Israel and Greece, and from ancient Roman gardening to the practicalities of providing ancient monasteries with bread and beer. All lectures are free and open to the public. 

Upcoming Events

Thursday, April 6, 2017
Professor Darlene L. Brooks Hedstrom, Wittenberg University
"Cooking and Baking in the Monasteries of Byzantine Egypt: The Archaeology of Cooking as a Window into Monastic Life"
6:00 PM, University of Louisville: Chao Auditorium, Ekstrom Library

What was on the menu in the monasteries of early Christian Egypt? How was food prepared, and where did it come from? Archaeologist Darlene L. Brooks Hedstrom of Wittenberg University explores these questions in her talk, “Baking and Cooking in the Monasteries of Byzantine Egypt: The Archaeology of Cooking as a Window into Monastic Life.”

Coptic and Greek sources recount vivid details about the importance of food production, distribution, and consumption habits for Egyptian monastic communities in the early Byzantine period. Recent archaeobotanical and microarchaeological studies at monastic sites suggest a great diversity in food prepared at monasteries, especially the Roman condiment garum—a fermented fish sauce. I examine the extensive Egyptian monastic remains of kitchens and bakehouses that are unique in their level of preservation and variation to illustrate what we can learn about monastic life in comparison with the accounts of cooking and dining found in the literary sources. The numerous examples of preserved monastic kitchens offer remarkable sources for reconstruction the foodways of monastic communities. The material is part of a larger project Feeding Asceticism in Byzantine Monasteries: The Archaeology of Monastic Cooking to be published by Medieval Institute Publications.

 Dr. Darlene L. Brooks Hedstrom is Chair and Professor of History and Director of Archaeology at Wittenberg University. She is the Senior Archaeological Consultant for the Yale Monastic Archaeology Project.


Thursday, September 15, 2016
Professor Morag Kersel, DePaul University
“The Lure of the Relic: Collecting the Holy Land”
6:00 PM, University of Louisville: Chao Auditorium, Ekstrom Library

The relationship between people and things is a crucial avenue of investigation in understanding past cultures. While the social aspects of material culture have come under closer scrutiny over the past few decades, what remains largely unexplored are the reasons why people collect archaeological artifacts from the Holy Land. An examination of the social contexts and the consequences of the consumption of material culture is integral to a fuller understanding of archaeology in the eastern Mediterranean. The interplay of these spheres provides an intriguing lens for the examination of the lure of relics from the Holy Land. Many of the motivating factors behind the collecting of eastern Mediterranean materials echo the rationales of early archaeological practice in the region — a desire to establish a connection to the land and the past through material manifestations; and a desire to save the past. Artifacts from this part of the world have long-held a fascination for pilgrims, tourists and locals, which can often be tied to a substantiation of faith based on the material past. At the same time the archaeological artifact, once removed from its context, acquires a new facet to its object biography, that of looted artifact. Employing case studies from Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority this lecture examines the collecting of archaeological materials, the effects on the archaeological landscape and the object biographies of those artifacts enmeshed in the trade in antiquities. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016
Professor Annette Giesecke, University of Delaware
“Roman Paradise: Replicating the Empire in Ancient Roman Gardens”
6:30 PM, University of Kentucky: W.T. Young Library, Multipurpose Room B-108C 

Mention of ancient Roman gardens conjures images of lavish suburban estates 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. But the Roman world had not always been a garden showcase.

This lecture addresses the origins of the Roman domestic garden ‘movement’ from the mid second century BCE, when conquests in the Near East—the former Persian Empire including Egypt—exposed Romans to garden traditions already thousands of years old. On the model of Near Eastern kings and potentates with their ‘paradise’ gardens, wealthy Romans created gardens that were Roman empires in miniature, gathering in the monuments of the larger world in replica. Romans of lesser means, in turn, replaced kitchen gardens with decorative plantings and, in the absence of space for gardens, covered walls with botanical murals. However, it will be shown that the Roman garden, whether large or small, was not simply a reflex of fashion, for the Roman garden movement gained traction at a particularly volatile point in Roman history, with the garden offering a welcome ‘escape’. Thus, 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.

Thursday, November 10, 2016
Dr. John Hale, University of Louisville
“Recent Excavation of a Roman Shipwreck at Caesarea Maritima, Israel”
6:00 PM, University of Louisville: Chao Auditorium, Ekstrom Library

Abstract TBA

Thursday, February 9, 2017
Professor Bjørn Lovén, Saxo Institute, University of Copenhagen
AIA Kress Lecture: “At the Crossroad of the Ancient World: Lechaion – The Main Harbour of Ancient Corinth”
6:00 PM, University of Louisville: Chao Auditorium, Ekstrom Library

Corinth ranked among the most dominant cities of classical antiquity, not least because of her geographic advantages. The city lay astride the narrow isthmus connecting northern with southern Greece, and at the interface of two seas—the Aegean and the Gulf of Corinth. Early on, the city took extreme advantage of its position to become a major economic powerhouse, eventually fielding a formidable military, and planting colonies along her major trade routes. Facilitating all this were her two harbour towns, the main harbour Lechaion on the Corinthian Gulf to the west, and Kenchreai on the Aegean Sea to the east. According to ancient sources, most of the city's wealth derived from the maritime trade that passed through these two harbours, earning her the nickname “Wealthy Corinth.” While Corinth looked to the east to maintain trading ties, it was Corinth’s unique access to the west that helped shape Greek colonization into the central and western Mediterranean. From Lechaion ships and fleets departed, laden with cargoes, colonists and marines destined for the Adriatic and beyond. This seaborne Hellenization of the Mediterranean region was, in effect, the beginning of Europe, as we know it. This is the story of Lechaion and the Lechaion Harbour Project (2013–), whose archaeological discoveries include monumental harbour works of the Classical period and vestiges of innovative wooden maritime structures of the early Byzantine period.

The Lechaion Harbour Project is a collaboration between the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities under the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports, the SAXO-Institute, the University of Copenhagen, and the Danish Institute at Athens under the Danish Ministry of Education. It is directed by Dr. Dimitris Kourkoumelis of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities and Dr. Bjørn Lovén. The Augustinus Foundation and the Carlsberg Foundation finance the project.