Thursday, February 28, 2019 • 6:00 PM 
Chao Auditorium, Ekstrom Library (University of Louisville)

Boomtown Blues: Archaeologies of Expansion

and Contraction in Amazonia

Professor Anna Browne Ribeiro – University of Louisville

Abstract TBA

Anna Browne Ribeiro is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Louisville.

Thursday, March 28, 2019 • 6:00 PM

Chao Auditorium, Ekstrom Library (University of Louisville)

1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed

Professor Eric Cline – The George Washington University

For more than three hundred years during the Late Bronze Age, from about 1500 BC to 1200 BC, the Mediterranean region played host to a complex international world in which Egyptians, Mycenaeans, Minoans, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Cypriots, and Canaanites all interacted, creating a cosmopolitan and globalized world-system such as has only rarely been seen before the current day. It may have been this very internationalism that contributed to the apocalyptic disaster that ended the Bronze Age. When the end came, as it did after centuries of cultural and technological evolution, the civilized and international world of the Mediterranean regions came to a dramatic halt in a vast area stretching from Greece and Italy in the west to Egypt, Canaan, and Mesopotamia in the east. Large empires and small kingdoms, that had taken centuries to evolve, collapsed rapidly. With their end came the world’s first recorded Dark Ages. It was not until centuries later that a new cultural renaissance emerged in Greece and the other affected areas, setting the stage for the evolution of Western society as we know it today. Blame for the end of the Late Bronze Age is usually laid squarely at the feet of the so-called Sea Peoples, known to us from the records of the Egyptian pharaohs Merneptah and Ramses III. However, as was the case with the fall of the Roman Empire, the end of the Bronze Age empires in this region was probably not the result of a single invasion, but rather of multiple causes. The Sea Peoples may well have been responsible for some of the destruction that occurred at the end of the Late Bronze Age, but it is much more likely that a concatenation of events, both human and natural — including earthquake storms, droughts, rebellions, and systems collapse — coalesced to create a “perfect storm” that brought the age to an end. In this illustrated lecture, based on his book of the same title (1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed; Princeton University Press, 2014) that was considered for a 2015 Pulitzer Prize, awarded the American School of Oriental Research’s 2014 prize for “Best Popular Book on Archaeology,” and is being translated into fourteen foreign languages, Professor Eric H. Cline of The George Washington University will explore why the Bronze Age came to an end and whether the collapse of those ancient civilizations might hold some warnings for our current society.

Eric H. Cline
is Professor of Classics, History, and Anthropology in the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at The George Washington University and Director of the GWU Capitol Archaeological Institute. He is the AIA's Norton Lecturer for 2018–19.

The Norton Lecture
is named for Charles Eliot Norton, Professor of the History of Art at Harvard University and one of the founders of the Archaeological Institute of America, as well as its first president. The Norton Lectureship is one of the highest honors that the AIA can bestow, and has been held by a series of distinguished scholars since its inception in 1907.

Thursday, November 1, 2018 • 6:00 PM

Chao Auditorium, Ekstrom Library (University of Louisville)

We Once Were a Numerous People: Long-term Legacies of Smallpox and Cultural Survivance on the Northern North American Great Plains

Professor Kacy Hollenback – Southern Methodist University

Contact between Old World and New World populations resulted in the exchange of ideas, technologies, and practices that dramatically changed world cultures. The Columbian Exchange also resulted in the spread of invasive species, including catastrophic Old World epidemic diseases like influenza, measles, and smallpox. The impacts on peoples in the Americas was disaster. In some areas fifty to eighty percent of the population died. Archaeology has contributed to our understanding of the spread of such epidemics. However, there has often been a focus on when and where disease outbreaks occurred and how many people were affected. Less attention has been given to what life was like for survivors. How did these individuals put their lives and societies back together after devastation?

 Using theoretical assumptions from the anthropology of disaster and technology, the social impacts of smallpox on survivors can be explored. Such an approach is important, especially in areas with no written record. This presentation explores how the Hidatsa, a group of earthlodge villagers in North Dakota visited by Lewis and Clark and home of Sacajawea, responded to the smallpox epidemics of the 18th and 19th centuries. Specifically, how did individuals maintain or modify daily practice in light of these catastrophic events? This is an important topic to consider because the decisions and actions of those who endured these processes resulted in culture change and cultural survival for Native American Nations today.  

Kacy Hollenback is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Southern Methodist University.


                                         KENTUCKY SOCIETY

Lectures in Archaeology, 2018–19

Throughout the 2018–19 academic year, the Kentucky Society, in cooperation with the University of Louisville Departments of History and Anthropology, will bring internationally-recognized scholars to the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky campuses to present public lectures about their research. Topics range from the collapse of the Bronze Age civilizations of the Mediterranean to the role played by the Rocky Mountains in the peopling of the Americas during the Pleistocene, and from the origins of the Speed Museum’s collection of Roman antiquities to the anthropology of disaster among Native American communities in the northern Great Plains. All talks are free of charge and open to the public. We hope to see you there!