September 13, 2017 •6:00 PM 

University of Louisville, Chao Auditorium

Take it from the bottom: 1500 years of Nubian history told through stratigraphy

Dr. William Y. Adams, Professor emeritus, University of Kentucky

The archaeological site of Meinarti, destroyed by flooding from the Aswan High Dam, was situated on an island in the Nile just to the south of Egypt, in the region known historically as Nubia.  Before excavation it was an artificial mound more than 40 feet high.   Excavation revealed no fewer than 18 occupation levels, covering a span from about AD 1 to AD 1500.  The remains were those of six separate episodes of occupation, separated in each case by considerable periods of abandonment.  As a result, each occupation phase witnessed a total rebuilding, and was markedly distinct from both its predecessor and its successor.  Each reflected the cultural, social, and religious traditions of its times. In this lecture, Dr. Adams, the excavator of Meinarti in 1963-64, will conduct viewers through the successive occupation phases not in stratigraphic but in historical order; that is, from the bottom up.  In that way the markedly different architectural and artifactual remains will illustrate the dynamically evolving story of Nubian history from pagan to Muslim times, reflecting influences from Egypt, Greece, Rome, and the Islamic caliphate, grafted onto a strong, persisting local tradition.​


March 3, 2018 • 7:30 PM

University of Kentucky, Young Library Auditorium

West Meets East: Commerce between Ancient Rome and South Asia

Dr. Sethuraman Suresh, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (2017–18 Kress Lecturer)

The  Roman Republic (second-first century B.C.E.) and later, the Roman Empire under Augustus, Tiberius (first century C.E.) and their successors had commercial relations with the kingdoms of South Asia, primarily India and Sri Lanka. These trade links, flourished for around six hundred years and, in due course, extended to diplomatic relations and even cultural interactions. The height of the contacts was, however, unquestionably in the first two centuries C.E. The Romans procured gemstones (chiefly beryl or aquamarine), textiles (silk and cotton), ivory, aromatic woods, spices (primarily pepper and cardamom) and peacocks from South Asia. In return, Rome exported wine as well as metals such as gold, silver, copper and antimony to South Asia.  The evidences for these contacts include the limited but significant references to the trade in ancient Greek, Latin, Tamil and Sanskrit literature and the recurrent discoveries of Roman coins, ceramics and a few other types of Roman objects in different parts of India and adjoining regions. The archaeological evidences within Europe are very meager mainly because of the nature of the commerce—most of the trade goods (spices, textiles, ivory, peacocks) reaching Europe were perishable commodities that have not survived for archaeology.

Based on extensive field research in South Asia and Europe, this lecture unfolds the little-known story of the Rome-South Asia contacts. The presentation takes you on a unique voyage across the places through which the Romans travelled in India and the interesting things—coins, ceramics, sculptures –that they left behind in those sites.


February 1, 2018 •6:00 PM 

University of Louisville, Chao Auditorium

Monks, Mummies, and Men of Letters: Exploring Egypt in the Age of Enlightenment

Professor Jennifer Westerfeld, University of Louisville 

How and why did Egyptology, the academic study of ancient Egypt, first develop, and who were the first Egyptologists? Discussions of Egyptology's roots in the Renaissance and early modern periods often highlight the work of linguists, who sought to decipher the mysteries of Egyptian hieroglyphs, and that of the archaeologists, geographers, and other scholars who famously traveled with Napoleon during his invasion of Egypt in 1798. Less well-known is the work of the seventeenth and eighteenth-century travelers and explorers whose efforts to map the historical topography of Egypt laid much of the groundwork for the scholars of the Napoleonic expedition and for the subsequent nineteenth-century flourishing of Egyptian archaeology. A key figure in this early modern exploratory activity was the French Jesuit missionary Claude Sicard, who is significant for being the first European explorer to correctly identify numerous important sites, including the ancient cities of Thebes and Abydos. This talk situates Sicard and his colleagues within the larger history of Egyptian exploration during the Age of Enlightenment, offering a window into an era when monks and missionaries might also be men of letters, working to advance European knowledge of all aspects of Egyptian history and society, both ancient and contemporary.    



                                         KENTUCKY SOCIETY

Lectures in Archaeology, 2017-18

Throughout the 2017-18 academic year, the Kentucky Society, in cooperation with the University of Louisville Department of History and the Liberal Studies Project, 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 Nubian archaeology to the commercial connections between imperial Rome and South Asia, and from the early modern exploration of Egypt to the archaeology of colonial America. Unless otherwise noted, all events are free and open to the public. We hope to see you there! 

November 2, 2017 •6:00 PM 

University of Louisville, Chao Auditorium

Worlds in Motion: Ireland, the Atlantic, and Early Colonial America

Professor Audrey Horning, College of William & Mary

(2017–18 Joukowsky Lecturer)

​Early British colonial settlements in Ireland and North America occupied a parallel and overlapping universe, so intimately connected that in the early seventeenth century, the chronicler Fynes Moryson would refer to Ireland as “this famous Island in the Virginian Sea” (Moryson 1605-1617). Drawing from a range of archaeological projects in both North America and Ireland, the lecture will consider the similarities and dissimilarities between the two lands and the cultural entanglements of the early modern Atlantic. Familiar places like Roanoke, Jamestown, and Plymouth will be discussed in light of their lesser known Irish connections, while the long held notion that Ireland served as a model for New World English colonial ventures will be challenged.​


March 22, 2018 • 6:00 PM

University of Louisville, location TBA

Spotlight on Archaeology & Anthropology at the University of Louisville

Speakers to include Professors Anna Browne Ribeiro, Amanuel Beyin, and Jonathan Haws (University of Louisville)

​In this round-table presentation, speakers from the University of Louisville's Department of Anthropology will introduce their work and discuss opportunities for studying archaeology and anthropology at U of L.