October 5, 2017 • 7:00-9:00 PM
Locust Grove Visitor Center (561 Blankenbaker Lane)


Bourbon Archaeology: A Kentucky Society Fundraiser















You probably know that bourbon has a long history...but did you know that traces of the bourbon industry's earliest origins still survive, buried deep in Kentucky's woods and hollers? Join us as Bourbon Archaeologist Nick Laracuente talks about his work excavating the remains of some of the oldest bourbon distilleries in the region. Then, tour Locust Grove's new Farm Distillery Project, watch a demonstration of early nineteenth-century whiskey production, and enjoy a bourbon tasting led by Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Famer Michael Veach.

Thursday, October 4, 2018 • 6:00 PM 
Chao Auditorium, Ekstrom Library (University of Louisville)

When the Romans Came to Louisville: 
the Formation of the Speed Museum's Roman Collection


Professor Linda Gigante – University of Louisville
















(Photo courtesy of the Filson Historical Society)

In November 1911 prominent Louisvillian Rogers Clark Ballard Thruston embarked on a motor trip through Europe with his brother, sister-in-law and family friend. When they reached Rome, he solicited the services of an Italian travel agent who escorted him to the Church of Santa Teresa d’Avila where antiquities had been unearthed some years before.  When the Church was under construction in the late 1890s Roman tombs had been discovered and hundreds of grave-goods were removed. Intrigued by the antiquities that he was shown by the Church’s clerics,  (ceramic and marble ash urns, two small marble sarcophagi, ceramic vessels and lamps, and inscribed epitaphs), Ballard Thruston contracted the agent to make the necessary arrangements for purchasing and shipping them to Louisville.  In 1912 twenty-eight crates containing the Roman artifacts arrived in New York City aboard the SS Princess Irene and were then transported by rail to Louisville. In 1929 when his plans to install the antiquities in a permanent venue did not materialize, Ballard Thruston made a gift of them to his friend, Hattie Bishop Speed, who had founded the Speed Museum two years earlier. He also donated to the Speed all the correspondence and documents pertaining to the purchase and export of the antiquities. Research has revealed that the Roman artifacts in the Speed Museum comprise the largest collection of its kind in North America and, given the international export laws, could never be duplicated by any American institution today. What also makes this collection valuable, and unique, is that the precise provenance of the antiquities can be documented; we know the location of the tombs from which they were removed at the turn of the 20th century.

The purpose of this talk is to tell the story of Ballard Thruston’s purchase of the Roman grave-goods, their journey to Louisville, and their rediscovery in the Speed Museum.  Illustrated with photographs taken by Ballard Thruston, archival records, and archaeological evidence, this talk will include information about the cultural context of the artifacts and highlight their value, both to the Louisville community and to scholars around the world.  

Linda Gigante is Professor Emerita of Ancient Art & Cultures at the University of Louisville and Vice-President of the Kentucky Society of the AIA.

Archive under construction - please check back soon!

Lectures in Archaeology: Archive

Since 1953, the Kentucky Society has been offering public lectures on archaeological topics. In this part of the website, our goal is to provide an updated archive of past lecture series. If you happen to have copies of lecture announcements prior to 2010, please contact us so that we can update the archive.

March 22, 2018 • 6:00 PM
University of Louisville, Chao Auditorium (Ekstrom Library)

Spotlight on Archaeology at the University of Louisville
Featuring a panel of faculty and graduate student speakers from the University of Louisville Department of Anthropology​
















What archaeological research projects are scholars at the University of Louisville currently pursuing, and what opportunities does the University offer undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in studying archaeology? In this round-table presentation, a panel of faculty and graduate student speakers from the University of Louisville's Department of Anthropology will introduce their work and discuss opportunities for studying archaeology and anthropology at UofL. 

Presentations will begin with the plans to move the Archaeology labs and classrooms to a newly renovated building in historic Portland, after which speakers will give brief summaries of their research and follow with an open discussion with the audience. Dr. Jonathan Haws will talk about the Portland project and plans for the new Center for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage. Dr. Anna Browne Ribeiro will discuss pre-Columbian anthropogenic or human-made landscapes in the Brazilian Amazon through archaeological survey and geoarchaeology. Grace Gimbel will speak on the application of geospatial technologies to map the layout of pre-Columbian sites in the Brazilian Amazon. Dr. Amanuel Beyin will talk about the origin and dispersal of early modern humans out of Africa through an archaeological survey along the Red Sea coast of Sudan. Mallory Cox will discuss the identification and characterization of mineral residue indicators of malaria found on skeletons from historic cemeteries in Louisville and pre-Columbian Carib populations.


March 1, 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.

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.​

February 1, 2018 • 6:00 PM 
University of Louisville, Chao Auditorium (Ekstrom Library)


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. Type your paragraph here.

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.​

ARCHAEOLOGICAL INSTITUTE of AMERICA

                                         KENTUCKY SOCIETY

Thursday, September 13, 2018 • 7:30 PM (reception to follow)
William T. Young Library Auditorium, University of Kentucky

Earlier, Higher and More Important than You Thought:  The Role of the Rocky Mountains in the Pleistocene Peopling of the New World

Professor Bonnie Pitblado – University of Oklahoma
















When most of us think about the initial peopling of the Americas at the end of the Pleistocene (ca. 12,000 years ago), we don’t think much about the Rocky Mountains. There are many reasons for this, chief among them that the Rockies have long been perceived by archaeologists and others as a “harsh” environment where no prehistoric person would have cared to tread. This lecture makes quite a different case, arguing that the Rocky Mountains, and for that matter, the entire western Cordillera, were critical to the process of the peopling of the New World. 

Why? There are two main reasons.  First, the Rockies offered prehistoric people, including the continent’s earliest residents, a remarkable suite of resources not found in other regions (even if those other regions are better known archaeologically). Second, and contrary to stereotypes of Siberia as flat, windswept tundra where the hardy ancestors of First Americans made a living killing wooly mammoths, northeast Asian Upper Paleolithic people (11,000 – 50,000 or so years ago) actually made their livings in spectacular mountain settings. 

Put simply, the First Americans were mountain people when they arrived in the Americas—and had been for at least 50,000 years.  Of course they gravitated to mountainous regions of North (and for that matter, South) America.  And the evidence showing this has been there all along—our own cognitive blinders have blocked our ability to see it.

Bonnie Pitblado is Professor of Anthropology & Robert and Virginia Bell Endowed Chair in Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma. ​She is a 2018-19 Stone Lecturer for the AIA.