Archaeological Institute of America, Iowa Society, Spring 2016 Lecture Series

February 22, 2016 - 9:00am

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With the support of the Office of the State Archaeologist, the University of Iowa Departments of Anthropology, Classics, Religion, Art and Art History, and the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History


The Spring 2016 AIA lecture Series



Colin Betts, Luther College, Decorah, Iowa

Monday, February 29, 2016
7:30 pm, Art Building West, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa

Native Fiber Industries in North America: An Experimental Approach to Plant Fiber Processing

The process of transforming plants into cordage and cloth represents one of the fundamental elements of human technology. Carrie Lyford’s assessment that “native cord and twine were among the most important articles in the economic life of the Ojibwa” can be extended to indigenous groups throughout the North America and beyond. Textile technologies have connections to a wide range of cultural domains, and as a consequence can provide a wealth of valuable cultural information. However, unlocking this analytical potential requires fully understanding the all stages in the process. The current analysis uses experimental archaeology to investigate the methods and labor requirements of procuring and processing three of the most common sources of plant fiber in native North America. The results provide data absent in the ethnographic record and refine the limited information provided by previous experimental research.


William Green, James E. Lockwood Jr. Director, Logan Museum of Anthropology Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin

Monday, March 21, 2016
7:30 pm, Art Building West, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa

World Archaeology at the Logan Museum of Anthropology

Beloit College’s Logan Museum of Anthropology has been engaged in archaeology for over 120 years. Faculty, staff, and students have conducted fieldwork at hundreds of sites on five continents. Collections represent periods ranging from the Lower Paleolithic to the 20th century, including “type sites” for some of the most important cultures of ancient Europe, Africa, and the Midwestern U.S. This presentation will review the people and projects that built the collections and will discuss the collections’ teaching and research contributions and opportunities.


John Miksic, National University of Singapore*

Monday, April 4, 2016
7:30 pm, Art Building West, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa

Historical Archaeology in Asian Context: Pre-European Colonialism​

The term “historical archaeology” originated in the USA as a means of differentiating between the pre-Columbian and post-Columbian periods, and the types of data available for their study. This label seems to have persisted even though the inscriptions of Mesoamerica are gradually yielding more and more information about pre-Columbian events and worldviews. Historical archaeology in the USA however has shown that the same methods can profitably be employed to study the periods before and after 1492.

In Asia, the term has not been widely adopted. Archaeology in East, Southeast, and South Asia is characterized by a major schism between those who work on literate and non-literate societies and periods. I have spent much of my career trying to instill a more anthropologically-oriented archaeology in Southeast Asia. One of the main subjects I have used to try to show how this approach can be beneficial is through the study of Southeast Asia’s relations with China over the past 2,000 years. This topic has always been rather fraught with tension due to the prickly relations with modern China and Southeast Asia.

Archaeology in the South China Sea has been politicized due to Chinese activities there. The situation calls for more light which might reduce the heat being generated by contemporary events. This is one of many examples where historical archaeology can demonstrate its relevance.

*this is a cosponsored talk with the Department of Anthropology


Marian Feldman, Departments of History of Art and Near Eastern Studies, Johns Hopkins
University, Baltimore, Maryland, and AIA Kershaw Lecturer

Monday, April 18, 2016
7:30 pm, Art Building West, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa

The Mobility of Levantine Luxury Arts in the Near East and Eastern Mediterranean during the early First Millennium BCE

The talk explores several case studies of Levantine artworks that followed complicated biographical trajectories around the Near East and eastern Mediterranean during the first centuries of the first millennium BCE. It highlights in particular bronzes found in Greece at pan-Hellenic sanctuaries (reworked bands at Olympia and horse harness elements at Samos and Eretria) and ivories from within official palatial contexts at the Assyrian provincial city of Arslan Tash and from outside of official contexts in the Town Wall Houses at the Assyrian capital of Nimrud and at the Syrian city of Til Barsip. The stories of access to and (re)use of portable luxury goods speak to their ongoing efficacy in social life. Such luxury portable objects could be acquired through official, state-sponsored collection and redistribution of booty and tribute. Yet non-state sponsored activities like looting, scavenging, and salvaging also allowed for the dissemination of prestigious elite materials into alternative channels of circulation. The case studies presented here illustrate the diversity and complexity of interactions in the Iron Age Near East and between the Near East and Greece.