2019-2020 Public Lecture Program

for the


the local chapter of the


  All lectures are illustrated, non-technical, free and open to the public.

All lectures are co-sponsored by the Toledo Museum of Art as part of the “It’s Friday” series

[last updated 9 September 2019]


Unless otherwise indicated, lectures will be given in the Little Theater at the Toledo Museum of Art [2445 Monroe St. in Toledo] . Directions: from I-75, take exit 202B at Collingwood Blvd (if southbound) or exit 203A at Bancroft St (if northbound). Follow the signs to Monroe St. and the Toledo Museum of Art. Park behind the Museum in the Visitors' Lot. Parking is free to museum members but costs $7 for everyone else.   


1.     7:00 pm, October 25 (Friday), 2019

Speaker: Peter Wood, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of History at Duke University (Durham, NC) 


Lecture: “Missing the Boat: Ancient Dugout Canoes in the Mississippi-Missouri Watershed”


     * * * National AIA Lecturer * * *

Synopsis: Dugout canoes are by far the oldest and most enduring form of water transportation that humans have devised.  When archaeologists discuss the great Mississippian site at Cahokia near East St. Louis, a crucial piece of the puzzle still seems to be missing.  They know much about the great mound-building center, and about the trade goods and tribute that flowed to it.  But they rarely talk about how those objects moved great distances. In recent years, dugout canoes dating back hundreds of years and measuring more than 30 feet in length have been recovered from the banks of tributary streams.  But so far, we have never recovered a much larger and older wooden canoe along the Mississippi or Missouri River.  (Indeed, we can’t even imagine the immense trees from which such dugouts were made a thousand years ago.  Such immense bottomland trees all but vanished in the 19th century.)  But indirect non-archaeological evidence strongly points to the existence and importance of such vessels.  This illustrated talk explores how long such boats were in use, why they disappeared, and why they are so difficult to find.


2.    7:00 pm, November 15 (Friday), 2019

Speaker: Steve Kosiba, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN)


Lecture:"The Weight of a Mountain: Time and Its Place Among the Ancient Inka


Synopsis: In this lecture, the speaker discusses the cultural meaning and political role of historical narrative in the Inka Empire.  The Inkas were similar to other ancient empires in that they saw their expansionary project as an extension of a series of pivotal and primordial events by which their ancestors overcame adversity and then began to reshape the world.  But in contrast to other imperial regimes, the Inkas did not propagate their claims to history through some form of writing, pictorial representation, or canonical text.  How did Inkas come to know the stories about their past?  What were the mechanisms by which they disseminated their stories throughout the empire?  Did the Inkas define history and time itself in a manner distinct from Western theology and ontology?  Prof. Kosiba presents recent findings from his archaeological and ethnohistorical research in Cuzco, the capital of the Inka Empire, to attend to these questions and assembling a theory of Inka history.



3.     7:00 pm, December 13 (Friday), 2019

Speaker: Ann Steiner, Ph.D., Professor of Classics at Franklin and Marshall College (Lancaster, PA)


Lecture: A New Chapter in Ancient Etruscan Religion: The Sanctuary of Uni at Poggio Colla, Italy


Synopsis: The ancient Etruscans are among the least well-understood people in the ancient Mediterranean. Their civilization flourished in central Italy between the eighth and third centuries BC. We know they influenced Roman religion a great deal, and their control of metal resources brought them enormous wealth. They left very few written records, and scholars still struggle to translate their language. Archaeological excavation has helped enormously to develop a fuller picture of this enigmatic culture, and this presentation will focus on results of the speaker’s excavations from 1995-2015 at the Etruscan religious site of Poggio Colla. She will consider evidence of cult rules from a long inscription recovered on the very last day of the last season of excavation, for animal sacrifice, and for rich dedications including a cache of gold jewelry.  A consideration of ceramic evidence demonstrates that both men and women participated in celebrations that honored Uni, an Etruscan goddess who was the consort of Tinia, the god known as Jupiter to the Romans.


4.     7:00 pm, January 24 (Friday), 2020

Speaker: Jeb Card, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Miami University (Oxford, OH)


   * * * National AIA Lecturer * * *


Lecture: Spooky Archaeology: Myth and the Science of the Past


Synopsis: Archaeologists are depicted as searching for lost cities and mystical artifacts in news reports, television, video games, and movies like Indiana Jones or The Mummy. This fantastical image has little to do with day-to-day science, yet it is deeply connected to why people are fascinated by the ancient past. Exploring the development of archaeology helps us understand what archaeology is and why it matters. The trail of clues leading us into spooky territory includes famous archaeologists, self-proclaimed explorers, haunted museums, mysterious hieroglyphic inscriptions, fragments of a lost continent that never existed, the origin of ideas about ancient extraterrestrials, and even a Scotland Yard investigation into magic, murder, and witchcraft. These ideas don’t come from Hollywood, they come from how humans have tried to understand the past from the earliest ancient Egyptian delvers into ruins to the modern profession of archaeology. If archaeologists want to explain why the past is important to our present, they need to understand why archaeology continues to mystify and why there is an ongoing fascination with exotic artifacts and eerie practices.



5.     7:00 pm, February 28 (Friday), 2020

Speaker: Eric Cline, Ph.D., Professor of Classics, History and Anthropology at George Washington University (Washington, DC)  


Lecture: “1177 BC: the Year Civilization Collapsed” [this lecture will be in the TMA's 'Green Room']


Synopsis: 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 fifteen 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.



6.     7:00 pm, March 27, 2020   


Speaker: Elizabeth Bolman, Ph. D., Professor of Liberal Arts at Case Western University (Cleveland, OH)


Lecture:   “The White Monastery Federation: Upper Egypt and the Early Byzantine World”


Synopsis: The Egyptian monastic abbot Shenoute of Atripe (died AD 465) constructed one of the most significant churches of his day. He did not choose Constantinople or Alexandria as the site for his impressive building, but an arid location at the foot of a desert escarpment in Upper Egypt that is now colloquially called the White Monastery. This church is the earliest of three surviving monuments at this and the neighboring Red Monastery that demonstrate the existence of nodes of elite cultural production in places where they are not traditionally expected. A tomb constructed for Shenoute follows a model for burials of distinction found in Asia Minor, Greece and the Levant. A few decades after Shenoute’s death, the monks at the closely associated Red Monastery copied his enormous church on a smaller, but still monumental scale. The two monastic churches and their decoration draw on aristocratic and episcopal models as part of a performance of power, asserting the centrality of the ascetic life. They also provide an opportunity for scholars to rethink the familiar paradigm that sees all high-quality cultural production as taking place in a handful of urban centers, and imagines sites remote from them as being unquestioningly provincial. The constant movement of people, ideas, and objects, and the subtle deployment of ethnicities and identities in the early Byzantine world requires a completely new approach to the generation of visual culture, and the White Monastery federation gives us an exciting opportunity to consider alternatives.



 7.     7:00 pm, April 17 (Friday), 2020


Speaker: Nicola Barham, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Ancient History, and Assistant Curator of Ancient Art at the Kelsey Museum at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)


Lecture: “Carving the Body Politic: Portrait Faces in the Roman East”

Synopsis: This lecture the speaker explores the wonderful variety of images of individuals that survive from the Eastern provinces of the ancient Roman world. From women decked in gold to gladiators brandishing weapons, and from traders leading camels, to scholars clutching scrolls, the surviving portraiture of the Roman East provides a window onto a wide breadth of Roman society.  These works raise the question: how did each of these people understand their life and identity within the Roman state? And what drove so many to have their portraits carved as a testament to these social roles?


8.     7:00 pm, May 15 (Friday), 2020

Speaker: Ruth Van Dyke, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology at the State University of New York at Binghamton (Binghamton, NY)



Lecture: “Chaco Pilgrimage in the Ancient American Southwest”


Synopsis: In the North American Southwest, Indigenous peoples regularly undertake pilgrimages to natural and archaeological places.   One important locus for pilgrimage is Chaco Canyon – a UNESCO World Heritage Site in northwest New Mexico that was the center of the ancient Pueblo world.  In this talk, I use archaeological materials as well as phenomenological investigations to shed light on pilgrimages to Chaco Canyon one thousand years ago.





 For more information on the Toledo Society's lecture program contact:


James A. Harrell, Lecture Program Coordinator for the AIA-Toledo Society 
(phone: 419-530-2193; e-mail: james.harrell@utoledo.edu)