2023-2024 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.

[last updated 20 October 2023]


1.     6:30 pm, October 13 (Friday), 2023 

* * * National AIA Lecturer * * *

Speaker: Bonnie Pitblado, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma (Norman, OK) 

Lecture:"Let's Talk about Ancient Apocalypse: the Real Story of Ice Age Peopling of the Americas

Synopsis: Ancient Apocalypse, Ancient Aliens and similar programming billed to the public as “documentaries” have a history of attributing the most remarkable archaeological sites in the Western Hemisphere to aliens or mythical human ancestors.  Doing this, of course, insults the legacy of the very real people who initially reached and populated the Americas, leaving behind a rich material record.  It also harms the contemporary Indigenous descendants of those most ancient Americans in important and tangible ways. This talk explores a bit of the strange history of pseudo-archaeology that emerged before and even as archaeology became a discipline in what is now the United States in the late 1800s.  It also touches on the ways that a fictional strain of “archaeology” continued alongside—perniciously drawing from—real archaeology throughout the 20th century, and how it is expressed today on the History Channel and Netflix in ways that intentionally mask its illegitimate interpretations of the archaeological record. The final and most important part of the lecture highlights the real accomplishments of the human beings who populated the Western Hemisphere more than 12,000 and maybe as many as 20,000 or more years ago.  By highlighting recent archaeological finds at sites like White Sands, New Mexico, where humans left now-fossilized footprints alongside those of Ice Age camels, mammoths, and dire wolves, the talk shows that we don’t need to make up narratives about the First Americans.  Their remarkable accomplishments far outshine those of aliens, submerged Atlantians, and the other fictions the entertainment industry foists upon well-meaning viewers who are hungry to understand the deep past.

Venue: the Little Theater at the Toledo Museum of Art


2.    6:30 pm, November 17 (Friday), 2023

* * * 2nd Annual Mohamed El-Shafie Memorial Lecture on Ancient Egypt * * *

Speaker: Donald Ryan, Ph.D., Faculty Fellow at Pacific Lutheran University (Tacoma, WA)


Lecture: “In the Footsteps of Howard Carter in Egypt's Valley of Kings”


Synopsis: The archaeological exploration of ancient Egypt's royal New Kingdom cemetery, the Valley of the Kings, offers a rich history of fascinating discoveries made by determined and often eccentric individuals, including Howard Carter, who was well involved in the Valley decades before he encountered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922. In this lecture, Don Ryan will describe some of his own work in the Valley of the Kings during which he literally followed in the footsteps of Carter, including the re-excavation of three tombs discovered by the famed archaeologist early in his career.  One tomb is especially controversial with its occupant identified by some as the female ruler, Hatshepsut, after its rediscovery by Ryan.

Venue: the GlasSalon at the Toledo Museum of Art

  3.     6:30 pm, December 15 (Friday), 2023 

* * * 10th Annual Dorothy M. Price Memorial Lecture on Ancient Art * * *


Speaker: Emilia Oddo, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Classical Studies at Tulane University (New Orleans, LA)


Lecture: "Of Octopi, Starfish, and Other Sea Creatures that Walk on the Land. What is Marine Style Pottery and What Did it Mean for People in Bronze Age Crete

Synopsis: Regarded as one of the most iconic and elegant ceramic styles of Crete, Marine Style vessels are included in general summaries of Minoan culture, together with other staple images of the Palace at Knossos and the bull-leaping fresco. The depictions of elaborate octopi with tentacles embracing the pot’s surface or nautili plunged in a landscape of rocks and seaweed are striking and hard not to consider artistic products. So, why do we find so little Marine Style in Crete? And why is it commonly found in shattered, not mendable, pieces? Something does not add up. This lecture takes you on a journey through the strange and elusive phenomenon that is Marine Style pottery. We will investigate who made Marine Style pots and for what purpose; we will explore how Marine Style was used and where. In the end, you will agree with me that Marine Style was everything but typical.


Venue: the Little Theater at the Toledo Museum of Art

4.     6:30 pm, January 12 (Friday), 2024     

Speaker: Petra Creamer, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Studies at Emory University (Atlanta, GA)  


Lecture: Excavating the Assyrian Empire: An Archaeological Project in Iraqi Kurdistan


Synopsis: The Assyrian Empire (900-612 BCE) of ancient Mesopotamia and beyond was the largest territorial empire the world had yet seen – covering over half a million square miles in area stretching from Iran in the east to Egypt in the west.  Through a regime of tremendous military might and resource extraction, the impact Assyria left changed the trajectory of ancient empires to come.  This talk introduces the Assyrian Empire and its effects on those under its hegemony that are usually left out of historical records.  While many studying the ancient world approach empires from the grand remains of palaces, temples, and cities, archaeologists are now turning to the countryside to study the “other half”.  A new excavation project in modern-day Iraqi Kurdistan began in 2022, targeting the rural Assyrian site of Qach Rresh to understand Assyrian administration, agriculture, and power. This talk presents how current archaeological investigations at this small rural site are contributing to how we see imperial power… and imperial collapse.  

Venue: the Little Theater at the Toledo Museum of Art

5.     6:30 pm, February 16 (Friday), 2024     

* * * 26th Annual Kurt T. Luckner Memorial Lecture on Ancient Art and Archaeology in Museums * * *

Speaker: Bettina Arnold, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin (Milwaukee, WI)  


Lecture: The Past on Tap: Archaeological Evidence for Ancient Alcohol in Iron Age Celtic Europe


Synopsis: Recent archaeological discoveries in Germany and France as well as advances in organic residue analysis (ORA) have yielded important new evidence for Iron Age Celtic feasting activity. Decades of analysis of visible, well-preserved residues in bronze cauldrons, cups and pitchers has produced paleoethnobotanical evidence mainly for malt and honey-based beverages but emerging technologies in organic and inorganic chemical analysis have made it possible to analyze the contents of ceramic vessels as well as those made of metal. These novel approaches have already begun to impact our understanding of feasting and drinking in early European societies in important ways, leading to a revision of ideas of who was drinking and what was being produced locally or imported from other areas, including the Mediterranean. This lecture will review the new evidence as well as the contributions of experimental archaeology and collaborations with craft brewers interested in so-called “extreme brewing” in this area of research. Archaeologists, paleoethnobotanists, chemists and microbiologists at museums and universities working with microbreweries have replicated some of these beverages, providing us with a better sense of the intriguingly varied flavor-scapes associated with power drinking in the west-central European Iron Age and other areas of the ancient world.

Venue: the Little Theater at the Toledo Museum of Art


6.     6:30 pm, March 15 (Friday), 2024     

Speaker: Katie Rask, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Classics at Ohio State University at Marion (Marion, OH)  


Lecture: Burials, Demons, and the Etruscan Afterlife


Synopsis: Starting in the 7th century BCE, several Etruscan communities in ancient Italy began decorating their tombs and burial sites with painting and sculpture. Within about 300 years, the imagery began to exhibit a strong interest in afterlife themes. The tomb paintings and sculpted sarcophagi attest to an afterlife well-populated by protective divinities and also demonic figures. This funerary art also expresses a sense that the deceased reunited with their families and friends following an underworld journey. Etruscan inscriptions refer to an unidentified religious event or rite of sacralization that occurred at some tombs prior to the burial which in some way rendered the space suitable for a person’s tomb. As such, the tomb served as a ritual space, a location for the articulation of hopes for the hereafter, and a spot for underworld deities and the dead to engage with one another. This presentation will highlight some of the speaker’s observations about these tombs after visiting several during her recent field season.

Venue: the Little Theater at the Toledo Museum of Art 

7.     6:30 pm, April 26 (Friday), 2024  

Speaker: Kathleen Sterling, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Anthropology at Binghamton University (Binghamton, NY)


Lecture: Life in Ice Age Europe: beyond Cavemen and Man the Hunter

Synopsis: Recent research has been rapidly upending assumptions about our Stone Age ancestors. Conventional wisdom has seen their lives as consisting of constant struggle, defined by strict, “natural” gender roles and simple technologies. Modern excavation and analytical techniques have expanded the picture, including through ancient DNA studies, evidence of perishable objects, signs of mutual care, and the discovery of unexpected sites. One such site is Peyre Blanque, an open-air site in the Central French Pyrénées that dates to about 17,000 years ago, where people chose not to live in a cave despite being in a region of abundant caves and rock shelters. This presentation will discuss ongoing work at Peyre Blanque in the context of the new directions in hunter-gatherer-forager archaeology that create a fuller, more complete picture of human pasts.

Venue: the Little Theater at the Toledo Museum of Art 

8.     6:30 pm, May 17 (Friday), 2024  

Speaker: Leigh-Ann Bedal, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Anthropology at Penn State University at Erie/Behrend College (Erie, PA)


Lecture: Pipedreams and Paradise: the Water System of Petra, an Ancient Desert Oasis

Synopsis: Visitors to Petra are typically amazed by its immense scale, imposing monuments, and dramatic sheer cliffs of variegated hues. The many hydraulic features—channels, aqueducts, cisterns, dams, and pipelines—that are visible throughout the ancient city are recognized as essential for an urban population to thrive in the desert.  What is often not imagined is that the highly developed water system was designed not only to serve the basic needs of the people, their animals, and crops, but to produce a surplus of water used for display and recreation, an exhibition of conspicuous consumption that signifies abundance, wealth, and power. The city’s most striking example of the use of water for display and leisure is the pleasure garden (paradeisos), located at heart of the city center. Unknown to surveyors and archaeologists working in Petra for nearly a century of exploration, the Petra Garden and Pool Complex was first identified in 1998 and, since then, has been undergoing archeological excavation, under the direction of Dr. Leigh-Ann Bedal. It is the only known example of a Nabataean garden and one of only a few examples of garden archaeology in the region. This lecture will illustrate elements of the water system of Petra and its monumental garden and pool that have been uncovered through archaeological excavation and what they reveal about the role of water in a desert city.

Venue: the Little Theater at the Toledo Museum of Art



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


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