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02/19/2019 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Mastering Speed

The Bronze Age of Mongolia

Ursula Brosseder

The use of horses has had a tremendous impact on the history of societies, in the Old as well as in the New World. While existing narratives focus on the impact of the horse in warfare, our work counters current narratives of the development of horse riding and the social changes associated with it. The data we recovered from our in-depth study of a ritual landscape in central Mongolia allows for a new reconstruction of the cultural changes during the Bronze and Early Iron Age (ca. 1900 to 400 BCE). In this talk, I discuss the social dynamics we observe in connection with horse riding which eventually led to the establishment of the famous armies of mounted warriors that were troubling neighboring powers and Chinese Dynasties.
02/26/2019 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

New York Aegean Bronze Age Colloquium: The Recently Discovered Kiln Complex at Gournia

Its Construction and Operation within the Late Minoan IA Settlement

Brian S. Kunkel

In 2014, a series of ceramic kilns was discovered on the northern edge of the Gournia settlement. Together the kilns formed a large complex that included multiple phases of construction. The complex dates exclusively to the Late Minoan IA period, and the kilns generally conform to the Minoan cross-draught channel type. Although this type is known from other sites in Crete, there are none that represent so many individual phases of construction. In total, 16 separate kilns were identified, which consisted primarily of fragmentary channels and fuel chambers often built over top of one another. While none of the pottery found in or around the kilns comes from an actual firing episode, an examination of the facility's construction and location could help to answer important questions regarding the organization of production.
02/28/2019 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Theodore N. Romanoff Lecture (ARCE): "The Medium is the Message"

The Mechanics of Egyptian Royal Living-Rock Stelae

Jennifer Grice Thum

We usually think of ancient Egypt as a culture of 'big building,' especially at the hands of the king. Yet there are some cases where royal stelae, bearing the officially sanctioned messages of the royal establishment, were inscribed into natural features rather than being set up in architectural spaces. These stelae were carved directly into 'living rock'--outcrops that are still where they were formed geologically. How did Egyptian views of living rock as a material inform this practice, and how was this monument type perceived to 'work'? This lecture explores the circumstances that led Egyptian kings to use the landscape as a monumental medium, and what those messages can tell us about how the landscape was understood.
03/12/2019 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Return to Sumer

New Archaeological Investigations in South Iraq

Stephanie Rost

03/14/2019 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

AIA Lecture: Discourses on Empire

Roman Baths Here, There, and Everywhere

Maryl B. Gensheimer

03/27/2019 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Rostovtzeff Lecture Series: Feeding Civilizations: A Comparative Long-Term Consideration of Agricultural and Culinary Traditions across the Old World

Lecture 1: Domestication, Demography, and Settlement: Alternative Mathematics for Early Agriculture

Dorian Q. Fuller

This lecture, the first in a four-part lecture series, will reconsider the origins of agriculture based on recent empirical evidence that tells us both how grain crops were domesticated and how slowly this process unfolded, in West Asia, East Asia, parts of Africa, and India. Archaeobotany is providing a growing evidence base for the ways in which plants became adapted as crops through morphological changes, which were in turn tied to shifts in human practices. The co-evolution was slow, however, and it will be argued that the more revolutionary shift towards agricultural economies was substantially later (a few millennia) than the start of domestication itself. Agricultural economies can be defined as those systems in which wild foraging came to make a much reduced or even marginal caloric contribution to diet, and efforts at food production began to take place at a landscape scale.
04/03/2019 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Rostovtzeff Lecture Series: Feeding Civilizations: A Comparative Long-Term Consideration of Agricultural and Culinary Traditions across the Old World

Lecture 2: From Sustainability to Investment Agriculture: Logics of Productive Consumption and Disparity

Dorian Q. Fuller

Lecture 2 in a four-part series — Between the Neolithic origins of agriculture and the establishment of hierarchical, urban societies, key agricultural transformations took place. These included both the expanded production of staple grains, underpinned by innovations in agriculture, and the development of additional domesticated crops, especially perennial trees and shrubs. Innovations varied across Old World regions, but included the deployment of animal labour in tillage (in West Asia), control of water (in Yangtze China), new crop combinations and rotations that improved maintenance of soil fertility (in North China), but also interdependent specialization in pastoral versus crop production (in parts of Africa). Post-Neolithic agricultural innovation also included the domestication of perennial tree fruits and vines, from olives, grapes and dates in the West, to peaches and jujube in the East, to cotton, mango, and citron in India. These new perennial crops required a new time perspective, investment for yields 5, 10, or 20 years in the future, and with nothing like the caloric return of grains. This only became possible through the development of secure, longer-term land tenure, and made sense in terms of a logic of production for trade, as agricultural produce became part of the emerging commodification that was early cities.
04/08/2019 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Rostovtzeff Lecture Series: Feeding Civilizations: A Comparative Long-Term Consideration of Agricultural and Culinary Traditions across the Old World

Lecture 3: Sticking with the Spirits: Eastern Cuisines, Grain Wines, and Civilization

Dorian Q. Fuller

Lecture 3 of a four-part series — While regional variation in the production of food and farming systems underpinned trajectories towards civilization, these foodstuffs were transformed in distinctive ways that defined, or perhaps flavoured, regional civilization. In other words how the raw became the cooked constructed distinct regional styles of culinary civilization. This can be derived from the observation that the early Near East developed cereal farming in the absence of cooking ceramics, with an emphasis on flour and bread (a theme of the next lecture), whereas East Asian societies were making pots and boiling in them millennia before the first hint of cultivation. This lecture explores the patterns of cooking and brewing in East and South East through a triangulation that includes the archaeological tools of food processing, the genetic variations in crops that indicate past selection for aesthetic or culinary traits like stickiness, and ethnographic or historical sources on how foods were prepared, and understood as they were consumed routinely or ritually.
04/17/2019 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Rostovtzeff Lecture Series: Feeding Civilizations: A Comparative Long-Term Consideration of Agricultural and Culinary Traditions across the Old World

Lecture 4: Baking up Western Civilization and Some African Alternatives

Dorian Q. Fuller

Lecture 4 in a four-part series — Baked bread is both basic to west Asian civilization and distinctive of it in the global context. The origins of cereal agriculture in Western Asia preceded the development of cooking pots, but instead processing focused on production of flour and breads. This is most obvious in the widespread archaeological distribution of ovens from southeastern Europe through the Indus and up the Nile to Nubia. It is also reflected in the relative prominence of querns for grinding, as well as new archaeobotanical techniques for identifying crumbs of bread or crusts of porridge. At first bread may have been the distinctive new cereal food, unlike anything that was easily cooked from wild gathered foods. But later bread lent itself to portability, and therefore to sharing among traders, travellers, and across the echelons of society. It complemented the cheeses and butters that pastoral producers might also make portable. Bread could be shared as offerings to distant gods alongside odours of incense and roast sacrificial meats.
04/23/2019 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Beyond Meaning

The Form, Substance, Color and Pattern of Shang Things

Roderick Campbell

04/30/2019 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall
05/08/2019 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

New York Aegean Bronze Age Colloquium: Bringing the Pseira Fresco Fragments to Life

New Reconstructions of the Murals, Figures, Costumes, Textiles and Jewelry

Bernice R. Jones

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