Finger Lakes Chapter Meetings

Archive of Finger Lakes Chapter Meetings

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April 2,2014
The speaker will be Jared Miller

(Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München): The Organization of Knowledge in the Archives of Hattusa.

May 7, 2014 (tentative)

Kathleen A. Sterling (State University of New York, Binghamton)

Paleolithic French Pyrenees

March 1, 2011

Scott Stull (Lecturer, Ithaca College)

“Constructing Identity through Built Form: Houses, Status and Ethnicity in New York’s Colonial Mohawk Valley”

In the mid-eighteenth century, the Mohawk Valley was the frontier of colonial New York. Two houses, Old Fort Johnson and Fort Klock, were built about thirty miles apart within one year of each other. While both are fortified stone houses built to defend not just the residents but also others, the houses are quite different due to the identities both builders were trying to create for themselves. This presentation will be on the two houses and their immediate landscape and how identity was invented for both their owners, put into the broader context of the colonial Northeast.

Scott Stull is an historic archaeologist with a focus on the expression of status and identity through material culture and the built environment.

April 5, 2011

Jeffrey Leon (Department of Classics, Cornell University)

“Pulling the Wool from Our Eyes: Using Archaeometry to Understand Minoan Pastoralism”

The archive of administrative texts from the Late Bronze Age complex at Knossos indicates that a substantial wool-production industry, comprised of at least 85,000 sheep and several hundred shepherds, existed on Minoan Crete. These tablets focus on just one aspect of a much larger political economy based on the relations between local populations and palatial complexes. Traditional approaches to these relationships (and many archaeological approaches to the political economy in general) have focused on views from the center, emphasizing the agency and power of ruling elites and the strategies they employed in extracting surplus from subjected groups or controlling the means of production. This study aims to provide a complementary “bottom-up” view of Minoan pastoralism by using advances in archaeometry (primarily on faunal data) to better understand how pastoral populations negotiated the social and ecological constraints they faced at the hands of this political economy.

May 3, 2011

Lori Khatchadourian (Hirsch Postdoctoral Fellow in Archaeology, Cornell University)

“Armenia and the Politics of the Archaeological Imagination”


June 18, 2011

In the mid-1970s, Cornell students conducted excavations at the Ithaca Pottery site, first run by Elijah Cornell. Since then, the collection has become out of order and some parts scattered, and Scott Stull has been working, with lot of help, to bring it back together. A Cornell alum, Sophia Kelly, is working on publishing an article based on the collection, and it would be a great help to get the collection back in order and sorted by context. Most of the sherds are labeled, so it should be fairly straightforward, but with several hundred sherds it is too much for one person. If you would like to help sort pottery sherds from a piece of Ithaca’s history, come help!

October 4, 2011

Sharon Steadman (Professor of Anthropology, SUNY Cortland)

“A Settlement Within Empires: 5,000 Years of Occupation at Çadir Höyük in Central Turkey”

Occupation at Çadir Höyük, on the north central plateau of Anatolia, began at least as early as 5200 BCE. The site was abandoned around the 11th century CE. In those nearly 6000 years the settlement was continuously occupied. Residents saw, from a distance, the Uruk system expand in Mesopotamia, then experienced the rise and fall of the Hittite empire, and finally dwelt within the outer boundaries of the Byzantine Empire. How Çadir residents weathered the rise and fall of these systems and empires will be addressed along with other details of life during the thousands of years of occupation at this rural settlement in ancient Turkey.

Sharon Steadman received her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. She has carried out archaeological research in Jordan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Israel, and for the last two decades has worked at the site of Çadir Höyük on the north central plateau of Turkey. She is a professor of anthropology at SUNY Cortland, where she also serves as Director of the Rozanne Brooks Ethnographic Museum. She has published on architecture, religion, and world systems theory, co-editing the recent Oxford Handbook of Ancient Anatolia.

November 1, 2011

Magnus Fiskesjö (Department of Anthropology and Asian Studies, Cornell University)

“Collecting China: The Global Politics of Chinese Archaeology and Cultural Heritage”

In recent years, private collecting of antiquities has re-emerged in China on a massive scale. The looting of archaeological sites, which was previously mostly geared towards smuggling and selling looted antiquities abroad, now also happens for the sake of a growing domestic market. At the same time, patriotic Chinese raise increasingly vocal demands for the repatriation of artefacts, which they regard as lost abroad, in foreign hands or in foreign museums. In this presentation, Magnus Fiskesjö will address these developments in the context of the history of Chinese archaeology, and in the context of global heritage politics — including the tensions between the values of national history and identity, and the global perspectives on heritage and preservation.

Magnus Fiskesjö is a Swedish anthropologist, archaeologist and sinologist educated in Sweden, Denmark, China, and at the University of Chicago, where he earned a joint PhD degree in Anthropology/Archaeology and in East Asian Languages and Civilizations. In 2000-2005 he was Director of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities (Stockholm), where he installed a new permanent display of the museum’s founding collections from the first modern archaeological excavations in China, under the title of “China Before China.” With his Chinese colleague Chen Xingcan, he published a bilingual English-Chinese book with the same title.

December 6, 2011

Eilis Monahan (Cornell University)

“Seeing the Bigger Picture: Magnetometry and GIS in understanding a Neolithic Landscape in Eastern Hungary.”

The Körös Regional Archaeological Project is exploring the emergence and development of settlement hierarchies, social organization, and economic craft specialization in the Koros River Valley in Southeastern Hungary during the Late Neolithic and Early Copper Age. This paper presents some preliminary results of a large-scale magnetometry survey of the Final Neolithic site at
Szeghalom-Kovácshalom. A project-wide
Geographic Information System is serving as a data integration and communication tool. The Neolithic of the Hungarian Basin has a rich material culture, and new techniques are allowing new questions and a better understanding of social complexity.

Eilis Monahan is a first-year PhD student at Cornell University in Near Eastern Studies. She completed her MA in Archaeology at Cornell in 2010, and was the recipient of the 2010-2011 Cornell-Heidelberg Exchange Fellowship, allowing her to spend a year studying in Germany. During this time she was also the recipient of a National Science Foundation-International Research Experience for Students Grant, which funded her participation in a field season in Hungary in 2011 and a two week-long workshop with
Dr. Apostolos Sarris at the Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas Institute on Crete, working with geomagnetic and other remotely sensed data and GIS.

February 7, 2012

Jeff Zorn (Near Eastern Studies, Cornell)

“The Clothes Make the Man: Re-Imagining Goliath of Gath”

Almost everyone has heard of the Philistine giant Goliath who faced the youthful future Israelite King David in a famous duel. The image that comes most readily to mind is of some type of heavily armored and equipped foot soldier. The biblical text contains abundant clues that show, when taken together with archaeological and art historical materials of the period around 1000 BCE, that Goliath was actually a chariot warrior. The ancient creators of this tale, and their original audience, understood this from the description of Goliath’s gear, but this understanding was lost when knowledge of the military material culture of that era faded away. Come discover the real Goliath for the first time!

March 6, 2012

Sam Duwe (Visiting Scholar, Cornell University)

“The Pueblo Cosmos in Time and Space”

The Pueblo people of the American Southwest share a unique cosmology, or structure and order of the universe, based on maize agricultural and the quest for moisture and fertility. While not surprising – traditionally the Pueblos are village-dwelling farmers – archaeological evidence suggests that a similar worldview was guiding the lives of Pueblo farmers for thousands of years in the past. This worldview, expressed in architecture, pottery, and even the landscape, is found on Mimbres bowls, Chaco buildings and roads, and Hopi painted murals, suggesting a shared deep history. However, archaeology shows that many of these traits changed in both dramatic and nuanced ways through space and time, and vary between Historic period Pueblo groups.

Pueblo cosmology was altered most dramatically over the nearly four centuries just prior to Spanish contact (A.D. 1275-1600). Drought and other factors had caused Pueblo people, who previously lived widely across the Southwest, to begin to settle in fewer but larger villages. Thousands of people from different backgrounds began to live together in large towns and were taxed with figuring out how to live together and even thrive under diverse religions and social orders. Sam attempts to understand how one modern Pueblo people, the Tewa of northern New Mexico, created their own unique answer to the cosmological problem of close quarters with new neighbors.

Samuel Duwe grew up in northern Michigan, attended the University of Michigan, and then headed west to research the Pueblos of Arizona and New Mexico. His dissertation and current research seeks to understand the development of Pueblo worldview and society, especially during periods of dramatic demographic transformation.

April 3, 2012

Philip Nicholson (Astronomy, Cornell University)

“Megalithic Monuments in Scotland”

Many of the more remote areas of the British Isles still preserve visible evidence of their pre-Roman culture, including religious and agricultural or pastoral activities. A notable example is the Highlands of Scotland, where indeed Roman civilization never penetrated and where much of the land is unsuitable for intensive agriculture and has thus remained relatively undisturbed. Scotland provides abundant examples of Neolithic burial sites, Bronze Age stone settings and Iron Age fortifications. Many of the earlier monuments include very large monoliths, leading to the popular (if somewhat nonspecific) term of `megaliths’, typified by the stone circles at Stonehenge and Avebury. We will take a tour of some of the
better-known Scottish sites, including the ritual landscape of the
Kilmartin Valley on the west coast, the bronze age `cemetery’ known as the Clava Cairns near Inverness, and the spectacular but isolated Grey
Cairns of Camster in the far north. Scenic side-trips will include the beautiful Castlerigg stone circle in the Lake District, Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, and the legendary Isle of Skye.

Philip Nicholson has been on the faculty of the Department of Astronomy at Cornell University since 1982. An Australian by birth, he completed his B.Sc. in Physics at the University of Queensland in 1972 and a Ph.D. in Planetary Science at the California Institute of Technology in 1978. His research involves the orbital dynamics of planetary ring systems and natural satellites, as well as near-infrared and radar studies of the outer planets and their ring systems. He is a regular user of the Palomar and Arecibo Observatories, as well as the Hubble Space Telescope. Outside of teaching and research, Phil enjoys reading about history and traveling to remote places. He has a morbid fascination with the megalithic stone circles and ancient tombs of Ireland, Scotland and Brittany, and spends his Christmas holidays in New Zealand. Since 1998 he has been the Editor of Icarus, the primary international journal of planetary sciences.

May 1, 2012

Peter Cobb (Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World Program, University of Pennsylvania)

“The Bronze and Iron Age Ceramics of Central Lydia in Western Turkey: An Archaeometric Investigation of the Organization of Production.”

This talk will introduce the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey (CLAS) and its ongoing ceramics research. The CLAS project of Boston University, co-directed by Cornell graduates Christopher Roosevelt and Christina Luke, seeks to understand the relationship between people and their landscape in Western Anatolia through time. The survey is located in the Marmara Lake basin within the modern Turkish province of Manisa, an area that corresponds to the center of the ancient Lydian kingdom. The project has accumulated ceramic data from a number of different cultural periods spanning the Late Chalcolithic to the Modern Turkish period. We are using a variety of methods in order to characterize and learn from these ceramics, including INAA and petrography. My research has centered on the thin section petrographic analysis of the sherds. In this talk, I will introduce the ceramic profile of this region and present the initial results from the scientific investigation of the sherds from the third through first millennia BCE. This research has helped us to see differences in raw material selection that indicates changes in the organization of production of the ceramics through time, which may be related to political shifts in the region.

Peter holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an MSIS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Currently he is an A.B.D. doctoral candidate in the Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World graduate group at the University of Pennsylvania. Peter’s research focus is the Late Bronze and Iron Ages in Anatolia and he has worked in Turkey for a number of years. Currently, his summer fieldwork includes a survey project north of Sardis in central Lydia, Boston University’s Central Lydia Archaeological Survey, as well as Penn’s Gordion Archaeological Project. Peter is particularly interested in Anatolia’s interactions with the Greek world to the west and the Near Eastern polities to the southeast. He has been learning about different analytical methods for ancient ceramics, including petrography. He hopes to apply these skills to his dissertation research with a study of second millennium B.C.E. ceramics from across
west-central Anatolia.

June 7, 2012

cosponsored with the Tompkins County History Center

Carol Griggs (Research Associate, Cornell Tree-Ring Laboratory)
and Ted Sobel (Finger Lakes Bottle Collectors Association)

“Pieces of the Past: Ithaca Pottery”

Ezra Cornell’s father, Elijah, owned a pottery works on the south side of East Lincoln Street at the end of Lake Street at the bottom of Gun Shop Hill. Carol Griggs will introduce archaeological methods and review the excavation of this site. Ted Sobel will recount its history from Elijah Cornell through subsequent owners and show Ithaca potter’s marks and designs.

September 6, 2012

cosponsored with the Tompkins County History Center

Sherene Baugher (Associate Professor, Cornell University)
and Josh Teeter (New York State Park Environmental Educator)

“Excavating Tourism History in Robert H. Treman State Park”

Robert H. Treman State Park is one of Tompkins County’s favorite family and tourist destinations. Its spot as a tourist hub can be traced back to the 19th century and the life of Henrietta Wickham. Wickham was the owner of the Enfield Falls Hotel, a resort near Ithaca, which she owned jointly with her husband, Robert. Because of his long illness, she became the sole manager of the hotel and the resort, in sharp contrast to gender expectations at the time.

The story of Henrietta Wickham, the Enfield Falls Hotel, and the origins of Robert H. Treman Park as a tourist location will be told by Sherene Baugher, who is leading an excavation of the Enfield Falls Hotel site with her students, and Josh Teeter, who will discuss the recent history of the Park as it relates to education and tourism.

October 3, 2012

Scott Stull (SUNY Cortland and Cornell University)

“The Archaeology of Medieval Novgorod, Russia”

Veliky Novgorod was one of the most important cities of medieval Eastern Europe. Located on the Volkhov River, it connected the trading centers of the Baltic Sea and northern Europe with the vast trade networks of Byzantium and the Islamic world. The unique history and setting of Novgorod have led to some of the most remarkable preservation of archaeological materials from the medieval world. This illustrated talk will give an overview and introduction to the medieval history and archaeology of this fascinating city.

Scott Stull is an historic archaeologist with a focus on the expression of status and identity through material culture and the built environment.

November 7, 2012

Jack Rossen (Ithaca College)

“Cultural Revitalization and Great Debates in the Archaeology of Rapa Nui (Easter Island)”

Dr. Rossen writes: “My experience at an archaeological conference in Chile and with a field crew in Rapa Nui in August opened my eyes to the shifting grounds of cultural revitalization and archaeological debates on the famous island. This talk discusses new perspectives on the warfare, collapse and disappearance ideas that have been popular for Easter Island from Thor Heyerdahl to Jared Diamond.”

Jack Rossen received his doctorate from the University of Kentucky (1991). He has conducted archaeological research in Peru, Chile, and Argentina, and has also analyzed archaeobotanical materials from throughout South America, the Ohio Valley and the northeastern U.S. His work on collaborative archaeology and community projects with the Cayuga and Onondaga Nations in what is now central New York began in 1999. His interest in Pacific archaeology stems from co-teaching the travel course, “The Anthropological Experience in Hawaii” on five occasions.

December 5, 2012

Wendy Bacon (University of Pennsylvania)

“Sex, Drugs and 2012: Ancient Maya and Modern Media Phenomenon”

The ending of a cycle in the ancient Maya calendar has captured international attention: books, movies, TV shows and the internet predict disaster. This presentation briefly introduces the ancient Maya and their achievements, then explores: Where did the idea that they predicted the end of the world come from? What did they actually record about time in general and 2012 in particular? How are the modern Maya responding? As archaeologists, how can we help people tell archaeological fact from fiction?

Wendy Bacon’s PhD in Anthropology is from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, focusing on ancient Maya spatial analysis. Dr. Bacon has excavated at historic and prehistoric sites in the U.S. and Belize, Central America. She is the Secretary of the Finger Lakes Chapter of the New York State Archaeological Association in Ithaca, New York.

February 6, 2013

Nerissa Russell (Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, Cornell University)

“Taboo Topics: Exploring Absences in the Faunal Remains from Çatalhöyük, Turkey.”

Ethnography shows us that every society has some form of food taboos, often focused on the meat of particular animals. While the pig taboo, in particular, has received considerable archaeological attention in the eastern Mediterranean, there is little discussion of taboo in prehistory. The obvious reason is that, lacking textual or direct ethnohistorical evidence, it is difficult to study absence. However, taboos are likely to have affected the composition of most zooarchaeological assemblages, so we cannot afford to ignore them. While specific beliefs cannot be applied from ethnography to deep prehistory, some of the structuring principles seen in ethnoarchaeological and ethnohistoric studies can help us to identify prehistoric animal taboos. I explore the patterning of the animal bone assemblage from Neolithic Çatalhöyük in terms of taxa, body part representation, and spatial distribution to argue for the existence of taboo practices.

March 6, 2013

Michelle L. Machicek (Hirsch Postdoctoral Research Associate, Cornell University, and Research Fellow, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History)

“Investigating Early Lifeways in the Mongolian Steppes through Bioarchaeological Research.”


April 3, 2013

Ken Stuart (Cornell University)

“Recent work at the Ness of Brodgar, Orkney: a virtual tour of an amazing Neolithic site”

Between the great Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness, in the heart of Neolithic Orkney, lies the recently discovered complex of structures and walls called the Ness of Brodgar. Ongoing excavations over the past few years have resulted in some astonishing finds at this well-preserved site, similar in construction to world-famous Skara Brae yet far more massive.

We’ll travel virtually through, around, and over the site, and others nearby, as we learn about some of its most amazing attributes, features, and finds. Your tour guide will be Ken Stuart, Cornell Archaeology ’88, MA ’91, whose first dig was in Orkney, and who has volunteered at the Ness during the 2010 and 2012 seasons.

May 1, 2013

Wilfred van Soldt (Leiden University, the Netherlands)

“Recent Excavations on Tell Satu Qala (Iraqi Kurdistan): The Ancient Kingdom of Idu.”

In 2008, a team from Leiden visited Iraqi Kurdistan. One of our objectives was to find an archaeological site where we could start an excavation. During a survey in which we visited 20 sites, we decided to concentrate our efforts on Tell Satu Qala on the Lower Zab, about 15 km east of modern Taqtaq. An important reason for choosing this site was the discovery of a royal inscription that gave us the ancient name of the city: Idu. This city is known from Middle Assyrian and Neo-Assyrian texts and according to these sources, Idu was the capital of an Assyrian province.
During two seasons (2010 and 2011), a team from the universities of Leiden, Leipzig and Erbil worked on Satu Qala and the objects that we found provide valuable evidence for the stratigraphy of the site. According to the royal inscriptions found at Idu, the city played an important role in the region along the Lower Zab during the period between the two Assyrian empires.

October 2, 2013

Brita Lorentzen (Cornell University Tree-Ring Laboratory)

“From the Forest to the Mosque: New Tree-Ring and 14C Evidence for Dating Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and Sourcing Its Timbers”

Al-Aqsa mosque is one of Jerusalem’s most prominent buildings. Due to its religious and political significance as part of the Haram al-Sharif (the Temple Mount complex), the building has a dynamic history of over a millennium since its construction in the late 7th century CE. Previous studies on timbers from al-Aqsa have suggested that the mosque contains wood re-used from older pre-Islamic buildings in and around the Temple Mount. In this lecture, I re-examine previous evidence for dating al-Aqsa’s timbers, as well as a new group of timbers sampled from the mosque. I use dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) and modeling of sequences of 14C dates (14C ‘wiggle-matching’) to obtain unprecedented dating precision for the al-Aqsa timbers and identify the forest area(s) from which these timbers were procured. The al-Aqsa data is also compared with tree-ring and 14C data from other historical buildings, particularly the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, to demonstrate that these buildings likely used timbers procured from the same forest areas in Anatolia and the Italian Alps.

November 6, 2013

Elena Devecchi (Institut für Assyriologie und Hethitologie, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München)

“How to Govern an Empire: The Case of the Hittites (XIV-XII century BCE)”

During the second half of the Second Millennium BCE, the Hittites, together with Egypt, Assyria and Babylonia, were one of the great powers of the ancient Near East. They controlled an area that stretched from Western Anatolia to the Northern Levant and Upper Mesopotamia and encompassed many different peoples, with different languages, customs and religions. This lecture will provide an overview on the features and organization of this vast and multicultural territory and discuss the military, political and economic instruments developed by the Hittites in order to govern it.

December 4, 2013

Philip Nicholson (Astronomy, Cornell University)

“A Tour of Neolithic Brittany”

The rocky peninsula of Brittany (northwestern France), like the Scottish Highlands, western Ireland and Cornwall in the British Isles, still preserves much visible evidence of its pre-Roman culture. Much of the land is unsuitable for intensive agriculture and has thus remained relatively undisturbed since the Bronze and Iron Ages. All of the surviving structures are made of stone, and most, if not all, are connected to funerary rituals. Particularly impressive are the standing stones or “menhirs”; some very large passage graves or “dolmens”; and the best collection of Neolithic carvings to be found anywhere in Europe. We will take a tour of some of the better-known sites, including the famous stone alignments of Carnac, which extend over several kilometers; the 6500-year-old megalithic complex at Locmariaquer with its 280-ton Grand Menhir; the spectacular cliffs of Lost Marc’h; and the huge tumulus of Barnenez, the largest passage grave in Europe. Although the true purposes of these structures must remain conjectural, excavations have revealed fascinating evidence that some monuments were “repurposed” in ancient times, experiencing multiple phases of use over periods as long as 2500 years.

February 5, 2014

John Henderson (Anthropology, Cornell University)

“Hot air and politics: sweatbaths in ancient Mesoamerica”

The constellation of associations revolving around Mesoamerican sweatbaths made them prominent in public, political life in ways that set them apart from Roman baths, Jewish mikvahs, Finnish saunas, Japanese sentös, and North American sweat lodges. Bathing was among the experiences most widely shared by Mesoamerican people, at every socio-economic level, before and after the Spanish invasion: it was pleasurable, hygienic, curative, purifying, and symbolic. A special connection with pregnancy and childbirth made sweatbaths the instruments for symbolically rooting newborns in their birth communities. Sweatbaths and sweatbath imagery in public contexts in the civic cores of precolumbian cities point to symbolic political functions that built on the connection with childbirth and by extension with ancestry.

John Henderson is Professor of Anthropology at Cornell University, where he has taught since 1971. He has served as Director of Cornell’s Archaeology and Latin American Studies Programs. Henderson’s interests center on early complex societies, especially how distinctions in status, wealth, and authority develop. Another set of interest revolves around identity – how the groups with which people associate themselves are reflected in archaeological remains. He has written extensively about these issues in the context of ancient Mexico and Central America. Henderson’s field research focuses on the lower Ulúa river valley in northwestern Honduras, where he has directed many seasons of survey and excavation. He has also dug in New York, Arizona, Mexico, Peru, Turkey, and Cyprus.

March 5, 2014

Katie Kearns (Cornell University)

“Investigating environmental change in first-millennium BC Cyprus: an integrated approach”

In this talk I present an interdisciplinary methodology for investigating environmental and social change through scientific and archaeological analysis. Human-environment relationships, as recently conceptualized, are complex, fluid, and demand a broad array of techniques and theoretical models with which to examine past interactions between shifting environments and human communities, especially in relation to social and political landscape practices. In an attempt to bridge the gap between the methods of natural sciences and archaeology, I put forward an approach that integrates paleoenvironmental research, pedestrian survey, remote sensing, and historical analyses. I use on-going doctoral dissertation research in the south-central Vasilikos and Maroni valleys of Cyprus to illustrate the advantages, and limitations, of this type of integrative practice. My diachronic scope centers on the early 1st millennium B.C., a period of considerable social and political re-orientation and relatively abrupt environmental change, as documented in paleoclimatic evidence from the eastern Mediterranean.