Past Events

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June 7, 2017
12:00pm to 1:00pm

Speaker: Kristine Martirosyan-Olshansky, Ph.D. Candidate, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA

This talk is a summary of field research conducted by Cotsen/UCLA doctoral student Kristine Martirosyan-Olshansky at Masis Blur, Armenia, over the course of three seasons from 2012-2014. Excavations at Masis Blur have unearthed Neolithic habitation layers (ca. 6200 – 5400 cal.BC) belonging to the Shulaveri-Shomutepe culture, with a rich material culture and several important new discoveries. Many questions have been raised concerning the origins and sudden appearance in the Southern Caucasus of sedentary communities having fully domesticated plants and animals. The abrupt abandonment of their settlements at the end of the Neolithic period is also still just as obscure. Certain cultural elements and fragments of imported pottery within otherwise Aceramic settlements attest to relations with societies in northern Mesopotamian area. This talk highlights findings from recent fieldwork at Masis Blur and discusses the new data within the framework of Neolithization processes in the Southern Caucasus. 

Fowler A222
Matthew Swanson mswanson@ioa.ucla.edu
June 2, 2017
4:00pm to 6:00pm

Speaker: Dr. Sonali Gupta-Agarwal, UCLA 

Traditions are transmitted through teaching and learning. The manner in which knowledge relating to craft production gets transmitted can help us in understanding the causes behind cultural continuity and change. By using an anthropological approach to find teaching and learning patterns, I investigate the role of potters in
modern day pottery workshops of Egypt and India in the transmission of knowledge relating to pottery production. Employing video footage using a video annotation research tool, I discern subtle gestures and postures of potters engaged in the process of pottery production and statistically examine these to reveal patterns specific to each workshop. I transpose the method and understanding gained from the study of modern potters to the archaeological context in Karanis, Egypt. Teaching and learning of pottery making leaves recognizable markers on the vessel that can be traced metrically. My research suggests that one can trace ancient communities of practice, knowledge transfer and interpret continuity or change in material culture as part of an ongoing learning tradition.

Fowler A222
Matthew Swanson mswanson@ioa.ucla.edu
May 31, 2017
12:00pm to 1:00pm

Speaker: Dr. Patrick Hajovsky, Associate Professor, Art History, Southwestern University

Taking a critical perspective, I argue that Aztec "luxury" objects worn or held on the body linked valor and value to tonalli, the heat-life energy that manifests personality and fate, and yollotl, the heart, source of blood and center of human life. The Aztecs explored the equivalences and differences between luxury materials--lapidary, gold, feather--through synesthetic metaphors that tied visual art to Nahuatl poetry. Forms made of these materials further emphasize these essential connections between person and object, which allowed the object to become a surrogate of the owner's agency. This is important to consider in the Aztec economy of sacrifice and the logic of state of control.

Fowler A222
Matthew Swanson mswanson@ioa.ucla.edu
Fowler A222
May 26, 2017
4:00pm to 6:00pm

NOTE: This Friday Seminar has been cancelled. 

Speaker: Dr. Jeremy Mumford, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Brown University

In 1558, in Spanish Peru, the Inka princess Cusi Huarcay married her brother, Sayri Thupa, with the blessing of the Catholic bishop of Cuzco, carrying the Inka tradition of sibling marriage into the colonial era. In 1570, King Philip V of Spain married his niece Anna of Austria, the daughter of his cousin and his sister. Each marriage reflected a royal practice of close-kin marriage forbidden to ordinary people, in Peru just as in Europe. Scholars have never seen them as comparable: on the one hand, the apparent magical thinking of the Inkas, who believed kings were descended from the Sun and should not pollute their blood with outsiders; on the other the apparent pragmatism of European monarchs, for whom endogamy was a tool in geopolitical strategy. In fact, there was pragmatism behind the magic and magic behind the pragmatism. In both kingdoms, close-kin marriage was a way that kings and queens sacralized themselves through breaking the most intimate and dangerous of laws. This research project, juxtaposing these two traditions of power and sexuality, opens a window into how entangled states create a shared political culture under colonialism.

Fowler A222
Matthew Swanson mswanson@ioa.ucla.edu
May 24, 2017
12:00pm to 1:00pm

Speaker: Jeremy Williams, Ph.D. Candidate, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, UCLA

The practice of digitally modelling archaeological sites has grown more and more common in recent years. Well-known ancient sites such as the Temple of Karnak, Khirbet Qumran, and the Roman Forum have benefited from such models.The recent digital model of the Late Bronze Egyptian fortress at Jaffa has provided various insights that deepen our understanding of the function and design of this site.This presentation will demonstrate the process of modelling the fortress, focusing on important aspects of the reconstruction and the modelling itself . It will also include some brief demonstrations of the software used to create the digital model in order to show the accessibility and benefits of such models.

Fowler A222
Matthew Swanson mswanson@ioa.ucla.edu
May 19, 2017
4:00pm to 6:00pm

Speaker: Dr. Nerissa Russell, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Cornell University

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 argue that the patterning of the animal bone assemblage from Neolithic Çatalhöyük has been shaped by taboo practices. These taboos involve multiple taxa and take several forms.

Fowler A222
Matthew Swanson mswanson@ioa.ucla.edu
May 17, 2017
12:00pm to 1:00pm

Speakers: Morgan Burgess and Marci Burton, M.A. Students, Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials, UCLA

This study focuses on a privately owned, autographed, first edition (c. 1959) BarbieTM doll made from poly(vinyl chloride) (PVC) plastic. Contrary to “sticky-leg syndrome”, where plasticizer migrates from the PVC and deposits to the surface as a tacky liquid, this doll exhibits a bloom of a fugitive, waxy, white solid on the legs from the mid-thighs to the ankles. In addition, the doll was autographed by Ruth Handler, the designer of BarbieTM and a cofounder of the Mattel corporation. Her signature and the date are now barely legible as the once sharp lines of ink have migrated within the PVC plastic.

Multi-spectral imaging and x-radiography were performed on the doll in order to non-invasively, non-destructively examine the plastic and gain an understanding of the manufacturing procedures. In addition, with collaboration from the Museum Conservation Institute (MCI) of the Smithsonian, computed tomography, Fourier transform Infrared spectroscopy, and Raman spectroscopy data were collected on the plastic components of the BarbieTM doll. The results collected from the analysis provided insight into the process of manufacture, material composition and structural integrity of the doll, as well as determined the agents of degradation and identified the waxy bloom compound observed locally on both PVC plastic legs, but absent on other plastic components of the doll. After the removal of the waxy bloom, the (c.1959) BarbieTM,  along with her clothing, accessories and case, was housed with archival materials and kept in a monitored environment to slow the degradation process and prevent another waxy bloom outbreak on the PVC plastic.

Fowler A222
Matthew Swanson mswanson@ioa.ucla.edu
May 13, 2017
12:00pm to 4:00pm

Connections

Archaeology is a collaborative field and archaeological teams always consist of specialists from many disciplines. This interconnectedness is an integral part of a holistic understanding of our past. Join us for an open house that illuminates the relationship between the Fowler Museum and archaeological research, beginning with two gallery talks in the Fowler Museum. These talks will be followed by a lecture, Connections Ancient and Modern: Reflections on Fieldwork in India by Dr. Monica L. Smith and will include a panel discussion with the audience. After the discussion the archaeological labs will be open to the public, giving visitors the chance to explore how archaeologists work together on many different levels to contribute to our appreciation of cultural heritage through interdisciplinary, cutting edge research.

For information call 310-209-8934. No reservation required.

2017 Open House poster 

Cotsen Institute of Archaeology
Sonali Gupta-Agarwal sonaliga@ioa.ucla.edu