Tuesday, May 26, 2015

High Tech reopening doors to the past Dr. Vannier surprised by many of the findings when Chicago mummies were rescanned after several decades

The Chicago Archaeological Society may well look forward to a rewarding afternoon of archaeological adventure when it assembles on May 31 for its final presentation of the 2014-15 program presentation with Dr. Michael Vannier as its guest speaker. Several years earlier Dr. Vannier was associated with a remarkable exhibit at the Oriental Institute.

A reexamination of the mummy of an ancient Egyptian singer-priestess named Meresamun brought visitors to a face to face meeting as revealed in CT scans using the latest equipment, help tell her life story. Accordingly, in a virtual way, people met a remarkable woman and, “through her eyes, learn what it was like to live in Egypt 2,800 years ago," according to Emily Teeter, an Egyptologist at the Oriental Institute and the curator of the exhibition. "We will be able to `recreate' the life of an Egyptian in a way no one has attempted before," reported Dr. Teeter.

A papyrus that belonged to Meresamun was also recovered. It is inscribed with an annuity contract. It states that in exchange for thirty pieces of silver that a woman gave to her husband, he, in turn, was obligated to supply her with a stated amount of silver and grain each year. Other objects reflect Meresamun's personal life, such as a selection of necklaces, hairstyling tools, and a hand mirror decorated with gold leaf. Dr. Geoff Emberling, the Director of the Oriental Institute Museum, noted in a press release, "Our collections have seemingly unlimited research value. It is remarkable how the mummy of Meresamun which has been on exhibit for nearly eighty years is now the focus of research that is providing new perspectives on life more than 2,800 years ago." 

Dr.Vannier, M.D. is Professor of Radiology at the University of Chicago. He was Professor of Radiology at the University of Iowa from 1996-2004, and Special Assistant to the Director of the Biomedical Imaging Program at the National Cancer Institute from 2001 to 2003.

His special background may appear to place him beyond the discipline of anthropology/archaeology. Not so.
According to Dr. Vannier, “The best known mummies in Chicago, like many other well-known examples, were CT scanned in the past. In the meantime, the technology for CT imaging has improved dramatically. We were surprised by many of the findings when we rescanned the Chicago mummies after several decades. I think that the same could be reported for many other mummies if newer CT technology was used. The same may be true for many other archeological artifacts.”

May 31, 2015 - Dr. Michael Vannier:
CT scanning of Egyptian Mummies - Repeat Examinations Provide New Findings .
Date: Sunday, May 31, 2015.
Time: 3:00 p.m. Social Hour: Refreshments and Fellowship. 
Place: Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Av., Evanston
Program: 3:30 p.m. Presentation by our guest speaker: Dr. Michael Vannier, CT scanning of Egyptian Mummies - Repeat Examinations Provide New Findings .
Dinner: 5:00 p.m. Informal dinner with our guest speaker at Dave’s Kitchen.

Please note that the May meeting is scheduled to return to the Evanston Library, 1703 Orrington, Evanston.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Gender and sexuality in the ancient world

From prehistory to the present, the human body has inspired the creation of gender and sexuality images of men, women, and the divine

Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? These are questions that haunted Paul Gauguin to the extent that he inscribed them on a painting: D'où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous.

We share the artist’s curiosity and to some extent these questions provide partial explanations of the human psyche’s interest in viewing museum collections.

Specialized investigation of museum collections have provided a new dimension of understanding as well as justifying continuation archaeological exploration that brings us closer to understanding the nature of the human psyche.

The CAS is delighted to have as its guest speaker Dr. Jack Green of the Oriental Institute on Sunday, 3:00 pm, April 26 in The Ballroom of the Merion Hotel (formerly the North Shore Retirement Hotel) 1611 Chicago Avenue, Evanston.

Dr. Green’s, topic, Gender and Sexuality, until recently would have been “X” rated and calling for a “warning notice and parental discretion” mes-sage similar to those that now proceed TV series like The Vi-kings! However he has made similar presentations at the South Suburban Archaeological Society and the Art Institute of Chicago without puritanical disturbance!

Dr. Green was a guest speaker at the December 2013 Annual CAS Party when he spoke on the subject of Life To Death In Ancient Canaan and Israel.

As has been a CAS ongoing tradition, Dr. Green will be the CAS guest at Dave’s Italian Kitchen. CAS post-meeting dinner gathering has been a highlight for members. If you’ve never participated, don’t be shy. It’s dutch treat, the company’s sparkling, and you have an opportunity to interact with real archaeologists!

A reminder to CAS members and guests (Meetings are free and open to the public.). In April you can join Jack Green, chief curator, Oriental Institute Museum as he explores interpretations of female “fertility” images from prehistory, representations of male kingship in early Mesopotamia, and examples of intersexuality in ancient Near Eastern art.

Members, friends and guests of the CAS should notice the change of venue for the meeting as well as the program change. The regular April change from the Evanston Library to the Merion Hotel oc-curs when the library hosts a special convention.

For April 2015 there is a program change to accommodate professional conflicts of the previously scheduled speaker Mr. Brian Adams.

The CAS extends special thanks to the Merion Hotel and its new Social Director, Tammy for special accommodation arrangements for the April meeting.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dr. Robert J. Hasenstab, The Prehistory of the Iroquoian- speaking peoples of the Northeast

Date: Sunday, January 25, 2015
Place: Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Avenue.
Time: 3:00 p.m. Meeting Opening: Election of Officers and Board, and Social Hour.
Program: 3:30 p.m. Presentation by our guest speaker:
Dr. Robert J. Hasenstab, The Prehistory of the Iroquoian- speaking peoples of the Northeast .
Dinner: 5:00 p.m. Informal dinner with our guest speaker at Dave’s Italian Kitchen.
[Presentation of The January 2015 speaker has been underwritten by Jeanne Zasadil.]

Introducing Robert J. Hasenstab and the Iroquois: The Prehistory of the Iroquoian speaking peoples of the Northeast

Who were (or are) the Iroquois? Where did they come from? Where are they now? At the January 2015 Members Night meeting Guest Speaker, Dr. Robert J. Hasenstab, will assist our understanding about this very important New World culture.

Dr. Hasenstab is Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Anthropology where he manages the Student Spatial Analysis Lab and teaches Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing. His dissertation research focused on the prehistory and geography of the 5-Nations League of the Iroquois in New York State.

His talk will examine the prehistory and archaeology of the League of the Iroquois and related groups and will focus on the development of longhouse life in the Northeast. For many, present knowledge of the Iroquois ends with a fuzzy notion of an Amerindian tribe something like the Sioux.

Unfortunately Americans may only recognize Pocahontas or recall that a long time ago the Pilgrims celebrated a Turkey Thanksgiving with cranberries and assorted invited Indian guests.

We should have learned more about the Iroquois; after all didn’t it exert some influence on the Constitutional Convention? Actually it didn’t! Chalk that up to urban legend or myth.

The first five nations and later with the addition of the Tuscarora as the sixth were the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and the Seneca constituted the Iroquois Confederacy of Nations.

Not a myth, of the six, only the Oneida was allied with the patriot cause during the War for Independence.

In a preliminary statement Dr. Hasenstab reports that the northern Iroquoian-speaking peoples were among the most populous and well-organized Native groups of the Eastern Woodlands. The famous League of the Iroquois called themselves the "Haudenosaunee" or "People of the Longhouse". Longhouse life was the core of Iroquois society, both at the local, every-day level and at a regional, political scale.

For more about the Iroquois please join our welcoming party for Dr. Robert J. Hasenstab and the Iroquois on January 25 at 3:30 p.m. at the Evanston Public Library.

Friday, October 24, 2014

German POW camps in the Chicago area | Mr. James Meierhoff

Our speaker for the afternoon comes to us with an astounding range of interests from Mesoamerican archaeology in Belize and Guatemala, fresh from an archaeological dig at Tikal, to historical archaeology.

Mr. Meierhoff will share with us his experience with German POW camps in the Chicago area.
Almost a quarter of a century has passed since the ending of WW II. Faintly remembered aare the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Battle of the Bulge, or the fact that the Chicago area hosted almost half a million POWs during the war. What were current events are melding into the past. Perhaps Mr. Meierhoff can refresh or memories.

We are delighted and fortunate to have Mr. Meierhoff with us this afternoon. Please welcome Mr. James Meierhoff.

October 26, 2014 Mr. James Meierhoff, World War II POW Camps.
3:00 p.m. at the Evanston Public Library,
1703 Orrington Avenue, Evanston 60201-3886

Sunday, August 31, 2014

the palimpsest

Welcome back from Summer albeit we have several week before the onset of Fall.

We left May with a compelling talk by Dr. Lynne Goldstein to misnamed Aztalan which has nothing to do with Aztecs but much ado with the Mississippians.

Areal view of Aztalan

Dr. Goldstein brought the CAS up-to-speed subsequent to the CAS 2011 Summer Safari. According to Dr. Goldstein Aztalan has emerged as a significant site.

The 2014 Summer Safari plans were considering the Fort St. Joseph Niles Michigan site as a natural follow-up to Dr. Michael Nassaney’s introduction to this late 18th century frontier fort that had witnessed such historic events as the Conspiracy of Pontiac. Unfortunately we had to change planes because of the temporary 2014  hiatus at the site.

The change of plans kept the CAS in the region, but instead we went to the Snite Museum of Notre Dame University. Members may recall the May 2010 presentation by Mr. Douglas Bradley, Curator at the Snite and his warm welcome to visit the Snite. Unfortunately our visit comes after the passing of Mr. Bradley, nevertheless our visit to the Snite was warmly received. The museum houses a vast collection of  Meso American and South American art.

Some CAS members completed a summer of discovery with a visit to Nashville, Tennessee to
Dr. Michael Nassaney
explore the remarkable (remarkable because of the recreation of a towering Athena within the temple) 1-to-1 copy of the Athenian Parthenon.
MexiMayan Tours will visit the Athens, Parthenon in October for information you may call 630 972-9090.

Until October….

Bob Stelton, editor

Petitioning the Gods in Times of Drought: Ancient Maya Pilgrimage at the Cara Blanca Pools, Belize

The CAS will open its 2014-15 lecture season on September 28 when guest lecturer, Dr. Lisa J. Lucero escorts us into the lost world of the Belizean Maya. Because so much of the Maya glyphs are known, we know more about the Maya and their culture than any other New World Pre-Columbian culture. We know more about the cities than remote ceremonial centers such as Cora Blanca, and Dr. Lucero is filling in many missing pieces of the Maya mosaic.

Dr. Lucero will open new perspectives on an ancient Maya landscape that was imbued with sacred, animate qualities, which the Maya either left untouched or transformed using established customs. Of particular significance were openings in the earth, such as caves and pools, which the Maya considered portals to the underworld. They would leave offering at openings and petition gods, ancestors and other supernatural entities for plentiful rain and bountiful crops. 

Cara Blanca in central Belize is such a place with its 25 pools. Their isolation from settled communities and the relatively sparse but unique architecture near pools, such as water temples and sweat baths, suggest that Cara Blanca served as a pilgrimage destination.

Growing evidence from exploratory dives and excavations at a temple at the edge of one of the pools indicate that the Maya increased their visits to Cara Blanca in response to a series of prolonged droughts that struck the Maya area between c. 800 and 930 C.E. 

In addition to yielding information on ancient Maya pilgrimage, water ceremonies and sacred geography, pools also yield information about rainfall patterns and landscape transformation.

Personal memories:
An effective teacher at some time told you something about the past that made you wonder about how people survived in the past. Dr. Lisa Lucero had too many unanswered questions. She decided to become an archaeologist and her non-academic parents supported her decision. Today she is a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, continuing her search and inspiring her students. You can google Dr. Lucero and find information about her Maya studies and excavations in Belize. You can find her abstracts online too.

Drone view of Rath Pool. Photo by Tony Rath. 
Since the mistaken idea that the Maya predicted the end of the world in 2012 made headlines, curiosity about the mysterious Maya has increased. People questioned “did they die out?” There are millions still living in villages and farming their milpas (corn fields). What did die was a hierarchal system with a bloated ruling class who told the people when to plant and when to harvest. They made the rules about their lives and how to appease the gods.

Years ago Bob and I lived in a Maya village in the Yucatan with students, to study the Mayas. These Mayas must have been descendants of ancient Maya who lived near sites such as Ek Balam. They probably were farmers because that was what they were when we stayed with them. When the ancient hierarchical system broke down, their ancestors left and found places to live together co-operatively. 

What did they do if they guessed wrong and the rains did not come after the seeds were planted? They did a ritual. We learned that it had happened to these village farmers at least once. They gathered their sacred objects and the gifts to the gods and went to a certain place and set up their table. Four boys assumed the role of frogs at the table’s corners and made frog noises all night. One of the elders decided to ask the priest if they could borrow the small carved saints from the church. The priest said no; but they borrowed them anyway. And what happened? It rained, of course. 

What they did in that village, may or may not, have much to do with what actually happened in ancient times. And it may, or may not, have little to do with what happened in a remote village in Belize where Dr. Lucero has been working. And Dr. Lucero has been working with archaeological tools to answer many nagging questions. We are wondering. What did they do when there was a drought? What did Dr. Lucero discover?

By Deb Stelton

Edward Barna Kurjack 1938 – 2014 In Memoriam

The Chicago Archaeological Society was saddened by news of the passing of their friend Dr. Edward B. Kurjack on August 2, 2014.

Professor Kurjack, Ed to friends and associates, was indeed a valued and sincere friend of the CAS who was a frequent presenter before the CAS. He always declined any honorarium even refusing reimbursement of travel expenses from Macomb or Florida! An early check cut in Ed’s favor went uncashed.

Although a nationally recognized Mayanist, Ed’s archaeological/anthropological interests spanned the globe including Greece and Italy, Egypt which began with his investigations in the Philippines as a graduate student.

CAS travelers accompanying the MexiMayan travel adventure last March 2013, Searching for the Maya, had the special privilege of sharing Ed’s depth of understand of the Maya and the Dzibilchaltún Site. At that time, in an underground tunnel below a Maya ceremonial platform, he presented an impromptu lecture that explained the importance of stelae fragments, intentionally destroyed and serving as part of the foundation of the structure above. Among his audience were CAS members Sally Campbell, Marcia Streetman and Ronald Albiani.

Ed traveled with the 2013 MexiMayan Yucatan travel adventure as a special consultant. In failing health he struggled with the rigors of an active tour without complaint. It would be his final presentation and contribution to the CAS,

For the reader who missed the May 2012 meeting or for those who wish to review Ed’s final bow the CAS DVD is available on loan.

We shall miss Dr. Edward Barna Kurjack.