Monday, January 23, 2017

January Meeting Location Change

Date: Sunday, January 29, 2017 Members’ Night.
Place: Ceviche Peruvian Seafood & Steakhouse
2554 W Diversey Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Time: 3:00 p.m. Social Hour: Refreshments and Fellowship .
3:15 p.m. Members Presentations and Election of Board and Officers.
Program: 3:30 Dr. Tasha K. Vorderstrasse, University of Chicago: Excavations at Abroyi, Armenia.

Exploring Armenia’s Hidden Past

Armenia is a small and mountainous country of peaks and high plateaus cut by river valleys. It was the first to embrace Christianity as a state religion.

Powerful old stone churches are silhouetted on the hilltops and tucked into the valleys at-testing to Armenian fortitude. Tragedy and triumph have become dual themes that are indelibly woven into the fabric of its history.
In 2013 and 2014, the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago conducted excavations at the medieval village of Ambroyi in the Republic of Armenia. This excavation represent-ed an innovation in the study of medieval archaeology of Ar-menia, which had primarily focused on large urban centers.

The excavations revealed that village life continued in Armenia despite the Mongol conquest of the region in the 13th century and provides valuable information about vil-lage life that can be compared to villages that have been excavated in the wider region. This talk will discuss the vil-lage of Ambroyi and its significance to our understanding of Armenian archaeology of the medieval period.

Dr. Tasha K. Vorderstrasse received her PhD in Near Eastern Archaeology from the University of Chicago 2004. Her work concentrates on the material culture of the Near East, the Caucasus, and Central Asia and the interactions between these regions and China.

Most Americans have check-ered understanding of Armenia or Armenians. The history, at best is inscrutable. Ef-forts to grasp historical meaning of the Transcaucasus al-low for few exceptions. Transcaucasia roughly corresponds to modern Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.

In 1915, leaders of the Turkish government set in motion a plan to expel and massacre Ar-menians living in the Ottoman Empire. Though reports vary, most sources agree that there were about 2 million Armeni-ans in the Ottoman Empire at the time of the massacre.

By the early 1920s, when the massacres and deportations finally ended, some 1.5 million of Turkey’s Armenians were dead, with many more forcibly removed from the country. To-day, most historians call this event a genocide–a premeditated and systematic campaign to exterminate an entire people.

However, the Turkish government does not acknowledge the enormity or scope of these events. Despite pressure from Armenians and social justice advocates throughout the world, it is still illegal in Turkey to talk about what happened to Armenians during this era.

Members’ Night

The regular January meeting of the CAS traditionally has been designated as Members’ Night. Originally members had an opportunity to share their archaeological/travel experiences with the membership at large. Members’ Night targeted active participation along with the annual election of officers and election of 1/3 of the board of directors.

Gradually, over past years, presentations by members of personal experiences declined in favor of presentations by guest speakers, like Dr. Tasha K. Vorderstrasse, the January 2017 speaker.

Annual Election

Many sister chapters, especially in rural areas, where members have direct contact with local ongoing digs, reflect membership roles that include active lay archaeologists. By contrast CAS mem-bers regard Field and/or Oriental Institute as their closest contact with professional archaeologists. These differences help to explain and to define the cosmopolitan context of the CAS calendar.

The Board of Directors unanimously nominated current officers and board members for reelection at the October Meeting. The 2017 ballot is printed on page 3. However members are reminded and urged to nominate candidates from the floor.

The Palimpsest

Winter Woes
To our chagrin, disappointment and embarrassment December’s severe weather necessitated a sud-den cancellation of the December Holiday Luncheon and regular meeting. An effort was made to contact members, guests, and our speaker and was largely success-ful. A substitute date will be de-termined at our February Board Meeting. Unofficially the inten-tion of the board is to plan a new date. Deposits received will be applied to to the rescheduled event. However requests for re-funds will be honored.

An Archaeological Paradox
The paradoxical aspect of archaeology continue to confound my consciousness. Avid attention to archaeological journals and the internet are constant reminders of how current discoveries cast light upon a past previously unknown.

A business man, Heinrich Schliemann, acquired a fortune to in-dulge a romantic fantasy, to dis-cover Homer’s Troy. Schliemann’s experience was unique but not singular.
Much of our understanding of the ancient world remains hidden or lost.

To what extent is Western De-mocracy indebted to the Minoans or the Mycenaeans? Archaeolo-gists Jack Davis and Sharon Stocker excavating a site near the ancient Palace of Nestor, on a hilltop near Pylos on the south-west coast of Greece.

The very first organized Greek society belonged to the Mycenae-ans whose kingdoms exploded out of nowhere on the Greek mainland around 1600 B.C.E.

The Bronze Age palace, built by the Mycenaeans, had been previ-ously excavated, and hopes for additional understanding were low. But the Davis and Stocker dig discovered a rich warrior grave now dubbed The Grave of the Golden Warrior which would alter understanding of the Myce-naean role in the evolution Greek democracy.

A detailed account of the discov-ery, The Golden Warrior, A 3,500 Year-Old Tomb Exposes the Roots of Western Civilization, was pub-lished in Smithsonian, January-February, 2017.

The discovery has raised a few question. At the time of the inter-ment the tholos-tomb was the pre-ferred burial of the upper class.

And the Future

Search Engines can locate ongo-ing archaeological activity for the archaeological-bit-trekker. Try this link: http://www.livescience.com/57375-archaeology-stories-to-watch-in-2017.html . The link will lead you to a 5 point list of discoveries for 2017.

The list of 5 is somewhat disap-pointing insofar as it includes no surprises.

1. Is predicated on cessation of hostilities in Iraq and anticipation of returning the depredations of ISIS to order. 2. Suggestions that there is a Great Pyramid hidden chamber. 3. Anticipates addition-al Dead Sea Scroll discoveries. 4. Suggests that ongoing exploration of the necropolis of Abydos, Egypt will expand its importance. 5. The opening of the Bible Mu-seum may be worth watching. When this museum, with its vast collection, is open to the public in 2017, much will be revealed. Al-so, as scholars analyze the collection, many new discoveries will be made and some of the artifacts will turn out to be modern-day forgeries.

Friday, September 23, 2016

From Clay and Earth Experiencing the Emerald Site Beyond Cahokia the Emerald Site casts new light on Mississippian life.

The Chicago Archaeological Society will initiate the 2016-17 discovery program of archaeological adventures with an exploration of the Illinois Emerald Site escorted by Rebecca M. Barzilai, a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University. Ms. Barzlai is working on her dissertation characterizing the geochemical and petrographic composition of ceramics from the Emerald Site.

Since 2012 a joint effort by Indiana University and the University of Illinois, led by project co-directors Susan Alt and Tim Pauketat [CAS Speaker April 11, 2011) with funding from the John Templeton Foundation, has conducted large scale excavations across the Emerald Site. Emerald, located 10 miles east of Cahokia in St. Clair County, Illinois prospered from the 11th to the 14th century AD.

Archaeological exploration has uncovered concentrations ofnon-domestic, ceremonial architecturealongside seeminglytemporary, short-term pilgrimhousing. Small sites surroundingthe main acropolis of ritualactivity appear to be temporary field houses where peoplemoved through, to and from Emerald, but did not live yearround. Pottery, a good distinguisher of changing cultural styles and practices, shows evidenceof people from Indiana, Ohio, Arkansas, Southeastern Missouri, and perhaps further afield as well as the way pottery changed slightly once these travelers had experienced Emerald.

In North America, where houses were made mostly from wood, thatch, and mud, an archaeologist’s main medium of investigation is the earth. Looking at the footprint of patterns left behind by native inhabitants, such as earth, raw
clay, pottery, and stone are our clues to what people were doing and seeing in the past. At the Emerald Site the pattern left behind leads to indications of people visiting the location from across the Midwest for religious purposes. The location was built up and used as a Mississippian shrine complex, where religious practices and activities were performed and created by Cahokian and migrant peoples from throughout the Midwest of North America.

Emerald sits on a glacial driftremnant on the western edge of the historically named ‘Looking Glass Prairie.’ Emerald is an unusual site that, in addition to an earthen pyramid, almost 20 feet high, known as the “Great Mound,” there are 11 small once flat-topped round mounds, all aligned atop an apparent artificially landscaped ridge. As this area of the site has proportionally more public and ceremonial architecture than every-day houses, the site has been recently called the Emerald Acropolis, or Emerald Shrine Complex of Greater Cahokia. There is evidence of ceremonially laden ritual deposits that bear witness to annual renewal events which suggest Cahokian practices.


Waggish Tales* of Life in Pre-Columbian America

A Dog’s life in Pre-Columbian America was a tale of shared work and devotion

During this fervid election year rivalries that welled up along with evolution of language, writing and even music can be ignored and perhaps forgotten, but not so with the CAS. Think about the rivalry between dog lovers and cat fanciers. The May guest speaker, Dr. Steven R. Kuehn, brought to the attention of his audience an archaeological report of the role of canines in Pre-Columbia America.

Archaeological exploration reveals no information regarding canine domestication. Whereas the Paleoindian companionship of humans and dogs has been uncovered but with little data. The Archaic reveals burial treatment.

The Early through the Middle Woodland markedly was the gold standard of mortuary treatment. There was increased evidence during the Late Woodland human/canine relationships in the form of increased ceremonialism but also increased evidence of unequal dining relations!

During Late Prehistoric ritual burials continued. Age issues and trauma probably due to mistreatment increased. In sum, however, life was harsh in the pre Colombian world for man and beast alike.


Our mind’s eye vision of the dog as power source for a travois is accurate. Travois (trăvoi´), a device used by Native North Americans of the Great Plains for transporting their tepees and household goods. It consisted of two poles, lashed one on either side of a dog or, later, a horse, with one end of each pole dragging on the ground. It had straps or wooden crosspieces between the poles near the open end that served as a carrier. Like the sledge, the travois was used by Native Americans before any use of wheels was known to them.

A Dog’s life in Pre-Columbian America is a tale of shared work and devotion.
*My thanks to Norman Lockridge whose wagging tales I have never forgotten.


CAS SAFARI, Peru Holiday, 2016 A Virtual visit to Peru

Recent CAS Safaris to regional archaeological sites like Aztalan in Wisconsin or Cahokia in Illinois and museums like the Field have been warmly acclaimed. But for 2016 a decision for a change brought forth the idea for a “Virtual Journey to Peru.” For many members’ destinations like the Nazca Lines were in their travel buckets; and for others, favorite visits, already achieved, were in a memory book calling for a reprise.

Safari plans congealed as Peru Holiday on July 31.

CAS members attending were, Beverly Bucur, Mary Ann Bloom, Sally Campbell, Judy and Peter Greene, Vicky Grigelaitis, Karen Memory, Mike Ruggeri, Joe andMarilyn Shidle, Marcia Streetman, Deb and Bob Stelton, Rita Tomkiewicz, Jeanne Zasadil, David Zucker and Edith and Ray Young Participated in the 2016 Safari and fundraiser at the Ceviche Restaurant. Judy Petacque, a friend of Deb and Bob, called the event “Fabulous”.

Edith planned the snack (empanadas) and the Buffet lunch, while Mike poured the wine. Deb told about the dedicated work of Maria Reiche with some interpretive help from Phyllis Pitluga (of the Adler) on the Nazca Lines. Ray talked about ideas connecting the Ceque system of the later Incas with the Nazca Lines. Bob Stelton presented videos of overflights and also Peruvian fiestas and the train to Machu Picchu. Doreen Stelton, Deb’s daughter took individuals to the “Native Market” in the bar and sold bags full of masks and mostly, African pieces from the Doris Neilson collection. Safari 2016 was a fun and beneficial learning experience.