Friday, October 20, 2017

Exploring the Athenian Agora

The Parthenon, rising above the Agora, is arguably the iconic signature of ancient Athens. Its magnetic power and prestige out-draws the Agora as a tourist attraction. Within the sacred precincts of the Acropolis is the heartbeat of rising democracy.

Although less visually eye-catching the Agora does feature the Temple of Hephaestus. The Temple of Hephaestus is the best preserved ancient temple in Greece. It was dedicated to Hephaestus, the ancient god of fire and Athena, goddess of pottery and crafts.

The CAS Speaker for October, Dr. Laura Gawlinski, Associate Professor of Classical Studies and Department Chair at Loyola University Chicago. Her research and teaching covers Greek religion and sacred space, classical archaeology, and Greek inscriptions.

Dr. Gawlinski’s long-time association with the excavations of the Athenian Agora, on-going are the basis of her presentation. She recalls that "At Randolph–Macon, I was given the opportunity to excavate in Athens at the Agora; I am continuing to work at the site and have recently published an updated guide to its museum.”

The Athenian Agora 

The evolution of the Athenian Ag-ora of Athens was a natural complement of the growth of the emerging Greek democracy.

Across the globe urban areas like the Zocalo of Mexico City are the civic centers—large open squares where citizens can assemble for a wide variety of purposes depending on group or individual needs.

On any given day the space might be used as a market, or for an election, a dramatic performance, a religious procession, military drill, or athletic competition. Here administrative, political, judicial, commercial, social, cultural, and religious activities all found a place together in the heart of Athens, and the square was surrounded by the public buildings necessary to run the Athenian government.
These buildings, along with monuments and small objects, illustrate the important role it played in all aspects of public life. The council chamber, magistrates’ offices, mint, and archives have all been uncovered, while the law courts are represented by the recovery of bronze ballots and a water-clock used to time speeches. The use of the area as a marketplace is indicated by the numerous shops where artisans sold their wares and philosophers traded and debated ideas.

Spaces space might be used as a market, or for an election, a dramatic performance, a religious procession, military drill, or athletic competition. Here administrative, political, judicial, commercial, social, cultural, and religious activities all found a place together in the center of the city much the way heart of and the square was surrounded by the public buildings necessary to run the Athenian government. All of the above is famously documented in the Field Museum Aztec market diorama.
The field archaeology of Dr. Laura Gawlinski, and others is returning the Athenian Agora to our historical understanding.

Archaeology and history provide glimpses of our cultural past. Remember
that all meetings of the CAS are free and open to the public.

See you at 3:00 pm at the regular
meeting of the Chicago Archaeological
Society at the Evanston
Public Library, 1703 Orrington Avenue.

The palimpsest by Deb Stelton

Dues, Holidays & more 

It’s that time of the year—dues are due! It’s been years since our last increase, but there are ominous rumbling emanating from Washington that sound like a hefty postage increase. Upon opening a meeting PresidentRay Young regularly reminds us that dues are the lifeblood of our organization. So they are!

The CAS provides its members with memorable hours at bargain prices. Consider for a moment the fantastic journeys over time and space that CAS armchair travel has brought to you over the months and
years. For your convenience a re-enrollment/holiday reservation combo form is on this page.

Holiday Luncheon

You will notice that our holiday luncheon is free. Nonmembers
are urged to make a modest donation or to become a member. Holiday participants
must make reservations. Voluntary dessert contributions will be received.

There were a few croppers attendant to the September meeting. Apologies will be extended to our guest speaker. The change of the meeting date from the last Sunday of the month was, perhaps, a leading contributor or perhaps fate added a scripted Marx Brothers page!

Ancient Maritime Trade : East & Southeast Asia

The CAS September guest speaker, Dr. Lisa Miziolek, presented a rare insight into the collection of artifacts leading to a recreation of the human story.

A report on her work and presentation will be featured
in the December 2017 Codex.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

On Safari with the Chicago Archaeological Society

Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going?

If there are fundamental reason for studying anthropology and cultivating a compelling interest in archaeology the above starting rhetorical questions may be a preliminary beginning.

During the passage of eight months of a CAS Program season CAS members span the globe, with the guidance of superb speakers searching for the truth of humankind.

During 2016-2017 we traveled to Armenia, visited an Egyptian gallery of ancestors, explored ancient structures of Gobekli Tepe (the world’s oldest temple) in Turkey, and marveled at the genius of Peruvian engineers who converted the challenging altiplano, often harsh and even cruel, of the Andes to a horn of plenty. These remark-able adventures come to us through the ceaseless efforts of Vice President Lucy Kennedy, thank you Lucy!

The season is climaxed in May but year after year illusive truth keeps her distance and like Oliver we want more, please! Odd-ly unable to find illusive truth during an eighth month lecture program officers plan a one day Summer Safari—a penultimate effort so-to-speak. Early in 2017 Mike Ruggeri and Ray Young proposed a visit to Beloit College and the Logan Museum. The Logan is no stranger to the CAS, but a warm invitation from Curator Dan Bartlett was a superb decision.

The Safari visit included a sur-vey of the surviving Indian Mounds. The Beloit College campus features 20 conical, lin-ear, and animal effigy mounds built between about AD 400 and 1200. One, in the form of a turtle, has inspired the symbol (and unofficial mascot) of the College. Sara Pfannkuche escorted the CAS group on a cam-pus tour of the mounds providing encyclopedic details of their history.

The Logan Museum houses approximately 15,000 ethnographic and over 200,000 archaeological objects from 129 countries and more than 600 cultural groups. Collections de-rive from research expeditions, field schools, gifts, exchanges, and purchases. The museum’s diversity and the fact that it is a teaching institution has attract-ed global attention e.g. a group of French archaeologists traveled to Beloit to study the Paleolithic collection.

Most importantly the museum is a teaching museum! Dan Bartlett prepared a special exhibition for CAS Traveling Explor-ers—WE SAW AND HANDLED IMPLEMENTS USED BY OUR PREDECESSORS FROM THE ACHEULEAN THROUGH THE MOUSTERIAN and TO THE AURIGNACION!

Still searching for answers to the headline questions I was momentarily transformed as I reached out, spanning a time gap of 500,000 years, give or take a millennium or so, and actually touched the past.

The 2017 Safari ended with a fun luncheon at the downtown Bushel and Peck’s Restaurant and the awarding of the CAS Certificate of Appreciation to Dan Bartlett.




The Palimpsest

Ancient remains found in Peru

In the hillsides of Lima's northern district of Los Olivos (Peru), a team of researchers, led by archaeologist Luis Angel Flores Blanco, uncovered skeletal remains bundled up in a funerary blanket, that date back more than 6,000 years.

The archaeologist explained that research began in April this year with the help of the city of Los Olivos, volunteers and archeology students. Ruth Shady, discoverer of Caral, the oldest civilization in America, inaugurated the project and presented the excavation plan at a public event.

So far, preliminary excavations have revealed the presence of two buildings (terraced pyramids) which would be the most important in the valley and would make the hill called Cerro Pacifico the epicenter of this ancient civilization.

> Deb Stelton

Exploring seas of the ancient world

How early were sea routes developed for immigration and trade?


How early were sea routes developed for immigration and trade? The question leads us to more questions, mysterious questions.
The earliest seaworthy boats may have been developed as ear-ly as 45,000 years ago according to one theory about the habita-tion of Australia. Some sources claim that it was only 30,000 years ago. Either way, the con-cept is mind-boggling. Could Neanderthals or Cro-Magnons have built rafts or canoes?

The 13,000 year old skeleton of a teen age girl was found in a Yucatecan cenote a few years ago. The human features were reconstructed. Amazingly, she did not resemble contemporary Maya or ancient Siberians, but instead is said to resemble Polynesians.

Copper hatchets from the Chincha Valley of Peru were trade items found in Ecuador. Similar hatchets have been found in northern Mexico, not far from the Arizona border. These could have traveled via land routes, but did they?

The word for sweet potato on Easter Island, kuma, is the same as the Inca word. How did the denizens of that island arrive in the middle of the ocean? The distance from Chile seems just too far.

On a trip to Indonesia, in Bali, you can join the local population to enjoy shadow puppet shows depicting scenes from the ancient Hindu story, the Ramayana. In an antique shop on nearby Lom-bok we saw objects that looked Greco-Roman and thought that they were fakes or just unusual.

In Cambodia we find statues of Buddha, who was born in the 5t'' century BC in Nepal. How and when did the Cambodians learn about Buddha?

Obviously ideas and stories have been exchanged over water, and in many instances, vast distances. Humans must have immigrated over water to places that they could not see on the horizon. Just how far did these journeys take them, and just how early? Perhaps more importantly, why?

Our September 17th speaker, Dr. Lisa Niziolek will unravel the stories, well calculated, promis-es an enthralling afternoon.

> Deb Stelton


Traveler to nowhere:
Birdman of Easter Island

Thursday, May 18, 2017

When warfare and climatic challenges threaten food security

an ancient people adapt to sustain life within a challenging high-altitude environment


What do we know about ancient farming on the Bolivian altiplano near Lake Titicaca? Probably, we know very little. We might be aware that the number one superfood is quinoa, and that it comes from somewhere near Lake Titicaca in Bolivia.

Perhaps your box of Ancient Grain will tell you that the grain is 3 or 4,000 years old. If you have climbed the steps to The Temple of the Moon on an island on Lake Titicaca, you know the effects on the human body at an altitude of over 13,000 ft. Or, if you have been on a tour to the ancient site of Tiahuanaco, you are convinced that organized communities did survive in that breath-stealing region.

Well, there is much more to know about the ancient farming people of Ayawiri living in the hinterlands of Lake Titicaca 3,000 years ago; Dr. BrieAnna Langlie has agreed to enlighten us.

Dr. Langlie received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Washing-ton University in St. Louis in 2016. Currently she is an in-structor at Loyola University. She specializes in paleoethno-botany and is interested in the development and long-term sustainability of agricultural systems.

The history of the crops of the Andes is rich territory for her interests. She has been studying how terraced fields, cropping schemes and food-ways were affected by war-fare and climate oscillations for Ayawiri between AD 1100 and 1450.

She is also involved in ongoing and collaborative research on agricultural terraces, and the domestication of quinoa, potatoes, and other Andean crops. How did the people manage to farm, raise or herd cattle in this challenging environment and fight the Incas who were savage warriors?
Please remember that admission to this and to all CAS meetings is free and open to the public.


the palimpsest

I am up to page 97 of In the Footsteps of Eve: The Mystery of Human Origins by Lee R. Berger, paleoanthropologist, when I stop to open my mail to find articles that you, our readers, have sent me. One is “In Smashed Bones of a Mastodon, a dispute over Early Humans” . Is everyone is looking for human origins?
Dr. Berger is searching in South Africa and Dr. Demere
is looking in California.

Dr. Berger discovered an 117,000 year old fossil footprint of a five foot woman on a southern African beach that he calls Eve and he explains what she was thinking about and how he knows all about her. His idea is that South Africa is the landscape of our “most immediate ancestors during the past 200,000 years,” and
not the area of Ethiopia, where Lucy was discovered. He allows that new discoveries could change everything.

In 1992 smashed mastodon bones, bone fragments, 5 rounded rocks and objects resembling hammers were found in San Diego County. Dr. Thomas A. Demere, a paleontologist, and some colleagues say that this is evidence that prehistoric humans – “or another lost species” occupied what is now California 130,000 years ago. The crossing of the Bering Straits has been thought to be much later, making this interpretation of the bones very controversial. NYT 4/27/2017.

The second article in my mailbox is, Scientists Recover Ancient Human DNA from Cave Dirt: Genetic Material without the Bones by Gina Kolata. German scientists have developed methods of finding DNA “even where it seemed impossibly scarce and degraded.” It is very complicated.
Finding DNA in dirt is more difficult than getting it out of bone, but Dr. Hendrik Poinar and his students are using tablespoons on their dig in Colorado. The possibilities of what this technique might allow us to know is amazing— if it works! NYT International 4/28/2017.

New discoveries and new methods appear almost daily in the search for human origins. For more information google the headlines and open the New York Times articles.

Deb Stelton