Guest: Tom Penders
As an archaeologist and father to Becky, a teenager who was diagnosed with autism as a child, Tom Penders was well-positioned to realize the connection between archaeology and people on the autism spectrum. Out of the desire to help Becky and other children on the autism spectrum improve the quality of their lives as much as possible and have fun in the process, Tom founded Archaeologists for Autism, which is currently based in Titusville, Florida. Through free events that feature fun activities related to archaeology, AFA aims to spread awareness about autism, promote research, and encourage the children to develop their potential and show their families what they’re capable of. Tom hopes AFA will one day expand to include nation-wide events that allow children and families struggling with autism to experience archaeology in a fun and low-stress environment. Find out more about the program and how you can help on tonight’s episode!
Guest: Kenneth L. “Kenny” Feder
In this episode, Dr. Schuldenrein and special guest Dr. Kenneth Feder deal with an assumption that underpins a lot of pseudoarchaeology: the notion that the archaeological record is full of evidence of technological achievements that “primitive” people would not have been capable of on their own. By this reckoning, the native people of North America were not capable of constructing the burial and temple mounds that are found in the American Midwest and Mid-South, and the pyramids were too big an achievement for the ancient people of Egypt or Mexico. Therefore, they must have been taught the requisite technology by folks from Atlantis…or maybe it was an extraterrestrial peace corps that visited Earth and taught ancient people how to build them. Again, the underlying libel is that ancient people (almost always non-white, non-Europeans) were too dumb to progress without some outside help. Why do these assumptions lead to bad archaeology? How does pseudoarchaeology effect the perception of archaeology as a field? Find out the answers to these questions and more on tonight’s show.
Guest: Dr. Christopher D. Dore
On a fundamental level, the decision to try and preserve a historically-important site is a public one. And yet, the recent discovery and excavation of a Tequesta village in downtown Miami led to a controversy that pitted the developer and the public against each other in a drawn-out argument over the question of its preservation – or so it appeared. As it turns out, a variety of misunderstandings contributed to this unnecessary controversy that would have been an easy and routine process elsewhere in the United States. Join our host and special guest Dr. Christopher Dore, who was hired as an expert by MDM Group, and explore what factors led to the situation getting out of hand. Were these events really the good vs. evil story we read about in the media?
Guests: Dr. Alex Brown and Dr. Aleks Pluskowski
The crusaders who launched a bloody holy war against the pagan societies of the Eastern Baltic left a profound legacy – the construction of spectacular castles that still exist today as ruins or preserved as historical monuments, and the development of towns that reorganized the region into a uniquely European society and brought it under Christendom. But the effect that these crusading armies had on the landscape goes even further than architectural changes. Dr. Aleks Pluskowski and Dr. Alex Brown are members of a project team using zooarchaeological, palaeobotanical, geoarchaeological and historical data to study the environmental impacts of the Baltic Crusades and the role they played in this transformative time in history. What effect would these have had on the pre-Christian tribes whose belief systems were tied closely into the natural landscape? Tune in tonight, and find out how the ecological transformations that took place as a result of the Crusades were closely tied with the cultural changes that accompanied them.
Guest: Charles Stanish
With the advent of online markets such as eBay and Craigslist, the antiquities market has entered a whole new playing field in the past few decades. One unexpected side effect is a marked increase in the number of forgeries being made and sold across the world – to tourists, dealers, collectors, and experts alike. What effects do these fake artifacts have on the antiquities market? We can all think of negative ones, such as an increased tendency of fakes turning up in museum collections. However, it may surprise you to learn that there are quite a few positive ones too! Join our host and special guest Dr. Charles Stanish, who will recount his experiences in South America with forgers and his thoughts on the circulation of fake artifacts in online forums.
Guest: William Caraher
Ever notice the sheer number of archaeologists who are into punk rock music? What effect has this had on the practice of archaeology? It turns out that when you think about it, there exists a surprising amount of similarities between punk rock and archaeology as both practical and creative processes! Join us with special guest and co-founder of the “Punk Archaeology” movement Dr. William Caraher and explore the dialogue between these two fields – one a musical form, the other an academic discipline. Find out how what began initially as an inside joke among archaeologists developed into a neat summation of a series of methods, approaches, and commitments in the discipline. In the spirit of punk, discover the appeal of the movement not as a neatly bounded box, but a swirl of DIY methods, cultural criticism, and subversive questioning of traditional practices.
Guest: Jason Ur
Have you ever wondered how an archaeologist knows where to dig? Traditional methods include surveying, which involves combing entire landscapes for indications of past habitation and a good deal of difficult work. Some archaeologists, like tonight’s special guest Dr. Jason Ur, are making life a little easier by consulting satellite imagery and aerial photographs for clues of ancient civilizations. Find out what role these recently developed techniques may have in cultural heritage management, and learn how scholars are using these tools not only to pinpoint site locations, but to answer big questions about the relationship between ancient humans and their environment.
Guest: Rowan Flad
Gold, Gucci handbags, a Malibu beach house – all are examples of what we value as a society. Ever step back and wonder, rules of economics aside, what the social reasons are for ascribing such value to these objects in the first place? What is the place of these items in the wider context of our modern social rituals? Join our host Dr. Schuldenrein and special guest Dr. Rowan Flad, who looks for the answer at an ancient salt production site in the eastern Sichuan Basin of China. It turns out that this narrow industry has much to tell us about how effective the standard models of economic anthropology are in understanding specialization at the emergence of complex societies. Explore the significance of this and other specialized industries in a broader economic and social context and learn how specialized craft production, ritual activity such as divination, and the social construction of value in ancient China were all closely intertwined.
More and more archaeologists these days are catching on to the idea of using social media as a tool for public engagement. Major archaeological organizations like the Society for Historical Archaeology use it to promote their events and court the interest of amateurs and professionals alike, while students and academics find it useful for their own personal fieldwork and research. Why use social media for public engagement and what are its benefits and drawbacks? If the idea of creating a blog or using other social media platforms to promote your archaeological research appeals to you, join our host with special guests Terry Brock and Doug Rocks-Macqueen to find out what you should consider before designing your own social media strategy! As we come up on the SAA session on Blogging in Archaeology, discover how social media and blogging can be used for heritage awareness and activism, and learn how our guests have used these tools effectively.
Guest: Zoë Crossland
In Madagascar today, and in the recent past, the dead are understood to inhabit the world alongside the living. Accounts of the 19th century tell of people possessed by the dead, of ghosts roaming abroad, and of the care that must be taken around them. How can archaeologists and anthropologists provide space in historical narrative for entities that we might consider to be imaginary or nonexistent? How do we acknowledge the agency of the dead for people in the past? For Columbia University’s Dr. Zoë Crossland, this means attending to the material signs of the dead – whether tombs and standing stones, or the patterns of habitation that people left behind in the landscape. Archaeology is often called the discipline of things, but Dr. Crossland argues that our work is semiotic in nature – that is, it is primarily concerned with material signs, and with the interpretation of those signs. Archaeology is a fascinating discipline for the way in which it pulls together empirical data with the enlivening interpretation through which it becomes meaningful, but we’ve tended to think about interpretation as something that happens in people’s heads. Join us tonight and learn how Dr. Crossland draws upon the semiotic philosophy of Charles Sanders Peirce in her forthcoming book to rethink how we approach the signs of the dead and their interpretation.
Guest: Dr. Tom Scanlon
Enjoy the Winter Olympics this year? Join us and special guest Dr. Thomas Scanlon to learn about the Games’ ancient roots! Peer into the history of the ancient Olympics and the events surrounding them, as well as the religious and cultic aspects of the games and how they related to sport. Of particular interest will be the topic of sport and gender in Greek athletics – learn about the women’s Games for Hera at ancient Olympia that took place at the same stadium as the men’s games, with its own special running events and its own ideology for women. Hear about Dr. Scanlon’s latest theory regarding the site at Olympia, how the religious space related to the athletic space, and how athletes lived the legend of Homeric heroes and were boosted by Homer’s epic. And of course, find out how the ancient Games compare to the Olympics we now celebrate today, in terms of the economics and politics behind them, the role of gender in both, professionalism vs. amateurism, and more!
Guest: Bernard K. Means
Recently, archaeologists have felt pressured to prove that their discipline is not just a purely academic pursuit, but rather a practically relevant and useful profession. As it happens, during the Depression Era archaeology did prove to be just that. New Deal work relief programs were designed to spend more funds on labor than equipment, to provide minimal competition with businesses in a normal economy, and, for the most part, to invest in American culture. All of these criteria made archaeology a perfect candidate for inclusion in work relief programs, and the field would gradually transform from a hobby into a profession. During this time, archaeology was done on a scale unprecedented in the US and rivaled some of the larger excavations in the Old World, such as those in Egypt, the Near East or Europe. Join our host and special guest Dr. Bernard Means and find out how New Deal archaeology set changes in motion that affected the way we do archaeology in the US – from the development of standardized procedures to the founding of the SAA – as well as the research potential for the collections obtained through work relief investigations.
Guest: Dr. Peter Peregrine
As we come up on President Obama’s State of the Union Address and evaluate where we stand as a nation, it’s fascinating to ponder how human society has evolved. Twenty thousand years ago everyone was living in small, mobile bands – today, everyone is living within a large, bureaucratic, market-oriented state. How did that happen? There have historically been two answers. One (going back to Darwin and Malthus) is that population growth forces cultural innovation and change. The other (going back to Marx and Morgan) is that technological innovations have allowed cultural change (and population growth) to take place. Both are simplistic, and there is supporting and refuting evidence for both. Join our guest Dr. Peter Neal Peregrine as he discusses cultural evolution and the importance of understanding it, explores its relationship with population and technology, and reconsiders these two factors as prime movers in the evolutionary process.
Guest: Dr. Charles R. Ewen
Miss the SHA conference this month? Join our host Dr. Joe Schuldenrein and recently elected president of the Society for Historical Archaeology Dr. Charles Ewen as they discuss Public Archaeology and the importance of communicating what we do as archaeologists with the general public. Everyone agrees that engaging the public to make archaeology relevant to society and promote stewardship of the past is a good idea, but how we go about it is a different matter. On the one hand, many criticize academics for talking over the heads of a general audience; on the other, many archaeologists feel that popularizing archaeology with shows like National Geographic’s Diggers compromises our ethics. The task of finding a balance between the two is a challenging one. As we come up on the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, what do we have to show for the billions that have been invested in Cultural Resource Management? What do we have to show that the general public will think was worth it?
Guest: Charles E. Orser, Jr.
The rise of archaeology as a profession has done much to enrich our understanding of prehistoric eras, which had been a long misunderstood chapter in the human story. But what can the pursuit of archaeology contribute to our knowledge of more recent historical time periods, which already provide textual clues about the way people lived? It turns out that archaeological research often reveals quite a different story than the one passed down to us by the written word. Join our guest Dr. Charles Orser, Jr., who will be discussing his research on the daily life of the rural Irish on the eve of and during the Great Famine of 1845-50. From 1994-2007, Dr. Orser excavated at 6 house sites in counties Roscommon, Sligo, and Donegal in the Republic of Ireland. This was the first sustained archaeological effort to investigate the lives of the common families who suffered through the Famine and who eventually came to the United States (as well as to Canada and Australia) as a result. His research there has documented that the people were not “peasants” but were tied into the British market as much as anyone else at the time.
Do you ever wonder what the ancients would say to our modern understanding of their customs and beliefs? Well, imagine what future scientists might make of our civilization! Picture Manhattan as an archaeological site in the distant future. With modern technological developments and the mass consumption of goods, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that we would leave behind a wealth of material remains. What sorts of artefacts would future excavators find amidst the ruins of this once bustling, towering city? Will your apartment building survive? Your iPod? These may sound like questions more appropriate for a novelist to ask than a scientist, but based on our knowledge of modern refuse patterns and how archaeological sites form, it is possible to speculate what the future site of Manhattan would yield. Join our host Dr. Joe Schuldenrein as he considers these questions and discusses what archaeologists might conclude about us as a society based on the artefacts we leave behind.
Guest: Michael Laughy
The lights are up, the shopping’s (hopefully) done, and Santa’s on his way – yep, it’s finally Christmas! With the growing emphasis on gift-giving and commercialism during the holiday season, it can be hard to remember that Christmas has origins far beyond the rise of Christianity; people have been celebrating winter solstice since the Stone Age and well into antiquity. In fact, a surprising number of continuities exist in the archaeological record between ancient wintertime celebrations, from Neolithic solstice observances to Roman Saturnalia, and our own Christmas pastimes. What can archaeology tell us about Christmas prior to Charles Dickens’ popularization of the holiday with his novel, A Christmas Carol? What might future archaeologists infer from the material remains of our society’s seasonal shopping sprees? Before you finish the last of the eggnog and all the gingerbread cookies disappear, join us tonight at 6pm ET to learn how our ancient ancestors partied during the winter months and discover how these rites and rituals evolved over thousands of years into our modern Christmastime traditions.
Guest: Dr. Julian Richards
Is the December chill getting to you already? The next time you wish you were warmer, just imagine what life must have been like wintering at a Viking camp in 9th Century England! Tune in tonight at 6pm ET as Viking Age England specialist Dr. Julian Richards discusses his work at sites like Torksey, where the Great Viking Army whiled away the winter months. Learn about the role of this project and others in illuminating Viking Age England, as well as the pursuit of Norse Archaeology in the modern UK. If you’re familiar with films like Valhalla Rising and How to Train Your Dragon, then the common stereotypes and misconceptions concerning everything from Viking fashion and speech to the nature of Viking society are readily apparent. You’ll find that Norse archaeology is less about beefy blond men running around with horned helmets and axes, and more about a complex society of people whose presence contributed to the growth and development of urban settlements in England.
Guest: Marc Zender
Were you feeling anxious last year because of the impending holiday shopping? Or were you resting easy knowing that the Mayan apocalypse meant you didn’t have to sit in traffic at the mall? Although we know now that the reports were based on a misunderstanding, we’re still left wondering, if the Mayans didn’t predict the end of the world, what did they write down? Turns out, they left us a rich history of births, deaths, wars, feasts, and conquest—if we’ve got the translation right. Tonight we will be taking a closer look at the cryptic world of Mayan hieroglyphs. Join us and our guest, Dr. Marc Zender, as we discuss the issues surrounding the interpretation of a writing system that developed over the course of 2,000 years! Whether you’re an art historian, an archaeologist, an epigrapher, or an Indiana Jones enthusiast, you won’t want to miss our latest archaeological discussion tonight at 6 PM ET.
Guest: Dr. Maurizio Forte
Most Sci-Fi movies warn of the dangers of technology for the future of mankind. But if the number of people glued to their phones at a restaurant, on the subway, or in line at the store is any indication, technology has become an integral and necessary part of our daily lives. So how do archaeologists concerned with the past make their way in this new cyber world? At the 9,000 year old site of Catalhoyuk in Turkey, archaeologists are experimenting with 21st century technologies and archaeological excavation. The initial results seem to be directly out of the future! Tonight, our guest Dr. Maurizio Forte will discuss his work with the latest virtual reality and 3D visualization tools at Catalhoyuk, and the exciting opportunities these new technologies afford archaeologists and the public. Join us tonight at 6 PM ET as we welcome our new cyber overlords!
On September 30, 2013 House Representatives Eric Cantor and Lamar Smith published an article in USA Today that criticized government funding of science research through the National Science Foundation (NSF). Many of the projects they questioned were from the social and behavioral sciences. The article generated an outcry in the academic community, including archaeologists, of whom several published replies via personal blogs and professional websites. The article even generated a Twitter hashtag #WhyArchMatters. The debate generated by the Congressmen’s short article is indicative of a larger question facing society today: With the current economic situation and the need to curtail government spending, what types of projects should taxpayers’ money go towards? On our show tonight, we will be discussing this issue with Dr. Rosemary Joyce, Dr. Adam Smith, and Dr. James Doyle. Join as we discuss the importance of archaeological research in the modern world and answer the Representatives’ question: Why does NSF choose “…to fund research on Mayan architecture over projects that could help our wounded warriors or save lives”?
Guest: Stanton W. Green
“Archaeology…what are you going to do with that?” If you’re an archaeologist, or thinking about becoming one, you’ve heard this sentence at some point in your career. For many their love of archaeology began with Indiana Jones. You may have bought the hat, taken bull-whip lessons, or even watched the 4th installment of the movies! But what’s next? What kind of opportunities are there for fedora-wearing intrepid explorers and how do you train to take Indy’s place? Join us and our guest, Dr. Stanton Green, as we discuss academic and professional archaeological careers, the anthropological training you’ll need in college, and how archaeological training can translate into NON-academic careers. If you’re a student considering archaeology, or an archaeology student contemplating the job market, you’ll want to tune in!
Guest: Dr. Anne Jensen
Imagine that you are an archaeologist carrying your equipment to site only to meet a polar bear along the way! Once you’ve arrived at site, weather conditions may mean the ground is too frozen to dig or you have a chance of getting hypothermia if you try waterscreening. While Indiana Jones is well known for his travels to far off places and harrowing recovery of artifacts, what are the dangers of archaeology in less desirable destinations? Our guest, Dr. Anne Jensen, has over 30 years experience working in Barrow, Alaska, the ninth northernmost city in the world! Although remote, the climate of Alaska’s north coast allows for the recovery of some remarkable items including ivory harpoons, plank floors, and even seal oil. Join our guest, Dr. Anne Jensen, and us as we discuss her archaeological work in this far-flung part of the world and how her findings challenge the idea that such environments are inhospitable for human occupation.
Guest: Ben Thomas
Archaeological discoveries and the lives of archaeologists have long captured the public’s imagination. However, few people realize that archaeology exists as close as their back door, or that they do not have to be an expert to be involved with archaeological projects and objects. Have you always been interested in archaeology but unsure how to find out more? Do you pick up National Geographic at the newsstand or subscribe to Archaeology magazine? Do you wish you could learn more about archaeology in your area? Turns out you’re not alone! Over 60,000 people participated in last year’s National Archaeology Day hosted by the Archaeological Institute of America. This year is expected to be even bigger requiring an entire month of celebration and including an international component. Tune in as we talk to Ben Thomas, the Director of Programs for the AIA, and discuss the events International Archaeology Day has inspired. You’ll be able to learn more about the 300 events planned in celebration and find out how you can participate in your area!
Guest: Frederick “Fritz” Hanselmann
While pirates have always been a source of public fascination, piracy has seen a recent surge in both news headlines and popular culture, including the newly-released film Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks. While the term pirate readily conjures up a variety of images, including peg-legs, nefarious skull and cross bone flags, and squawking parrots, pirates cannot be separated from treasure. But what do we really know about pirates? Most of our understanding comes from popular fictional characters like Long John Silver or Captain Hook. Such images, however beloved, have complicated our understanding of these already mysterious historical figures. So who were these figures and what kind of “treasures” did they leave at the bottom of the sea? Join us and Dr. Frederick Hanselmann, from Texas State University, as we discuss his work on shipwrecks in the Gulf of Mexico as well as the difficulties of archaeological excavation underwater.
Guest: Dr. Michael L. Blakey
In a city that never sleeps, the constant push for progress can sometimes collide head on with the remnants of the past. In 1991, construction on a federal office building was halted when several skeletons were uncovered. The skeletons represented not just a forgotten burial site, but a forgotten history as well. Over two decades, researchers uncovered the remains of more than 400 individuals, of both African and African American descent. The controversy surrounding the discovery, analysis, and interpretation of the burial ground was a hot topic in the press and led to the development of the African Burial Ground Monument and Museum. How has the analysis of the remains changed our understanding of African American history in the U.S.? How can archaeology play a role in human right arguments? Does this role affect the interpretation of the past? We talk to Dr. Michael Blakey about the African American Burial Ground Monument and the struggle for human rights.
Guest: Rebecca Yamin
Are you upset about the cancellation of BBC America’s TV drama “Copper”? Maybe you’re a fan of Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York” or Caleb Carr’s “The Alienist”? If so, then you’re undoubtedly familiar with New York’s most infamous slum, the Five Points neighborhood. But how dangerous and depraved was this historical intersection? Archaeological research by Dr. Rebecca Yamin has shown that despite its dark reputation, Five Points was a neighborhood where the American Dream could and did prosper. Who were the people that lived here? What conditions did they live in? Which ones succeeded, and which ones didn’t? What does an overcrowded, unsanitary tenement neighborhood from the 19th century tell us about our history and ourselves? Join us as we talk with Dr. Yamin, who will tell the stories of several residents in the 19th century neighborhood. How has she overcome the difficulties such a famous site poses and what has new work in the city told us about this key time in New York’s history? Tune in, and listen, as the dark and gritty streets of fiction are transformed into the bustling and vibrant streets of 18th century New York City.
This week marks the two year anniversary of the show, and while we have come a long way since the first episode (Indie’s Footprint), was broadcast on September 21, 2011 there is always room for change and improvement. We asked listeners to complete a short survey and give feedback on their experience with the show so far, and received a variety of answers. In this episode, Dr. Schuldenrein will discuss these findings and talk about how your ideas and suggestions will be incorporated into the show going forward. Tune in to see if your response makes it on air, and hear what the future of Indiana Jones: Myth, Reality, and 21st Century Archaeology holds!
Guest: Douglas Comer
In our last episode we looked at the antiquities trade and the destruction of cultural property through the trade of artifacts. This week we continue with a similar theme and look at the dangers to the archaeological sites themselves. Do you like to travel? Do you visit World Heritage and other archaeological sites while traveling? As archaeologists, we like to visit these important pieces of history while abroad. However, we are not the only ones, and with the rise of cultural tourism, an unintended consequence is that many of these sites are becoming irreparably damaged. Which sites are especially at risk? How can we protect these sites? With close to 1000 World Heritage sites, this can be an especially difficult task. Join us as we interview an expert on the subject, Dr. Douglas Comer, currently Co-President of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Archaeological Heritage Management.
Guest: Dr. Sam Hardy
If you’ve ever been to a museum with artifacts on display, chances are that you’ve seen the product of the illicit antiquities trade. Unfortunately, this practice is more widespread than one might believe, especially in politically and economically unstable regions. Archaeological sites are destroyed as looters search for artifacts that they then sell for a profit. Why does the connection between the antiquities trade and instability in general exist? What are the consequences of the illicit antiquities trade? Join us and guest Dr. Sam Hardy, research associate at the University College London Institute of Archaeology, as we discuss this global issue.
Guest: Bernard K. Means
21st century archaeology is all about making use of the latest technology in order to access and analyze sites and artifacts in new and unique ways. Although archaeologists may be focused on learning from the past, they are constantly developing new ways to do so using today’s newest technological innovations. Examples of this include using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to map sites in three dimensions, remote sensing underground to discover new sites, and as we will discuss in this segment, 3D scanning of artifacts. Digital curation involves a scanner that uses lasers to create a 3D model of artifacts in order to make them available to researchers, educators, and students across the country. Join us and special guest Dr. Bernard Means, director of the Virtual Curation Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University, as we discuss digital curation, 3D archaeology, and the use of technology in archaeology.
Guest: Dr. Jack Green
This episode goes right to the heart of the show’s beginnings with the emergence of the mythical figure of Indiana Jones and his character’s connections to the Oriental Institute (OI) at the University of Chicago. Today’s program begins with a discussion of the Indiana Jones character, his connections to the OI and the impacts of the world’s most famous archaeologist. The Oriental Institute is probably the most venerated research institute for Near Eastern archaeology. Both a museum and research facility, the OI was founded in 1919 and focuses on the ancient Near East, which includes modern day Egypt, Israel, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. In recent years the OI has modernized its exhibits, established major public outreach programs both to the profession and the local (Chicago) community while expanding its research venues across the greater Near East. Join our special guest, Dr. Jack Green, chief curator at the Oriental Institute, as we discuss Indiana Jones, the Oriental Institute, and the intersection of the archaeology as portrayed on the big screen and ‘real’ archaeology.
Guest: Tate Paulette
Mesopotamia, known as the cradle of civilization, has long been the focus of archaeologists studying the origins of domestication and farming. The latest in food based studies in this area (contemporary southern Iraq), centers on a unique project that merges some of the earliest Bronze Age texts with advanced geochemical techniques and residue studies to examine the origins of beer brewing. The project was initiated by several graduate students at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, together with the owner of the Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland. While this study is sure to capture the attention of the beer drinking public, it also has ramifications bearing on patterned changes in food and drink production, consumption, and distribution through time. Our special guest is PhD student Tate Paulette, one of the chief architects of this study who offers a unique perspective on the evolution of a key recreational libation that is much older than many of us ever imagined.
Guest: Jeremy DeSilva
Perhaps no sub-field in Anthropology has witnessed more dramatic advances that the study of human origins. From the astounding discoveries in the area of mitochondrial DNA to the accelerated pace of hominid finds, the interpretive potential of the hominid fossil record is expanding exponentially. Researchers continue to revise the chronology and complexity of the human origins puzzle. We can track our ancestry to such early forms as the 2 million year old Australopithecus sediba, which is not quite human, yet shares some significant characteristics. This key fossil has drawn the attention of physical anthropologists since its discovery in South Africa in 2008. What can we learn from this enigmatic fossil? How does it and other recent discoveries contribute to what we know about bipedalism? Join us with this week’s featured guest, paleoanthropologist Dr. Jeremy DeSilva, as we discuss recent advances in reconstructing the locomotion of early apes and the pathway to bipedalism.
Guest: Douglas Scott
Conflict Archaeology or the Archaeology of Battlefields is a sub-discipline that has risen to the forefront since the 1980s. Despite a growing national fascination with wartime chronicles and military strategies the archaeology of the actual sites of conflicts remains fairly unknown to the public. What can we learn from site excavations that are not documented by written accounts and broadly researched academic studies? What types of material remains are characteristic of battlefield sites and do they inform on events in ways that research and eyewitness accounts cannot? This week’s guest, Dr. Douglas Scott, a renowned expert in the field, whose work on the Little Big Horn (“Custer’s Last Stand”) revolutionized formerly accepted interpretations of that dark chapter in American history. Dr. Scott explains how archaeological method and theory can be applied to battlefield excavation sites and considers how we can apply archaeological perspectives to modern and current world conflicts.
Previous programs have explored the changing realities of graduate student training in the age of applied archaeology. Our surveys and interviews concentrated on professors and principals in the applied and academic worlds. This week we take the pulse of active graduate students. What are their thoughts on training programs, the training they receive in graduate school and the pathways they see themselves following as they pursue career tracks? Do contemporary graduate programs satisfy their projected career goals? How do they project their career choices and what are their visions of a future in archaeology? Our guests are Erin Baxter, PhD student from the University of Colorado, Esteban Fernandez, a recent M.A. graduate at the University of Colorado and Kyle Bocinsky, PhD student at Washington State University and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.
Guest: Sandra L. Lopez Varela
In our series on ancient civilizations we have highlighted the sophisticated methodologies and novel discoveries emerging in the Mesoamerican heartland. Significantly, major discoveries and interpretive perspectives are generated by native-born Mexican archaeologists. However, the infrastructure of Mexican archaeology is slow to adapt to the changing platforms of archaeological research and exploration in the developing world. Additionally, political turmoil, associated with the ongoing drug-wars, has placed a serious damper on the ability of Mexicans to design survey and excavation programs in certain parts of the country. Today’s interview with Dr. Sandra Lopez Varela, previews the more progressive thinking currently emerging in Mexico’s archaeological community. She discusses the potential for CRM to gain a foothold in the country as the Mexican government faces the challenges brought on by the needs to balance heritage preservation with economic development and national security.
The Society for American Archaeology (SAA) remains the largest and most influential archaeological organization in the United States, with a membership in excess of 6000 that embraces academic, applied, and avocational archaeologists. The SAA was founded in 1934 to foster the understanding of the past by highlighting contemporary archaeological methods and theories. Since the 1970’s, as commercial archaeology’s profile grew, the organization has placed a strong emphasis on professional education, outreach and the involvement of indigenous groups. Over the past 20 years, the SAA has made its voice known in the political sphere by lobbying for stronger enforcement of preservation laws, establishing platforms on ethics and enforcement of anti-looting legislation. Today’s program is devoted to the past, present and future directions of the SAA with an interview of the organization’s newly appointed President, Dr. Jeff Altschul, and its long-standing Executive Director, Ms. Tobi Brimsek.
Two trends in contemporary archaeology will forever change the direction of the field. First, the reduction in pure research funding is forcing the profession out of the academy and into the domain cultural heritage management. Second, development and expansion projects are reducing the pristine landscapes that have been the focus of traditional survey and excavation. We no longer work where we want but apply our skills to where development occurs. What happens when our professional interests run counter to the timelines and financial constraints imposed by developers? Are we witnessing a move towards methodological advancement at the expense of growth and creativity in archaeological theory? Is this a bad development and does it even matter? Can we, or must we, find common ground with development interests? Public relations will assume greater influence as development interests and the heritage preservation ethic form a symbiotic dynamic whose ultimate resolution remains uncertain.
Applied archaeology in the past two decades has placed archaeologists in real-world situations. Formerly, the primary ethical issues confronting the field involved looting, repatriation of artifacts, and irregularities in the antiquities trade. However, there are new ethical dilemmas that have arisen, a still emerging preservation ethic, heritage management programs, and controversial military conflicts that endanger archaeological resources. Should we proceed working for developers and corporations whose economic aims may conflict with regulatory protocols? Should archaeologists cooperate with military and protect heritage sites in war zones around the world? Can we advocate for the resource while fulfilling contracts and commitments to clients? This week we discuss these and other questions with our guests, Dr. Peter Stone, Professor of Heritage Studies at Newcastle University and Dru McGill, a PhD candidate at Indiana University and Board Member of the World Archaeological Congress.
Guest: Terence D’Altroy
The Inca presided over the largest empire in the Western hemisphere in pre-Columbian era. Ever since Hiram Bingham brought Machu Picchu (the most famous of all Inca sites) to the spotlight about a century ago, our fascination with this expansive indigenous culture has grown exponentially. Advances in archaeological methodologies over the past decade are casting new light on the settlement systems and social and economic organization of the Inca Empire. Researchers are unraveling the nature of complex infra-structures and unique administrative and organizational hierarchies. Our guest this week, Dr. Terry D’Altroy, of Columbia University is one of the most innovate thinkers in the field and he provides an account of the latest developments in Inca research. Dr. D’Altroy’s most recent work extends into the realm of Inca cosmology and metaphysics and he explores the unique Inca concepts of time and space based on newly integrated archaeological finds and interpretations.
Informal surveys of archaeological professionals shows that they ultimately chose this profession because their fascination with the past was so overwhelming that it superseded nearly all other aspirations. It is almost a calling, in many cases. However, the road to success is fraught with pitfalls and challenges. The educational trajectory is very steep and the apprenticeship even more daunting. Pay is neither commensurate with education, experience, and even professional achievement. In this program the host provides tips on training and vocational options, which are considerably lower-profile than media images project. However, most professionals will readily cede that the trip was completely worth the effort. Whether you are a student, or an inquisitive supporter of the discipline, this program will help you understand the varied aspects of the field beginning with education, and extending through vocational options and fulfillment of a productive and gratifying professional life.
Guest: Richard Buckley
Archaeologists often confront the paradox of reconciling seminal events and larger than life figures with facts on the ground. Where is Noah’s Ark? Where are Jesus’ bones? Previous episodes have addressed specific cases in rigorous detail, but often with results tinged with variable measures of uncertainty. Yet, every so often spectacular finds can be readily tied to dramatic historic events. Today’s episode is a case in point. A team of British archaeologists from the University of Leicester Archaeological Services discovered the body of King Richard III. Armed with accurate historical documentation, and state of the art testing methodologies, the team confirmed that the body located within the church choir of a Franciscan friary was in all likelihood that of Richard III. That probability was confirmed by DNA testing. Our guest this week, Richard Buckley, Project Manager of the Greyfriars project, recounts the details of this remarkable discovery and its implications for archaeology.
Guest: Michael E. Smith
In a world of sensationalist headlines the Aztec would appear to be the ultimate players. But what do we really know and how do we reconcile contradictory trends and traditions? The archaeological record has provided compelling evidence for human sacrifice and brutal warfare in the interests of conquest and expansion. By the same token, magnificent city-states with pyramids, monumental architecture, and complex trading networks bespeak infrastructures that may be the precursors of contemporary administrative structures. But despite their unchallenged dominance in the region, they fell under the pressure of the Spanish conquistadors who directly accounted for the Aztec collapse. How carefully can archaeology sort out fiction from reality in the Aztec legacy? Our special guest this week is Dr. Michael Smith, a leading expert on Aztec archaeology. Dr. Smith adds his unique insights to these and other questions that may help explain the developmental trajectory of an early complex society.
Guest: Dr. Mike Parker Pearson
Original Air Date: March 13, 2013
Stonehenge remains a source of endless fascination for archaeologists and the general public. The most compelling interpretations have been a maze of fact and, more commonly, speculation and intrigue. The astronomical aspects of the site are typically cited in elaborate explanations of the advanced achievements of the unique Neolithic populations that descended upon the Salisbury Plain after 3000 B.C. Recent advances in research suggest that the site’s surface manifestation, the Megaliths, represent a more evolutionary pathway that follows its function as a ceremonial burial ground, and earlier, as a habitation site. Today’s guest, Dr. Mike Parker Pearson, is the Principal Investigator of Stonehenge Riverside Project. Our interview explores how our concepts of Stonehenge have evolved in response to changing theories of cultural evolution and how the recently exposed material cultural record reflects an increased understanding of Neolithic adaptations to landscape and geography.
Original Air Date: March 6, 2013
Archaeological organizations not only provide a sense of community and broad exchange forums for professional archaeologists, but they also play a major role in promoting the message of archaeology to the lay community. The World Archaeological Congress (WAC) is perhaps the most inclusive and extensive organization of its kind in the world. A critical component that surfaces in the WAC’s various venues is the range of geo-political themes that emerge as professionals from a variety of archaeological backgrounds exchange their ideas on the profession’s aspirations and missions. This week we bring in Drs. Claire Smith and Anne Pyburn, president and vice-president elect of WAC respectively. They will explore the potential of the organization to promote international co-operation at a time when the goals and aims of traditional archaeology have been questioned and the need for more co-operation is becoming paramount to secure the field’s survival well into the future.
Guest: Dr. Thomas McGovern
Original Air Date: February 27, 2013
The archaeology of northern, cold climate environments is often considered a world onto itself. Recently, the regions of the North Atlantic have emerged as critical barometers in assessing patterns of human adaptation to climatic and landscape change. This is because of the unique utility of such environments to preserve records of ecological transition. The Greenland ice cores have arguably furnished the most complete archive of climate change in the world. Human settlements in these stark landscapes are diagnostic indicators of whether humans could survive climatic stress or not. The question of the initial Euroamerican settlement of the New World, by the Vikings or Columbus, continues to fascinate professionals and laypeople alike. In this episode we interview Dr. Thomas McGovern, one of the leading experts in the field of North Atlantic eco-systems and settlement geography to get a contemporary view on the state of the field.
Guest: Christopher A. Bergman
Original Air Date: February 13, 2013
The progressive decline in funding has reached epidemic proportions in North American archaeology. However, this decline is almost inversely proportional to the expanded role of applied archaeology and the concomitant acceleration of private sector influence. One of the most striking trends in this regard is the recognition that “scientific archaeology” goes hand in hand with cost-efficient management of cultural resources. The largest budgets and advanced research technologies in today’s archaeology are furnished by pipeline construction. Collaborative efforts between oil and gas engineers and Cultural Resource Management(CRM) professionals has resulted in quantum leaps in the discovery and understanding of the archaeological record. In today’s episode prominent consulting archaeologist Dr. Chris Bergman, a veteran private-sector consultant, evaluates the pivotal roles that pipeline distribution roles are playing to enhance our understanding of North American history and prehistory.
Guest: Donald Redford
Original Air Date: January 30, 2013
Egyptian civilization for centuries has been a source of inspiration and curiosity for academic scholars, treasure hunters, grave looters, and the general public. Our image of Egyptologists is that their investigative techniques are traditional and focus on refining Dynastic sequences, architectural elements, and hieroglyphics. However, the field has been transformed over the years and is addressing more anthropological questions, ranging from settlement geography to social organization, using technologies such as GIS, geoarchaeology and remote sensing. Of critical import at present, is the transformative direction Egyptological research will take in the wake of the Arab Spring and the re-organization of the Department of Antiquities and Heritage Management infrastructures. Today’s guest, Dr. Donald Redford, has witnessed the evolution of Egyptological research over the course of half a century and will share his insights on the changing landscape of Egyptian studies over the years.
Guest: Mark Staniforth
Original Air Date: January 23, 2013
The science of Maritime Archaeology has been widely practiced in the South Pacific and neighboring regions. Today’s episode examines how a sophisticated international infrastructure has developed around this fascinating sub-discipline of archaeology. Does underwater archaeology inform on ancient tsunamis and catastrophic events, which appear more common in this part of the world than elsewhere? We discuss the history and development of maritime archaeology in this unique part of the world with one of its best know practitioners. Dr. Mark Staniforth has pioneered some of the major techniques in underwater archaeology and has worked extensively off the coast of his native Australia as well as in some of the more fascinating off shore environments in Southeast Asia, most recently in Vietnam.
Original Air Date: January 16, 2013
While the contributions of the ancient Egyptians to Western Civilization are familiar to the general public, this brilliant culture’s seafaring technology is little known. Recent investigations have revealed that a sophisticated and efficient shipbuilding industry thrived in Pharaonic Egypt. River and seafaring vessels were locally and regionally built that facilitated commerce and transportation along the Nile and beyond. This episode examines how terrestrial and maritime archaeology enables researchers to reconstruct the ancient technology of Egyptian shipbuilding. Maritime archaeologist Cheryl Ward (Coastal Carolina University) and Egyptologist Kathryn Bard (Boston University) together with a team of experts have successfully reproduced and sea-tested an ancient Egyptian vessel on the Red Sea. They discuss the implications of their findings, which expand the reach of Egyptian civilization in the Mediterranean Basin and elsewhere.
Original Air Date: January 9, 2013
There are unofficial estimates that on the order of 90% of the archaeology undertaken in the United States are attributable to applications of preservation law. Specifically Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (1966) requires that federal agencies take into account the effects of their undertakings on properties listed or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Similar legal guidelines are in force in many other parts of the world. In this broadcast, we provide an overview of how the complex matrix of legislation and archaeological compliance is manifested in the United States. We discuss the roles of key federal agencies responsible for such preservation programs. We also examine1 some key projects and the nature of heritage management in other countries. Finally, we look at the sources and the interests that account for most of the development related archaeological funding across the U.S. The answers to these questions will surprise you!
Guest: Brian Fagan
Original Air Date: November 28, 2012
Archaeology is often perceived as an obscure discipline, understood and practiced by the few. Despite the inherent appeal of the field, archaeologists remain notoriously poor communicators to the broader public. Brian Fagan remains a unique exception to the rule. He has uniquely succeeded in parlaying and synthesizing the message of archaeology across a range of public venues. Dr. Fagan assesses the problems modern-day archaeology confront in the rapidly developing world of new technologies and business, and why it is important to make archaeology a “user-friendly” discipline with an emphasis on public outreach. Our guest combines meticulous research on various archaeological themes with the enjoyable and fascinating language of literary fiction.
Guest: Michael Faught
Original Air Date: November 14, 2012
Even the strongest climate change skeptics are aware of the cyclical nature of sea level rise. Encroachment of the sea is related to the melting of the ice sheets and the associated elevation of global water lines along our coasts. However, the earliest Americans populated the New World at the end of the Ice Age, at least 15,000 years ago. At that time sea level was depressed by about 30 meters since the ocean waters were locked up as frozen ice sheets. In recent years the search for evidence of the late glacial hunters and Stone Age man in the Americas has concentrated on explorations along the submerged continental shelf of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. These searches have been quite fruitful and have expanded our knowledge on the ancient geography of the coastlines. Today’s guest, Dr. Michael Faught of Panamerican Consultants, is an expert on submerged archaeological sites. He shares his unique insights on underwater archaeology and the quest for the earliest New World settlers.
Guest: Jacqui Wood
Original Air Date: October 31, 2012
A Mesolithic site in Cornwall provided evidence of human habitation along a marshy stream bed in Cornwall. Its spring-fed waters preserved a sustained record of human occupation through the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages. However, the site is best known for a series of animal pits whose contents vary but are characterized by similar shapes and contents for the interval A.D. 1640-1970. The earliest pits were lined with swan feathers and small stones. The latter were imported from a source 15 miles away. Through time, the remains changed and included cats, pigs, and dog teeth, with eggs and the typical small stones as well. The most recent of these pits contained plastic artifacts dated to the 1970’s, suggesting that these practices are still in force in Cornwall. Our special guest is Dr. Jacqui Wood who runs an archaeological field school in Cornwall dedicated to uncovering the secrets of the pits and tracking their contemporary analogues.
Original Air Date: October 10, 2012
The complex of Mes Aynak represents one of the most spectacular archaeological treasures in the world. Situated in Logar Province, Afghanistan, Mes Aynak is South Asia’s earliest mining complexes and distribution centers. This 2,600 year old city was also the center of Buddhist monasteries that flourished at around the time of Christ. Today the entire site is in danger of destruction because of pressure to develop this ancient mining site into the most profitable copper mine in a country. Archaeologists have been working on the site for several years, but their efforts have been uneven, often disjunct, and discontinuous. Today’s guests, Brent Huffman, a documentary film maker who has visited the site on numerous occasions, and well-known South Asia archaeologist, Dr. Rita Wright, provide new insights into the potential cultural tragedy that may seal the site’s fate unless large scale appeals to save the site are championed by concerned diplomats, politicians, and the public at large.
Guest: Sarah Sherwood
Original Air Date: September 26, 2012
Over the past half century the domain of archaeology has increasingly migrated into the natural sciences. Geology, in particular, is a likely avenue for examining the nature of archaeological remains, since the earth and soil preserve cultural remains. It follows that an understanding of the composition and transformation of the geological layers that contain archaeology goes a long way in explaining why people lived in certain places and how the evidence of their activities is preserved. Geoarchaeologists can tell us about the processes and environments that account for an archaeological site. The reach of geoarchaeology extends into environmental reconstruction, dating of key events associated with human and natural events, and the climates in which various cultures thrived. Today’s special guests, Dr. Vance Holliday and Dr. Sarah Sherwood, discuss the unique perspectives that geoarchaeologists bring to a more comprehensive understanding of contemporary archaeology.
Guest: Paula Kay Lazrus
Original Air Date: September 19, 2012
Archaeological organizations function in a variety of different ways to promote the message of archaeology to the greater public and to serve the common interests of professional archaeologists. We are launching a series of programs to acquaint the listenership with the role and function of these organizations. Our initial program examines the emergence and significance of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), one of the oldest and most venerated archaeological fraternities in the country. We present an interview with Dr. Paula Lazrus, President of the New York Chapter of the AIA, the largest local society of the parent organization in the country.
Original Air Date: September 12, 2012
Scholars and the general public alike are fascinated by the ancient Maya, a people whose culture and domain extended from southern and eastern Mexico into Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador. We are collectively captivated by theories of the predicted demise of civilization and the ostensible secrets of the Mayan calendar. But truth can sometimes be more intriguing than fiction. Much of what we know about the Maya has been culled by our understanding of their unique “wetlands” landscape and the adaptations they made to that tropical and forested environment. Mayan engineering technologies account for their ability to survive in settings that were challenging, to say the least. Our discussion is led by Drs. Timothy Beach and Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, who discuss their recent work in the Mayan heartland and report on new archaeological technologies that shed light on the survival and eventual disappearance of this ancient civilization.
Guest: Michael S. (Sonny) Trimble
Original Air Date: September 5, 2012
In the wake of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, the extent of a systematic campaign of mass exterminations was exposed by the United States and subsequent Iraqi authorities. Shortly after the occupation began, the Iraq Mass Graves Team (IMGT) was mobilized by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Regime Crimes Liaison Office in Baghdad to undertake a large-scale exhumation and forensic analysis mission. The objective was to collect evidence in support of the prosecutions of former regime leaders. The 2007-8 trial of Saddam Hussein was structured, in large part, by the results of those efforts. Our special guest, Dr. Michael (Sonny) Trimble was the project director for this effort and he provides his perspectives on the excavations, analyses, and ultimate disposition of the results of the campaign for the prosecution’s case.
Guest: Richard Gould
Original Air Date: August 22, 2012
Our series on Archaeology and Relevance has unique applications to the very real issues of contemporary conflict and war. The 21st Century was ushered in by the horrific events of 9/11 in New York City. Subsequent disasters including the tsunami in the South Pacific and the London bombings drew the attention of archaeologists whose traditional and not-so traditional approaches offer unique perspectives for optimizing data recovery at disaster sites. Initiatives to examine the archaeology of Holocaust era concentration camps and mass graves in Eastern Europe and Iraq underscore the unique contributions that our field has to make in adapting site formation (and destruction) studies to locations that highlight the darkest side of the human condition. Our special guest is Dr. Richard Gould, Professor Emeritus of Archaeology at Brown University, who had the perspicacity to mobilize the first and only systematic excavations at the World Trade Center site immediately after the tragedy.
Guest: Isaac Gilead
Original Air Date: August 8, 2012
With the exception of a not insignificant minority of revisionists and Holocaust deniers the record of this most tragic event in human history is extensively documented and well established. In recent years, however, archaeologists have begun to investigate what is left of the material record of the extermination centers. The reality is that the archaeological record is fragmentary and our knowledge of these centers is based on oral histories, maps and numerous written sources. Do we need to learn more? What can archaeology provide in terms of acquainting us with more detail and, perhaps more significantly, in learning about other sites of genocide whose records are even more fragmentary and unrecognized. Our special guest is Dr. Isaac Gilead, Professor of Archaeology at Ben-Gurion University, Beer Sheva, Israel. Dr. Gilead has been involved in the archaeology of the Nazi extermination centers at Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka and shares his experiences with the listenership.
Guest: James Potter
Original Air Date: August 1, 2012
The Ridges Basin Valley of Colorado is the location of an intensive archaeological program that has resulted in the excavation of 70 new archaeological sites. These prehistoric settlements of the Pueblo I period (AD 725-825) have provided critical new information on urban organization and lifeways in later Southwestern prehistory. The village of Sacred Ridge is the largest site in the region and was surrounded by a series of dispersed hamlets. Occupation terminated with the massacre of over 35 individuals and the intense processing of their remains offers new hypotheses on war and conflict during the latter part of the first millennium AD. The work was publicly funded and calls attention to the diverse sources of support for archaeological research. It also highlights the roles of the media, Native Americans, and local communities in archaeological studies and outreach programs. Join the host and his guest, James Potter, who has done extensive work on the project.
Guest: Geoff A. Clark
Original Air Date: July 25, 2012
Our survey of the listenership has established the “Human Origins” theme as the most provocative and captivating area of archaeological research. It has also inspired some of the most controversial exchanges on our Social Media networks, drawing the attention of scientists and creationists alike. Today’s topic provides an overview of the history of Human Origins research. We track developments in human evolutionary science beginning in the 19th century and culminating in human genetic research, now viewed as pivotal for explaining the evolutionary trajectory of the human form. Our very special guest is Dr. Geoff Clark, Regents’ Professor at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University, will share with the host and listenership all the latest developments in the field of Human Origins research.
Original Air Date: July 11, 2012
Past episodes have demonstrated that archaeology overlaps with broader questions of contemporary life. Our recent programs considered the obvious links between archaeology and religion as well as ethics. The question of evolution vs. creationism is an obvious arena in which the human fossil record can be drawn upon to question traditional Judeo-Christian concepts of our origins. Religion is also not taboo, as archaeological remains of the Biblical period document a material culture consistent with Old and New Testament descriptions but cast doubt on the veracity of specific events and the identities of charismatic figures. Archaeology has also been swept up in political conflicts in a variety of places, scenarios, and venues. Findings have been used in situations ranging from local development conflicts (as a wedge pitting economic vs. preservation interests) to more global venues leading, in extreme cases, to outbreaks of wars and the destruction of cultures and populations.
Original Air Date: June 20, 2012
Can the archaeological record be summoned to verify the stories of the Bible? Religious faith remains strong in many parts of the world and the foundations of Judeo-Christian theology are arguably gaining steam in many parts of the West (and East) as the economic downturn leaves many segments of the populations looking for answers to their economic woes. Does religion as refuge obfuscate the lessons of science and evolutionary thought? Are there grounds for overlap? Is there a logical foundation for Biblical tales that can be supported by scientific examination of archaeological sites and remains? We propose that there is a nexus between the two—faith and science—that is considerably more complex than extreme proponents of either side care to admit.
Guest: Dr. James Tabor
Original Air Date: June 13, 2012
This week the host explores a true “Indiana Jones” theme, which fascinated not only scholars, but also the general public for centuries – the quest for discovery of the Tomb of Jesus. Since 1980s discoveries of a series of ossuaries buried beneath a condominium complex in Jerusalem have provoked controversy about the relationship between suspected remains of Jesus and their presumed placement by his early Christian followers. Ongoing explorations by filmmakers and scholars have revised interpretations and offer new perspectives on the Jesus story based on a variety of sources. Our guest this week is Dr. James Tabor, professor and chair of religious studies at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, who have been recently working on these tombs with the filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici using very specialized, custom-built high-tech cameras, which allowed to examine the tombs, ossuaries and everything associated with them without going into the tomb.
Original Air Date: June 6, 2012
Advanced archaeological science techniques currently supplement traditional pedestrian survey and excavation. In the age of sustainability, supplementation may transform into displacement, as the accuracy of high tech mapping, remote sensing and sophisticated sampling turn out to be uniquely accurate and productive methods for discovering archaeological sites. Science provides efficiency for archaeological exploration at a time when budgets are tight, access to archaeological sites is limited by geo-political concerns, and the ability to mobilize large staffs and crews is restricted by both money and logistics. By the end of the 21st century archaeological practice will change significantly, de-emphasizing large scale excavations and highlighting the effectiveness of mapping and sub-surface exploration through geophysical survey and satellite mapping. Data base management and GIS platforms offer new ways for assimilating, analyzing and interpreting huge and diverse data sets.
Guest: Steve Black
Original Air Date: May 23, 2012
The information age and the emergence of social networking have given archaeology an unprecedented public education platform. Our previous programs have underscored the difficulties that the professional community has in transmitting the message of archaeology to the public. We have also stressed the urgency of propounding this message, as funding from traditional venues dries up and the profession is increasingly dependent on the public for fiscal support. We have often heard that an informed public is our greatest ally but our instructional clumsiness often betrays that objective. In this episode, Dr. Stephen Black discusses his program, Texas Beyond History, which is dedicated to expanding archaeological awareness in a way that is meaningful and maximizes high technology and user-friendly venues. This emerging outreach pathway is fast becoming the wave of the future for spreading the message of archaeology to the greater public.
Original Air Date: May 16, 2012
What is involved in pursuing a professional archaeological career in this day and age? How does it vary from a traditional career path in previous decades? The host discusses the rigorous training involved in this challenging profession and examines the unique opportunities that have emerged for archaeologists in the commercial and applied sphere. Special emphasis is placed on the training protocols that will be required for archaeological professionals as the reach of the discipline breaks out of a strict research and academic based-model and expands into broader, more “applied” spheres. Shrinking research and development budgets require new funding sources from public and private sources. There is a growing trend to public outreach, accountability on the part of researchers, and a demand to make the lessons of the past applicable to the survival and sustainability of the human species in the future.
Original Air Date: May 2, 2012
A common refrain amongst archaeologists is that they often manage to make an exciting topic remarkably mundane. The fact is that a number of archaeologists have moonlighted as fiction writers, imbuing their research with a flare that makes their work spring to life. We discuss this theme with Michael Gear and his partner Kathleen O’Neal Gear, two best-selling authors and award-winning archaeologists whose fictional works dominate the field. They offer their insights into the world of archaeological novels and discuss the role of ancient cultures at the nexus of reality and imagination.
Original Air Date: April 25, 2012
The current fascination with human origins is all about changes in human evolution, the shape of the human form and the adaptations early peoples made in response to environmental succession. However, the roles of tool making and application may represent the pivotal element to understanding how people endured for well over 99.9% of human time on the planet, irrespective of our notions of the (now outdated) “missing link” hypothesis. This episode derives from curious listeners who posted queries about the connections between stone tools and the emergence of the human condition.
Guest: Hampton Sides
Original Air Date: April 4, 2012
This week’s episode is dedicated to one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century, which fascinates millions around the world to this day – 100th anniversary of Titanic’s sinking. Its maiden journey to the New World was designed as state-of-the-art technological seafaring vessel believed to be unsinkable. However, harsh reality and human arrogance not only took lives of thousands of passengers, but it cast doubt on the infallibility of technological progress, which gave us airplanes, motor cars, and mass communication. Our special guest, bestselling author and historian Hampton Sides, who contributed an article to National Geographic Magazine’s April issue, dedicated to the tragedy, will embark us on a journey of the emerging story of Titanic from the time of its discovery by Robert Ballard in 1985 through recent discoveries made by underwater archaeology and innovative remote sensing techniques, and examine how these discoveries revise the existing interpretations of the wreck.
Original Air Date: March 7, 2012
Two recent television series, “American Diggers” and “Diggers,” have thrust archaeology’s image into the public domain in ways that have been roundly criticized in traditional archaeological circles. These programs have called attention to the mercenary aspect of digging for dollars and raise serious ethical concerns. While the professional community’s response has been strong and pointed, will their voice be heard beyond a cloistered circle? What are the ethics behind the indignation felt by many professionals and can they unequivocally claim the moral high ground? Today’s program explores the many facets of archaeological ethics and underscores the disconnect between the professional community and the interested public. The panel includes prominent archaeologists, Ray Karl, John Doershuk and Tom King, who consider strategies to promote archaeology’s image through the powerful prism of mass media.
Original Air Date: February 29, 2012
Did you ever wonder what happens to the finds that are retrieved in archaeological excavations? How extensively are they studied and what happens to them once the researchers conclude their analysis? Professionals often discuss the “Curation Crisis” or the problems attendant to “too many artifacts, too little room”. Today’s program offers an in depth discussion of the disposition of archaeological collections and helps chart a pathway that integrates curation procedures with the overall aims of specific archaeological projects. Our panel includes three experts in the field. Join Danielle Benden, Curator of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, Francis P. McManamon, the Executive Director of the Center for Digital Antiquity, and Chris Pulliam, an archaeologist and team leader in the St. Louis District Curation and Archives Analysis Branch and assistant director of the Corps’ Mandatory Center.
Original Air Date: February 15, 2012
This week’s show is a follow up to the previous episode wherein we reached out to the audience to address the topics that they thought were most intriguing and provocative. This week we generated a questionnaire, which offered up rather interesting and even unexpected results. This questionnaire will also serve as a guideline to generate topics of discussion for future episodes. We hope to address not only what are considered “professional interests” in archaeology, but also to encourage the dialogue between professionals, enthusiasts of the field and a general public, which has, at best, only a passing connection to archaeology.
Original Air Date: February 8, 2012
Archaeology is viewed as an esoteric pursuit by (professional) academics and a broad range of field enthusiasts and antiquities buffs. Professional archaeologists are so accustomed to speaking amongst themselves that they are uncomfortable discoursing on key professional issues. They remain challenged in communicating their message to the general public. Our canvassing of the listenership suggests that the communication gap between professionals and the public only seems to grow bigger. This week we attempt to address archaeological questions of “message”, “relevance”, and even “interest to our listenership. Our program and others are mobilizing social media outlets to find out what interests our audience have and how they view the field of archaeology. We recorded a number of very provocative and intriguing questions from our audience. Host Dr. J. Schuldenrein attempts to summarize the results of our very informal listener-feedback sample on this week’s show.
Guest: Dr. William Belcher
Original Air Date: February 1, 2012
Have you ever wondered how the criminologists popularized in such TV shows as “CSI” developed their investigative techniques and deductive strategies? Many of their methods and approaches are derived from archaeological science. The emergence of forensic anthropology and archaeology is largely traceable to the efforts of the American military in recovering the remains and establishing the identities of missing soldiers (MIA’s) during the Vietnam war in the 1970’s. This week’s episode introduces the nuts and bolts of forensic archaeology through the mission of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC). JPAC is a military command dedicated to repatriating the remains of soldiers lost in our nation’s past conflicts. Join the discussion with the Deputy Director of the JPAC, Dr. William Belcher, who recounts the history of this unique military operation. Learn how forensic recovery operations are conducted in some of the most remote corners of the world.
Original Air Date: January 25, 2012
Preservation of cultural heritage is one of the main concerns for nations worldwide. Yet, the maintenance and promotion of cultural patrimony poses unique concerns in areas of war and conflict. More specifically, monuments and sites symbolizing cultural heritage are often at the core of conflicts in nations embroiled in ethnic or religion-based transitions in hegemony. Afghanistan currently embodies a national struggle for identity as various groups struggle for power and dominance. The most visible aspect of cultures in conflict is their grand architecture and monuments attesting to the historic passage from Buddhism to Islam. The destruction of the Buddhist statuary at Bamyan by the Taliban in March 2001 arguably precipitated the cycle of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Join our discussion with Omar Sultan, former Deputy Minister of Culture in Afghanistan, and Dr. Laura Tedesco, current Cultural Heritage Resource Manager for the US State Department for Afghanistan.
Guest: Tom King
Original Air Date: January 11, 2012
What is the connection between archaeology and aviation technologies? How can archaeology be applied to the field of aviation forensics? This week’s episode examines the most recent findings of ongoing and long-standing research to solve the historically captivating mystery of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance over the Pacific in 1937. The quest to reconstruct the final days of Earhart’s life and to establish the chronology of her and her partner’s probable short-term survival and eventual tragic fate is the subject of an enduring, privately funded research campaign. Find out how archaeology contributes to an inter-disciplinary effort in which the possible material evidence of Earhart’s existence on a Pacific Island is linked to possible remains of the airplane’s wreckage as suggested by old photographs and more sophisticated digital and remote sensing imagery. Well-known archaeologist Dr. Thomas King provides updates on the recent work in the vicinity of the crash site.
Original Air Date: January 4, 2012
What does it take to become an archaeologist? What is it that archaeologists do? And why is it important? These questions are posed not only by the greater public, but also by archaeological practitioners and students. Our host tracks how the archaeological profession has changed over time and assesses prospects for its future development. Archaeology has undergone over the past quarter of a century substantial changes of theories of cultural change and practical methods of archaeological discovery. The field has become increasingly more scientific and technical. It has also transitioned from a largely academic pursuit to a more practical vocation that extends into the regulatory environment and the world of business. Finally, we stress the need to communicate the message of archaeology, its significance and relevance, to the general public. The need for public support is factoring into the ability of archaeology to sustain itself as a profession in the 21st Century.
Original Air Date: December 14, 2011
This episode expands our discussion of the Early Peopling of the North America to the West Coast. When did people first appear in the region? How did climates and environments diverge from the present? How did early peoples adapt to near-shore and interior environments and when did these landscapes change? Answers to these questions have broad implications for understanding the human ecological dynamic in the present age of sustainability. Late glacial and post-glacial events along the Pacific margins diverge significantly from those discussed earlier for the East Coast. Patterns of deglaciation, tectonics, and climate change resulted in surfaces that were significantly different, but can still be reconstructed with increasing accuracy with new geoarchaeological methods. We discuss these reconstructions and theories with guests Dr. Loren Davis and Dr. Matthew Des Lauriers, renowned West Coast researchers and Ms. Amy Gusick, PhD candidate at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Guest: Lawrence H. Schiffman
Original Air Date: December 7, 2011
Over 60 years ago a Bedouin boy had made a remarkable discovery in the caves of Qumran that captivated the imagination and curiosity of people around the world ever since. The Dead Sea Scrolls changed our perception of the Bible, shed light on life during the biblical times, and opened a unique window into the spiritual world at the time of the Second Temple. What is the historical and cultural significance of these documents and how have interpretations changed since they have been made available to scholars and broader audiences? A new exhibit at the Discovery Center in mid-town Manhattan gives renewed life to these rarest and oldest manuscripts. Be a part of our discussion of these exceptional artifacts with Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, one of the world’s foremost experts on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Dr. Schiffman explains how interpretations have evolved, in part as a result of the increasing exposure of the scrolls to a new generation of scholars.
Guest: Curtis E. Larsen
Original Air Date: November 30, 2011
Career paths in all professions reflect adjustments to changing times and conditions. Archaeology is no different. In this episode we look at how archaeological training and vocational directions have shifted in a world centered on practical adaptation. Two synchronous trends in the archaeological career pathway are explored. First, specialization is now pivotal to career advancement. For archaeologists specialization is not so much regional as it is methodological. In other words, certain technical skills are in growing demand for archaeological employment. Second, venues for practicing archaeology have shifted from the academic to the applied stage, as preservation planning, heritage management, and government regulation afford greater employment opportunities. Our guest, Dr. Curt Larsen, combined a specialty in geoarchaeology across an evolving employment landscape to fashion a distinguished career. He chronicles his own professional history as a sign of the times.
Guest: Linda Scott-Cummings
Original Air Date: November 23, 2011
Thanksgiving calls to mind a series of foods whose origins are assumed to be uniquely North American or European. In addition to the turkey, native to North America but domesticated in Europe, the balance of the traditional Thanksgiving diet consists of roots, berries, and plant foods whose origins are as exotic as they are diverse. Archaeology provides insights into former diets and environments because the remains of foods and plants are often preserved at ancient sites. They include burnt seeds, fossil grasses, and ancient pollen (yes, the kind that cause spring sneezing!). Their presence is readily detectable on ancient house floors and within sediments that often contain plant matter indicative of former vegetation and climates. One of the best dietary indicators is fossilized human waste that preserves a wide range of ingested foodstuffs. Our guest is Dr. Linda Scott-Cummings a recognized authority in reconstructing natural vegetation histories and ancient human dietary patterns.
Original Air Date: November 16, 2011
As in many other professions, the proportion of women entering the field of archaeology has increased substantially since the latter 20th century. Some statistics indicate that their numbers have actually exceeded those of their male counterparts in several areas, specifically in college enrollments and graduate programs. Is this changing demographic reflected in the archaeological hierarchy, specifically in numbers of senior professors, in decision-making roles in governmental agencies, and in the ownership and management roles at cultural resource companies? Those data yield more equivocal results and point to slower rates of change in the upper tiers of archaeological organizations and professional influence. While the arrow is generally pointing upwards, old stereotypes tend to die hard. This program debates the evolving status and roles of women in archaeology with two leading representatives in the university and private sectors.
Original Air Date: November 9, 2011
The overwhelming majority of archaeological work in the United States is performed under the umbrella of Cultural Resource Management. The term refers to the legal basis mandating historic preservation and the steps undertaken for regulatory compliance. Our program documents the emergence of compliance archaeology from the perspective of professionals who work as consultants in the private sector. We examine how private companies grew in conjunction with the florescence of the preservation ethic. Our guests are pioneers in the field, the first wave of entrepreneurs who matched their professional skills with business principles to form companies now at the forefront of the industry. We explore the industry’s early years, its direction, and why the education of future archaeologists must be oriented to conform to the needs of an increasingly commercial profession that requires business and communication skills as much as expertise in archaeology and scientific inquiry.
Original Air Date: November 2, 2011
Archaeology was typically viewed as an academic, often esoteric pursuit until the latter 20th century. The emergence of the environmental movement of the late 1960’s and ‘70’s gave rise to a preservation ethic that targeted cultural as well as natural resources in response to accelerated natural resource exploitation and land development. Prehistoric and historic archaeological sites as well as historic buildings and monuments were now classified cultural resources in North America or heritage sites elsewhere in the world. Over the past half century legislation has been in force to mitigate the effects of development on these irreplaceable vestiges of ancient cultures. This program examines the backdrop to preservation law and the evolution of cultural resource practice in response to changing political and economic realities. Our guests are nationally respected authorities who helped fashion the law and are active in applying its principles in classic as well as controversial cases.
Original Air Date: October 26, 2011
This first decade of the 21st century has witnessed two major wars resulting in serious injuries to numerous American soldiers. Returning veterans have come home to a depressed economy and uncertain futures. They confront job markets often out of reach to those with skills not readily transferable to the civilian world. As part of the American Recovery and Repatriation Act (ARRA) the Obama administration allocated funds to rehabilitate veterans by teaching them to curate artifact collections, stored in dusty facilities for decades. The project was initiated and administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (St. Louis District) who merged veterans’ rehabilitation with curation of archaeological collections, considered to be a pivotal part of our nation’s patrimony. In this episode we discuss the emergence and achievements of this program with the archaeologists who initiated and administered it as well as with the program directors and veterans who have contributed to its success.
Original Air Date: October 19, 2011
Archaeologists and scientists have been fascinated with human migrations to the New World since the early-mid 20th century discoveries at Clovis and Folsom (New Mexico) and somewhat later findings at Cueva Fell in Chile and elsewhere in South America. These sites gave rise to what is known as Paleoindian research and were taken as evidence for earliest human arrivals because of broad distributions of a limited, but elegant group of spear point types. Many sites were associated with the slaughter and meat processing of now extinct mammals such as mammoths and mastodons. Until relatively recently, Clovis and Folsom were considered the oldest New World cultures. However, recent advances in DNA testing, ancient climate reconstructions, radiometric dating, and diverse artifact types call into question traditional models of human migrations to the New World. This episode discusses the state of research in “early American migration theory” with two of the topic’s best-known exponents.
Original Air Date: October 12, 2011
Before Europeans arrived on the North American continent, the central Mississippi River Valley formed the core of an extensive prehistoric urban network. Villages and cities flourished in the Midwest and Southeast U.S., extending north to Canada and south to the Gulf of Mexico. The Native Americans built extensive ceremonial and burial mounds that rivaled the cities of the Incas and Aztecs. Their culture, known as the Mississippian, thrived in urban complexes where archaeological research has unearthed the evidence of a complex agrarian society with unique funerary practices and a sophisticated socio-economic structure. Monks Mound rises 70 ft. above the Mississippi River floodplain in East St. Louis, Illinois and stands as a testament to those whose civilization remains as enigmatic as it is monumental. In this episode, we explore the foundations of the Mississippian culture, its rise, florescence and eventual demise in the wake of the Euroamerican conquest of the Americas.
Original Air Date: October 5, 2011
New York City is considered the cultural and commercial capital of North America. Was it always this way? How did the city evolve into such an active hub where diverse peoples and cultures mixed and mingled to produce this dynamic metropolis? This episode explores the practice of “urban archaeology”, documenting the city’s emergence from prehistoric times (15,000 years ago) through the period of Euroamerican contact (commonly A.D.1492), and on to the present. We discuss the history of local archaeological practice and the novel applications of archival research and scientific techniques to “dig” in the complex maze of subsurface utilities and structures beneath city streets. We learn how historic preservation law accommodates protection of cultural resources from development interests. Some of the more recent finds and projects are discussed with professionals from private and university archaeological sectors, as well as the regulatory agencies that oversee this work.
Original Air Date: September 28, 2011
In this episode we explore the most spectacular archaeological region in the United States, the Southwest. Sites like Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon are international monuments. But this vast area’s archaeological richness tells a much more complex story. Native societies in southern Arizona built enormous canal irrigation systems as early as 1200 BCE. 11th century artists of New Mexico’s Mimbres region painted brilliant ceramic pots that grace museum collections everywhere. Southwest sites have been excavated since the late 1800s, with scientists and the public benefiting from favorably dry preservation environments, largely unaltered landscapes, and the living descendants of prehistoric societies that have occupied this terrain for over 10,000 years. Renowned experts Steve Lekson (University of Colorado) and Cory Breternitz (Paleowest Archaeology, Inc.) join us in discussing the latest findings at famous Southwestern sites and their importance for archaeological research everywhere.
Guest: Eric H. Cline
Original Air Date: September 21, 2011
Our inaugural episode examines the enduring popularity of the Indiana Jones films and their impact in elevating archaeology’s image over 30 years. While the films exemplify tongue and cheek genre, many fans are convinced that the adventures are grounded in reality. Was Indiana Jones a real person? Was he a composite of several famous archaeologists? A central theme in the films is the quest for material clues that legitimize the Bible, historic accounts of classic western civilization (Greece, Persia, and Rome), and the epigraphy of the prehispanic New World. Can we prove the existence of the Patriarchs? Noah’s ark? What about the search for Atlantis? Is there an archaeological basis for the Battle of Armageddon? More generally, can archaeology confirm or refute ancient texts and the mystique surrounding oral accounts? We explore these questions and more with special guest Dr. Eric Cline, Associate Professor of Classics, Anthropology, and History at George Washington University.