Past Events

Interested in Cotsen events? Sign up for our mailing list.
June 6, 2018
12:00pm to 1:00pm

Speaker: Dr. Brian Alofaituli, Visiting Scholar, Asian American Studies Department, UCLA

The syncretism of Sāmoa’s past and new religion blended different ideas that defined the way these Polynesians understood Christianity. The new belief system unsuccessfully suppressed the pre-Christian past of myths and legends, and faʻa-sāmoa (Sāmoan way of life and culture) navigated through the new terminologies and beliefs through Sāmoan practices. The matai (Sāmoan chief) played a significant role in the spread of Christianity. The hybrid of aspects of both the old tradition and the new lotu (church) impacted Sāmoa so immensely that within twenty years since the arrival of the Gospel there “were practically no self-confessed heathen left.” The following Sāmoan saying provides an apt description of the hybrid nature of the church and faʻa-sāmoa: ua vaʻavaʻalua le talalelei ma le aganuʻu (the Gospel and faʻa-sāmoa travel in the same canoe). Other relevant sayings inclued e puipui ele aganuʻu le talalelei (faʻa-sāmoa protects the Gospel), e mamalu le talalelei ona ole aganuʻu (the Gospel is prestigious and honored in Sāmoa because of faʻa-sāmoa). Both institutions were desirous of benefits, in need of support to achieve their goals, and more importantly they demanded as much control over the other as possible. This hybridity of culture and religion plays a significant role in Sāmoan communities in the diaspora today.

Fowler A222
Matthew Swanson mswanson@ioa.ucla.edu 310-825-4169
June 4, 2018
5:00pm to 7:00pm

In conjunction with the opening of the Fowler Museum exhibit Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths, Dr. Scott MacEachern of Bowdoin College will present a lecture at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology on Monday, June 4.

Please RSVP here.

Fowler A222 (Seminar Room)
Matthew Swanson mswanson@ioa.ucla.edu
June 1, 2018
3:00pm to 5:00pm

Speaker: Dr. John Baines, University of Oxford

Studies of ancient Egyptian landscapes tend to focus on Upper Egypt, where the Nile valley is generally narrow and the low desert and the escarpment form a pervasive background. This focus is due in part to patterns of preservation of ancient sites, which disproportionately favor the Nile valley and desert regions. Yet from prehistoric times representations of landscapes that are integral to architectural forms and ritual settings show watery environments, which from the third millennium onward are often those of the delta. The delta landscape was much more enveloping for those who lived within it, while for travelers on land and particularly water its perspective lacked the relief and visibility of Upper Egypt. Its characteristics spoke even more strongly than those of the Nile valley to the importance of the river, to the liminality and impermanence that human society seeks to overcome, and to the perpetual renewal vouchsafed by abundant growth. The focus on such environments, which is ideologically crucial, is evident also in elite pastimes with their partly ritual associations.

Fowler A222
Matthew Swanson mswanson@ioa.ucla.edu
May 30, 2018
12:00pm to 1:00pm

Speaker: Dr. Jana Skrgulja, Visiting Scholar, UCLA

The aim of the lecture is twofold: on the one hand, to survey main archaeological sites in the area between the eastern Adriatic and the river Drava, where the remnants of the material culture ascribed to the Goths have come to light in the past hundred years or so, with particular emphasis on southern Pannonian region, as well as to present and analyze the types of artifacts found; on the other hand, to address the still ongoing debate about the relationship between material culture and ethnic identity based on the selected examples of artifacts attributed to the Goths (in opposition to the so-called ethnic ascription method). Building upon the post-processualist approach, lecture also intend to contextualize the material evidence in terms of possibilites offered by the artifacts to provide information about burial customs, social identity and gender status.

Fowler A222
Matthew Swanson mswanson@ioa.ucla.edu 310-825-4169
May 23, 2018
12:00pm to 1:00pm

Speaker: Dr. Alan Farahani, Postdoctoral Scholar, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA

This talk is a summary of the research conducted by the research participants of the Ancient Agriculture and Paleoethnobotany Laboratory at the UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology under the supervision of Postdoctoral Scholar Alan Farahani. Each research participant will present the results of their individual analyses on material deriving from the archaeological site of Dhiban, Jordan, inhabited ca. 1000 BCE to the present. The site of Dhiban (ancient Dibon) was the center of an Iron Age (ca. 800 - 600 BCE) polity known as Moab, and participants will present the results of archaeobotanical and artifactual analyses of a unique midden context from the most recent 2017 excavations. Moreover, laboratory members will also discuss the results of ceramic, faunal, and metallurgical analyses of material recovered from a Late Byzantine (ca. 550 CE) storeroom uncovered at Dhiban in 2013 and 2017. The cultural and historical implications of these data will be discussed with respect to the wider region of the southern Levant.

Fowler A222
Matthew Swanson mswanson@ioa.ucla.edu 310-825-4169
May 16, 2018
12:00pm to 1:00pm

Speaker: Dr. Chin-hsin Liu, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Cal State University, Northridge

A specialized craft industry in prehistory is often studied from perspectives such as social organization, labor and product distribution, and exchange network. While these angles indeed provide significant insight to the past, the biological impact of craft production on community members is a critical component offering a nuanced view on people’s lifeways. Pre-industrial metalworking is a biologically and environmentally demanding process that frequently involved arduous labor, landscape alteration, and waste management. In this talk, I use a cluster of metalworking sites in prehistoric central Thailand to illustrate how each stage of the metallurgical process can manifest into skeletally detectable markers (morphological and chemical), and how these markers can lead us to understand people’s actions as they faced the consequences of a long and intensive metallurgical tradition.

Fowler A222
Matthew Swanson mswanson@ioa.ucla.edu 310-825-4169
May 12, 2018
1:00pm to 4:00pm

The Annual Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Open House will take place on

May 12, 2018 from 12:00 to 4:00pm with the theme Celebrations.

Join us at 12:00 pm in the Fowler Museum for two gallery talks followed by a feasting forum in the Lenart Auditorium (A-Level) at 1:00 pm. 

Decoding textiles: the transmission of traditional knowledge with Dr. Sonali Gupta-agarwal

and

Archaeology and representation: empowering descendant communities through museum-based education with Dr. Stephen Acabado

Celebrations across the world and throughout time usually involve feasting: consuming elaborate and plentiful food (and drink) in the company of others. The important social, religious and political roles of feasting will be presented and discussed by three core members of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, Drs. Elizabeth Carter, Alan Farahani, and Monica Smith. After their brief introductions the panel will discuss this subject with the audience, an exchange of thought moderated by Dr. Willeke Wendrich, Director of the Institute.

After the forum, come explore our labs and interact with archaeologists from 2:00 - 4:00 pm.

Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Labs and the Lenart Auditorium
Sonali Gupta-agarwal
May 11, 2018
3:00pm to 5:00pm

Speaker: Dr. Mohamed Ali, American Sudanese Archaeological Research Center

The Meroitic kingdom is an ancient kingdom in Nubia, located and flourished at the confluences of the Blue Nile, White Nile and River Atbara, in Sudan. Researchers, with no convincing evidence, have argued that tribal movements within the Meroitic territory and the Axumite invasion from the east (Ethiopia) caused the collapse of the Meroitic state. Here I consider the nature of the political economy in order to provide a better understanding of the collapse and the regeneration of the Meroitic state. I employ theoretical frameworks to the collapse of the Meroitic state, c. 350 B.C.-A.D.350, and regeneration during the Post Meroitic period (4th century to 7th century AD). I investigate how the nature and the manifestation of Meroitic sociopolitical power changes during and after the collapse of the Meroitic state.

Mortuary practices and settlement patterns studies are used here to determine changes in local identity and social roles that reflect the integration and/or lack of integration of the hinterlands in the Meroitic and Post Meroitic sociopolitical systems. I demonstrate that local elites on the east bank and east hinterland re-established a polity based in the old Meroitic settlements and redeployed Meroitic symbols to legitimize and reinforce their authority and power.

The locals on the west bank were not well integrated into the Meroitic sociopolitical system. They eventually became a real threat that impacted the Meroitic central power together with the Axumite threat from the east and the economic recession in the Mediterranean market. Elites on the west bank would have taken advantage of the weakness of the Meroitic central power and manipulated trade networks and formed local alliances that led to political and economic independence.

Fowler A222
Matthew Swanson mswanson@ioa.ucla.edu
May 9, 2018
12:00pm to 1:00pm

Speaker: Dr. James Snead, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Cal State University, Northridge

In 1913 Elizabeth Deuel, a student of archaeology and resident of Los Angeles, wrote a letter to a friend describing a situation that modern readers can only interpret as sexual harassment. Coded with the discretion of the age, her brief account nonetheless resonates to modern readers conscious of the complex history of this topic in the field of archaeology.

The Deuel letter is an example of scattered material in archaeological archives that documents power relationships within communities of interest in American archaeology at the turn of the last century. Her participation and subsequent activities also brought her into contact with several of the principal archaeological figures in the United States, providing considerable insight into the sexual politics of the era. This presentation examines the Deuel case, with reference to the "relevance" of the history of archaeology to issues of considerable relevance in archaeological practice.

Fowler A222
Matthew Swanson mswanson@ioa.ucla.edu 310-825-4169
May 4, 2018
3:00pm to 5:00pm

Speaker: Dr. Stratos Stylianidis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Cultural heritage is our deep soul. It is the unique legacy for all societies worldwide, but at the same time our common responsibility. A value rewards humanity by providing the classical and universal principles. It provides the panhuman context of mutual understanding, respect, liberty and expression. The protection of cultural heritage is a matter for all and its recording and documentation a vital step towards preservation. The first part of this talk addresses the cultural heritage documentation context, the international framework on documentation by international charters and conventions, and the real needs that push organizations and people to operate in this process. Various sensors and platforms, both from image-based and range-based technology illuminate how scientific research and practice, transpose the real object to a 3D model. Commercial and open source tools for data processing, management and representation are presented likewise. The presentation of innovative mobile mapping systems enabling data capture and management for cultural heritage information of various scales, is closing this talk.

Fowler A222
Matthew Swanson mswanson@ioa.ucla.edu