South Pennsylvania Society
Archaeological Institute of America

2009-2010 Lecture Schedule
These lectures are free and open to the public.

Lapatin image
AIA Joukowsky Lecturer 2009/2010

Kenneth Lapatin
, Assoc. Curator of Antiquities
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Thursday, November 12, 2009
6:30 pm, Dickinson College, Denny 317
Reconstructing Lost Wonders of the World:
Pheidias' Zeus Olympios and Athena Parthenos

The Athenian sculptor, Pheidia, was the most celebrated artist of classical antiquity. Greek and Latin authors praised his work, in particular his monumental gold and ivory statues of Zeus at Olympia and Athena in the Parthenon on the Akropolis. This lecture presents some of the evidence for the reconstruction of these lost masterpieces and investigates the revolutionary techniques of their production, as well as their widespread religious, political, and artistic impact, both in antiquity and afterwards.

Payson Sheets, AnthropologyMayan
University of Colorado
Thursday, March 25, 2010
6:30 pm, Dickinson College, Denny 317
How Did the Maya Feed the Multitudes?

Beginning in the 1840s scholars believed that the ancient Maya lived in dispersed households, with low regional population densities. Thus they could easily have fed themselves with shifting agriculture focusing on maize, beans, and squash. The prominence of maize in art and in creation beliefs reinforced this view. However, settlement surveys during the past six decades have found exceptionally dense housemounds, interpreted as very dense populations, in the hundreds of people per square kilometer. Archaeologists have discovered some large-scale argricultural features that must have increased productivity, such as terraces and wetland reclamation raised fields. Microscopic remains of cultigens have been found, but what has eluded scholars are the details of cultivation. We wish to know what was cultivated, where, how, and with what productivity per unit area.

The exceptional preservation of the ancient Ceren village and its environs provides us an unusually clear window into past agriculture. That is because the eruption of Loma Caldera volcano, at about AD 600, buried the landscape under many meters of volcanic ash. Recently intensive agricultural fields were discovered some 150 meters south of the village where manioc, a root crop, was grown. Land use lines radiated from the village that divided individual farmer's plots. Manioc was not just an occasional kitchen garden plant; it was a staple at Ceren, and perhaps at other Maya settlements. The tubers are high in carbohydrates, and the leaves are high in protein. Manioc may have helped feed the Maya multitudes.