Noah’s Beasts

Speaker
Sidney Babcock
Location
Chappaqua Library, 195 S Greeley Ave, Chappaqua
Date
January 28, 2018
Time
2:00 pm  to  3:15 pm  

Animal representations in the sculptural arts of the ancient Near East are remarkable for their evocative expressive power. Beautiful and durable, these artworks have withstood the millennia and preserve the record of humanity, its concerns and beliefs, for all subsequent generations. Often combining great attention to naturalistic detail with elements of stylization, the ancient sculptures—made in both stone and metal, some even with silver and inlays of shell and lapis lazuli—have a strong visual appeal; yet they also lend insight on the sacred, profane, sacrificial, and practical realities of the early Sumerian agrarian society, which is popularly known as the cradle of Western civilization.

This exhibition presents Mesopotamian sculptural works from ca. 3300–2250 B.C., bringing together for the first time pieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Yale University Babylonian Collection, the Kimbell Art Museum, and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Cylinder seals relating to each of the sculptures are also presented, including a remarkable seal from the Morgan’s collection showing animals acting as human. Through a focused consideration of these Near Eastern artworks, the rare objects emphasize the importance of the elements of the natural world that the ancients experienced and, by extension, the interdependence of the natural and the spiritual world. Inspiring the exhibition, the Morgan’s famous 1646 B.C. clay tablet will also be on view; it is inscribed with the “The Deluge Story”—an early version of the familiar tale of Noah.

Sidney Babcock is the Jeannette and Jonathan Rosen Curator and Department Head in the Dept. of Ancient Near Eastern Seals and Tablets at The Morgan Library & Museum in Manhattan.

The World of Lake Chad

Speaker
Scott MacEachern, Bowdoin College
Location
Mount Pleasant Library, 350 Bedford Road, Pleasantville, NY 10570
Date
February 24, 2018
Time
2:00 pm  to  3:15 pm  

Lake Chad sits at a crossroads in Africa, where trans-Saharan trade routes open up to the savannas and forests south of the desert, and astride the immense grasslands that extend west-to-east from the Atlantic to the Nile. It is no surprise that this region has been a zone of encounter between very different groups of people throughout prehistory, and that its political history is enormously complex. Archaeological research in the region through the last 50 years has provided a great deal of evidence for that complexity: large defended communities contemporary with Iron Age oppida in Europe; the early introduction of horses, used in warfare and predatory slave-raiding; and the development of defended mountain zones that are enormously complicated culturally and linguistically. Today, the lands around Lake Chad are best known in the West for the activities of the Boko Haram terrorist organization. In this lecture, I will try to provide an alternative view of an endlessly complex and fascinating part of the world.

Connah, G. 1981 Three thousand years in Africa: man and his environment in the Lake Chad region of Nigeria. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

David, N. 2008 Performance and agency: the DGB sites of Northern Cameroon. British Archaeological Reports, Oxford.

MacEachern, S. 2012 The Holocene history of the southern Lake Chad Basin: archaeological, linguistic and genetic evidence. African Archaeological Review:1-19.

Scott MacEachern is the Chair, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Bowdoin College and the former President of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists. His areas of specializations are African archaeology and ethnography, state formation processes, cultural heritage management, and archaeology and genetics. He is the current Director of an archaeological research project in Northern Cameroon and has excavated elsewhere in that country over the years. His writings have focused on that area addressing not just the archaeological ruins but the process of political formation. The area has been affected by the actions of Boko Haram and that group has become a factor in his work.

Worlds in Motion: Ireland, the Atlantic, and Early Colonial America

Speaker
Audrey Horning, College of William and Mary
Location
Scarsdale Public Library, 54 Olmsted Road, Scarsdale
Date
March 17, 2018
Time
2:00 pm  to  3:15 pm  

Early British colonial settlements in Ireland and North America occupied a parallel and overlapping universe, so intimately connected that in the early seventeenth century, the chronicler Fynes Moryson would refer to Ireland as “this famous Island in the Virginian Sea” (Moryson 1605-1617). Drawing from a range of archaeological projects in both North America and Ireland, the lecture will consider the similarities and dissimilarities between the two lands and the cultural entanglements of the early modern Atlantic. Familiar places like Roanoke, Jamestown, and Plymouth will be discussed in light of their lesser known Irish connections, while the long held notion that Ireland served as a model for New World English colonial ventures will be challenged.

Audrey Horning teaches in the Department of Anthropology, College of William and Mary. She received her PhD in Historical Archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania. She has taught in northern Ireland and England as well as in Virginia. Her excavations have centered on the island of Colonsay but she got her start in Jamestown. My research centers on comparative colonialism and the relationship between archaeology and contemporary identity, with a particular focus upon European expansion into the early modern Atlantic world(s).Recent publications have addressed future directions for historical and contemporary archaeology; integration of archaeology with conflict transformation; ethics and public engagement; incorporation of Native American perspectives on colonial histories; the anthropology of drinking in colonial settings; late medieval Gaelic Irish rural settlement; vernacular architecture in Ireland and Virginia; and the 20th-century archaeology of Appalachia. She is the author of Ireland in the Virginian Sea: Colonialism in the British Atlantic, Ireland and Britain in the Atlantic World , and Crossing Paths or Sharing Tracks? Future Directions in the Archaeological Study of Post-1550 Britain and Ireland, attesting her interest in Ireland and its connections with the larger world.