University of Virginia: Archaeology Brown-Bag Workshop

Archaeology Brown-Bag Workshops provide an informal, interdisciplinary venue for presentations of work in progress by students, faculty, and visiting scholars, and for discussion of developments in the recent archaeological literature. Light refreshments are served. Workshops convene more-or-less tri-weekly on Fridays at 4:00-5:30 in the conference room on the second floor of Brooks Hall, unless otherwise noted below.

Want to volunteer a talk or discussion topic? Email Adria LaViolette, or Fraser Neiman.
Spring 2015 Schedule
Jan. 23
Rejection or Reinvention: Rethinking social hierarchy in the post-collapse Colla polity (AD 1000-1450) of southern Peru. Erika Brant, University of Virginia Department of Anthropology.

Abstract. The collapse of the highland state of Tiwanaku, around AD1000, was accompanied by a dramatic uprising against the ruling class. Elite ancestor effigies placed in large open plazas were iconoclastically disfigured, while the Putuni Palace, home to Tiwanaku’s ruling dynasty, was leveled. In the post-collapse period, Titicaca basin peoples abandoned the symbols of Tiwanaku’s authority. A 1000-year tradition of ritual architecture and craft goods disappeared, while ritual practice turned to the worship of ancestors placed in modest burial towers, or chullpas. Does such a transition in ritual architecture and the rejection of state-affiliated material culture signal a reinvention or, conversely, a rejection of hierarchy in the post-collapse period? Excavations conducted at the post-collapse Colla necropolis and pilgrimage center of Sillustani revealed a series of kin-focused ritual compounds as well as a previously understudied domestic sector characterized by multiple elite houses. Such findings suggest a more heterarchical, and possibly situational, role for leadership during the Late Intermediate Period (AD1000-1450). Additionally, mortuary rituals appear to have been decentralized rites that strengthened the interests of various kin-groups while simultaneously thwarting the reemergence of centralized authority in the post-collapse period.
Jan. 30
Special Event
"Sex Pots of Ancient Peru: Are they Relevant?” Joan Gero, Associate Professor Emerita, Department of Anthropology, American University. Sponsored by the Department of Anthropology Speaker Series.Please note the special time: Friday, January 30, 1:00 p.m.

Feb. 17
Obligation, Burden, and Sacrifice among the Classic Maya. Dr. Andrew Scherer, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology, Brown University.

Abstract. Conquest era Spanish chronicles utilized human sacrifice as proof of the depravity of the Maya and other indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica. Ancient sacrifice continues to serve as evidence of the "otherness" of the Maya; employed to thrill tourists or to suggest that violence is inherent to the people of Mexico and Central America. Classic period (AD 350-900) Maya human sacrifice was expressed in three general forms - offerings of the self, the defeated, and precious youths - as demonstrated in recent archaeological and bioarchaeological work in the kingdoms of Piedras Negras, Yaxchilan, and El Zotz. Comparison with the iconographic and epigraphic evidence indicates the practice is best understood within a framework of obligation and burden where pain and bodily violence were used to mediate relations between human actors, their ancestors, and supernatural beings (some of whom were quite capricious). Consideration of comparable acts of violence in other societies helps demystify Maya sacrifice.
March 27
In Search of Peasant Communities in Late Byzantine Greece (13th -15th c.). Dr. Fotini Kondyli, Assistant Professor, McIntyre Department of Art.

April 24
The Micromorphology of Community Continuity and Discontinuity at an Israeli Neolithic site. Harris Greenberg, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Archaeology, Boston University.

Workshop Schedule from Past Semesters
For topics and speakers from past semesters, click here.