Past Events

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May 18, 2019
11:00am to 4:00pm

Save the Date

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

May 18, 2019 from 11:00 to 4:00pm 

with the theme 

Ancient Technologies

Explore the breadth of ancient technologies through a mosaic of talks by Drs. John K. Papadopoulos, Gregson Schachner, Monica L. Smith, and Willeke WendrichThen visit the labs within the Cotsen to learn more and see these technologies up close!

Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Labs and the Lenart Auditorium
Michelle Jacobson
April 28, 2019

Ahmanson lecturer, Professor Filomena Limão of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, will give her talk, “The Late Roman Villa of Santiago da Guarda (Ansião,Portugal): Architecture and Mosaics in a living palimpsest”,  Sunday April 28th 2019, at 2PM in the Fowler Museum, Room A222 at UCLA.

Fowler A222 (Seminar Room)
April 11, 2019
2:00pm to 4:00pm

Dr. Jennie Ebeling

Associate Professor

Department of Archaeology

University of Evansville in Indiana


Bread and other grain-based foods were not only staples in the ancient Israelite diet; they were also staples in the ritual acts that accompanied the worship of several deities in ancient Israel. In addition to the state god YHWH, who required regular offerings of lechem hapanim (“bread of the presence”) in the Tabernacle and the Jerusalem Temple (Exodus 25:30, 39:36, 40:23; Leviticus 24: 5-9; Numbers 4:7; 1 Kings 7:48), the Queen of Heaven (Jeremiah 7:18, 44:17-25) was worshipped by families in Jerusalem and throughout Judah with cakes that were marked with her image. Although the biblical writers did not record the details of these practices, the remains of ritual activity in a variety of Iron Age (ca. 1200-586 BCE) archaeological contexts are strongly associated with areas where bread and other foods were prepared and consumed. In this presentation, I will discuss the evidence for feeding the gods in Israelite houses, the house of YHWH, and other contexts, and suggest that the ritual importance of bread in ancient Israel began with women’s food offerings to household deities.

For more details see:

UCLA Faculty Center
Center for Jewish Studies (310) 267-5327
March 15, 2019
4:00pm to 6:00pm

Dr. Lisa Kealhofer 
Professor, Anthropology and Environmental Studies and Sciences, Santa Clara University


Archaeologists have often assumed that agricultural strategies are significant factors in altering environments. Narratives of societal collapse typically point to environmental degradation as an outcome of population increase or political breakdown. We use a version of Niche Construction Theory to interpret the timing and nature of landscape change around Gordion in central Anatolia over the last 5000 years. Recent work in the Gordion region by us and others demonstrates that major environmental change is only weakly connected to standard measures of agricultural intensification. Using detailed stream histories and survey-based settlement data, we show that the largest environmental changes predate significant settlement in small watersheds, while the largest regional-scale changes postdate high intensity settlement and land use. By integrating multiple lines of evidence, we identify and date both environmental perturbations and possible counteractive niche construction strategies associated with political centralization.

Fowler A222 (Seminar Room)
Sumiji Takahashi 310-825-4169
March 13, 2019
12:00pm to 1:00pm

Ivan Vasilev

Founder and CEO 
Balkan Heritage Foundation


Occupying the eastern part of the Balkans along the Western Black Sea shore, Bulgaria has a rich and diverse archaeological heritage. Within its borders are the remains not only of the early humans and Neolithic farmers, but also of the arguably Europe’s oldest civilization dating to the 5th millennium BCE. A very significant share of the country’s archaeological heritage belongs to the civilizations of the ancient Thracians, Greeks, Macedonians and even Persians as well as Celts, Romans, Byzantines, medieval Bulgarians and Ottomans. The country has more than 150,000 registered archaeological sites, thousands of historic sites and millions of archaeological artifacts kept in around 300 museums and collections, which means Bulgaria ranks with Greece, Italy and France as Europe’s archaeologically richest countries.

Bulgaria’s archaeological heritage received the interest of European scholars in the second half of the 19th century, not much before the country received autonomy from the Ottoman Empire in 1878. However, the beginning of the archaeological investigation in the country dates to both decades around the turn of the century (1890s-1900s). It was encouraged and supported backed-up and triggered by the development of relevant research and museum infrastructure across the country. The National Archaeological Museum was established in 1892 and the Bulgarian Archaeological Society (later National Archaeological Institute) was established in 1901.

Archaeologists have been unearthing the evidence about the past of these lands for more than a century. The current presentation will review their greatest achievements and discoveries while introducing the country’s rich potential for research. It will start with a review of the finds from Kozarnika Cave - one of the earliest Paleolithic sites in Europe, the “world’s oldest gold” found in Varna and the richest collection of Attic vases outside Athens. Then it will highlight treasures and tombs of Thracian royalty along with important monuments and cities of ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and medieval Bulgarians.

Fowler A222 (Seminar Room)
Sumiji Takahashi 310-825-4169
March 8, 2019
4:00pm to 6:00pm

Dr. Ruth Tringham

Graduate School (Anthropology)
UC Berkeley


This presentation describes a path to addressing the discomfort that I and many of my braver colleagues have had when putting words into the mouths and heads of prehistoric actors, knowing that these words say more about us than they do about prehistory. Yet without such speech, how are we archaeologists and the broader public to imagine the intangibles of the deep past (emotions, affect, gender, senses)? Moreover, such words create a misleading certainty that conceals the ambiguities of archaeological data. Are there alternative options to verbal and vocal clarity when creating imagined fictive narratives about the past? With inspiration from composer Györgi Ligeti, from linguists and experimental psychologists, and from ASMR performers, I explore the emotive power of vocal non-verbal interjections and utterances that have more universality and less cultural baggage, using them in three diverse remediations of digital media from three prehistoric archaeological contexts in Europe and Anatolia.

Fowler A222 (Seminar Room)
Sumiji Takahashi 310-825-4169
March 6, 2019
12:00pm to 1:00pm

Dr. Avinoam Shalem
Department of Art History and Archaeology
Columbia University


In this lecture, I would like to challenge the specific art historians’ interest in the question of the earliest and the first-in-sequence work of art. My inquiry does not aim at disregarding this query as a legitimate one or criticizing the art historian’s obsession with this mode of investigation. On the contrary, I would like to ponder on the benefit that art historians gain from locating specific art works as the earliest or the first of their kind. Moreover, I would like to disclose the historical trajectory of this method, namely the first medieval scholarly quests for defining and demarcating the earliest. Thus, my aim is to set this mode of research in its historical context and, hopefully, raise further critical points about our regarding of this approach as scholarly method, for its bad and good reasons alike.


Fowler A222 (Seminar Room)
Sumiji Takahashi 310-825-4169
February 27, 2019
12:00pm to 1:00pm

Dr. Jonathan Ashley-Smith
Getty Conservation Guest Scholar


This presentation will discuss the inevitability of prediction in conservation activities.
Routine activities such as condition assessment and risk assessment rely on the ability to
predict future environments and future physical and chemical states of objects. Yet for the
results to be useful they have to be presented as positive statements that hide the huge
uncertainties in such predictions. Codes of conservation ethics imply predictions about the
future behaviours of people and objects. Despite the inherent uncertainties of such
predictions, such codes have become the bedrock of the conservation profession.

Fowler A222 (Seminar Room)
Sumiji Takahashi 310-825-4169
February 22, 2019
4:00pm to 6:00pm

Nadine Moeller 

Associate Professor of Egyptian Archaeology

University of Chicago

The ongoing excavations by the Oriental Institute team directed by Nadine Moeller and Gregory Marouard have during the most recent seasons focused on settlement remains dating to the Old Kingdom. Located 20 m to the west of the much later Ptolemaic temple of Horus of Edfu, excavations revealed several phases of domestic installations from the second part of the 6th Dynasty that covered an older administrative complex with several massive mudbrick structures dating to the late 5th Dynasty that had been installed directly onto the natural Nile sand deposits in an area never settled before that date. Based on their size, architectural details and related finds, the two large buildings are of official nature and constitute a newly founded settlement quarter in the ancient town of Behdet (Edfu). Among the finds are more than 220 clay sealings naming king Djedkare-Isesi (late 5th Dynasty, ca. 2434 BC), in addition to official titles that regularly mention a group of specialized workers involved in prospection and mining activities, the so-called sementiu. Additional finds such as numerous pieces of copper ore, important traces of metallurgical activities, Red Sea shells and a significant amount of Nubian ceramics found on the floor levels during the excavation further confirm the link to royal expeditions and mining activities in the Eastern desert areas. 

The second area that has been the focus of fieldwork since November 2018 provided new evidence for a vast domestic quarter dating to the beginning of 18th Dynasty. Excavations have focused on a large urban villa of about 400 square-meters, which dates from the early Thutmoside period (ca. 1500-1450 BCE). This building is characterized by several rooms with columns. The largest and main room, a 6-columned hall, contained in one of its corners a well-preserved domestic sanctuary dedicated to the cult of the family ancestors. Numerous elements attesting to the cult activity have been found near a small fire place and offering table, including a very rare example of an ancestor bust and a statuette of a seated scribe

Fowler A222 (Seminar Room)
Sumiji Takahashi 310-825-4169
February 20, 2019
12:00pm to 1:00pm

Christopher Donnan, Ph.D.

UCLA Professor Emeritus


This talk focuses on an extraordinarily rich Moche tomb that was looted on the north coast of Peru, the efforts that were made to record the objects that came from it, and how it was possible to learn about its location, construction, and embellishment.

Fowler A222 (Seminar Room) 310-825-4169