Category Archives: lectures

CIAMS Lecture Series – Felipe Rojas

Abstract: This paper is a diachronic study of alternative and sometimes conflicting ontologies of landscape in ancient Anatolia. I am interested specifically in the notion that some mountains were animate, sentient beings and that the boundaries separating them from men and gods were susceptible of transgression. Although examples of personified mountains as well as of metamorphosis and petrification can be found occasionally throughout the ancient Mediterranean, in Anatolia “mountain-persons” are more common and can be shown to reflect local traditions dating back millennia. Hittite kings regularly swore oaths by mountains and often represented them in visual art as partly anthropomorphized supports of royal power. Long after the Bronze Age—in fact, at least until the Byzantine period—people in Anatolia continued to celebrate cases of ontological permeability (and amalgamation) involving mountains that were thought to be divine before the classical period. Relevant examples range over a vast chronological span and include the case of the Christian martyr Ariadne in Phrygia who became a mountain to flee her persecutors, a civic club in Roman Sardis who claimed direct descent from Tmolus (a mountain that happens to have been one of the earliest kings of Lydia), the famous Niobe, a woman who according to Greek myth was petrified for boasting about her fecundity in front of a virgin goddess, and a host of other Anatolian mountains that were believed in Greek and Roman antiquity to have been genetically or sexually associated with both men and gods. Using current anthropological theory (drawn primarily from scholars working in the Amazon) I offer a glimpse into the lasting vitality of Anatolian ontologies of landscape according to which mountains, men, and god were dynamically entangled.

Book Talk: Ananda Cohen-Aponte

The role of the visual arts in negotiating a sense of place and identity is an important one, and mural paintings reveal the complex ways that artists and viewers conceptualize the space they inhabit.

In a Chats in the Stacks talk, Ananda Cohen-Aponte will talk about her new book, Heaven, Hell, and Everything in Between (University of Texas Press, 2016), about the vivid, often apocalyptic church murals of Peru from the early colonial period through the nineteenth century.

By exploring the sociopolitical situation represented by the artists, she discovers that the murals are embedded in complex networks of trade, commerce, and the exchange of ideas between the Andes and Europe. She also sheds light on the unique ways that artists and viewers worked through difficult questions of representing sacredness. Unlike the murals of New Spain that used abstract motifs preferred by the Incas, the murals of the Andes command power and contemplation, visual archives of the complex negotiations among empire, communities, and individuals.

Ananda Cohen-Aponte is assistant professor in the Department of History of Art and Visual Studies at Cornell University. She was a Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellow for the 2015-2016 academic year.

This event is sponsored by Olin Library.

Buffalo Street Books will offer books for purchase and signing. Refreshments served.

Free and open to all.

CIAMS Lecture Series – Arnau Garcia



This presentation will discuss a group of study cases carried on during the last years in the upper parts of different mountain ranges in the North-East of the Iberian Peninsula. The works discussed are part of integrated studies in which archaeological, historical and ethnographic data, together with palaeoenvironmental researches have been used to analyse the relationships between landscape systems and human land-use strategies on mountains from a long-term perspective. The archaeological research in those environments is characterized by the specific geographic conditions and the particularities of past human economic activities and settlement patterns.

An overview on the results shows that about 1000 anthropogenic structures have been detected and classified in upper-mountain areas in the study areas. More than a hundred of them have been excavated and near 150 C14 dates have been conducted. Together, they represent a large chronological framework, from Early Neolithic to Modern times. Most of the structures are related to pastoral activities (huts, enclosures), but other activities regarding forestry and mineral exploitation are also documented. In this sense, the research shows that pastoralism has played a decisive role in the human shaping of mountain Cultural Landscapes in the studied areas. Anthropogenic deforestation episodes related to the creation and maintenance of pastoral grasslands, have been documented from the Neolithic onwards. The studies give also some clues on how important historical processes of social change, such as that of Romanization or the formation of feudal societies, have had a deep impact in mountain landscapes. The setting up of specialized economic activities has been punctually documented for those periods, proving that these were intimately linked to the historical processes documented at lower altitudes.


CIAMS Lecture Series – Matthew Canepa

canepa-poster-smSpeaker bio:
Matthew P. Canepa (PhD, University of Chicago) is an historian of art, archaeology and religions. His research focuses on the intersection of art, ritual and power in the eastern Mediterranean, Persia and the wider Iranian world. Prof. Canepa’s forthcoming book entitled The Iranian Expanse (University of California Press) is a large-scale study of the transformation of Iranian cosmologies, landscapes and architecture from the height of the Achaemenids to the coming of Islam.







Anthro Colloquium: Nadia Abu El-Haj

The Cornell Department of Anthropology presents

Nadia Abu El-Haj
Department of Anthropology, Columbia University

“Combat through the Psychiatric Gaze: Conceptualizing Violence, Suffering, and Responsibility in the post-9/11 Era” 

Friday, March 4, 2016
to 5:00pm
McGraw Hall, 165 740-750 University Ave, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

Prof. Abu El-Haj’s Biography:
My work straddles the disciplines of anthropology and history of science.  Concerned most generally with the relationships among scientific practices, social imaginaries and political regimes, I have examined the work of specific historical sciences within the context of their own historical and disciplinary conditions of possibility.  In turn, I have sought to understand how the epistemological commitments and empirical facts (and “things”) presupposed and generated by those disciplines have shaped the historical and political “common-sense” of a settler-nation, the racial imaginary of a national-/diasporic politics, and particular understandings and practices of the self. While my two books to date have focused on historical sciences (Israeli archaeology, and genetic history), I am now working on the field of military psychiatry, exploring the complex ethical and political implications of shifting psychiatric and public understandings of the trauma of soldiers.   Provisionally titled, The Ethics of Trauma: Moral Injury, Combat, and U.S. Empire, this book examines the myriad forms and legacies of violence that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have unleashed, and how it is that so many of their attendant horrors remain hidden in plain sight.

This event is free and open to the public.  A recepton will follow the talk.

Anthro Colloquium: Barbara Mills (University of Arizona)

Photo credit: Matthew Devitt (ASU)

Photo credit: Matthew Devitt (ASU)

The Cornell Departments of Anthropology and CIAMS present

Barbara Mills
University of Arizona
Migration, Skill, and the Transformation of Social Networks in the Prehispanic Southwest
Friday, February 19
3:30 p.m.
McGraw Hall 165

This event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow the talk.

Dr. Mills’s Bibliography:

I am an anthropological archaeologist with broad interests in archaeological method and theory, especially (but not exclusively) as applied to the North American Southwest.  My work has focused on ceramic analysis as a tool for understanding production, distribution, and consumption but more broadly is my interest in material culture to understand social relations in the past. My research on ceramic technology, craft specialization, and accumulations research led to a series of papers and edited volumes on social inequality, identity, feasting, and migration.  These interests were fostered by more than a decade of work in the Silver Creek area of east-central Arizona, including a multi-year collaborative project with the White Mountain Apache Tribe.  I also have field and research experience in a number of other areas of the Southwest including Zuni, Chaco, Mimbres, Grasshopper, and most recently the Greater Hohokam area.  Outside the U.S. I have research experience in Guatemala (Postclassic Maya), Kazakhstan (Bronze Age), and Turkey (Neolithic).  Besides ceramics I am interested in depositional practice, and how that can be used to understand memory, materiality, and relational logics.  Currently I am a PI on the Southwest Social Networks Project, which brings together data and a talented group of scholars to apply social network analysis (SNA) to archaeological data from a large area of the western Southwest. This ongoing project continues my interest in looking at the dynamics of social relations from a multiscalar perspective.

CIAMS Workshop – Uthara Suvrathan

The CIAMS Workshop series resumes on Friday, November 13, 2015, where Uthara Suvrathan (Hirsch Postdoctoral Associate) will be discussing a chapter of her monograph in progress, Persistent Peripheries: Archaeological and historical landscapes of an ancient city in South India, 3rd c. BCE – 18th c. CE.

The workshop will take place from 12-1 p.m. in the LOL (McGraw 125). Attendees are invited to bring their own lunch.

To obtain a copy of the chapter draft for review, please contact Katie Jarriel (