Category Archives: news

Gods and Scholars: Studying Religion at a Secular University

Zapotec Funerary Urn, Mexico, 750-1200 CE.Gods and Scholars
Studying Religion at a Secular University

October 22, 2015 – March 7, 2016
Hirshland Exhibition Gallery
Carl A. Kroch Library

CIAMS M.A. student Fredrika Loew has curated a new exhibit entitled “Gods and Scholars: Studying Religion at a Secular University,” currently on display at Kroch Library.



On November 17, 2015, Fredrika will present an introductory lecture on the exhibit (4:30 p.m., Olin library 106) followed by an exhibition visit and reception (5:00-6:30 p.m., Hirshland Exhibition Gallery, Kroch library).

Exhibit Description

From its founding in 1865, Cornell University has been firmly nonsectarian, welcoming students and faculty of any religion, or no religion at all. This approach was controversial in the mid to late 19th century, when the majority of American universities were religiously affiliated; Cornell was called the “Godless” university by many. However, religion was in no way absent from campus life. On the contrary, with the rapid growth of its library collections, the new university began seeking out religious works of all types and eras. By the time the first incoming class arrived in 1868, instructors and students could interact with a vast array of sacred works. These materials supported courses on topics such as architecture, art history, philology, social reform and injustice, and literature. They were also used to complement sermons in the University chapel. This exhibition highlights the collecting of religious texts at Cornell and introduces many of the figures who have built the collection over the past 150 years.

This exhibition contains materials from the Rare and Manuscript Collections, as well as several artifacts from the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art.

The History Center Talks – Kurt Jordan

jordan tchc talkOn Saturday, September 19th, 2015 at 2:00 PM, The History Center in Tompkins County hosted Professor Kurt Jordan for his presentation “Destroyed, Forgotten, Never Noted: Ithaca’s Hidden Indigenous History.” Kurt A. Jordan is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and American Indian Studies at Cornell University. His research centers on the archaeology and history of Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) peoples, emphasizing the settlement patterns, housing, and economies of 17th and 18th century Senecas.

Kurt Jordan speaks at the History Center. Photo credit: Amanda Bosworth, The Cornell Chronicle.

Kurt Jordan speaks at the History Center. Photo credit: Amanda Bosworth, The Cornell Chronicle.

Many observers have noted that little is understood about the history of indigenous peoples in the Ithaca area. This presentation both describes why this is the case, and summarizes what is known. Starting with the earliest American settlers, past Ithacans took a cavalier attitude toward the indigenous archaeological record. Mingling curiosity with disrespect for indigenous heritage, Ithacans documented almost nothing as the archaeological record was destroyed. Despite this sordid history, quite a bit can be gleaned about how the Cayugas and their allies and ancestors dwelled on these lands.

Jordan has conducted archaeological fieldwork in collaboration with members of the Seneca Nation of Indians since 1999. His first book, The Seneca Restoration, 1715-1754: An Iroquois Local Political Economy, was published by the University Press of Florida in 2008.

Professor Jordan’s lecture was reported in the Cornell Chronicle on September 21, 2015.

The History Center in Tompkins County
401 E. State St. #100
Ithaca, NY 14850

The History Center Talks – Fred Gleach

artifactsJoin us at The History Center in Tompkins County on Thursday, September 17th, 2015 at 6:00 PM for the presentation “With Respect to Native American Artifacts” with Professor Fredric Wright Gleach.

Professor Gleach is a Senior Lecturer and the Curator of the Anthropology Collections at Cornell University. Best known for his work focused on the Powhatan Indians of Virginia, he has also done archaeological work in Illinois and Spain, and archival and ethnographic studies on Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans in the US. He grew up in Richmond, Virginia, completed graduate studies at the University of Chicago, and has lived in Ithaca for over 20 years.

“With Respect to Native American Artifacts” will feature a selection of artifacts from the collections of Cornell and The History Center. Prof. Gleach will lead the audience through an exploration of topics including:
— How one recognizes, identifies, and interprets artifacts
— How North American indigenous peoples work with natural materials
— How traditional practices continue into the present
— Where one might turn to learn more

Job Listing – Assistant Professor, Bioarchaeology

Position Title: Assistant Professor – Bioarchaeology
Position Type: Tenure-track faculty
Application Deadline: November 1, 2015

The Department of Anthropology at Cornell University invites applications for a tenure-track faculty position focused in bioarchaeology. We construe bioarchaeology broadly to include a range of approaches to understanding the human body in its material setting both historically and theoretically. The ideal candidate will help to strengthen links among departmental research interests in archaeology, biological anthropology, and medical anthropology. We seek candidates who ground their biological interests in archaeological field work and whose research involves a concern with archaeological context, innovative approaches to theoretical interpretation, and sensitivity to the ethics of practice. Although we have a particular interest in applications from candidates conducting research in Latin America (including the Caribbean) and Asia, geographic area of expertise is open.

For the full listing and to submit an application, please visit the posting on Academic Jobs Online.

ISIS Increases the Destruction of Antiquities in Syria

The Islamic State released this photo of a detonation in the Temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra. Militant website, via The New York Times.

The Islamic State released this photo of a detonation in the Temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra. Militant website, via The New York Times.

This latest article by The New York Times describes the recent destruction of a fifth-century Roman Catholic monastery and one of the best-preserved temples in Palmyra, dated to the first-century. Both destructions, carried out by Islamic State militants, occurred in the same week in the same province in Syria.

The NYT has also updated the graphical analysis of the strategy behind ISIS’s destruction of ancient sites. Another article describes in more detail the destruction of the Temple of Baalshamin at Palmyra.

The latest destruction of Syrian antiquities follows close on the heels of the gruesome murder of archaeologist and former custodian of Palmyra, Khaled al-As’ad.

The Oriental Institute Speaks Out Against the Murder of Khaled al-As’ad

by Katie Jarriel

Mr. Khaled al-As'ad, via The NY Times

Mr. Khaled al-As’ad, via NY Times

The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago has recently released a statement on the murder of Khaled al-As’ad, the retired chief of antiquities for Palmyra. Mr. al-As’ad was murdered by Islamic State militants, the latest in a series of atrocities perpetrated against Syrian antiquities and the individuals who research and protect them.

Mr. al-As’ad was the principal custodian of Palmyra for 40 years, beginning in 1963. Under his direction, Palmyra was elevated to a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.

Below is the statement in full:

The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago mourns the brutal murder by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (also known as ISIL, ISIS, or Da’ish) of Khaled al-As’ad, the retired Antiquities Director for the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria.

Palmyra, a caravan city on the edge of the Syrian desert is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its historical significance as part of the Silk Road, its beautifully preserved architecture and magnificent sculptures.

The 83 year old Mr. al-As’ad was arrested, tortured, and beheaded for refusing to reveal the location of antiquities from Palmyra that he had hidden away to prevent them from being looted and sold on the illicit antiquities market.

We condemn this brutal and senseless act. We mourn the loss of a scholar and courageous man who gave his life to protect the irreplaceable cultural heritage of Palmyra, and Syria more generally.

In response to the recent destruction of antiquities and archaeological sites carried out by Islamic State militants, CIAMS professors Adam Smith and Sturt Manning have published opinion pieces in the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire and CNN, respectively.

On behalf of the archaeologists of CIAMS, I would like to express deep sorrow at the loss of our brave and dedicated colleague.

The Oriental Institute’s original statement may be found here. The NY Times and The Guardian have published articles with further details about Mr. al-As’ad’s life and work.

Let’s welcome the new directors

Image result for schooner sunset picturesTo all the CIAMS community:

As I ease out of my Assistant Director role at CIAMS (to spend more time with boats, dogs, the family, and possibly even to write), I want to thank all the staff, especially former Director, Sturt Manning, for giving me the chance to make an impact on our Institute. It has been a uniquely rewarding pleasure, and above all the students and their energy have impressed me to no end. It’s going to be an exciting year, with Kurt as our new Director,  and I must say that I’m very glad to have been replaced by Katie Jarriel, who is not only a talented doctoral student in Classical Archaeology but the designer of that catchy CIAMS logo! I think this was an inspired choice, and after you meet Katie at the Welcome Back Reception on September 3  I hope you’ll support her throughout the year by participating in the various lectures and podcasts she’ll be organizing (and please support Kurt in his role by following his orders!) Good luck, Katie, and see you all out there.

All the best,

Chris Monroe

Congratulations to Cornell’s 2015 Archaeology Graduates!

Image result for cornell commencement capThe CIAMS faculty and staff wish all the best to Cornell students being graduated with Archaeology Majors and Master’s degrees in Spring 2015
The Undergraduate Majors are Morgan Michel-Schottman, Alexander Morgan, Eliizabeth Napper, and Zachary Peterson.
And the Master’s in Archaeology are William Breitweiser, Cynthia Kocik, Nicholas Lashway, and Katherine Seufer.

Congratulations, and good luck to all of you!