CIAMS End-of-the-Year Pizza & Sushi Reception

o-SUSHI-PIZZA-facebookCome join CIAMS students and faculty to celebrate the end of the school year, beginning of summer and the adventure ahead. We’ll have wine, cheese and the proven combination of pizza and sushi.

 

CIAMS End-of-the-Year Reception
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
4:30 p.m.
History of Art Gallery, Goldwin Smith G08

Those of you who reserved CIAMS T-shirts can pick them up at the reception. Friends and family are welcome. Hope to see you there!

Thank you and farewell to Uthara Suvrathan

UtharaWith her tenure as Hirsch postdoctoral associate coming to a close, we at CIAMS would like to thank Uthara Suvrathan for her service to the department and wish her best of luck in her future endeavors.

Uthara came to Cornell in 2014 from the University of Michigan where she earned her PhD in Anthropology.  Her research draws on both archaeological and textual material to examine the organization of polities and places on the margins of large socio-political systems and empires in South Asia.

While at CIAMS, Uthara has been an active member of our community, attending talks, teaching, and presenting her work in a number of fora. Her courses at Cornell–which include “Beyond Kings, Palaces, and Temples: Introduction to the Archaeology of South Asia,” “Fantastic Frauds and Myths in Archaeology,” and “Archaeology and Text”–have emphasized participatory activities for her students. Recently, her class re-created the Nazca lines on the Arts Quad to investigate how ancient peoples constructed them using basic tools and geometry.

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Uthara Suvrathan and her students re-create Nazca lines on the Arts Quad.

An engaged member of the local archaeological community, Uthara has presented her research at a CIAMS workshop as well as at at a meeting of the Finger Lakes Chapter of the New York State Archaeological Association (NYSAA).

Uthara was named a Bard Graduate Center visiting fellow for the 2016-2017 academic year. At the Bard Graduate Center, Uthara will be completing her book manuscript Persistent Peripheries: Archaeological and historical landscapes of an early city in South India, 3rd c. BCE–18th c. CE. Congratulations, Uthara, and best wishes for your bright future!

Book Release – Heaven, Hell, and Everything in Between

cohen suarez bookCIAMS professor Ananda Cohen Suarez (History of Art) recently published a new monograph, Heaven, Hell, and Everything in Between: Murals of the Colonial Andes. The book is part of the Recovering Languages and Literacies of the Americas series published by University of Texas Press.

Book Description:

Examining the vivid, often apocalyptic church murals of Peru from the early colonial period through the nineteenth century, Heaven, Hell, and Everything in Between explores the sociopolitical situation represented by the artists who generated these murals for rural parishes. Arguing that the murals were embedded in complex networks of trade, commerce, and the exchange of ideas between the Andes and Europe, Ananda Cohen Suarez also considers the ways in which artists and viewers worked through difficult questions of envisioning sacredness.

This study brings to light the fact that, unlike the murals of New Spain, the murals of the Andes possess few direct visual connections to a pre-Columbian painting tradition; the Incas’ preference for abstracted motifs created a problem for visually translating Catholic doctrine to indigenous congregations, as the Spaniards were unable to read Inca visual culture. Nevertheless, as Cohen Suarez demonstrates, colonial murals of the Andes can be seen as a reformulation of a long-standing artistic practice of adorning architectural spaces with images that command power and contemplation. Drawing on extensive secondary and archival sources, including account books from the churches, as well as on colonial Spanish texts, Cohen Suarez urges us to see the murals not merely as decoration or as tools of missionaries but as visual archives of the complex negotiations among empire, communities, and individuals.

Heaven, Hell, and Everything in Between is now available for purchase on Amazon, though as of the time of writing, only one copy was left in stock! Congratulations to Prof. Cohen Suarez on her achievement!

Graduate School Student Spotlight: Eilis Monahan

Eilis Monahan, PhD Student, Near Eastern Studies. Photo by K. Jarriel.

Eilis Monahan, PhD Student, Near Eastern Studies. Photo by K. Jarriel.

CIAMS PhD student Eilis Monahan (Near Eastern Studies) was recently featured in a Student Spotlight  by the Cornell University Graduate School, which lauded her recent NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant and Fulbright Fellowship awards.

When asked what has influenced her thinking as a researcher and scholar, Eilis cited the positive role that CIAMS faculty have played in supporting her studies:

I’ve always been really struck by the way architecture and landscape affects people, and lately I’ve been influenced by the work of social theorists like Michel Foucault and Henri Lefebvre, inspiring me to think critically about how space was created in the past and how these spaces actively shape political trajectories in human society. I also have to credit my committee: Prof. Adam T. Smith in anthropology for introducing me to the literature on political theory and materiality; Prof. Sturt Manning in classics for his knowledge of all things related to Cyprus and scientific methods; and most of all, my advisor Prof. Lori Khatchadourian in Near Eastern studies. She has been tireless in her support of my work, and her knowledge and insight concerning ancient political and social organization and the relationship between materials and power is both an amazing resource and a constant source of inspiration. She really won’t accept anything less than my best, and I always come out of meetings with her full of new ideas and excited to get back to work.

Congratulations to Eilis on her accomplishments! The full interview may be found here.

Experimental Archaeology: CIAMS students re-create the Nazca lines

The Nazca Lines are ancient, gigantic (several are over 300m long) geoglyphs drawn on a desert in Peru. In Fantastic Frauds and Myths in Archaeology–an undergraduate archaeology course taught by Uthara Suvrathan–students have been talking about the archaeological debates about the nature and construction of the Nazca lines.

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Cornell undergraduate students re-create Nazca lines on the Arts Quad.

There are two main opposing views. First are those who argue that these designs could not have been constructed by prehistoric peoples due to their use of simple technologies, and therefore the designs were the work of alien visitors to Earth who brought sophisticated technologies with them. Moreover, since the figures are so large, they were meant to be seen from the air, and in a time before airplanes, alien spacecraft were required to truly appreciate the designs.

In the second view, archaeologists argue that these designs draw upon local cultural traditions and could easily be made using simple tools and human knowledge of geography, astronomy, and mathematics.

In class, the students have been discussing these opposing views. As an experimental archaeology project, they reconstructed two of the Nazca designs, albeit at a smaller scale than the original figures. Using simple tools (ropes, the position of the sun/ buildings, sticks/rulers, an understanding of basic geometry and scale) they laid out multicolored flagging tape on the Arts Quad lawns, anchoring them in position with small gardening flags.  The students worked in two groups and recreated two of the Nazca designs–the frog and the monkey–using a grid system and measuring off an x/y axis respectively.

The purpose of this activity was to prove that these and similar ancient designs do not require the intervention of alien technologies but merely the ingenuity of human brains. Moreover, the class was able to climb to the fourth floors of McGraw and Morrill Halls and see the designs in their entirety, thereby proving that one can appreciate the designs without being on spacecraft but could, as in the case of the Peruvian creators of the Nazca lines, climb up on neighboring hill-sides to view the designs.

Expanding Your Horizons at the Cornell Tree-Ring Laboratory

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EYH Workshop leaders (from right to left) Brita Lorentzen, Amanda Gaggioli, Cindy Kocik, and Carol Griggs.

The Cornell Tree-Ring Laboratory recently hosted a workshop on dendrochronology for the Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) conference held at Cornell on April 30th.  EYH is a one-day, student-led conference for 7th-9th grade girls that is designed to stimulate participants’ interest in math and science through hands-on workshops, provide them with female scientist role models, and to foster awareness of opportunities in science-related careers.  Over 200 girls from around New York State came to the EYH conference this year to participate in several workshops around campus, including the “Tree-Ring Time Detectives” workshop, which was led by Cornell Tree-Ring Lab researchers Brita Lorentzen, Carol Griggs, and Cindy Kocik, and undergraduates Amanda Gaggioli (Classics, ’16) and Meg Parker (Natural Resources, ’16).

Workshop leader Cindy Kocik supervises examination of charcoal from the "Tel Tupperware" excavations.

Workshop leader Cindy Kocik supervises examination of charcoal from the “Tel Tupperware” excavations.

The main, overarching goals of the workshop were for students to explore how scientific methods can be applied not only in traditional STEM fields, but also to enrich research in the humanities and social sciences, and to investigate records of human impact on the environment.  As part of the dendrochronology workshop, participants learned how to use tree-rings to date wooden paintings and musical instruments, reconstruct climate and environment, and how dendrochronologists collect, record, and examine wood charcoal in the field by excavating their own mini archaeological site (nicknamed “Tel Tupperware”).   The workshop leaders enjoyed sharing their research with an enthusiastic group of participants and introducing them to the wonderful world of tree-rings!

RadioCIAMS – Fotini Kondyli

Image courtesy of Fotini Kondyli.

Image courtesy of Fotini Kondyli.

On April 22, 2016 Fotini Kondyli (University of Virginia) met a panel of CIAMS students (Sam Barber, Kathleen Garland, Jessica Plant, and Jess Ro. Pfundstein) and faculty (Ben Anderson) to discuss community in the rural landscapes of Byzantine Greece.

The full discussion of about 55 minutes opens below.

Congratulations to Eilis Monahan for her NSF grant!

Cornell Ph.D. student Eilis Monahan

Eilis Monahan, doctoral candidate (Cornell University, Near Eastern Studies)

Congratulations to Cornell doctoral candidate Eilis Monahan (Near Eastern Studies) for receiving an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant for her dissertation research on Cyprus! Her project abstract may be read below.

Enclosure and Exclusion: Fortifications and the Disciplinary Landscape in the Transition to the Late Bronze Age on Cyprus

The proposed archaeological research will investigate the construction of fortifications and shifting settlement patterns in Cyprus during the Middle Bronze Age to Late Bronze Age transition. These fortifications are the first monumental architecture on the island, but are only 
in use during a brief but critical period, during the transformation of Cyprus from a relatively egalitarian and insular village-based society, to an urban-focused complex society, engaged in trade and diplomatic relations with the major polities of the eastern Mediterranean. Funding will support systematic pedestrian survey of the Yalias River Valley, continued excavation at the fortresses of Barsak and Nikolidhes, and the analysis of material from previous surveys and excavations of the cluster of fortified sites and contemporaneous settlements in the Ayios Sozomenos region in central Cyprus housed in the Cyprus Museum, Nicosia and the Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm. This research will investigate the form, function, and construction methods of the fortifications and the location and chronology of other sites in the region, in order to explicate how fortifications produce a disciplinary landscape that alters the experience and perception of space, and the impact these effects have on social relations and the construction of authority.

This project investigates how the material world, including the natural and built environment, does not merely set the conditions of social practice, but is an efficacious actor within
 the political domain. Significantly, this research will focus on how fortifications, by
 dividing, organizing, and surveilling space and social practice, create a disciplinary landscape through which authority is represented and social inequality is apprehended. In this manner, this investigation into the role of Cypriot fortresses in shaping the imagination and experience of political life will contribute to the wider discussion of militarization and how political regimes are established through place-making and structuring human experience of the landscape, ongoing processes in regions of conflict and development throughout the world. Additionally
 this study is the first to systematically investigate fortifications in the central region of Cyprus and 
to situate their study within the context of the landscape and contemporaneous settlement patterns, which will provide information critical to understanding the history of Cyprus’ settlement shifts and social transformations, and articulating these developments with broader regional trajectories in the Mediterranean and the Near East.

Book Release – Imperial Matter by Lori Khatchadourian

imperial matterCIAMS professor Lori Khatchadourian’s new book, Imperial Matter: Ancient Persia and the Archaeology of Empires, has just been published and is available for purchase. Congratulations, Prof. Khatchadourian, on an outstanding achievement!

A free e-book version of this title is available through Luminos, University of California Press’s open access publishing program.

Book description from the UC Press website:

What is the role of the material world in shaping the tensions and paradoxes of imperial sovereignty? Scholars have long shed light on the complex processes of conquest, extraction, and colonialism under imperial rule. But imperialism has usually been cast as an exclusively human drama, one in which the world of matter does not play an active role. Lori Khatchadourian argues instead that things—from everyday objects to monumental buildings—profoundly shape social and political life under empire. Out of the archaeology of ancient Persia and the South Caucasus, Imperial Matter advances powerful new analytical approaches to the study of imperialism writ large and should be read by scholars working on empire across the humanities and social sciences.