SWTAS 2019-2020 Lecture Series! All lectures are free and open to the general public. Most lectures are hosted by Trinity University but occasionally we meet at other venues, as listed in the program notes below. Refer to the Find Us! [keep the link] page for location maps. Lectures last approximately one hour, followed by a modest reception. The lecture series is made possible by the Archaeological Institute of America, the Southwest Texas Archaeological Society, and the Department of Classical Studies at Trinity University. AIA members in good standing are invited to join the lecturer at a no host dinner prior to the evening’s events; please contact for further information.

Monday, September 16, 2019
7:30 pm, Trinity University Chapman Auditorium

Under the Bronze Age seas

Jason crossed the Black Sea in search of the Golden Fleece, Agamemnon commanded a mighty fleet towards Troy, Poseidon wrecked Odysseus’ raft. Stories of the sea permeate Greek myth. It is perhaps fitting that it was the excavation of a ship from the era of the Trojan war that initiated another era: the age when underwater archaeology became a science. This lecture presents an overview of what archaeologists now know about the ships and cargoes that traversed Homer’s wine-dark seas, with special reference to the lecturer’s ongoing research on the cargoes found at Cape Gelidonya and Uluburun.


Wednesday, September 25, 2019
7:30 pm, Trinity University Fiesta Room

The Mycenaean Cult of the Ancestral Wanax: Hero Worship in the Late Bronze Age 

The decipherment of Linear B in 1952 illuminated the Mycenaean world, but it also raised many intriguing questions. One debate in particular has centred on Linear B texts referring to offerings of perfumed oil to the wanax, or king. Were these offerings sent to the mortal king of the Mycenaean state, or were they intended for a divinity of some kind called “wanax”? How should the divine nature of the wanax specified in these texts be intepreted? Current theories (that he was a mortal, considered to be divine, or a divinity named wanax) are unsatisfactory, and claims that the oil sent to the wanax was not meant as an offering at all but rather was a secular disbursement of oil for the use of the ruling king fail to account for the wanax’s divine nature.

Through a new, insightful reading of the Linear B texts and an examination of the archaeological record Dr Lupack argues that the wanax was certainly believed to be divine; he was an ancestral wanax who was worshipped by the Mycenaeans for the role he played in their legendary pastpossibly as their founding father. This interpretation can be substantiated by the impressive archaeological material which demonstrates the respect that was paid to the burials in Grave Circle A at Mycenae and Tholos Tomb IV at Pylos by the ruling wanaktes of the Late Helladic III period – several hundred years after the initial interment of the elites who were buried in those tombs. Through her knowledge of Linear B and the archaeology of Mycenaean Greece. Dr Lupack will shine new light on the Mycenaeans and their society.


Monday, October 28, 2019
7:30 pm, Trinity University Chapman Auditorium

Lecture by Dr. Kenneth Seligson, Department of Anthropology, University of Southern California

Burning Rings of Fire: Ancient Maya Resource Conservation

The Ancient Maya used burnt lime for everything. From the mortar that held their elaborate temple pyramids together to the processing of corn into a nutritious staple food, burnt lime was literally the glue that held the Maya world together. Yet until recently, archaeologists did not know how the Prehispanic Maya made their burnt lime. The amount of wood used in traditional aboveground kilns during the Colonial Period and more recently raised the possibility that burnt lime production may have led to rampant deforestation during the Classic Period. In this lecture, I discuss the many archaeological methods that I used to identify a fuel-efficient Prehispanic pit-kiln technology in the Northern Lowlands – a finding that questions the idea that Classic Maya civilization “collapsed.”


Thursday, February 20, 2020
7:30 pm, Trinity University (venue TBD)

Lecture by Dr. Olga Koloski-Ostrow, The Kevy and Hortense Kaiserman Endowed Chair in the Humanities, Professor of Classical Studies, Brandeis University

The Sensorium of the Roman Urban Landscape: Sights, Sounds, Smells, Tastes, and Touch

This talk explores the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touch of ancient Roman cities (focus on Pompeii and Herculaneum, but reference to Ostia and Rome as well) using textual and archaeological evidence, in order to discover how we can identify the sensorium of the Roman city and how it can sharpen our understanding of life on Roman streets, in public spaces, and in private dwellings. We review the chief institutions and structures of the city to find the evidence: in the streets (dung, vomit, pee, shit, detritus, garbage, filthy water, fresh produce and baked goods); from inside tenement buildings (mould, damp basements, fires, charcoal, stagnant well water, overflowing cesspits); from shops (burning ovens, smoke, meat and vegetables); from live animals; from crowded public venues (including games in the amphitheaters, theaters, fora, and markets); from urban disasters (fires and floods); from inside public baths and toilets; from religious worship in and outside temples; and from the rituals associated with death and burial. Such an investigation into the sources and dissemination of the ancient sensorium revivifies the complexity of the ancient city and even contributes to a better understanding of urban zoning.

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