AHA Photography Lecture Thursday, 6pm

Department of Art History and Archaeology

Columbia University
Capturing Art With Tomorrow’s Technology
Orestis Kourakis, Photographer
Spring 2013 Fulbright Artist at the Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University
March 11, 6:00 pm
612 Schermerhorn Hall
How can we capture artifacts with cutting edge technology, not only to preserve a cultural record of the past in an ever-increasing globalized world, but also to advance our knowledge and deepen our understanding of cultural history? In his talk, Orestis Kourakis will discuss how the photograph of an artifact must record accurately, highlight its distinctive features or qualities, and subtly provide more information than the naked eye perceives. This highly challenging process requires a sophisticated utilization of a number of techniques and technologies: light manipulation, digital infrared or ultraviolet photography, panoramic or three-dimensional photography, and robotics. The lecture will introduce the audience to art-centered computational photography, an exciting new field which stands at the intersection of art and science. Kourakis will demonstrate how innovations in the technology of photography provide an accurate and aesthetically pleasing documentation of cultural heritage that serves the needs of the professional community and the general public equally. In addition, the lecture will address the theoretical underpinnings of the field, particularly with regard to where the art and practice of photography becomes an indispensable constituent of the scientific study of the material culture.

“Transforming the Dead” seminar Tuesday 5.10pm

Columbia Center for Archaeology Seminar

Tuesday March 10, 5.10pm. 951 Schermerhorn Ext.


Transforming the Dead: Exploring Cosmology in Mesolithic burials

Prof. Liv Nilsson Stutz (Emory University)

The Mesolithic burials around the Baltic Sea are material traces of practices that constituted a prehistoric hunter gatherer word. Previous work combined archaeothanatological analysis with ritual theory. This allowed for a visualization of those past practices–and of the lived experience of the people who buried their dead in these large cemeteries. Patterns of repetition and variation in handling the dead suggested proposals about attitudes to the self, body and identity, and the reproduction of “good death.” In this paper, I build on this previous work, presenting interpretations that draw from current debates about Mesolithic cosmology, involving concepts such as animism and totemism.

Special attention will be focused on the role of bones—both those inside the graves and those removed from the graves (and sometimes extracted purposefully through cremation or other treatment of the dead body)—sometimes to be circulated or manipulated by the living, and sometimes to be deposited to accompany the dead.

One line of inquiry is the presence of animal bones in the burials. They raise interesting questions about symbolic and inter-species relationships. Another focus is placed on the transformation of the human body after death, considering the variation of post mortem transformation at different sites (ranging from a focus on the preservation of the integrity of the human body, to the focus on place of burial, and from what appears to be life like arrangements of the dead to explicit transformation of the body before burial), revealing different cultural concerns in different areas across the Baltic region.

Lecture on Disease & Therapy in the Eastern Mediterranean by Prof. Eleni Mantzourani – Monday March 2, 6.16pm

Dear All,

You are cordially invited to an event sponsored by the Onassis Foundation and the Columbia Center for Archaeology.

Dr. Eleni Mantzourani
Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology, Faculty of History and Archaeology, University of Athens

Disease and Therapy: medical and other therapeutical practices in the prehistoric eastern Mediterranean

The lecture will address the issue of health as well as the medical and other therapeutic practices in the eastern Mediterranean during the 3rd and 2nd millennia BCE. The study of skeletal remains, archaeological finds, and textual evidence are the main sources on health conditions in prehistoric times. Three key-areas will be examined: Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Aegean. Although we can reconstruct the most detailed picture on health and diseases in Egypt, important insights can be gained for the Near East and the Aegean worlds as well. The information available on the treatment of wounds and other external injuries (primarily of legs, feet, arms, and the head) suggests a sophisticated knowledge of orthopedics and surgery. There is also evidence for the existence of infectious diseases caused by viruses and/or bacteria. Diseases, injuries, and their more or less medical treatment played an important role in life and death of prehistoric eastern Mediterranean populaces. Among other things, the lecture will place healing and medicine in close proximity to ‘magical’ and further religious practices.

Monday, March 26.15pm
612 Schermerhorn Ext.