UB Creates Institute for European, Mediterranean Archaeology

Academic conference set on approaches to structural change in the archaeological record

Release Date: April 2, 2008

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo will formally launch a new Institute for European and Mediterranean Archaeology (IEMA) on April 3 with an inaugural ceremony and the institute's first academic conference on April 4 and 5.

The institute for research and education in European and Mediterranean archaeology has been created in UB's College of Arts and Sciences in conjunction with the strategic strength in cultures and texts identified as part of the UB 2020 strategic plan designed to transform UB into a model 21st-century public university that will rise among the ranks of the nation's public research universities.

Theodore Peña, Ph.D., associate professor and chair in the Department of Classics and director of IEMA, says the institute aims to combine existing UB faculty expertise in the fields of anthropology, classics and visual studies with first-rate research facilities available at UB in disciplines such as geographic information systems, virtual reality and materials science.

This combined expertise, he says, produces a unique academic environment within which faculty members can conduct innovative research and undergraduate and graduate students can obtain cutting-edge, cross-disciplinary training.

The success of the IEMA will be tied to close collaboration between faculty members and students in the Department of Classics, who study the archaeology of ancient Greece and Rome, and those in the Department of Anthropology, who study the archaeology of prehistoric Europe.

"While these two groups normally operate as separate disciplines within the academic setting," Peña says, "the particular combination of personalities, research interests and programmatic organizations present at UB has opened the door for the integration of their efforts under the umbrella of this distinctive interdepartmental institute."

In addition to Peña, participating IEMA faculty members include the institute's assistant director, Peter Biehl, Donald Pollock, Sarunas Milisauskas, Tina Thurston and Ezra Zubrow, all of the Department of Anthropology; Bradley Ault, Stephen Dyson and Samuel Paley, of the Department of Classics; and Vance Watrous of the Department of Visual Studies.

They currently conduct research in several different countries in the European/Mediterranean region, including Italy, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Israel, France, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Poland, Ireland and Iceland, and provide fieldwork opportunities for students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

IEMA has already established an agreement for the exchange of faculty and students with the Department of Archaeology at the University of Kiel, in Germany, and is in the process of negotiating a similar agreement with the MacDonald Institute of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge.

"It is central to our mission to foster cutting-edge approaches to the archaeological investigation of specific cultures and so we have established an annual post-doctoral fellowship to bring a promising young archaeologist to the UB campus as visiting scholars," Peña says.

The fellow will be responsible for organizing an international conference on a current topic in the field that brings important figures in contemporary archaeology to UB. Participants will publish their contributions as a volume of conference proceedings and teach a graduate seminar on a theme relating to the conference topic to provide graduate students in the contributing departments a thorough grounding in that topic.

The official launch of IEMA will begin with a formal inauguration 2-4 p.m. April 3 in the Screening Room in the Center for the Arts on the UB North (Amherst) Campus.

In addition to UB President John B. Simpson, speakers will include Jorge V. José, UB vice president for research; Charles L. Stinger, senior associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences; and Peña.

At 4 p.m., a keynote address will be presented by Graeme Barker, Disney Professor of Archaeology at Cambridge University and director of that university's MacDonald Institute of Archaeology.

Barker, a world-renowned authority on the prehistory of Europe and the Mediterranean, will speak to "Archaeology as History: Revolutions, Transformations, Events." In his talk he will address, among other things, the role that IEMA can serve within the broader context of European and Mediterranean archaeology.

Following his address, there will be a reception in the Center for the Arts Atrium.

The first IEMA Postdoctoral Fellowship Conference "Toward an Eventful Archaeology: Approaches to Structural Change in the Archaeological Record," will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 4-5 in the Jacobs Executive Development Center, 672 Delaware Ave.

The conference was organized by Douglas Bolender, Ph.D., the 2007-2008 IEMA postdoctoral fellow, a specialist in settlement archaeology and the archaeology of medieval Iceland. Bolender completed his doctorate at Northwestern University in 2006.

It will feature presentations by 15 major figures in contemporary archaeological research from universities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, the Netherlands and Iceland.

Their papers will address how archaeologists analyze archaeological remains to account for major changes in the structure of societies. The conference focus will be the theoretical perspectives articulated by the historian William Sewell in his influential book "The Logics of History: Social Theory and Social Transformation."

The conference schedule and abstracts are online at http://www.iema.buffalo.edu/news_events/.

The public is welcome at both the inauguration and the conference. A single registration fee of $5 for students and $10 for non-students will cover participation in both events. Payment can be made on site.

The 2008-09 IEMA post-doctoral fellow will be Sarah Ralph, who received her doctorate from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge in 2006 and is a specialist in forensic archaeology and the archaeology of northwestern Europe during the Iron Age. She will organize a conference titled "The Archaeology of Personal Violence in Late Iron-Age Europe," which will be held in Buffalo in April 2009.

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