AIA names Adovasio to top lecture post

Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute Director James Adovasio, Ph.D., has been selected to speak in the Doris Z. Stone New World Archaeology Lectures. He was selected with four others and is considered one of the top five North American speakers.

The American Institute of Archaeology (AIA) is a professional organization that’s primary focus is educating not only people in the industry, but also the public.

Contributed photo: Adovasio will be speaking at the University of Albany and at the University of Central Florida this school year.Contributed photo: Adovasio will be speaking at the University of Albany and at the University of Central Florida this school year.

“I have participated in their speaker series for nearly a decade,” said Adovasio. “At different times I have been one of those whose works has been sponsored by one of their endowments.”

The endowments run as different AIA chapters request speakers from certain disciplines and topics.

“Essentially, I’ll be talking about aspects of our research that involves either the earliest population in the New World, the earliest Native Americans or the roles of women in prehistory, who for a variety of reasons have been generally ignored by prehistorians until relatively recently,” said Adovasio.

“Many of our views in the past have been biased in the male direction, and especially prior to 20 years ago when most of the people in archaeology were men, you had a double bias.”

The double bias that Adovasio speaks of comes from the stone and ceramic tools commonly found in digs that are often created by men, and the old norm of the majority of archaeologists in the industry being male.
With archaeology being such an expansive area, it poses the question of how someone comes to study baskets and women in North America. Adovasio refers to both cases as flukes.

“When I was studying in Utah, the professor who was in charge of the anthropology program at the time had just done major excavations at a dry cave site in the Salt Lake basin, and because those sites have very little moisture, stuff like our clothes are preserved in them for thousands of years,” said Adovasio.

“There was no one on the staff at the time that had completed a degree in or had even experience dealing with perishable artifacts. This individual said that if you don’t decide that this is what you want to be interested in, get the hell out.”

Adovasio quickly became interested in perishable prehistoric artifacts and has analyzed more of them than anyone else.

“I’ve been involved with the people of the New World for over 40 years,” Adovasio said. “Many of the sites that I’ve excavated in Pennsylvania and elsewhere are among the oldest archeological sites of their kind in all the Americas.”

Having done many of these speaker series, Adovasio enjoys being a part of them.

“It gives you the opportunity of doing two things,” said Adovasio. “Finding out the state of the field, in another area. I get to learn how they do things and how they operate. You have the opportunity to meet other professionals and students from other areas who are engaged in this or related lines of research and it gets you out of Erie in the dead of winter.”

Adovasio will speak at the University of Albany on Friday, Oct. 14, and the University of Central Florida on Friday, March 30. His topic is “The Invisible Sex: Some Thoughts on the Role of Women in Prehistory.”