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Jeffrey H. Altschul – “Using the Past as a Bridge to the Future”

November 16 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm MST (Arizona)

There is a rising call for science to confront head-on problems facing society. Discussing the COVID-19 pandemic, Marcia McNutt (2020), President of the National Academy of Sciences, stated simply “Society is depending on science to deliver us from this health, social, and economic crisis.” She went on to argue that science needs to be actionable—provide results to policy makers in a timely and understandable manner—and strategic—focused not just on the immediate crisis but the long term. Many sciences have answered this call through interdisciplinary, collaborative synthetic research. 

What about archaeology? Are we satisfied keeping our focus on explaining the past, or do we have something to contribute to contemporary debates on climate change, migration, social inequality, disease, food security, and other topics? In this lecture, I will describe a new initiative—the Coalition for Archaeological Synthesis (CfAS)—that leverages the immense amount of archaeological data now available with the diversity of experience and expertise embodied within the archaeological community. CfAS strives to examine aspects of contemporary issues that are the result of long-term social dynamics that go undetected or under-analyzed by studies based on contemporary observations or data of shallow time depth. Approached through collaborative, synthetic research, I will argue that the archaeological record has much to offer as we confront the challenges ahead.

Speaker Jeff Altschul has been involved in heritage management for more than 45 years through a variety of consultancies and NGOs. He is currently President of the SRI Foundation and co-President of the Coalition for Archaeological Synthesis. He also is a former President of the Society for American Archaeology and the Register of Professional Archaeologists, and a proud former AAHS board member.

Suggested Readings:

Coalition for Archaeological Synthesis website www.archsynth.org/
Altschul, Jeffrey H., Keith W. Kintigh, Mark Aldenderfer, Elise Alonzi, Ian Armit, Juan Antonio Barceló, Christopher S. Beekman, Penny Bickle, Douglas W. Bird, Scott E. Ingram, Elena Isayev, Andrew W. Kandel, Rachael Kiddey,Hélène Timpoko Kienon-Kaboré, Franco Niccolucci, Corey S. Ragsdale, Beth K. Scaffidi, and Scott G. Ortman
2020     To understand how migrations affect human securities, look to the past. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Vol.

Keith W. Kintigh, Terry H. Klein, William H. Doelle, Kelley A. Hays-Gilpin, Sarah A. Herr,Timothy A. Kohler, Barbara J. Mills, Lindsay M. Montgomery, Margaret C. Nelson, Scott G. Ortman, John N. Parker, Matthew A. Peeples, and Jeremy A. Sabloff
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Vol doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1715950114


November 16
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm MST
Event Category:


via Zoom


Paul Minnis