UCR Historian Launches Archaeological Society

Fall events begin Oct. 19 and include archaeological fairs in Redlands and Riverside

Parthenon

The Parthenon is an icon of Western civilization. Photo courtesy Craig Lesh

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A series of events aimed at increasing local interest in archaeology will be held in Riverside and Redlands this fall, organized by UC Riverside history professor Denver Graninger.

Graninger is working to establish a local society of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), the oldest and largest organization in North America devoted to archaeology. The nonprofit group, founded in 1879 and chartered by Congress in 1906, has more than 200,000 members in local societies in the United States.

“AIA is unique in that it brings together professional archaeologists, scholars and the lay public,” Graninger explained. The mission of the local society is to organize events that support archaeological research and fieldwork; educate peers, students, and the interested public about archaeology; advocate for the preservation of archaeological sites around the world as part of our shared cultural heritage; and celebrate the rich archaeology and innovative archaeologists in Inland Southern California.

Denver Graninger

Denver Graninger

The first fall event, an archaeology fair, will be held on Saturday, Oct. 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Statistical Research Inc., 21 W. Stuart Ave., Redlands. The fair, which will celebrate International Archaeology Day, will feature a tour of a working archaeology lab , artifacts from historic and pre-contact California and Iron Age Jordan, a chance to make reproductions of ancient pottery, and conversations with archaeologists from California Archaeological Site, California State University campuses in Los Angeles and San Bernardino, Claremont Graduate School, University of Redlands, Heritage Education Programs and Statistical Research Inc. The event is free and open to the public.

On Sunday, Nov. 3, La Sierra University in Riverside will host a meeting of the Riverside and Inland Southern California and Orange County local societies and tour of the Center for Near Eastern Archaeology from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The AIA Local Society-Riverside and Inland Southern California will co-sponsor the fifth annual Archaeology Discovery Weekend at La Sierra University Nov. 16-17.  The event will focus on Jerusalem and will include lectures by internationally recognized archaeologists on various aspects of the history and archaeology of Jerusalem, hands-in labs and a workshop for teachers. Complete program information is available at www.lasierra.edu/archaeology. The event is open to the public, and most activities are free.

Future events will address archaeology-related topics from around the world.

Craig Lesh working at a dig

Craig Lesh, co-organizer of the AIA Local Society, excavates at a dig in the ghost town of Aurora, Nev.

Despite the depiction of archaeologists in media as treasure hunters or forensic scientists solving grisly crimes, archaeology requires patience and persistence to uncover evidence that illuminates life in the ancient and not-so-distant past, Graninger said.

“For me it’s a tangible connection, the ability to be in the presence of the past in a way that you can’t when you’re reading a book or in a museum thousands of miles away from where materials discovered. It’s about feeling that connection to the present,” he explained.

An assistant professor of history at UCR, Graninger said his research experience is in the ancient Mediterranean world, Greece in particular.

“In Greece you have a whole body of literary sources that tell us about intellectual life and drill down into social and political institutions,” he said. “What gets missed is the actual substance of life. What archaeology can do is give us a sense of how domestic space was ordered and used, how they stored food, how they cooked and ate. If they were engaged in a cult, what kind of animals were they using, what method of sacrifice. These are the type of things you can’t get to in literary texts.”

More information about the AIA Local Society – Riverside and Inland Southern California and its events is available at www.aiariverside.ucr.edu and www.facebook.com/aiariverside, or by emailing Graninger at denver.graninger@ucr.edu.

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Denver Graninger
E-mail: denver.graninger@ucr.edu

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