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National Archaeology Week

16 – 22 May, 2021
The Chau Chak Wing Museum presents a series of talks, lectures and panels to celebrate National Archaeology Week 2021.

Trowel on dig site

Lunchtime archaeology talks

Stavros Paspalas, Annie Clarke, Roland Fletcher, Richard Miles, Alison Betts

17 – 21 May, 12pm

Join us for a series of lunchtime talks featuring archaeologists speaking about their archaeological fieldwork and research projects from around the planet to get a global perspective on archaeology in the 21st century. 

Nelson Meers Foundation Auditorium 
Registration essential

Zagora: Life in an Early Iron Age Greek Town (900-700 BC)

The Early Iron Age settlement of Zagora on the Greek island of Andros never ceases to surprise. Zagora reached its peak in the ninth and eighth centuries BC, a period of critical importance in the development of the Aegean, and more widely the Mediterranean. The settlement was located on busy sea lanes which connected this central region of the Greek world with networks that reached well beyond it. Unlike most other contemporary Greek settlements Zagora is exceptionally well preserved as its inhabitants left c. 700 BC and the site remained largely unencumbered thereafter. Australian excavations since the 1960's have provided unrivalled insights in to how the Zagoreans lived their lives during this formative period. Stavros will outline the major findings of the earlier Australian excavations as well as fieldwork conducted since 2012.

Stavros Paspalas is Director of Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens, University of Sydney. Dr Paspalas is a co-director of the Zagora Archaeological Project, and has worked on the excavations at Torone as well as the Australian Paliochora Kythera Archaeological Survey for many years. His research interests include the Greek world’s links with Lydia and the Achaemenid Empire, the archaeology of the northern Aegean during the Archaic and Classical periods, and the Early Iron Age Aegean.

Archaeology on Groote Eylandt

Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria is home to the Anindilyakwa-speaking and has been the centre of research by Annie Clarke for more than three decades. She has particularly focused research on paintings of Macassan praus in Aboriginal Australian rock art. In recent years, she has returned to Groot Eylandt where she has been working with the local community to develop educational programs, repatriation protocols and future archaeological research projects. Here Annie will speak on her work and the processes of collaborating with the local community, and the practice of community archaeology and ‘knowledge repatriation’.

Annie Clarke is Professor of Archaeology and Heritage Studies at the University of Sydney. Annie's research interests include the archaeology of Arnhem Land, the archaeology of cross-cultural engagement and colonialism, rock art and mark-making practices, ethnographic collections and objects, community archaeology, narrative and archaeology and heritage.

Angkor, Interdisciplinary Research and Urban Risk

Angkor, the vast low-density Khmer capital founded in the 7 to 8th century CE, was largely abandoned some time in the past 500 years. The processes, rate and period of its demise can now be better understood through the relationship between its infrastructure, the economy and the changing climate of the 14th-15th century CE. In this presentation Roland will examine the structure of Angkor’s social and spatial organisation; the way the urban complex operated; and its environment to diagnose why, when and how it was abandoned and to reveal the transformations from the 7th to 19th centuries that created the modern landscape out of 3000 years of cultural continuity.

Roland Fletcher is Professor of Theoretical and World Archaeology at the University of Sydney. Roland’s fields of expertise are the theory and philosophy of archaeology, the study of settlement growth and decline and the analysis of large-scale cultural phenomena over time. In 1995 he published ‘The Limits of Settlement Growth: a theoretical outline’ - an analysis of the past 15,000 years of settlement-growth and decline. Roland is the instigator of the Greater Angkor Project, which began in 1999 and is part of a major, collaborative, interdisciplinary research program by the University of Sydney.

Local Boy made Good: The late Roman Imperial Villa at Glac

This talk focuses on the vast imperial villa site at Glac, located just outside the late Roman imperial capital of Sirmium, which is currently being excavated by the Pannonia Project of the University of Sydney.

After outlining the extraordinary transformation of the site from rural villa to imperial pleasure palace in the late third century AD, it will be argued that the Glac site and similar imperial villa sites across the Balkans underline the importance of local identity for the Tetrarchs who ruled the Roman Empire during this period.

Richard Miles is Professor of Roman History and Archaeology, the Research Director, Ancient North Africa Research Network and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education - Enterprise and Engagement) at the University of Sydney. Richard is a specialist in Roman and Carthaginian history and has directed excavations in Carthage and Rome. Richard is the author of a number of books on the ancient world including ‘Carthage Must Be Destroyed’, and ‘Ancient Worlds: the Search for Western Civilisation’ and has additionally written and hosted a number of television documentaries including 'Carthage, the Roman Holocaust', 'Ancient Worlds' and 'Archaeology: a Secret History’.

Holding Hands with Heaven: Kingship and the Gods in Ancient Chorasmia

Among the Red Sands, the Kizilkum Desert, along the ancient Oxus River, the once lost land of Chorasmia has been yielding up extraordinary secrets to the archaeologist's trowel. This talk will focus on Akchakhan-kala, an ancient royal seat of the kings of Chorasmia, early converts to Mazdaism and sponsors of one of the most magnificent corpora of ancient art yet uncovered in Central Asia.

Alison Betts holds the Edwin Cuthbert Hall Chair of the Archaeology and Mythology of the Ancient Near East at the University of Sydney. Alison specialises in the archaeology of the lands along the Silk Roads from the Near East to China, especially nomadic peoples. Alison runs major field projects in Uzbekistan and Xinjiang and works closely with the Kabul Museum in Afghanistan and has research affiliations in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Kashmir.

Coffin being CT scanned. Photo by John Magnussen, Courtesy Macquarie Medical Imaging and Chau Chak Wing Museum, University of Sydney.

Can archaeological science save the world? Joining the dots…between past and present

Professor Keith Dobney, University of Sydney

Thursday 20 May, 6.30pm

The discipline of archaeology has long been recognised as a canvas for interdisciplinary endeavours. From hard theory to hard science, the questions we ask of the past can be addressed through a plethora of methods, techniques and approaches, using a myriad of evidence, materials and datasets. 

Over the course of his own career, Professor Keith Dobney has developed methodologies for using archaeological science to inform interdisciplinary responses to ‘real-world’ issues, including cultural resilience, nature conservation, livestock improvement in the Horn of Africa, anti-microbial resistance, obesity and even predicting back pain. This talk explores some of these examples with an emphasis on the vital role of museum collections in archaeological science.

Attend in-person
Nelson Meers Foundation Auditorium 
Register to attend in-person 

Attend online
A Zoom link will be provided prior to the event 
Register to attend online

Dig site

Can you dig it? 

Panel discussion

Saturday 22 May, 2pm

Dr Craig Barker’s monthly on ABC Radio program Can you dig it? discusses the latest archaeological news and research. Join us for this one-off event as Craig and a panel of experts dissect topical archaeological discoveries and theories from around the globe.  

Attend in-person
Nelson Meers Foundation Auditorium 
Register to attend in-person 

Attend online
A Zoom link will be provided prior to the event 
Register to attend online


Featured image (top of page): Coffin being CT scanned. Photo by John Magnussen, Courtesy Macquarie Medical Imaging and Chau Chak Wing Museum, University of Sydney.