Democracy, Ancient and Modern!

A roundtable discussion
“The Idea of Democracy, A 2,600-year-old Experiment: Success or Failure?”
Thursday, September 29, 2016, 7:00 p.m.
Duke Auditorium, Olin Hall, Room 124

The eve of the 2016 presidential election is an appropriate time to consider the “Big Picture” of the state of our democracy. In popular American discourse “democracy” is understood as a natural or inevitable political condition and other forms of social contracts – socialism, communism, monarchy, oligarchy, etc. – are mistrusted and viewed as inferior. However, when examining the long span of human history we see that democracy, far from being natural or inevitable, is a relatively rare form of government and one which has yet to prove its long-term sustainability. In this colloquium, three speakers will describe the “state of democracy” in three specific contexts – Ancient Athens in the 5th century B.C., the American Colonies in the late 18th century A.D., and the contemporary United States. Who was empowered with a vote in these contexts? What was the driving ideology in place? What was the interplay between politics and the economy in each of these places? By stepping away from our preconceived ideas of democracy as a natural, inevitable, and ideal form of government, we are perhaps better able to see its evolutionary trajectory from ancient to modern times and to predict the future of this still experimental form of human social contract.

Ancient Athenian Democracy: Dr. Evi Gorogianni, Anthropology & Classical Studies
Early American Democracy: Dr. Gina Martino, History
Modern American Democracy: Dr. John Green, Political Science
Moderator: Mr. Larry Tucker, Law

For questions, please contact Dr. Timothy Matney (, 330-972-6892

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Come hear about Bog Bodies! May 24, 6:00-7:30pm.

Here is one for your summer calendar: an upcoming event at the Akron-Summit County Public Library about a recent popular real-life thriller all about ancient “bog bodies” written by Miranda Aldhouse-Green. The discussion will be led by University of Akron archaeology student Joshua Murphy and recent graduate Stephanie Stanley. Enjoy!


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Wallrodt talk

Wallrodt Flyer

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Digital Humanities lecture on March 10th.

I am pleased to announce our next spring lecture on Thursday, March 10, 2016 at 7:00pm in the Folk Hall Auditorium at the University of Akron. Our speaker is John Wallrodt, a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Classics at the University of Cincinnati who will talk about “First Impressions: Paperless Archaeology and Digital Humanities in the 21st Century”.

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Shott talk.

Shott Flyer

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Successful roundtable on Archaeology, ISIS, and World Heritage.

On October 29, the AIA Akron-Kent Society and Muslim Students Association co-sponsored a very successful roundtable discussion on archaeology, ISIS, and the destruction of world heritage. Four presenters offered perspectives from different perspectives. Lawyer Larry Tucker (above, right) explained the legal protections that regulate the trafficking in antiquities, and the problems associated with enforcing international agreements. Amal Almahd (above, left), president of the Muslim Students Association, provided a personal, religious, and cultural assessment of the meaning and motivations behind ISIS’s attacks on archaeological monuments. Archaeologist Timothy Matney discussed the use of ancient sites and materials as both raw materials and as powerful symbols used to support the political motivations of ISIS. Historian Janet Klein (above, center) provided an historical perspective on the sources of tension and conflict of the region since Ottoman times. An enthusiastic audience of over 100 people participated in the discussion, moderated by Mr. Tucker. It was a thoughtful evening about a difficult subject. Thanks to all for participating.

Also, thanks to Klansee Stevens for the photographs!

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Fall membership discounts – it’s a great time to join.

The AIA is now offering membership discounts through the end of the year – $10 off on annual dues, which includes six copies of Archaeology magazine. So, a regular membership is now $60. Students, K-12 educators, and active duty military personnel can get a membership for $30. You can sign up on-line at the AIA website or contact Dr. Matney for a coupon that you can mail in with a membership brochure. In either case, make sure you indicate that your local society is the “Akron-Kent Society”.

Holiday shopping is right around the corner, why not get the perfect gift for family and friends who love archaeology and the study of the ancient world?

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Coverage of the Sumerian Beer Feast on NPR

NPR’s Vivian Goodman at WKSU-FM has just released a short audio piece covering our Sumerian Beer Feast on her “Quick Bites” program. It will play several times today. You can also hear the audio on Facebook at:
Thanks for the great publicity, Vivian!

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Upcoming event on ISIS and archaeology.

ISIS PosterSmall

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A Successful Fundraiser.

“I will summon brewers and cupbearers
To serve us floods of beer and keep it passing round!
What pleasure! What delight!
Blissfully to take it in,
To sing jubilantly of this noble liquor,
Our hearts enchanted and our souls radiant!”
— Sumerian drinking song

On evening of Thursday, October 8th, the Akron-Kent Society of the AIA held its not-quite-annual fundraiser. Our theme this year was “A Sumerian Beer Feast” and the feast capped off a week of beer-related activities including Dr. Christine Hastorf’s lecture on the archaeology of beer and a tour and tasting at the Thirsty Dog Brewery discussed in earlier posts.

The Sumerian Beer Feast program included wonderful musical entertainment by harpist Francesca Indorf (below, left) of the Watercolors Trio, a dramatic modern rendition of a segment of the ancient Gilgamesh Epic by Justin Hale (below, right) of the New World Performance Laboratory, and a brief presentation on the importance of food, feasting, and beer globally by Dr. Isa Rodriguez-Soto of the UA Department of Anthropology and Classical Studies.


The food for the feast was prepared by UA student chefs under the watchful eye of their mentor Ken Diederich. The menu was fantastic and everyone ate their share of the expertly-prepared dishes inspired by ancient ingredients and recipes. The fare included an ancient grain salad with barley, bulgar, and lentils, a lamb and carob stew, pigeon with herbs, roasted root vegetables, barley porridge, fruits and cheese. We were all happy Sumerians after that feast!


In order to celebrate in appropriate style, we had two beers on tap for the evening, one was a pre-Prohibition style beer and the other was a Mayan beer, both from the Thirsty Dog Brewery in Akron. While we didn’t follow any ancient recipe in preparing the beer, we did attempt to get at the communal nature of drinking the beer. Guests were offered the chance to drink their beer from shared Sumerian-inspired beer-pots made by KSU graduate student Michelle Bebber employing copper straws, in the ancient fashion. The beer drinking sets were then auctioned off as part of the fundraiser — a few lucky people went home with a truly unique gift.

In the end, we raised enough funds to cover our program costs for the year and a good time was had by all. Many thanks to those who volunteered their time and energy and helped in putting together the Sumerian Beer Feast and making it memorable. Also thanks to Klansee Stevens for the photographs shown here of our successful fundraiser.

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