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Geological Lecture Hall

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24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
617-496-1027

February 2017

Sacred Nation: Chinese Museums and the Legacy of Empire

February 23, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
Free

The official Chinese view of China’s history and national identity has been transformed in recent decades from a tale of revolutionary class struggle into a story of ancient and unbroken national and imperial glory. This shift can be discerned in both new and restored Chinese museums and memorial sites commemorating recent and past heroes. Magnus Fiskesjö will discuss the current boom in China’s "culture industry" and what it tells us about changes in Chinese conceptions of national and cultural identity.

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March 2017

Tiny Conspiracies: Cell-to-Cell Communication in Bacteria

March 2, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
Free

Harmful bacteria have the capacity to kill humans, animals, and plants, while beneficial bacteria play a vital role in keeping them alive. How do these small organisms accomplish such big tasks? Working in groups, bacteria are able to communicate using a cell-to-cell chemical communication process called “quorum sensing,” enabling them to synchronize behavior on a population-wide scale. Bassler will discuss how quorum sensing works and describe the cutting-edge medical therapies being developed to combat bacterial diseases by interfering with this…

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Biology of Consciousness: William James to Richard Schultes and Beyond

March 6, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
Free

How do biological and cultural forces shape the development of consciousness? In this interdisciplinary dialogue, Brian Farrell and Davíd Carrasco will draw on the work of two earlier Harvard professors—psychologist William James and ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes—to consider whether culture is fundamentally biological, or whether the biology of consciousness is shaped by experience. The speakers will reflect on James’ “religious propensities” and Schultes’ study of psychoactive substances among Indigenous peoples in exploring the biological and cultural doors of perception.

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Tiny Cells, Global Impact: A Journey of Discovery with a Microbe from the Sea

March 15, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
Free

Phytoplankton–microscopic photosynthetic cells–form the base of ocean food webs. They are responsible for half the photosynthesis on Earth and thus play a central role in our planet’s metabolism. Discovered only three decades ago, Prochlorococcus is the smallest and most abundant member of the phytoplankton, manufacturing billions of tons of living biomass each year. Sallie Chisholm will discuss how this tiny microbe has helped scientists to understand the forces that shape ecosystems and to appreciate their genetic diversity.

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Fabricating the Authentic: Presenting Anthropology at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition

March 21, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
Free

Frederic Ward Putnam, one of the Peabody Museum’s earliest directors, played a key role in establishing anthropology as a scholarly field. He was also a driving force behind the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where he aimed to present authentic exhibits about Indigenous cultures. His vision, however, was compromised by both the Exposition’s administration, which framed the exhibition of Indigenous people as entertaining freak shows, and by “friends of the Indian,” who wanted to show their “progress” toward civilization.…

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Networking the Ocean: Using Technology to Study Real-Time, In Situ Marine Processes

March 23, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
Free

Studying complex deep-sea processes is a challenging task, but a new network of robotic sensors installed in some of the most remote ocean areas promises to revolutionize ocean science and education. John Delaney will discuss the development of this network and how it enables real-time interdisciplinary research on once-inaccessible natural phenomena in the world's oceans, such as migration patterns, erupting volcanoes, undersea earthquakes, and storms. Understanding these environmental phenomena makes it possible to analyze their impact on the evolution of…

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Piltdown Man, the Missing Link: Exposing the Motives and Methods behind a 100-Year-Old Hoax

March 27, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
Free

In 1912, British paleontologist Arthur Smith Woodward and amateur antiquarian Charles Dawson announced the discovery of a hominin in Sussex, England, thought to be a possible “missing link” between apes and humans. Referred to as Piltdown Man, the find made headlines, but ultimately turned out to be one of the most infamous scientific frauds of all time. Christopher Dean will discuss the history of the hoax, the modus operandi of the forger, and why Piltdown Man continues to be studied…

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April 2017

Lemurs: Endangered Gardeners of Madagascar’s Rainforests

April 4, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
Free

Many plant species in Madagascar’s highly diverse forests have fruits that are eaten by lemurs, a primate group native to Madagascar. Lemurs disperse the seeds of these plants throughout the forest with their scat. This seed dispersal process plays a crucial role in the survival of the island’s plant species, the maintenance of high plant diversity, and the integrity of the forest ecosystem. Onja Razafindratsima will discuss the role and impact of lemur seed dispersal on plants in Madagascar’s rainforests…

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Museums in Tanzania: History, Transformation, and Impact

April 6, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
Free

Tanzania has a record of more than three million years of human history and diversity, including fossil remains, footprints, and stone toolkits of early humans and hominin ancestors, from sites such as Laetoli, Olduvai Gorge, and Peninj. The National Museum of Tanzania supports the preservation of the country’s rich natural and cultural diversity through scientific research, education, and public outreach programs. Audax Mabulla will discuss the history of the museum and the innovative policy changes it is implementing to promote…

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Anxieties about Race in Egyptology and Egyptomania, 1890–1960

April 6, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
Free

Despite ideals of scientific and scholarly objectivity, both Egyptologists and non-specialists have often projected their own racial anxieties onto ancient Egypt. Recurrent attempts to prove that the ancient Egyptians were white or black, for example, reveal more about modern societies than about ancient Egypt. Donald Reid will discuss the history of how such debates have played out among Western and modern Egyptian scholars, artists, and writers, and how interpretations of ancient Egypt are intertwined with personal values.

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Seeing and Seeing through Museum Exhibits: Lessons from Cape Town and Washington, D.C.

April 25, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free

How do implicit understandings and assumptions about race and ethnicity become embedded in museum exhibitions? How can museums and exhibitions reproduce, challenge, or help transform those understandings and other “rhetorics of value”? Corinne Kratz will use recent exhibitions in Cape Town, South Africa, and Washington, D.C., to consider these questions, examining components such as exhibition content and design, and reviewing particular historical moments that have brought these questions to the fore.

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September 2017

Inside the Tombs of Saqqara: The Ancient Egyptian Burial Site Revealed

September 28, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public

The pyramids and tombs of Saqqara served as the cemetery for the ancient Egyptian capital, Memphis. Recent excavations south of the pyramid of King Unas have revealed a significant embalming workshop containing a unique set of measuring cups and bowls. These are inscribed with the names of oils and substances used in mummification. Ramadan Hussein will talk about this discovery and its significance to understanding ancient Egyptian funerary rituals.

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October 2017

Divine Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt

October 12, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

The relationship between humans and animals is complex, with mutual dependencies that are practical, psychological, and even theological. Ancient Egyptian animal mummies are a particular manifestation of this web of interrelations. Salima Ikram will discuss different types of Egyptian animal mummies and explain how and why they were made, the theological and aesthetic decisions that went into their “packaging,” and what each type meant to the ancient Egyptians. She will also illustrate how animal mummies shape perceptions of ancient Egypt…

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The Art and Artistry of Wallace Chan

October 24, 2017 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Wallace Chan is known internationally for his exceptional work as a jewelry artist and innovator. Gemstones have been the focus of his life for over forty years since becoming a gemstone-carving apprentice at age sixteen. His innovations have included the use of titanium in jewelry creation, the invention of a patented jadeite thinning and luminosity-enhancing technology, and the use of unique gemstone settings without metal claws. In this presentation, Wallace Chan will share the philosophies, inspirations, emotions, and processes behind…

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November 2017

The David Rockefeller Beetle Collection

November 6, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

At the heart of every great collection, be it art, books, or specimens, lies the soul of a passionate collector. David Rockefeller had a passion for beetles and collected more than 150,000 specimens, beginning as a seven-year-old naturalist and continuing throughout his life. This fall, his collection arrives at Harvard, where it will be housed at the Museum of Comparative Zoology. Brian Farrell will discuss the development of the collection and its significance to understanding Earth’s biodiversity.

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Egypt’s Old Kingdom: The Latest Discoveries at Abusir South

November 14, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Abusir, the “Place of Osiris,” is a necropolis (burial site) near the Old Kingdom’s city of Memphis, known for its pyramids and sun temples. In this lecture, Miroslav Bárta will provide a comprehensive look at the latest archaeological discoveries at Abusir, dating from different periods of the Old Kingdom (2700–2200 BCE). These individual discoveries shed new light on general processes that led to the rise and eventual decline of the Old Kingdom, the first territorial state in human history.

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The Juno Mission to Jupiter: Unraveling the Secrets of a Giant Planet

November 28, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Jupiter, the largest planet orbiting the sun, remains a profound mystery. In 2011, NASA launched the Juno mission spacecraft to explore the composition, inner structure, origin, and evolution of this giant planet. In July 2016, Juno entered Jupiter’s orbit. Jeremy Bloxham, co-investigator on the Juno mission, will draw on his role in studying Jupiter’s magnetic field and discuss why learning about Jupiter is so relevant to understanding the early history of our solar system and the conditions in which Earth…

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“Let the Indian Paint His Own Picture”: Alice Fletcher and Cultural Representation Paradoxes

November 30, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Peabody anthropologist Alice Fletcher researched and advocated for Native Americans at a time of massive threats to their cultures. Her approaches to advocacy prefigured by a century the dialogic turn that brought about joint creation of cultural representations by anthropologists and the communities they study. She supported Native rights, but also promoted a now-discredited “civilization” agenda. Robert Baron will compare Fletcher’s approaches to those of contemporary public folklorists who equip communities to research and present their own traditions. His lecture…

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December 2017

The Search for the True Chianti

December 1, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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$20

For most of the twentieth century, the name Chianti brought to mind a generic Italian red table wine in a straw-covered flask, rather than evoking the storied wine region in the heart of Tuscany. Bill Nesto and Frances Di Savino, co-authors of Chianti Classico: The Search for Tuscany’s Noblest Wine, will share the story of their quest to discover the true Chianti. They will describe the evolution of Chianti as a wine region with historic, cultural, and geographic complexity, then…

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All the World Is Here: Anthropology on Display at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair

December 6, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago was the first American fair to feature anthropology. The new discipline had its own building, supervised by Frederic Putnam, director of Harvard University’s Peabody Museum. It competed, however, with another anthropology display organized by the Smithsonian Institution. Ira Jacknis will discuss how these exhibits offered competing versions of cultural reality, and he will trace anthropological display innovations that have become standard museum practice.

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February 2018

New Discoveries at Wadi al-Jarf

February 12, 2018 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Located along the Egyptian coast of the Red Sea, Wadi al-Jarf is considered the oldest known harbor in the world. This exceptional 4,600-year-old site dates to the beginning of the Fourth Dynasty, the “golden age” of ancient Egypt. In this free and public lecture presented by the Harvard Semitic Museum, Gregory Marouard, Research Associate in Egyptian Archaeology at the University of Chicago, will discuss recent archaeological excavations at Wadi al-Jarf, including the discovery of hundreds of papyrus fragments that provide…

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March 2018

Ancient Egypt in Africa: New Excavations at the Island Fortress of Uronarti

March 19, 2018 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Ancient Egyptian kings conquered Lower Nubia—today northern Sudan—nearly 4,000 years ago, defending it with a string of monumental fortresses along the Nile River. Previously thought lost, when the construction of the Aswan High Dam flooded the area, one fortress, known as Uronarti, was recently rediscovered and is being excavated for the first time since George Reisner’s Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition worked there in the early twentieth century. In this free and public lecture presented by the Harvard…

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November 2018

Photographing Tutankhamun: How the Camera Helped Create “King Tut”

November 7, 2018 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Christina Riggs, Professor of the History of Art and Archaeology, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom When Howard Carter found the sealed entrance to Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922, he secured the services of archaeological photographer Harry Burton to document the site. Over the course of ten years, Burton produced more than 3,000 glass negatives of the tomb, its contents, and the many people—including Egyptian men, women, and children—who participated in the excavation. Christina Riggs will discuss how Burton’s photography helped…

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Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past

November 8, 2018 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free

David Reich, Professor, Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Senior Associate Member, Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT Sweeping technological innovations in the field of genomics are enabling scientists to extract and analyze ancient DNA—genetic material from human remains dating back up to hundreds of thousands of years—as never before. This research is revealing new insights into our lineage as modern humans and has become as important as archaeology, linguistics, and the written word in…

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Origins of the Green Revolution: Hybrid Seeds, Hunger, and Mexico-India Cooperation

November 14, 2018 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Gabriela Soto Laveaga, Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University As a devastating famine gripped India and Pakistan in 1966, a cargo of hybrid wheat seeds from Mexico arrived one fateful day on India’s coast. The seeds were first planted across the Punjab region using new agricultural methods, including intensive fertilizers and irrigation. The crop’s high yield surprised farmers and helped save many from hunger that year. Gabriela Soto Laveaga will talk about the origins of these hybrid seeds,…

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The Ghosts of Gombe

November 29, 2018 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Dale Peterson, Author On July 12, 1969, Ruth Davis, a young American volunteer at Dr. Jane Goodall’s research site in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, left camp to follow a chimpanzee into the forest. Six days later, her body was found floating at the base of a high waterfall. What happened? Drawing on his recent book, The Ghosts of Gombe, Dale Peterson will delve into the full story of day-to-day life at Gombe during the months preceding Ruth’s death. These…

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December 2018

The Hunt for Human Nature in Cold War America

December 6, 2018 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free

Erika Milam, Professor of History, Princeton University After World War II, evolutionary scientists began rethinking their views on humanity’s past. What if human history was not merely a cooperative struggle against a harsh environment? What if violence and war were normal states of existence, punctuated by brief moments of peace? These are the questions Erika Lorraine Milam explores in her new book, Creatures of Cain: The Hunt for Human Nature in Cold War America. She will discuss how anthropologists and…

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February 2019

Traces and Tracks: Journeys with the San

February 13, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Paul Weinberg, Photographer For nearly three decades, Paul Weinberg has traveled to Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa to document the lives of hunter-gatherer communities, the San (Africa’s first people), and their struggles to hang on to their land, culture, and values as they faced serious threats by outside settlers. Weinberg will discuss his book Traces and Tracks (2017, Jacana Media), the culmination of his thirty-year journey, featuring essays and over 100 photographs that convey the modern-day San’s daily lives, their…

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Designing Living Things

February 14, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Christina Agapakis, Creative Director, Ginkgo Bioworks Biology can be a design medium: scientists can now “write” DNA and manipulate microbial behavior. In the future, they could also reshape entire ecosystems. Christina Agapakis is a synthetic biologist, writer, and artist who collaborates with engineers, designers, artists, and social scientists to explore the many unexpected connections between microbiology, technology, art, and popular culture. In this lecture, she will discuss current and potential uses of biotechnology in various fields from agriculture and medicine…

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The Amazonian Travels of Richard Evans Schultes

February 20, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Mark Plotkin, Co-Founder and President of the Amazon Conservation Team Brian Hettler, GIS and New Technologies Manager of the Amazon Conservation Team Richard Evans Schultes—ethnobotanist, taxonomist, writer, photographer, and Harvard professor—is regarded as one of the most important plant explorers of the twentieth century. In 1941, Schultes traveled to the Amazon rainforest on a mission to study how Indigenous peoples used plants for medicinal, ritual, and practical purposes. A new interactive online map, produced by the Amazon Conservation Team, traces…

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Magic and Demonology in Ancient Egypt

February 21, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Rita Lucarelli, Assistant Professor of Egyptology, Department of Near Eastern Studies; Assistant Curator of Egyptology, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley Ancient Egyptian texts and objects associated with funerary rituals often include references to “magic” and “demons.” Rita Lucarelli will look at how these concepts were defined and used in ancient Egypt, with a special focus on the roles that demons played in magical practices and spells. Through an examination of textual and material sources produced…

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Evolution Matters: David Quammen and Carl Zimmer

February 28, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

David Quammen, Author and Journalist Carl Zimmer, Author and New York Times Columnist Celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Evolution Matters Lecture Series, two of the world’s best-known science writers will engage in a lively and wide-ranging conversation. From a discussion of their latest books on heredity and the history of life on Earth to the story of how two English majors became award-winning practitioners of scientific non-fiction, they will explore the most important idea in biology—evolution. David Quammen is…

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March 2019

Making the Earth and Moon

March 5, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Rebecca A. Fischer, Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University Earth formed 4.5 billion years ago in a series of giant collisions between other planetary bodies, the last of which produced the Moon. The fingerprints of this process can be seen in the chemical compositions of Earth and the Moon, which are remarkably similar. Mathematical models of Earth’s growth, the Moon’s formation, and their evolution to form metallic cores with rocky mantles and crusts…

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The Care of Foreigners: Immigrant Physicians and the U.S. Health Care System

March 12, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Eram Alam, Assistant Professor of History of Science, Harvard University In 1965, the United States invited thousands of physicians from other countries to fill vacancies that could not be filled with American doctors. While this strategy was meant to be a short-term solution, it became a permanent feature of the U.S. health care system. Today, one quarter of practicing doctors in the U.S. are international medical graduates. Eram Alam will discuss the sociopolitical circumstances that encouraged physician migration to the…

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Art and Science Converge in the Deep Sea

March 14, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Lily Simonson, Painter Peter R. Girguis, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University Lily Simonson and Peter Girguis exemplify the long tradition of artists and scientists working in tandem to explore new worlds—in their case, the magnificent deep sea. Simonson will discuss how the immersive, glowing canvases in her current exhibition at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Lily Simonson: Painting the Deep, have been shaped by collaborations with scientists—whether exploring the depths of the ocean in a submersible…

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Ancient Egyptian Gardens

March 27, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Christian E. Loeben, Egyptologist and Keeper of Egyptian and Islamic Arts, Museum August Kestner, Hanover, Germany The oldest documented gardens in the world are from ancient Egypt. Gardens were described in hieroglyphic texts and depicted in paintings, and many have been recovered through archaeology. From these sources we know that ancient Egyptians maintained gardens at temples and tombs, as well as at royal palaces and local residences. Drawing on comparisons among paintings of gardens from over fifty Egyptian tombs and…

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Viruses: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

March 28, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Paul Turner, Elihu Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Microbiology Program Faculty Member, Yale University Viruses are the tiniest but most numerous inhabitants of Earth. Although notorious for causing deadly epidemics, not all viruses are bad. Many are beneficial to their hosts and several play key roles in maintaining the health of ecosystems. Paul Turner will discuss the “good, bad, and ugly” effects of viruses, from how they invade organisms and wreak havoc in biological systems to how they…

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April 2019

Living with White Sharks

April 2, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Gregory Skomal, Program Manager and Senior Scientist, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries The Cape Cod white shark population has increased in recent years in response to the dramatic increase in the seal population. Shark sightings—some close to popular swimming and surfing beaches—are becoming more frequent and negative interactions between sharks and humans have become a real concern. Gregory Skomal has studied and tracked white sharks in the Atlantic for more than 30 years. In this lecture, he will examine the…

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Indigenous and Black Communities in Contemporary Brazil: Intolerance and Racism

April 8, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

João Pacheco de Oliveira, Professor of Anthropology, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and Curator of the Ethnology Collections, National Museum of Brazil Anthropologist João Pacheco de Oliveira will discuss the Brazilian government’s policy for indigenous and black communities known as “pacification.” Drawing from his award-winning book, O Nascimento do Brasil e outros ensaios (Contra Capa, 2016), he offers an alternative interpretation of Brazilian history from the viewpoint of its native peoples. Using ethnographic comparisons between indigenous groups and…

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Self-Domestication in Bonobos and Other Wild Animals

April 9, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Richard Wrangham, Ruth Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology, Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University Domesticated animals such as dogs, pigs, and horses often sport floppy ears, patches of white hair, and other features that are unknown in their wild ancestors. These traits—collectively referred to by scientists as a “domestication syndrome”—are the result of breeding less aggressive individuals. Drawing from his new book, The Goodness Paradox (2019, Pantheon Books), Richard Wrangham will show that our cousin apes, the bonobos, also…

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Chasing Ants (And Their Microbes) in the Rainforest

April 10, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Corrie Moreau, Moser Professor of Arthropod Biosystematics and Biodiversity, Cornell University Microbes play critical roles in the biology and health of human beings, but we are not the only species that benefits from intimate relationships with microbes. Ants, for instance, rely on the microbial communities living in their guts to process food and make strong armor. Corrie Moreau will discuss this unique aspect of ant biology and what it tells us about the diversity and dominance of ants in terrestrial…

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The Mexican Revolution of 1910: A Sociohistorical Interpretation

April 16, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Javier Garciadiego Dantán, Historian and Author; Professor of History, El Colegio de México, Director, Academia Mexicana de la Historia A rigged election and a political crisis among competing elites, middle classes, and rural workers: What could go wrong? The Mexican Revolution of 1910 began as a multilocal revolt against the 35-year regime of dictator Porfirio Díaz and evolved into a national revolution and civil war lasting nearly a decade. Javier Garciadiego—a leading historian of Mexico’s revolution—will discuss the precursors, armed…

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Frontiers in Evolution

April 18, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Moderated by Andrew J. Berry, Lecturer on Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University New approaches to studying evolutionary processes, from genomics to big data, have revolutionized the study of organisms across geological time and geographical space. Join us for a series of short “flash” lectures presented by Harvard graduate students and learn about the range of questions that scientists are asking today about evolution. Evolution Matters Lecture Series?. Special Event. Free event parking at the 52 Oxford Street Garage. Series…

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LOBSTER WAR: The Fight Over the World’s Richest Fishing Grounds

April 23, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Lobster War is an award-winning documentary film about a conflict between the United States and Canada over waters that both countries have claimed since the end of the Revolutionary War. The disputed 277 square miles of sea known as the Gray Zone were traditionally fished by U.S. lobstermen. But as the Gulf of Maine has warmed faster than nearly any other body of water on the planet, the area’s previously modest lobster population has surged. As a result, Canadians have…

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Caspian: The Elements

April 25, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Chloe Dewe Mathews, Artist, Photographer, and Filmmaker For five years British photographer Chloe Dewe Mathews traveled through the countries surrounding the Caspian Sea: Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Russia, and Iran. In images that range from stark and elemental to lush and mysterious, she recorded the vastly diverse peoples, politics, and geography of Central Asia, centering always on the great inland sea. In this conversation with Makeda Best, Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography at the Harvard Art Museums, Dewe Mathews will…

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May 2019

New England in the South Seas: Two Centuries of Trade and Exploration

May 1, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Ingrid Ahlgren, Curator of Oceania, Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology As early as the 1700s, the fledgling United States actively explored and exchanged goods with the islands across the great wide Pacific Ocean. New England—and Massachusetts in particular—played an active, varied role in these explorations, which included the China Pacific trade, the whaling industry, the foreign Christian ministries, and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. Ingrid Ahlgren will illuminate some of these historical legacies and show how Peabody…

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The Human Swarm: How Societies Arise, Thrive, and Fall

May 2, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Mark W. Moffett, Author and Photographer Based on his new book, The Human Swarm: How Societies Arise, Thrive, and Fall (Basic Books, April 2019), Moffett will discuss the social adaptations that bind societies and distinguish humans from other animal species. Drawing on findings in psychology, sociology, and anthropology, he explores how human society evolved from intimate chimp communities into sprawling civilizations of unrivaled complexity–and will address what is required to sustain them. Lecture and Book Signing. Free and open to…

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Preserving Zapotec Weaving Practices

May 21, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Porfirio Gutiérrez, Zapotec Master Dyer and Textile Artist The town of Teotitlán Del Valle in the Mexican state of Oaxaca is renowned for its weaving traditions and its importance as a Zapotec cultural center. Porfirio Gutiérrez will examine the rich history of Zapotec weaving from the perspective of its practitioners. He will also discuss his studio’s role in preserving and promoting the use of natural dyes in his community, and abroad, using pigments derived from plants and insects. Porfirio Gutiérrez…

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September 2019

Maintaining Heritage Languages in Our Communities

September 12, 2019 @ 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free

Gabriela Badillo Creative Director, 68 Voices, 68 Hearts, Mexico City Maung Nyeu Founder and Executive Director, Our Golden Hour; Ph.D. candidate, Harvard Graduate School of Education Maria Luisa Parra-Velasco Founder, Multilingual Family Resource Center; Senior Preceptor, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard University How can people retain the strength of their identities when their language is attacked, denied, or just lost through lack of practice and resources? What can be done to ensure that culturally and linguistically sustainable practices…

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Assembling the Dinosaur: Free Lecture and Book Signing

September 17, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free

Dinosaur fossils were first found in England, but a series of late-nineteenth-century discoveries in the American West turned the United States into a world center for vertebrate paleontology. Around the same time, the United States also emerged as an economic powerhouse of global proportions, and large, fierce, and spectacular creatures like Tyrannosaurus, Brontosaurus, and Triceratops became powerful emblems of American capitalism. Tracing the links among dinosaurs, capitalism, and culture during this era, Lukas Rieppel reveals how these giant reptiles became intertwined with commercial culture,…

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Breaking the Noses on Egyptian Statues

September 26, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free

Public Lecture by Edward Bleiberg Senior Curator, Egyptian, Classical, and Ancient Near Eastern Art, Brooklyn Museum Why are the noses broken on Egyptian statues? Why were other sculpted body parts, including eyes, mouths, arms, and feet, purposely shattered in antiquity? Focusing on the ancient world of the pharaohs and on the Late Antique world that emerged following Egyptian conversion to Christianity, Edward Bleiberg will examine the patterns of damage inflicted on Egyptian images for personal, political, religious, and criminal reasons.…

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October 2019

An Evolutionary Journey through Domestication

October 10, 2019 @ 6:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Barbara Schaal Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor of Biology and Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis As the earliest farmers began to select wild plants and animals that had desirable traits, they initiated a series of genetic changes in these species that gradually made them more suitable for agriculture. Plants became easier to grow, had greater yields, and were of higher quality. Animal species exhibited favorable changes in behavior, coat color, and reproductive traits.…

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Almost Lost Arts: Traditional Crafts and the Artisans Keeping Them Alive

October 16, 2019 @ 6:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Emily Freidenrich Author and Journalist Josh Luke and Meredith Kasabian Founders, Best Dressed Signs Margaret Shepherd Calligrapher and Author NARAYAN KHANDEKAR Director, Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, and Senior Conservation Scientist, Harvard Art Museums   What does it mean to be a maker, artist, or artisan in the twenty-first century? In her new book, Almost Lost Arts (Chronicle Books, 2019), Emily Freidenrich explores the work of twenty artisans from points worldwide who practice their craft using traditional techniques…

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Life and Death in Ancient Egypt: Biomedical Analysis of Mummies and Canopic Jars

October 17, 2019 @ 6:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

The Harvard Semitic Museum welcomes Professor Frank Rühli, Founding Chair and Director of the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine, University of Zurich. Egyptian mummies and the remains found in ancient canopic jars can now be studied in great detail using noninvasive medical imaging techniques such as X-rays and computerized tomography, and chemical analysis using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. Drawing from interdisciplinary research conducted in the Valley of the Kings and Egyptian museum collections, Frank Rühli will discuss the value of using state-of-the-art…

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Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture

October 23, 2019 @ 6:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public, but tickets are required

Lonnie G. Bunch III Secretary, Smithsonian Institution Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director, Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, Harvard University In A Fool’s Errand (Smithsonian, 2019), Lonnie Bunch shares the vision and leadership he brought to the realization of the National Museum of African American History and Culture—a dream shared by many generations of Americans. Bunch’s deeply personal story reveals the triumphs and challenges of bringing the museum to life and taps into…

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Anthropology, Colonialism, and the Exploration of Indigenous Australia

October 29, 2019 @ 6:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public

Philip Jones Senior Curator in Anthropology, South Australian Museum, and Affiliate Lecturer, Department of History, University of Adelaide In 1938–1939, Harvard University funded an expedition to Australia aimed at understanding how colonization had affected Indigenous peoples and their physiology, and at informing government policy as it shifted from segregation to assimilation. Led by anthropologists Norman B. Tindale and Joseph Birdsell, the expedition gathered more than 6,000 individual records from Indigenous people on missions and settlements—records that have since inspired community-based…

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The Peril and Promise of Solar Geoengineering

October 30, 2019 @ 6:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

David Keith Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University Solar geoengineering research aims to reduce the impacts of global climate change. One possibility is to put aerosols into the stratosphere to alter Earth’s energy budget. This emerging technology entails risks and uncertainties, along with serious challenges to global governance. The greatest threat, perhaps, is that it will be used as a technical…

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November 2019

Adversity, Belonging, and Survival among Baboons

November 7, 2019 @ 6:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Susan Alberts Robert F. Durden Professor of Biology and Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University The social environment—both in early life and adulthood—has major effects on human health and survival. But how and why does the social environment get “under the skin” to also affect our physical health? Susan Alberts pursues this question by studying wild baboons in Kenya. Baboons, like humans, evolved as savannah dwellers. They rely on social relationships to solve problems and—like humans—their lives depend on these relationships. Alberts…

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Paleovirology: Ghosts and Gifts of Ancient Viruses

November 13, 2019 @ 6:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Harmit Malik Principal Investigator, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Human genomes are ancient battlegrounds of arms races waged between viruses and their hosts for millions of years. Just as historians reconstruct battlefields to better understand historical battles, evolutionary biologists and virologists can reconstruct how ancient viruses affected their hosts by analyzing their “fossil” remains in our genomes. Paleovirology is the study of such extinct viruses. Harmit Malik will discuss what the study of these viruses can tell us about old…

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Human Sacrifice and Power in the Kerma Kingdom

November 19, 2019 @ 6:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Elizabeth Minor Visiting Assistant Professor in Anthropology, Wellesley College The Kerma Kingdom was an ancient Nubian civilization located in present-day Sudan. Its capital, the city of Kerma, had monumental architecture and religious art depicting deities in the form of lions, scorpions, and hybrid figures such as winged giraffes and hippopotamus goddesses. During the Classic Kerma Period (1700–1550 BCE), funerary monuments of Kerman kings could be up to one hundred meters long and included hundreds of sacrificed individuals. Elizabeth Minor will…

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The Future of Immortality: Remaking Life and Death in Contemporary Russia

November 20, 2019 @ 6:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Anya Bernstein John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University The international transhumanist movement believes that humans can harness science and technology to transcend their physical and mental limitations. Some of its practitioners support cryonics and the creation of robotic bodies for future “consciousness transfer.” Drawing from her ethnographic work among Russian transhumanists and her recent book—The Future of Immortality (Princeton University Press, 2019)—Anya Bernstein will discuss the religious and philosophical roots of transhumanism…

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The Remarkable Nature of Edward Lear

November 21, 2019 @ 6:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free and open to the public.

Robert McCracken Peck Curator of Art and Artifacts, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University Edward Lear (1812–1888), best known for The Owl and the Pussycat and other nonsense poetry, was also an accomplished painter of birds, mammals, reptiles, and landscapes, and an adventurous world traveler. His paintings of parrots, macaws, toucans, owls, and other birds are among the finest ever published. Robert McCracken Peck will discuss the remarkable life and natural history paintings of this beloved children’s writer, who…

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February 2020

What Makes Chocolate “Good”?

February 11 @ 6:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free

Free Public Lecture and Special Event Carla D. Martin, Founder and Executive Director, Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute; Lecturer, Harvard University The social and environmental values underlying artisanal chocolate production have become increasingly important in its marketing. Good taste is paramount, of course, but how does one measure “social goodness,” and what additional value does it add for the consumer? Chocolate makers’ interests often diverge from those of cacao producers, and industry stakeholders have not clearly addressed these concerns. Carla…

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Ancient Egyptian Culture and Its Continuity in Modern Egypt

February 13 @ 6:00 pm
Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Free

Free Public Lecture Fayza Haikal, Professor of Egyptology, The American University in Cairo Egypt’s recorded history spans six thousand years and is therefore one of the longest and best known in the world. Today, Egyptians practice several religious, artistic, and social traditions that can be traced to ancient Egypt, demonstrating the power and longevity of cultural memory. Drawing on research in archaeology, Egyptian art, writing, and culture, Fayza Haikal will examine Egyptian society’s cultural expressions from antiquity to the present,…

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