February Lecture Series (Online)

February 10th, 2021 @ 6:30pm via online link (see bottom of page)

Do Neandertals have to be just like us? The perpetual debate about Neanderthal and early modern human behaviour

Dr. Dennis Sandgathe, Simon Fraser University.

Since the discover of Neanderthals in the mid-1800s there has been an ongoing debate about how different or similar to us modern humans they were. In the early decades of research this was a strongly polarized debate between those who thought Neandertals were dumb brutes and those who thought they were just like us. In more recent decades it has become more of a debate about just how much like early modern humans they might have been in terms of their technology and complexity of culture. However, the available evidence still makes it clear that Neanderthals had been different from the modern humans that replaced them in Eurasia 40,000 years ago at the start of the Upper Palaeolithic. This can be seen in their use of abstract symbols, how they treated their dead, and their level of fire technology. In fact, we have very good reason to expect that they would have been different in many ways from contemporary early modern humans. However, this does not mean they were dumb or lacked culture and, after all, modern humans and Neandertals obviously saw each other as similar enough to choose to interbreed.

To register, visit the Calgary Public Library link http://bit.ly/ASAFeb2021Talk

For non-Calgary residents, please email info@arkycalgary.com for the link to the online talk!

January Lecture Series (Online)

Ancient Environments and Archaeology of the Proposed West Coast Route of First Peopling of the Americas.
Dr. Quentin, Associate Professor in Anthropology at the University of Victoria

Recent paleoenvironmental and archaeological work along the NW Coast of North America strongly suggests human occupation by 14,000 years ago, and probably earlier. The deglacial process on the coast was patchy and involved both glacial advance and retreat, however, there was likely many large areas of coast available for human occupation at 17,000 years ago, and even before that date. Similarly, in some places, post-glacial sea level change was one of rapid rise, in others rapid fall, while in a few places, the relative sea level has been very consistent across the last 14,000 or more years. Archaeologists have used these emerging environmental insights to find sites of human occupation of the early coast, including outer coast locales with human footprints dating to 13,000 years ago, a basal feature at a very deep coastal site tentatively dating to ca. 14,000, and a variety of other sites in the 12,500 to 13,500 year old range. These studies have started to put some more precise parameters on the history of environmental change and human occupation of the terminal Pleistocene coast, and inform its relationship to the question of First Peopling of the Americas.
Link for CPL-http://bit.ly/ASAJan2020***Note: if you don’t live in Calgary, but interested in attending lecture, contact us via info@arkycalgary.com

November Lecture Series (Virtual)

November 18th, 2020 6:30pm-8:00pm

Prospects for the southern Ice-Free Corridor: What lies in store at Wally’s Beach

Gabriel M. Yanicki (Canadian Museum of History) & William T. D. Wadsworth (University of Alberta)


A little over a decade ago, work by a team of researchers from the University of Calgary moved the goalposts for the Holy Grail of Alberta archaeology. The discovery of butchered Pleistocene horse and camel bones at Wally’s Beach (DhPg-8) dating to at least 13,300 cal. BP shifted our attention from the search for Clovis in the ice-free corridor to the possibility of pre-Clovis cultural occupations here during the earliest peopling of the New World. A new program of research initiated by the Canadian Museum of History aims to address key gaps in our knowledge of this internationally significant site. How much of the site still remains intact? And what prospect exists for significant new discoveries to be made?

Follow the link to register for the event put on virtually through the Calgary Public Library https://calgarylibrary.ca/events-and-programs/programs/prospects-for-the-southern-ice-free-corridor-what-lies-in-store-at-wallys-beach/

October Lecture Series (Virtual)

Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Holy Land in Victorian Popular Culture
October 21st, 6:30 pm- 8:00 pm

Kevin McGeough, Professor
Board of Governor’s Research Chair in Archaeological Theory and Reception
Co-Editor, Alberta Archaeological Review 
Department of Geography & Environment (Archaeology)
University of Lethbridge

As European and North American archaeologists began exploring the Middle East in the Nineteenth Century, reports of their archaeological discoveries were widely reported in the periodical press, which itself had exploded with popularity as literacy became more widespread. Excitement over these discoveries was widespread and Egypt, the Holy Land, and Mesopotamia came to be invoked across Victorian culture. Architects and designers created new forms based on ancient models (beyond Greek and Roman styles that had long been typical). The world’s fairs and Crystal Palace juxtaposed ancient cultures with contemporary technology, helping to fit the Middle East into Victorian progress narratives. Traveling exhibits allowed people to not only see actual artifacts but engage with actors dressed up as biblical figures. Stage productions showcased ancient life in opera and theatre, where doomed romances played out amongst the ruins of Babylon. Novelists invented “mummy stories” and archaeological adventure stories that are still read today. Painters created visually realistic but highly imaginary renderings of antiquity. Secret societies saw themselves as connected to the ancient world and created new rituals based on their imaginings of ancient ones. Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Holy Land were invoked through these popular culture forms and others as means of thinking about a variety of issues that concerned the Victorians. The seeming faded glory of Egypt raised fears of the collapse of modern society. Uncertainties surrounding new technologies were eased by evidence that such changes have always been part of human life. Relationships with “others” in a newly globalizing society were mediated through consideration and contestations surrounding a shared world past. Throughout this talk, Dr. McGeough will explore how many of these issues were examined through the presentation of the ancient Middle East in popular culture. He will show how many of these genre forms for imagining the ancient world are still invoked in representations today and how Victorian issues still lurk beneath many of the ways we think about Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Holy Land.

Link to register with the Calgary Public Library https://calgarylibrary.ca/events-and-programs/programs/ancient-egypt-mesopotamia-and-the-holy-land-in-victorian-popular-culture/

September Lecture Series (Virtual)

Presentation Title

Building a Maya Boomtown: Architectural Decisions within an Environmental Frontier

Dr. Meaghan Peuramaki-Brown, Athabasca University


There is no shortage of architectural studies focused on the form, placement, construction, and style of impressive, corbel-vaulted, limestone buildings of the ancient Maya heartland of the Yucatan Peninsula. The study of such features has the potential to inform us on issues of socio-cultural identity, socio-political networks, socio-economic organization, environmental sustainability, etc. But what of the architecture in environmental, socio-cultural, political, and economic frontier zones of the ancient Maya world? The first half of this presentation will introduce you to the ancient Maya and the townsite of Alabama—located in such a frontier zone—in the modern Stann Creek District of Belize, Central America, and will summarize the recently published argument in support of its Late to Terminal Classic boom (ca. 700-900 CE). The second half of the presentation will walk you through the archaeological and geological survey; archaeological testing and excavation; macroscopic, microscopic, and petrographic material studies; and community outreach/experimental archaeology we have engaged in order to document and interpret material patterns of architectural—both monumental (collective memory and temporal linkages) and the vernacular (everyday life)—decision making at this ancient boomtown, and what such decisions may tell us regarding ancient lifeways along a frontier of the Maya world.

To sign up to watch virtually, visit

March Lecture Series


MARCH 18th (Calgary Public Library – Central Location, Patricia A. Whelan Room) @ 7:30 pm:
Chris Jass, Royal Alberta Museum

Beneath the Surface: Bison, Lakes, and Public-influenced Research in Alberta

Research on the Quaternary palaeontological record in Alberta takes many forms, ranging from prospecting in gravel pits to excavating cave deposits. As a result of public inquiries, efforts to further understand the late Quaternary history of Alberta has taken on a new, surprising direction. Prospecting for fossils in modern Alberta lakes is revealing a complex faunal record that spans the last 10,000 years. These records highlight palaeoenvironmental changes in the mid-Holocene and provide insight into the faunal history of areas of Alberta with otherwise sparse Quaternary fossil records.

February Lecture Series

FEBRUARY 19th (Calgary Public Library – Central Location, Patricia A. Whelan Room) @ 7:30 pm:
Michael Parker-Pearson, Institute of Archaeology, University College London
Stonehenge: New Discoveries

In the last 15 years there has been a transformation in our knowledge about this iconic and mysterious stone circle. Not only have new excavations revealed unexpected discoveries but a battery of scientific methods has been applied to the monument, its landscape and its artifacts. New discoveries about Stonehenge are being made almost continuously, making research into its mysteries a roller-coaster ride for archaeologists and scientists.

January Lecture Series

JANUARY 15th (Calgary Public Library – Central Location, Patricia A. Whelan Room) @ 7:30 pm:
Genevieve LeMoine, The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum-Bowdoin College
On the Edge of the North Water: Cultural Contact at the Gateway to Greenland

Foulke Fjord, in northwestern Greenland lies at the northern end of the North Water polynya, an area of open water that forms annually in the sea ice at the northern end of Baffin Bay that supports a rich and diverse community of marine life, from whales to sea birds. This ecological hotspot has attracted human inhabitants for the last 4500 years. In this presentation I will present the results of three seasons of research at one site in this region, Iita (Etah), on the north shore of the fjord. Historically Iita was an important nexus of cultural contact between Inughuit and Euro-American explorers, as well as Inuit migrants from Baffin Island led by the shaman Qitdlarsuaq. A remarkable sequence of discreet stratigraphic levels also reveal earlier occupations, including both late Dorset paleo-Inuit and pioneering Thule. In addition to shedding light on key episodes of cultural contact in this region, Iita is also a bellwether of sorts for archaeological sites in the Arctic as even in this northerly location diminished sea ice has accelerated erosion.

November Lecture Series

NOVEMBER 20th (University of Calgary, ES 162) @ 7:30 pm:
Bill Perry, Parks Canada
Archaeological Resource Management in a post wildfire environment: Waterton Lakes NP.

Waterton Lakes National Park is part of a rich cultural landscape that stretches back around ten thousand years primarily within the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Nation.  The Kenow Wildfire of 2017 has presented a unique opportunity for archaeological research in the Park.  The wildfire cleared out the ground cover, allowing exceptional visibility of the land surface.

Parks Canada has put together a team of archaeologists for a 5-year project to record and research the new finds that come to light.  Initial site survey results have uncovered an unprecedented degree of archaeological visibility focused on the last 1000 years.  This presentation highlights archaeological research and engagement with the surrounding indigenous nations, communities, local landowners and interested public.

Excavation and core sampling of select archaeological sites are planned for the coming field season that afford potential to report on the complete regional human history time frame within the park with a focus on environmental/climate change and past fire history research.