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Professor Beno Rothenberg Memorial Lecture

Start: Jun 16, 2015 06:00 PM

Location: UCL Institute of Archaeology

The Institute for Archaeo-Metallurgical Studies cordially invites you to the Professor 

I. Shimada

Beno Rothenberg Memorial Lecture, which will take place at the UCL Institute of Archaeology on Tuesday16 of June at 6pm.The lecture, delivered by Professor Izumi Shimada (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale), will be entitled “Obsessed with Metal: Manufacture, Use and Significance of Metals in the Thousand Year-Old Sicán Culture of South America”. It will be followed by a wine reception at the Leventis Gallery.

The following paragraphs give brief outlines of Professor Rothenberg, the speaker and the talk.

About the lecture series

This lecture series is the second lecure to honour IAMS' founder and to continue his work in developing and sharing our understanding of the world's ancient metallurgy.

Professor Beno Rothenberg (1914-2012), acclaimed photographer of the emerging state of Israel, self-taught scholar and founding father of archaeo-metallurgy, was one of only a handful of scientists who between them revolutionised the way in which we study and understand the production of metal prior to the Industrial Revolution. He pioneered the fusion of traditional archaeological and science-based approaches which later came to be known as archaeometry, with a strong emphasis on painstaking data 

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gathering and photographic documentation in the field, chemical and mineralogical analysis of the archaeological remains unearthed, and visionary, if sometimes contentious interpretation of his observations. While his interests went well beyond the beginnings of mining and metallurgy, these are where he left his strongest legacy, not least through coining the very term ‘archaeo-metallurgy’, now used world-wide for the study of ancient metals and their production using scientific methods, and through establishing, directly and indirectly, two of the leading academic schools in this field. He was the founder of the Institute for Archaeo-Metallurgical Studies in 1973. For futher information, click here.

Obsessed with Metal: Manufacture, Use and Significance of metal in the thousand year-old Sicán Culture of South America.

The northern coast of Peru in western South America with its rich mineral resources and abundant fuels was the setting of what is arguably the most sophisticated metallurgy of pre-Hispanic New World. Striking gold and other metal objects that often grace the covers of popular books on ancient cultures of Peru were looted out of rich tombs of this region, limiting our ability to illuminate on people and technology that produced them. This lecture discusses knowledge and understanding gained over the past 35 years on manufacture, use and significance of diverse alloys of the millennium-old state-level Sicán culture, one the cultures responsible for these objects. 

Interdisciplinary and international teams of the Sicán Archaeological Project have investigated many workshops where varied alloys, primarily of arsenical bronze and tumbaga (arsenical bronze-silver-gold alloys) were produced and worked. Our approach is based on a belief that understanding of what, how and why specific objects were produced is most effectively achieved by focusing our attention on the primary production loci. Concurrent examination of residential, ceremonial and funerary settings also has afforded us insights into the usage and the social significance of diverse products. Sicán metallurgists produced many alloys with a remarkable range of material performance and visual qualities to suit correspondingly varied purposes and products, including household tools, personal ornaments and thin sheets to cover textiles. 

Metals permeated many aspects of Sicán life. Differential access to different alloys served as social status markers and a large segment of the society appears to have been involved in at least some facet of the metallurgy.  At Sicán, emphasis was on production by the masses, rather than efficiency-based mass production. 

Overall, the lecture offers a technological and social analysis of the Sicán metallurgy showing how it was intertwined with many critical aspects the culture. For further information, see: http://sican.org/

About the speaker

Izumi Shimada is a Professor of Anthropology and Distinguished University Scholar at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (SIUC), with research interests in the archaeology of complex pre-Hispanic cultures in the Andes, ancient technology and craft production, mortuary practices, and culture-environment interaction, among other topics.

Born in Kyoto, Japan, he studied anthropology at Cornell and obtained his doctorate from the University of Arizona in 1976. Since then, he taught at University of Oregon (1977-8), Princeton (1978-1983) and Harvard (1984-1992) before moving to SIUC in 1994. From 1978 to the present, he has directed the interdisciplinary Sicán Project focusing on metallurgical and ceramic production, religion, and other aspects of the pre-Hispanic Sicán culture (ca. A.D. 800-1400) on the northern coast of Peru. The project results formed the foundation of the Sicán National Museum in Ferreñafe, Peru that he largely designed (opened in 2004).

He has authored or edited over 200 publications. Sixteen books include Pampa Grande and the Mochica Culture (1994), Craft Production in Complex Societies (2007), Cultura Sicán: esplendor preinca de la costa norte (2014), and The Inka Empire: A Multidisciplinary Approach (2015). He has received awards and medals of honors from the government and other institutions in Japan and Peru. For further information, see: http://cola.siu.edu/anthro/facultyandstaff/faculty/archaeology/shimada.php

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