Institute of Archaeology


UCL Institute of Archaeology Gordon Childe Lecture 2023

2 May 2023

Following a hiatus due to Covid-19, this year's Gordon Childe Lecture and Advanced Seminar will be held on 17 & 18 May 2023.

A black & white image of a man in a suit wearing glasses and smoking a pipe, holding a teddy bear, and leaning against an old-style car

Gordon Childe Lecture 2023 (17 May)

The Gordon Childe Lectures, organised by the UCL Institute of Archaeology and normally held annually, commenced in 2016. The events are named in honour of Vere Gordon Childe, Director of the Institute from 1946-57. 

The annual Gordon Childe Lecture features speakers able to take a broad view of their topic and make it interesting and relevant to both the general public as well as subject specialists. The addition of the accompanying seminar also offers an opportunity for extended discussion on the themes raised in the lecture.

This year's speaker is Rosemary Joyce, Professor of Archaeology, UC Berkeley Anthropology who will give the lecture entitled 'On not seeing like a state: Rethinking ancient Honduras.'  This will be an in-person event, commencing at 6pm, and will be recorded.


Terracotta-coloured ancient pottery vessel with painted figure in red/brown/orange colours

Drawing on analyses of the visual culture of the ancestral Lenca of northwest Honduras, created in what archaeologists today call the Ulua style (ca. 500-1000 AD), this presentation explores the way social relations were shaped in a region where hierarchy was muted, where there is little evidence of absolute abjection of the kind taken as definitive of enslavement, or even of the less extreme forms of gender-based dependency treated as constitutive of some societies in neighbouring Mesoamerica.

It advances an argument that the anthropomorphic and anthropomorphized objects that are the products of Ulua traditional craft production created discourses about valued forms of being, both human and other-than-human, in a region where the social order has been characterized successively as non-state, pre-state, egalitarian, and heterarchical; and in my current work, as illuminated by theories of anarchic society.

I suggest that the kinds of visual- and object-relations and the social relations enabled with Ulua materials are not unique to this time and place, but form an example of less-recognized but perhaps quite common ways people once organized themselves.

Book your place for the Gordon Childe Lecture 2023

Gordon Childe Advanced Seminar 2023 (18 May) 

Panel discussion - response to the Gordon Childe Lecture, commencing at 2.30pm


Rosemary Joyce (Professor of Archaeology, UC Berkeley)
Chair: Ulrike Sommer (Senior Lecturer in Prehistoric Archaeology, UCL Institute of Archaeology)
Participants: Beverley Butler (Reader in Cultural Heritage, UCL Institute of Archaeology), Matthew Doyle (Associate Lecturer (Teaching) in Social Anthropology, UCL Anthropology), Andrea Martínez Carrasco (PhD Student, UCL Institute of Archaeology), Sada Mire (Associate Professor in Heritage Studies (UCL East), UCL Institute of Archaeology) and Jeremy Tanner (Professor of Classical and Comparative Art, UCL Institute of Archaeology) 

Book your place for the Gordon Childe Advanced Seminar 2023 

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