49th JAR Distinguished Lecture: Timothy R. Pauketat presents "When the Rains Stop: Climate Change and Cahokia’s Water Shrines"


Start Date: Nov 14, 2019 - 07:30pm

Location: Anthropology Lecture Hall 163

The 49th JAR Distingushed Lecture will feature Professor Timothy R. Pauketat of the Illinois State Archaeological Survey at the University of Illinois.  Dr. Pauketat will present his lecture, When the Rains Stop: Climate Change and Cahokia's Water Shrines on Thursday, November 14, 2019, at 7:30 pm in the UNM Anthropology Lecture Hall Room 163.  The lecture is free and open to the public.  The following day, Dr. Pauketat will present a specialized seminar at noon in the Department of Anthropology, room 248.  The seminar will discuss New Materialisms and Ancient Urbanisms: Where Do We Go from Here?  The View from Cahokia.

When the Rains Stop: Climate Change and Cahokia’s Water Shrines

Water remains the single-most fundamental factor in the rise and fall of cities and civilizations. To understand how, and to rethink the implications of climate change today, I consider water not as a resource but as an immanent, underlying dimension of social life on which the very existence of people, places, and things depends. The story of ancient Cahokia—American Indian city on the Mississippi—hinges on water so conceived in near-religious terms. The archaeology of maize, Maya water cults, religious events, and the Medieval Climatic Anomaly are combined in this presentation to challenge our understanding of human and other-than-human agency in this singular city’s rapid construction and deconstruction between the 11th and 13th centuries CE. There are implications both for a new, “big history” of Precolumbian North America and our future world.

New Materialisms and Ancient Urbanisms: Where Do We Go from Here? The View from Cahokia.

Archaeological theory has drifted recently from interrogating nonhuman agency and recognizing alternative ontologies to New Materialist approaches to the past. A review of three historically unrelated, “great” cultural phenomena (Liangzhu in southern China, Cahokia in the Mississippi valley, and Paquimé in northern Mexico) enable us to focus on where such approaches do and do not take us. Infrastructure re-emerges as key in explanations, allowing us to turn to propose how a soft New Materialist approach can be productively integrated with more traditional studies of settlement patterns, chronology, and urbanism. In so doing, I draw on the results from two recent large-scale archaeological projects in the Greater Cahokia region.