Every week the Center for Ancient Studies sends a list of events related to the ancient world in the Philadelphia area to interested members.

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The Stuff Beyond: The Great Maya Cosmos
Wednesday, 5 June 2019
6:00 PM
Simon Martin, Penn Museum
Penn Museum , University of Pennsylvania
Simon Martin, Lead Curator, upcoming Mexico and Central America Galleries People, whether ancient or modern, seek out ordering principles to the world, an understanding of the forces of nature and celestial phenomena. Foremost among these are the structure of the universe and the perceived meaning of both life and the afterlife, as governed by hidden hand of the divine. This talk explores the multi-dimensional world of the ancient Maya cosmos and how this preeminent New World civilization sought to set humanity within a far greater scheme of space and time. *Admission: $10 per lecture; Members, $5.
Sponsored by: Penn Museum


NatGeo exhibition: QUEENS OF EGYPT
Saturday, 8 June 2019
1:00 PM
National Geographic Museum , Washington D.C.
This multisensory exhibition will bring you back in time some 3,500 years, to the 18th and 19th dynasties of ancient Egypt. Get to know such legendary queens as Nefertari, Nefertiti, Hatshepsut, and Cleopatra VII; see more than 300 prestigious objects, including monumental statues, sparkling jewelry, and impressive sarcophagi; and take a 3-D tour of one of the most well-preserved tombs in the Valley of the Queens. *Please purchase your tickets for a start between 1:15 and 1:30 so that we can be done by 3 pm and meet up for a special post-viewing discussion. **ARCE members are invited to purchase discounted tickets to the National Geographic Museum's new exhibition, Queens of Egypt. Purchase a $10 ticket. This special price is available during the 2019 ARCE Annual Meeting (April 12-14, 2019) or anytime before the exhibit closes on September 2, 2019! Click here to purchase your tickets, and use the code ARCEQUEENS.
Sponsored by: American Research Center in Egypt, Pennsylvania Chapter


Using Virtual Reality to Understand Ancient Maya Astronomy and Human-Environmental Relations
Saturday, 8 June 2019
1:30 PM
Jeffrey Vadala, Ph.D.
Penn Museum 345, University of Pennsylvania
Among New and Old World ancient societies, the ancient Maya are known to have one of the most complex and precise systems of understanding, tracking, and observing the flow of time. Using maps and mathematical calculations, archaeologists, art historians, and epigraphers have found that these temporal systems were developed through the use of architectural calendars. Over time, these constructions developed into monumental observatories that were used to track celestial phenomena and host political ritual events. Primarily focused on functional elements of architecture, previous studies produced highly generalized interpretations without considering how ancient Maya people experienced and interacted with both the natural and built landscape’s that contextualized the locations of these observatories. Focusing on the human experience of both the built and natural landscape, this study uses computer modeled virtual reality (VR) 3D interactive simulations to explore how the Maya interacted with their local environment and produced local astronomical knowledge at the Preclassic site of Cerro Maya (formerly known as Cerros). This research employed fully interactive virtual reality simulations of Cerro Maya to identify two previously unknown early Maya architectural solar alignments. Additionally, by considering how these architectural alignments were transformed as Cerro Maya grew from a small seaside village into a monumental trading center, VR simulations made it possible to explore how local history, environmental knowledge, and astronomical knowledge were produced and experienced differently by the various competing social orders at the time. As astronomical knowledge developed alongside society at Cerro Maya, it would come to play an important role in the development of hierarchy and social organization. Beyond archaeology, this research demonstrates that virtual reality simulations can be a powerful analytical tool for digital humanities scholars that study or explore human landscapes both built and natural. As an anthropological archaeologist focusing on human-environmental relationships in the Maya region, Jeffrey Vadala utilizes Bayesian modeling, social network analysis, 3D interactive site reconstruction, and the analytical use of virtual reality headsets for spatial analysis. His publications cover topics such as virtual reality methodologies, historical landscape analysis, and the emergence of Maya hierarchy. This includes the publication “Astronomy, Landscape, and Ideological Transmissions at the Coastal Maya site of Cerros, Belize,” with Susan Milbrath as a co-author, which explores how architecture monumentalized important seasonal events related to agricultural cycles. His most recent article, “Using Virtual Reality to Explore the Emergence of Astronomical Knowledge,” employs virtual reality technology and a landscape approach, to explore how architectural landscapes were fundamental to the generation of social knowledge at the site of Cerro Maya.
Sponsored by: Pre-Columbian Society