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University of Iowa News Release

June 20, 2006

Obermann Seminar Compares American Southwest, Iberian Peninsula Archaeology

The 2006 Obermann Summer Research Seminar, "Comparative Archaeologies: The American Southwest (AD 900-1600) and the Iberian Peninsula (3000-1500 BC)" is currently underway at the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies. Katina Lillios and William Graves, both anthropology professors in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, are directing the seminar, which brings together 12 scholars from six different countries.

From June 18 to 26 the group will compare the archaeologies of the American Southwest and the Iberian Peninsula. People in both regions were engaged in strikingly similar social and political processes, such as social ranking, long-distance exchange, craft specialization, intensive agriculture and the construction of monumental ritual spaces. And both have been studied closely.

"Archaeological research in the two regions has long pedigrees, beginning in the 19th century," Lillios said. "And yet archaeologists have never systematically compared them."

Archaeology is in essence a comparative discipline; knowledge of past behaviors is based on comparisons to known human groups. However, Lillios said, the seminar will be engaging in a new way to do comparative research, a methodology popular in most social sciences.

"Rather than engaging in comparison of one particular theme, such as leadership or feasting, in many different societies, we will focus on in-depth and nuanced comparisons of multiple themes between two societies of similar forms," she said.

Three keynote speakers will present to the seminar: Timothy Earle, Northwestern University; Antonio Gilman, California State University-Northridge; and Barbara Mills, professor of anthropology, University of Arizona. The group will visit the UI Museum of Natural History, the UI Office of the State Archaeologist, UI Old Capitol, and the Toolesboro Mound and Malchow Site, both of which are near the Mississippi River.

Seminar participants and their paper topics include:

Sara Fairén Jiménez, University of Reading (UK), "Sites, Practices, and the Social Landscape of Rock Art in Mediterranean Iberia during the Neolithic and Copper Age."

Jill E. Neitzel, University of Delaware, "Mixed Messages: Art and Power in the Late Prehispanic U.S. Southwest."

Estella Weiss-Krejci, University of Vienna (Austria), "Changing Perspectives on Mortuary Practices in Copper Age and Early Bronze Iberia."

Ventura R. Pérez, University of Massachusetts, "Sharp-Force Trauma or Postmortem Manipulation: Behavioral and Cultural Implications for Ancestral Pueblo Populations (900-1300 A.D.)."

Rui Jorge Narcisco Boaventura, Universidade de Lisboa (Portugal), "Bodies in Motion: Implications of Gender in Long Distance Exchange Between the Lisbon and Alentejo Regions of Portugal in the Late Neolithic."

Marit K. Munson, Trent University (Canada), "Gender, Art, and Ritual Hierarchy in the Ancient Pueblos of the Rio Grande Valley, New Mexico."

Leonardo García Sanjuán, University of Seville (Spain), "Transformations, Invocations, Echoes, Resistance: Monumental Landscapes and Architectures in the Late Prehistory of Southern Iberia (V to I millennia BC)."

Peter N. Peregrine, Lawrence University, "Landscapes: The North American Oikoumene: A.D. 900-1200."

Pedro Díaz-del-Río, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spain), "Labor in the Making of Iberian Copper Age Lineages."

Stephen H. Lekson, University of Colorado, "The Southwest, Iberia, and Their Worlds."

The Obermann Summer Research Seminars have a strong record of publication on an unusually broad range of topics such as opera, human tissue samples, representations of aging, digital culture and international law.

The Obermann Center for Advanced Studies is dedicated to scholarship and intellectual exchange. Some Obermann Scholars work independently, stimulated by uninterrupted blocks of time and by informal conversation. Others work in close collaboration. Obermann Scholars have published numerous scholarly books and articles and have been awarded many external research grants and fellowships for projects begun at the center.

For more information about the Obermann Center or the Summer Research Seminar, contact Jennifer New, 335-4360,

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011, or Lesly Huffman, 319-384-0077,; Program: Jennifer New, 335-4360,; Writer: Jennifer New