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The liberal arts in Medieval times were those subjects studied by a free man—who was free precisely because he was armed and trained in the fighting arts. Much of what is known of 13th-century sword and buckler training is documented in the only surviving fencing manual of the period. John Clements, martial arts historian, will describe the science of defense developed in this period, as well as the arms, armor and chivalric work of knights. The lecture will be followed by a demonstration and showing of replica arms and armor from the era.
John Clements is a leading authority on historical fencing and the world’s foremost instructor of Medieval and Renaissance fighting methods. He is the director of ARMA (Association for Renaissance Martial Arts). This lecture is cosponsored by Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies.
Cast your mind back to a summer's day on the River Thames, nearly eight centuries ago. Twenty-five barons wait, under fluttering pennants, for King John to round the bend in the river. The events of that day underpin our modern concepts of liberty, freedom and justice. But why, and how?
How did Magna Carta come about? What distinguished it from other Great Charters of early mediaeval times? What did it really say and why? How did it then become embedded in the consciousness of the people of England before travelling the world? And most importantly, what does it mean for us today?
Sir Robert Rogers is the Clerk of the British House of Commons—an office that dates back to 1363. He is well used to the ways in which the old lives with the new: one of his tasks is to endorse Parliamentary Bills in Norman French—but they are prepared using some of the most advanced text-handling software in the world. Sir Robert is an Honorary Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford, and an Honorary Bencher of the Middle Temple Inn of Court (the Temple Church plays a part in the story of Magna Carta). He is the joint author of "How Parliament Works," now going into its 7th edition, and author of two miscellanies about the British Parliament, "Order! Order!" and "Who Goes Home?"
This lecture is cosponsored by Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies.
The Maya were the first to begin cultivating the cacao plant to produce chocolate, one of the wonders that emerged from domestication of plants and an innovation that initially was made available to only a few in the form of an intoxicating chocolate drink laced with peppers. Surely chocolate must be one of the greatest ideas that humanity has produced! Dr. Rosemary Joyce is chair of graduate studies at University of California, Berkeley.
This lecture is cosponsored by Archaeology Institute of America – Houston Society.
Magna Carta in 1215 was not created in a vacuum. Instead, it was the product of a line of legal and constitutional thinking and habits that had developed in England in the eleventh century, had passed over the break of the Norman conquest, and was enriched and tested throughout the tumultuous twelfth century. This thinking had to do with the obligations of kings and their subjects, where what a king owed his subjects and what subjects owed their king was a point of negotiation. This process is writ large in pre-conquest Anglo-Saxon laws, in the monuments of the Norman kings, such as Domesday Book (1087) and the coronation charter of Henry I (1100), and in the legal reforms instituted by Henry II (1154–1189), which formed the basis for what came to be known as the Common Law. To understand Magna Carta, one has to understand not just this past, but also the way the barons in 1215 remembered that past. Both the past and the barons’ past will be the subject of this talk.
Bruce R. O’Brien, Ph.D., of the University of Mary Washington is chair of the literary board and intellectual lead for Early English Laws, an international project to re-edit and translate all English legal texts written up to and including Magna Carta 1215.
Witness the best-preserved cave art sites in North America, spanning back 4,000 years ago—the Lower Pecos Canyonlands with Dr. Dirk Van Tuerenhout and local anthropology guides from SHUMLA who are currently conducting research of this rock art. The group will tour sites at White Shaman and Seminole Canyon that are not open to the public and can only be accessed with a guide. Participants will meet in Del Rio, Texas and ride together in vans on this day trip to the sites. Lunch is included.
Visit www.hmns.org/travel for more information and review the downloadable pdf: Legendary paleontologist Dr. Bob Bakker and David Temple are leading a small group to discover and excavate Permian-aged fossils April 2 - 6, 2014. The excavation site has yielded Museum’s fin-backed dimetrodon, boomerang-headed salamander diplocaulus, and prehistoric shark Xenocanthus—and there are many more discoveries yet to be made. Participants will meet in Vernon, Texas and ride together in vans during the trip. Dinners are included.
Visit www.hmns.org/travel for more information and review the downloadable pdf: In this behind-the-scenes look into the nursery world, Tony Avent will share the secrets of how and why new plants fit into different market niches. Explore why certain new plants get to market quickly, while other great plants never see the light of day. Track memorable plant introduction successes, explain bad horticultural marketing disasters, and blow up some common plant exploration myths. You will never look at plants the same way again!
Tony Avent is owner of Juniper Level Botanic Gardens and Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh, North Carolina. (This is the nursery that cultivated the beloved HMNS corpse flower Lois.)
This lecture is cosponsored with The Mercer Society.
Tickets $18, Members $12;
By purchasing a ticket, you agree to the participant requirements and responsibilities and cancellation information listed in this document. Price does not include transportation to/from Vernon or lodging.
Tickets $1,185, Members $985
By purchasing a ticket, you agree to the participant requirements and responsibilities and cancellation information listed in this document. Price does not include transportation to/from Del Rio or lodging.
Tickets $345, Members $265
Soar above the Holy Land and explore one of the oldest and most mythic cities in the world. In Jerusalem, IMAX® 3D puts the spectacular ancient city front and center—and often above and below—as it traverses a land considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The film gives audiences a rare glimpse of the city fought over more than any other place in history, a place conquered and destroyed, rebuilt and reinvented repeatedly over 5,000 years. Join Dr. Matthias Henze of Rice University for a special evening screening of Jerusalem. Dr. Henze will provide commentary on historical and modern aspects of the city and entertain questions following the film.
Often referred to as “living museums,” over 3,000 botanic gardens are known in 175 countries and territories worldwide, most of which were established since 1950. Botanic gardens’ efforts to rescue plants from extinction through expanded research, conservation programs, and environmental education is leading to their increasingly influential role in the development of international policies in biodiversity conservation. Peter Wyse Jackson will take you on an around-the-world journey that showcases a wide range of some of the most significant successes and contributions by botanic gardens, both individually and collectively.
Peter Wyse Jackson, Ph.D. is director of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis and former Secretary-General of Botanic Gardens Conservation International.
The Lower Pecos Canyonlands of southwest Texas and northern Mexico house some of the most complex and compositionally intricate prehistoric rock art in the world from a period dating back 4,000 years. Dr. Carolyn Boyd, executive director of SHUMLA in Comstock, Texas will explain how interdisciplinary approaches have gone beyond interpreting the meaning of this art, but also contributes to the understanding of the early cultural history of Texas and the Mesoamerican philosophical universe, as well as human adaptive strategies.
This lecture is sponsored by SHUMLA Archeological Research and Education Center and Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies.
Mercer Lecture Series:
January 30, 2014 - Plant Conservation in a Rapidly Changing World by Peter Raven
April 10, 2014 - The Chinese Economic "Bloom" - People, Plans and Plants for a Verdant Earth by David Creech
September 4, 2014 - Exploration to Exploitation - The Road from Plant Discovery to Market by Tony Avent
November 6, 2014 - Growing an Ark: The Expanding Role of Botanic Gardens in Plant Conservation by Peter Wyse Jackson
The animals, plants, and other organisms of our planet collectively make our lives on Earth possible, and yet we are destroying their habitats, changing the climate, introducing weeds, diseases and pests widely, and overharvesting many of them. In turn, these factors are driven by our rapidly growing population, increasing consumption levels, and use of destructive technologies. As a result, we could drive to extinction more than half the kinds of plants and animals that exist now within the next 75 years or so.
For plants, the world has more than 400,000 species. In the U.S. alone, some 4,000 of the estimated 19,000 kinds of plants, and in Texas nearly 300 of the roughly 4,800 native species are of conservation concern – 27 of them already federally-listed.
Fortunately plants can be saved through genetic seed banks, the establishment of protected areas and botanic garden collections. Dr. Peter Raven, president emeritus of St. Louis Botanical Garden, will describe the efforts to save as many these species in the USA as possible, while we still have time to do so. The Center for Plant Conservation, of which Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens is a member, consists of 40 similar institutions that are leading this conservation effort.
Learn the science behind the Star of Bethlehem—star, planet, comet or miracle? Explore the leading theories of the heavenly light that might have guided the wise men from the east to Bethlehem with Dr. Carolyn Sumners, HMNS VP of astronomy. Includes showing of Star of Bethlehem in the Burke Baker Planetarium.
Dubbed "impossible stars," white dwarfs are the simplest stars with the simplest surface chemical compositions known-yet are very mysterious. The McDonald Observatory leads in investigating white dwarfs along several avenues: telescope observations, theory, and most recently, the making of star-stuff using the most powerful X-ray source on Earth at Sandia National Laboratory. Dr. Don Winget, one of the world's leading experts on white dwarfs, will examine the how studies of these stars can shed light on everything from the age of the Universe to the understanding of dark matter and dark energy. This lecture is sponsored by the University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory in celebration of their 75th anniversary in 2014.
China is home to one of the oldest civilizations on Earth and ancestral mother to many of the traditional ornamental plants and fruits that grace our Southern USA landscapes. Despite centuries of botanical exploration, China still holds many new and exciting species that are poised to be among our next wave of garden favorites. Join David Creech for an insider’s look at this emerging horticultural giant, and the people, plans and plants that are driving its growth. This revealing excursion travels through the hot economic engine of eastern China's nursery and landscape industry, from coastal beaches right up into the wild mountains and ancient cultures of the Yunnan, where revered patriarch plants are part of over 17,000 native higher plant species that grow there.
David Creech, Ph.D. is regents professor at Stephen F. Austin University.
In July 1991, a deep sea diver, Henri Cosquer, discovered paintings and engravings in a cave under the sea near Marseilles, France. The entrance is now 37 meters below sea level. This is due to the rise of the sea after the end of the last ice age. In all the submerged chambers the walls are corroded and nothing is left. The art discovered is thus in upper chambers that have always remained above water level. To reach them it is necessary to scuba dive.
Jean Clottes and Jean Courtin, with the help of deep-sea diver Luc Vanrell, registered 177 animal images—many of which were never-seen-before sea animals such as penguins, seals, fish, and figures that may stand for jellyfish or octopuses, as well as over 200 geometric signs, 65 hand stencils and a curious image of a killed man. The ground is strewn with charcoal from torches or fires specifically lit to make the charcoal with which to draw.
Jean Clottes, Ph.D. will give insights on why the Cosquer Cave, which dates back to 25,000 years ago, is a major discovery. Dr. Clottes has served as Director of Prehistoric Antiquities for the Midi-Pyrénées, General Inspector for Archaeology at the French Ministry of Culture and Scientific Advisor for prehistoric rock art at the French Ministry of Culture. This lecture is cosponsored by the French Consulate General of Houston.
When modern humans left Africa about 50,000 years ago and populated the rest of the planet, they were already sophisticated hunters and gatherers, able to adapt to a wide range of habitats. Examine the evidence to better understand this pivotal journey in evolution. John Kappelman, is professor of anthropology at University of Texas, Austin.
Discovered in 1940 in southwest France, the Lascaux Cave houses 2,000 colorful figures of animals and people in nature painted by Paleolithc humans almost 20,000 years ago. Closed to the public since the 1960s to protect and preserve the cave, Lascaux remains the world icon of art from the dawn of man. Dr. Muriel Mauriac, curator of the Lascaux Cave in Dordogne, France, will tell the fascinating story of the cave’s discovery, importance as a window to the world of our human ancestors, and current conservation efforts.
This session is sponsored by The Leakey Foundation and Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies.
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