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Explore the story how people first arrived and thrived on the Australian continent. Startling new archaeological discoveries reveal how the first Australians adapted, migrated, fought and created in dramatically changing environments.
Join Dr. Peter Veth of University of Western Australia for the Texas premiere of the film First Footprints.
This is a one-night only event. This program is cosponsored by AIA, Houston Society with support from Schlumberger and the Houston Perth Sister City Association.
Tickets $18, Members $12
Drawing from ancient knowledge and cutting edge science, Symphony of the Soil explores the miraculous substance soil. By understanding the elaborate mutual beneficial relationships between soil, water, the atmosphere, plants and animals, we come to appreciate the complex and dynamic nature of this precious resource. The film also examines our human relationship with soil, the use and misuse of soil in agriculture, deforestation and development, and the latest scientific research on soil's key role in ameliorating the most challenging environmental issues of our time. Filmed on four continents, featuring esteemed scientists and working farmers and ranchers, Symphony of the Soil highlights the possibilities of healthy soil creating healthy plants creating healthy humans living on a healthy planet. "It makes you care about our Earth's precious skin, so rare among planets," The Washington Post.
Join John Anderson and Mike Serant of the Organic Horticulture Benefits Alliance for the Texas premiere of Symphony of the Soil. This is a one-night only screening
The Amazonian basin has one of the highest diversities of plants in the world. Dr. Nancy Greig, director of the HMNS Cockrell Butterfly Center, will discuss some of the reasons for this great biodiversity with vibrant images of particularly interesting Amazonian species, including a number of plants involved in ant-plant symbioses. Following the lecture, the audience is invited to tour the Butterfly Center and Insect Zoo to view some living examples of plants and insects from the neotropical region.
Dr. Vince Houghton, historian and curator of the International Spy Museum in Washington DC will trace US intelligence tactics used before the American Revolution to today's scientific and technological intelligence. His talk will include traditional espionage (HUMINT - HUMan INTelligence—the "spies"), technical collection (SIGINT - SIGnals INTelligence, IMINT – IMagery INTelligence-spy planes, satellites, drones, the NSA), covert action (paramilitary action, assassination, propaganda, etc.), and counterintelligence (catching the other guys' "spies").
One of the oldest living traditions on the planet, Australian Aboriginal rock art informs us about the very nature of cognitive origins. Dr. Peter Veth will explore why aboriginal tribes feel compelled to decorate their landscape and what meaning this art form holds for them. Perhaps creating art is essential to the human spirit.
Archaeologist Peter Veth is a professor at University of Western Australia who studies ethnohistoric and ethnographic artwork in an archaeological context. This lecture is cosponsored by AIA, Houston Society with support from Schlumberger and the Houston Perth Sister City Association.
The food we eat and its preparation define us as humans as few things do. Archaeologists theorize that cooking and feasting enabled the human brain to expand. Excavations on Cyprus reveal the presence of large stone ovens much larger than a single tribe required, apparently for the purpose of sharing feasts in the Neolithic period dating to 10,000 years ago. Dr. Andrew McCarthy will explore how cooking and feasting may be decisive steps toward the development of civilization. Perhaps the origin of our holiday feasts is result of humankind’s greatest prehistoric inventions.
Dr. Andrew McCarthy is the director of the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute in Nicosia, Cyprus. This lecture is cosponsored by AIA, Houston Society.
Could extinct species, like mammoths, be brought back to life? The science says yes! Dr. Beth Shapiro, evolutionary biologist and pioneer in "ancient DNA" research, will present the astonishing and controversial process of de-extinction, which could redefine conservation's future. From deciding which species should be restored, to sequencing their genomes, to anticipating how revived populations might be overseen in the wild, Shapiro vividly explores the extraordinary cutting-edge science that is being used today to resurrect the past - along with its practical benefits and ethical challenges. A book signing of Shapiro's new book How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction will follow the lecture.
Marilyn Johnson's will offer an entertaining look at the lives of contemporary archaeologists as they sweat under the sun for clues to the puzzle of our past. Johnson digs and drinks alongside archaeologists, chases them through the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and even Machu Picchu, and excavates their lives. Her subjects share stories we rarely read in history books, about slaves and Ice Age hunters, ordinary soldiers of the American Revolution, children of the first century, Chinese woman warriors, sunken fleets, mummies. What drives these archaeologists is not the money (meager) or the jobs (scarce) or the working conditions (dangerous), but their passion for the stories that would otherwise be buried and lost. Book signing of Lives in Ruins following lecture.
India is home to thousands of painted archaeological sites with spectacular images. Dating from 10,000 years ago to historical times, distinctive themes are found in the Mesolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic and historical periods. While researching this rock art, leading authority on cave art, Dr. Jean Clottes studied tribes who continue to use traditional arts for protection and ceremonial purposes. He and his team collected testimonies on these rapidly vanishing practices and their meanings. Clottes will share how the persistence of age-old traditions in these local tribes have helped interpret the rock art and explain its deeper meanings.
Stonehenge still has secrets to reveal. Since 2003, a new era of archaeological investigation of this enigmatic Neolithic monument has produced a wealth of new information about Stonehenge and the people who built it. The research of the Stonehenge Riverside Project lead by Dr. Michael Parker-Pearson and other investigations are providing major insights into the purpose of Stonehenge, the lives of its creators, and reason that some stones came from nearly 200 miles away.
Michael Parker-Pearson is professor of British prehistory at the University College London's Institute of Archaeology. This lecture is cosponsored by AIA, Houston Society with support from Apache.
Although a child can tell the difference between a chimp and a man, identifying the specific DNA mutations that make us human is one of the greatest challenges of biology. The genomic sequence is approximately 3 billion letters long, with millions of mutations and rearrangements specific to humans. Using computational algorithms to compare our DNA to that of chimpanzees, other mammals, and Neanderthal and Denisovan fossils, we learned that the human genome did not evolve especially fast. Instead, it seems that a few mutations in critical places had big effects. Most of these "Human Accelerated Regions" are not genes, and science has no clue to their function when they were discovered a decade ago. New techniques in stem cell biology, genome editing, and high-throughput molecular biology are allowing us to discover the functions of the fastest evolving regions of the human genome and dissect how individual DNA mutations altered these functions to make us human.
Dr. Katherine Pollard is a Senior Investigator at the Gladstone Institutes and Professor of Biostatistics and Human Genetics at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Pollard's lab develops statistical and computational methods for the analysis of massive biological datasets, with an emphasis on evolutionary genomics of humans and the human microbiota. She pioneered the comparative genomic approach to scan genomes of related species to identify regions that are evolving with different rates or patterns in a particular lineage. Using this technique, her lab identified the fastest evolving regions in the human genome and in the DNA of many living and ancestral species.
This lecture is sponsored by The Leakey Foundation.
No other manmade monuments command such curiosity, awe and veneration as the pyramids of Egypt. Recent discoveries have shed new light on these mysterious ancient wonders. From the Great Pyramids at Giza, the emblem of the Fourth Dynasty, to the older but lesser known pyramids of the Third Dynasty, these monuments have captivated people from around the globe. Dr. Zahi Hawass will provide fresh insight into the civilization that developed on the banks of the Nile during the fourth and third millennia BC. He will detail the world that existed around the pyramids, on the lives of the workers who built them, and on the court dignitaries who were granted the privilege of a burial place near that of their king.
Dr. Zahi Hawass is Egypt's leading archaeologist and director of excavations at Giza, Saqqara, Bahariya Oasis and the Valley of the Kings excavation sites. In this special lecture at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Dr. Hawass will reveal recent, important discoveries at Saqqara.
A book signing of Pyramids: Treasures, Mysteries, and New Discoveries in Egypt will follow the lecture. Dr. Zahi Hawass has included Houston on his 2015 US Archaeology Month Tour.
Tickets $60, Members $47
Ceremonial objects, headdresses, masks, body costumes--all unique to the different tribes of the Amazon Rainforest. In conversation with curator of anthropology Dr. Dirk Van Tuerenhout, Adam Meckler, will share stories of everyday life among the rapidly disappearing indigenous groups of the Amazon. Aspects Amazonian cultures will be illustrated with beautiful images of rare tribal artifacts. Adam Meckler is curator of Houston Museum of Natural Science's unparalleled Amazonia collection.
No other human invention has changed mankind more than writing. It affects the how we communicate, remember, dream, explore the world, and even the way we think. Today, we learn to count and write at such an early age that our ability to think about the meaning we assign to symbols is taken for granted.
Explaining how writing began with man's urge to capture ideas and thoughts in a physical form, Dr. Denise Schmandt-Besserat takes us on a human odyssey to discover how--from tokens to text--we found the 'write' stuff. Dr. Denise Schmandt-Besserat is professor emerita at the University of Texas at Austin. This lecture is cosponsored by AIA, Houston Society with support from Aramco.