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Monthly Speakers

Our FREE General meetings are held on the 4th Tues. of each month, except December (and summer months) at 7:30 pm.  Come early to mingle, socialize, and network with fellow archaeology-minded folks - and enjoy light refreshments.


The meetings are held at Los Peñasquitos Ranch House.


Tuesday April 22nd 2014 @7:30 p.m.

The Wantok System, Scale and Vulnerability: Shaping Disaster Recovery in an Immigrant Community of the Western Solomon Islands


Presented by Savanna Schuermann

On April 2, 2007, a 6m tsunami struck Ghizo Island, Western Province, Solomon Islands. One of the most severe impacts was in Titiana, a distinct Micronesian community, where 13 villagers were killed. Despite the similar impact in a nearby Melanesian village, Pailongge, no deaths occurred. Moreover, the villages experienced a differential recovery. Social vulnerability largely determines a hazard’s impact and the ability to recover, a process influenced by broader socio-political dynamics, like politics, regional exchange, and marginalization. This thesis examines how the Solomon Island government, wantok system, and immigrant status dynamically shaped vulnerability in Titiana and Pailongge and how this underlies their differential recovery. Results show the Solomon Island wantok system, a pre- capitalist Melanesian exchange pattern in which people favor their wantok – individuals united through shared kinship, language and place – heavily influenced recovery. Specifically, post-disaster aid distribution at multiple organizational scales flowed primarily along wantok networks, creating a biased allocation. Titiana and Pailongge households’ disparate connections to these networks strongly influenced the aid they received and their overall vulnerability to the tsunami’s impact. Importantly, this process was highly scale-dependent. While Titiana’s immigrant status largely excluded them from these wantok networks, increasing their vulnerability, Pailongge was not necessarily resilient at all organizational scales (e.g. community, regional, national). Therefore, this thesis also explores how the wantok system and vulnerability are dynamic, inherently contradictory processes, both dependent upon and transformative across scales. The analysis challenges more static approaches to vulnerability. Understanding the shifting articulation of the wantok system, vulnerability, and resilience hasvimplications for the future vulnerability and resiliency of Melanesian societies.


Tuesday March 25th 2014 @ 7:30 p.m.

Ritual Symbols in Rock Art: Cupules and Incised Grooves in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands, Texas


Presented by Cara Ratner

Rock art at archaeological sites are often dismissed as a culturally symbolic representation that cannot be objectively or scientifically analyzed or interpreted adequately. Such dismissals are detrimental to understanding all aspects of a given culture. Although uninformed interpretations of rock art panels are counterproductive, systematic recording and the testing of different hypotheses is a valid way to begin to better understand the possible range of social functions of rock art. This research examines whether indigenous women’s fertility is represented in rock art depictions, known as cupules and groove marks, in the archaeological record.  Cupules are defined as a boulder or rock slab covered with small rounded depressions (cupules), usually four to six centimeters in diameter and two to three centimeters in depth. Groove marks are deeply and narrowly incised lines rarely more than two centimeters in depth.  In this research, I systematically document and contextualize the pit and groove rock art style in the Lower Pecos, Texas. I also test whether cupules and groove marks are tied to a functional purpose with an experimental project.


Tuesday February 25th 2014 @ 7:30 p.m.

Wisdom in the Waste: Obsidian Studies and Late Prehistoric Social Systems


Presented by Nikki Falvey
Perfect for flint-knapping and beautiful to behold, obsidian is always an exciting find at an archaeological site. However, as an exchange item with at least 80km between its quarry sources and San Diego County, its discovery also provides valuable information about exchange networks during the last period of our local prehistory. This presentation will outline how social organization and settlement patterns can be investigated through the examination of obsidian artifact distribution and frequency.



Tuesday January 28th 2014 @7:30 p.m.

A Visit to the British Museum


Presented by Ken Hedges

On a recent trip to England, Ken Hedges, San Diego archaeologist and former museum curator, was able to tour the galleries of the British Museum.  With the January lecture, Hedges will discuss the wide ranging collections he encountered and tour you through the archaeological galleries of one of the world’s most fascinating museums.




 Previous Years 

2012 Monthly Speakers

2013 Monthly Speakers