Archaeological Institute of America
Western Illinois Society

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Virtual Lectures for 2022-23


2022-2023 Lecture Descriptions


Thursday, September 15, 2022
“Barbarians” and Bronzes: The Origins of Civilization in Ancient Vietnam

Nam C. Kim Rotroff, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin Madison (
Alumni Hall 302 (Trustees' Room), Knox College, 2 E South Street, Galesburg IL
Two thousand years ago, China’s Han Empire stretched its imperial grasp beyond the mountains far to the south of the Central Plains, reaching into the domains of “barbarians”. Along its southernmost periphery lay the Red River Valley (RRV) of present-day Vietnam. In their chronicles, the Han claimed that they “civilized” the RRV’s “barbarians”. In contrast, many Vietnamese believe this time and location represents the birthplace of an indigenous, Vietnamese civilization that predates Han arrival. This view has been traditionally based on colorful tales and legends. One of the most enduring accounts tells of the Au Lac Kingdom and its capital city, known as Co Loa. Thus, at the heart of ongoing, intense, and sometimes nationalistic debates are two contrasting views. One sees “civilization” as a byproduct of Han arrival, while the other sees it as the outcome of local, indigenous cultural traditions. This lecture presents new and ongoing archaeological research that addresses these themes and questions. Specifically, it highlights recent investigations at the Co Loa site, considered to be the first capital and earliest city of ancient Vietnam.

Thursday, November 10, 2022
Sienkewicz Lecture in Roman Archaeology
"Race, Racism, & Representation in Roman Art: Aethiopians in the Visual Arts of the
Roman World"
Sinclair Bell, Professor of Art History, Northern Illinois University ( )
7:30 pm, Pattee Auditorium (Center for Science and Business 100),  Monmouth College, Monmouth IL
The visual and material culture of the Roman Empire provides an abundant record of encounters
with or just imaginings of foreign peoples. These images render visible complex formulations of
ethnicity, social hierarchies, and power. This lecture surveys the ways in which imperial artists
represented the peoples whom the Romans referred to as Aethiopians or Nubians (i.e., “Black”
Africans) in a variety of visual media. The lecture also considers how and why these works have
been (mis)interpreted or sometimes altogether ignored by ancient art historians, and proposes
new ways of integrating them into future, critical histories of Roman art.