Most people think archaeology is fascinating but irrelevant to the problems of the modern world. Jerry Sabloff begs to differ. Where archaeologists once concerned themselves with palaces, temples, and princely lifestyles, they now want to know how the common people lived.

In the 2014 Stanislaw Ulam Memorial Lecture Series, Sabloff showed how lessons today's archaeologists are learning about the past offer insights that could shape present and future human societies.

Read the article in the Santa Fe New Mexican (September 8, 2014) 

SFI's Stanislaw Ulam Memorial Lecture Series honors the memory of the late theoretical mathematician Stanislaw Ulam.

Part I, Tuesday, September 9: How insights from archaeology might help shape our future Sabloff described how insights from archaeology might help shape our future. Despite its popularity, archaeology’s public perception is not as accurate as it could be. Archaeologists do not have their collective heads immersed in the past, as is often supposed, but are very much concerned with both the present and future, too. In Part I Sabloff explored how, even in the face of overwhelming data recovery and interpretive hurdles, archaeologists have developed a host of approaches that can provide new perspectives on modern problems and concerns.

Watch the video here (76 minutes).

Part II, Wednesday, September 10: The ancient Maya & modern archaeology's populous focus - While the great architectural, artistic, and intellectual achievements of Pre-Columbian Maya peoples continue to bedazzle us for their richness, an understanding of the arc of ancient Maya civilization has relevance to problems facing the world today. Sabloff focused on lessons about sustainability and societal resilience gleaned from new evidence relating to the decline of many major cities in the southern Maya Lowlands in the ninth century CE. He also explored heritage education and tourism in today’s Maya world, among other topics.

Watch the video here (85 minutes).

Jerry Sabloff is the president of the Santa Fe Institute and an expert on ancient Maya civilization and pre-industrial urbanism. Before coming to Santa Fe, he taught at Harvard University, the University of Utah, the University of New Mexico (where he was chair of the Department of Anthropology), the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Pennsylvania. He has authored or co-authored nine books on archaeology and Maya civilization, the most recent of which is Archaeology Matters (Left Coast Press, 2008).

SFI’s 2014 Community Lecture series is generously sponsored by Thornburg Investment Management.

For a complete listing of upcoming SFI community events, please check here.