Bettina Arnold was the Banquet Speaker at the Midwest Archaeological Conference

Bettina Arnold, Anthropology, UW-Milwaukee
“Rebuilding the Atlantic Bridge: Old World/New World Comparative Analyses Then and Now”

The late 19th century was a period of unprecedented technological, economic and socio-political change in both Europe and North America. The development of the discipline we now refer to as prehistoric archaeology emerged from this ferment of experimentation and innovation in part out of interactions between antiquarians on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean with a mutual interest in topics related to human cultural and biological evolution. Many of these scholars were trained in the natural as well as cultural sciences and their collecting and publishing activities on behalf of museums and other institutions reflected this broad intellectual focus. Comparisons between the technological adaptations that were just beginning to be explored archaeologically in both hemispheres resulted in several interesting early cross-cultural studies of stone tool and ceramic assemblages associated particularly with what we would now characterize as a Neolithic way of life. This intellectual umbilical cord was largely severed by two world wars and increased intra-disciplinary specialization, virtually erasing collective memory of this early period of active intellectual exchange. This talk will present recent work in museum collections and archives as well as collaborative projects in both the U.S. and Europe that suggests a new and productive era of trans-Atlantic scholarly exchange of ideas may be at hand. (see Conference Announcement)