Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Front Range Neanderthal Workshop - UC Denver, Dec. 11

In one of my last posts, I mentioned in passing that I'm hosting a workshop on the UC Denver campus this coming Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010. The event - the Front Range Neanderthal Workshop - is to be held in the historic Tivoli Building which currently serves as the student union on our campus (but used to house the Tivoli Brewing Company and still is the only place you can get a beer on campus these days).

The rationale for the workshop is pretty simple: there's quite a few people doing Neanderthal/Paleolithic research within about a two-hour drive from Denver, all of whom are doing really interesting research. In fact, I'd even go as far as saying that the density of Neanderthal specialists along the Front Range is among the highest outside of Europe. Yet, for a variety of reasons, we rarely come together to take full benefit of each other's expertise or bounce ideas off of one another. Sure, nowadays, you could argue that face-to-face interaction is not necessary, but my view is that nothing replaces direct interaction.

So with that in mind, I invited colleagues from my own institution, CU Boulder, Colorado State University (where I had a wonderful time when I gave a talk there last month - thanks to Chris and Mica for setting it up!), UC Colorado Springs, Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the University of Wyoming, to congregate on the UC Denver campus so we can give each other an overview of and comment on our ongoing research. As well, I've invited students to present posters on some of their own project, so that they can get some feedback on their ongoing projects from specialists in the field. Here's the program of the day:

9:15 - The Middle and Upper Pleistocene Record of Western Europe and South Africa: Similarities and Differences.
P. Villa, CU Museum of Natural History

9:40 - How to Think like a Neandertal.
T. Wynn & F. Coolidge, UC Colorado Springs

10:05 - The Paleobiogeography of Central Asia: Addressing the Validity of a Neandertal Range.
M. Glantz, Colorado State University

10:30 Coffee break

10:45 - 'Necessity is the Mother of Invention': Late Neanderthal Cultural Innovation in Context
J. Riel-Salvatore, UC Denver

11:10 - The Neandertal-Modern Human Biocultural Transition in South-Central Europe: The Evidence From Croatia.
J.C. Ahern et al., University of Wyoming

11:35 - The Early Upper Paleolithic of Eastern Europe Reconsidered..
J.F. Hoffecker, CU Boulder

12:00 - The Upper Paleolithic Levels at Ksar Akil, Lebanon, and the Levantine Aurignacian.
J. Williams, SWCA

12:30 - Student poster session:

  T. Beeton et al.: GIS Modeling of Hominin Landscape Exploitation Strategies in Central Asia.

  L. Denton: The Internal Structure of Shovel Shaped Incisors Revealed.

   I.C. Ludeke et al.: Contrasting Neanderthal and Homo sapiens Use of Space at Riparo Bombrini, Italy.

  I. Riley et al.: Evaluating the Ballistic Properties of Levallois Points from ‘Ain Difla (Jordan).

  C.J. Tinti: Understanding Patterned Behaviors through the Analysis of Femoral Neck Torsion.

Two of these posters are by some of my own students, Ingrid Ludeke and Ian Riley, who are presenting preliminary results of really interesting projects we've been working on together for the past semester.

The talks and poster session are open to the public, provided interested parties register by contacting me directly (replace the dot by, well, dots!). There's also a roundtable in the afternoon that includes my UC Denver colleagues D. Tracer and C. Musiba, as well as S. Nash of the DMNS, but that is closed to the public. If you want more info, you can also download the program in pdf format.

In any case, here's to hoping I haven't jinxed the event by talking about it before it happens (they're predicting snow on Saturday morning, of course), but I really think it's going to be a lot of fun on top of being a great occasion to hear about some really forward-looking research by very active scholars in the field.

Café Scientifique postmortem

My Colorado Café Scientifique talk this past Monday went very well, with about 100 people crammed upstairs at Brooklyn's and firing off over an hour's worth of questions at yours truly. It was great fun, and many thanks to Eric Meer and John Cohen for all their hard work setting it up and running the two incarnations of Colorado Café Scientifique

If you live in the Denver and have an interest in science, definitely try to attend their lectures; I can guarantee you won't regret it. I also wasn't aware of this, but I was told that the Colorado Café is one of the biggest in North America, and its monthly talks are always very well attended. Yet another reason to like life in Denver!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Neanderthal innovation at tonight's Denver Café Scientifique

Hiya folks! Yes, I'm still alive, but have been incredibly, incredibly busy, a business that shows no sign of abating until December 11. Why December 11? It's when I'm hosting the Front Range Neanderthal Workshop on the UC Denver campus! But more on that in a but.

Focusing on the here and now, tonight, December 6 2010, at 6:30PM, I'm presenting an overview of some of my recent research on Neanderthal innovation and niche construction as part of the Denver Café Scientifique series. In their words, at the
"Café Scientifique, people (often science buffs) come together in a friendly pub after work and hear an informal (no PowerPoint!) introduction to an interesting current scientific topic, led by an expert. We take a short break for refreshments, to meet new people, and chat, and then we return for questions and answers and general discussion. All questions and comments are welcome, as this isn't a seminar, it's a chance for all of us to express an opinion, expert or otherwise."

So this is a non-technical talk (and powerpoint-free, to boot!) geared to an educated, but non-specialist audience. The talk's titled "So Easy a Caveman Could Do It: Neanderthals Innovated Independent of Modern Humans." So if Neanderthals float your boat, or if you'd like to learn about them, by all means, come down. The event is free and open to the public, at it starts at 6:30PM at Brooklyn's, just North of the UC Denver campus. So if any Denver-area readers want to come and meet, I'll be there and would love to meet you!

PS: To the readers who left comments on my post about my recent JAMT paper, thank you! I haven't forgotten about you, and I'm hoping to be able to provide replies in short order.