Lecture Program

AIA Lecturer: John W. Arthur

Affiliation: University of South Florida, St. Petersburg

John Arthur is Associate Professor with the Department of Society, Culture, and Language at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, and holds his degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Texas at San Antonio (MA), and the University of Florida (PhD).  His research interests are ethnoarchaeology, the archaeology of beer, ceramic technology, experimental archaeology, craft specialization, complex societies, African archaeology and North American archaeology, and his current project is on interpreting social stratification from African archaeological and living contexts.  His work in the Gamo highlands (southwestern Ethiopia) with Kathryn Arthur and Matthew Curtis led to the 2015 article in Science describing a 4,500 year old male human skeleton from Mota Cave that provided the first complete ancient human genome sequenced from the African continent found.


This talk looks at the evidence of beer in the archaeological record from China, Egypt, Nubia, Mesopotamia, and the Americas and whether beer may have been a factor in the domestication of grains. In addition to the archaeological evidence, I’ll discuss the importance of beer among many indigenous societies for daily food but also as a ritual lubricant during feasts. My ethnoarchaeological and archaeological research from southwestern Ethiopia documents how we can decipher beer in the archaeological record.

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