Societies News

December 17, 2014

Society Spotlight: AIA New Orleans Society

by Emily Maskas

AIA New Orleans Society President Connie Rodriguez

As 2015 approaches, the Archaeological Institute of America is busily preparing for the 2015 AIA & SCS Joint Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA. From January 8-11, 2015, archaeologists will gather to share the latest research and discoveries in the field, and explore the city’s rich history. The AIA is proud to have a long-standing local society in New Orleans, which hosts many fascinating, multi-disciplinary lectures each year. If you are traveling to New Orleans next month, please read more about archaeological interest in the area.

 The origins of the AIA New Orleans Society are shrouded in mystery, although AIA records indicate that the society was chartered in 1964. Current Society President Connie Rodriguez is grateful that the former president, the late Susan Levy, left her what records the society does have, mostly starting in 1971-1972. Dr. Rodriguez took over as President in 2000, and society membership has grown under her watch.

Lectures held by the New Orleans Society usually take place on the campus of Loyola University New Orleans, often in the Whitney Bank Presentation Room, a former chapel. Dr. Rodriguez reports that lectures can be “standing-room only,” with more than fifty people in attendance. The most frequent attendees may not be professional archaeologists, but devoted fans of the field who are “religious” about the lectures and very knowledgeable about the subjects. Archaeologists affiliated with the society include Dr. Kenneth Harl, Dr. Susann Lusnia and Dr. Christopher Rodning, all at Tulane University; of local interest, Dr. Rodning is exploring the archaeology of Fort San Juan in Burke County, North Carolina. Many Loyola and Tulane students also attend society lectures, and some local high school teachers make an effort to bring their students. A past lecture about the Yukon Gold Rush on Halloween drew students dressed in costumes and made for a very fun evening.

Every year, the society holds a lecture featuring a Loyola lecturer and a lecture featuring a Tulane lecturer. These lectures are not limited to strictly archaeological topics; a notable past lecture involved the “archaeology” of Woody Guthrie, and drew staff from the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, OK and local radio personalities. Dr. Rodriguez, who has lectured on Roman dress boots for the AIA in the past and has a manuscript forthcoming, predicts that an upcoming lecture entitled “Richard III, The King Under the Car Park: the story of the search for the burial place of England’s last Plantagenet king,” by Richard Buckley will be very popular.

New Orleans has many archaeological resources for those interested. The Louisiana Office of Cultural Development: Archaeology Division, which manages local archaeological sites, sponsors Louisiana Archaeology Month each autumn and hosts many lectures. The Middle American Research Institute at Tulane University hosts a Maya Symposium each year. The American Research Center in Egypt has an active interest group in New Orleans. Many areas of archaeology are well represented in New Orleans, and can be explored during the Annual Meeting or for future visits.

We wish the AIA New Orleans Society and its members the best over the 2014-2015 academic year, and are interested to hear about the unique lectures they are planning to host. The next AIA National Lecture, coming to New Orleans on Friday, January 23, 2015 at 8pm is “The Archaic sanctuary on Kythnos (Cyclades) and its importance for the understanding of Greek cult practices,” by Alexander Mazarakis Ainian. If you are in the area, please stop by.

Current AIA members in Louisiana who would like to become more involved with the AIA New Orleans Society can contact Dr. Connie Rodriguez at for further information. If you are at the AIA Annual Meeting in January, and need restaurant suggestions or directions, just look for Dr. Rodriguez as she is happy to help you.

If you have any questions about membership with the AIA or your local society, please contact Deanna Baker at 617-353-8705 or

If you are a society president and would like to see your society featured, please contact Samantha Craig at 617-353-9364 or

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