Anthony's "Old Europe" Exhibit Turning Heads at NYC Institute

December 4, 2009

Hartwick College Professor of Anthropology David Anthony, guest curator for New York University's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, recently opened "The Lost World of Old Europe: The Danube Valley, 5000-3500 BC" to great acclaim and interest at the New York City institution. Anthony curated the exhibition during his sabbatical from Hartwick, while co-editing the show catalog with Jennifer Y. Chi, the ISAW's associate director for exhibitions.

The unprecedented exhibition, never before seen in the United States, brings together 250 objects recovered by archaeologists from the graves, towns, and villages of Old Europe. It features works on loan from 20 museums in Romania, Bulgaria, and Moldova. Included are goddess figures, golden jewelry, elaborate metal ornaments, and weapons from Europe's first civilization.

New York Times science reporter John Noble Wilford authored a piece for the November 30 edition on the exhibit titled "A Lost European Culture, Pulled From Obscurity."

Old Europe is a series of related prehistoric cultures that achieved a precocious peak of sophistication and creativity in what is now southeastern Europe between 5000 and 4000 BC, and then mysteriously collapsed by 3500 BC. Long before Egypt or Mesopotamia rose to an equivalent level of achievement, Old Europe was among the most sophisticated places that humans inhabited. Some of its towns grew to city-like sizes. Potters developed striking designs, and the ubiquitous goddess figurines found in houses and shrines have triggered intense debates about women's roles in Old European society.

Moreover, the copper-smiths were, in their day, the most advanced metal artisans in the world. Their passionate interest in acquiring copper, gold, Aegean shells, and other rare valuables created networks of negotiation that reached surprisingly far, permitting some of their chiefs to be buried with pounds of gold and copper in funerals without parallel in the Near East or Egypt at the time.

The ISAW is a new research and teaching institute at New York University dedicated to archaeology. It is a center for advanced scholarly research and graduate education, intended to cultivate comparative and connective investigations of the ancient world. Anthony's expertise and reputation in the field prompted ISAW to seek him out for the position.

"David's appointment at ISAW is a credit to his scholarship and his teaching. Both are exemplary, and Hartwick students have been fortunate to benefit from both throughout his tenure at the College," said Hartwick College President Dr. Margaret L. Drugovich, in announcing Anthony’s appointment earlier this year.

Anthony is an author, Curator of Anthropology Collections at Hartwick's Yager Museum of Art & Culture, Director of the Institute for Ancient Equestrian Studies, and Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology of North America, Europe, and the Eurasian steppes.

As Curator of Anthropology for the Yager Museum, he researches and mounts one exhibit every other year, most recently (2007-08) on Hartwick's Native American collections and on early 20th century fishing tourism in Canada. He also helps to direct an archaeology field school at Hartwick’s Pine Lake Environmental Campus. Excavations there have found a series of hunter-gatherer American Indian sites dated 2500-1500 BC.

Anthony works closely with his research collaborator and spouse, Dorcas Brown, who has co-authored many of his articles and co-directs his excavation projects. Their work has reached beyond Hartwick College. The Samara Valley Project was a four-year excavation project in the Russian steppes conducted with the help of Hartwick students, funded by the National Science Foundation and National Geographic Society. Earlier, their discovery of the earliest evidence of horseback riding attracted international attention. They worked together on his acclaimed book The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze Age Riders From the Eurasian Steppe Shaped the Modern World, which summarizes 20 years of archaeological research in Ukraine, Russia, and Kazakhstan in an effort to determine the origins of the Indo-European language family.

Lost World of Old Europe is on view from November 11, 2009 through April 25, 2010 at ISAW, located at 15 East 84th Street in Manhattan. Exhibition hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday. The exhibition is free and open to the public. In conjunction, ISAW will present an array of free public programs, including films, lectures, and music. For a detailed list, visit:

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,480 students, located in Oneonta, NY in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive Liberal Arts in Practice curriculum merges traditional liberal arts study, personalized teaching, and experiential learning approaches to emphasize Connecting the Classroom to the World. Add to that a wide range of off-campus internships, collaborative research, study-abroad opportunities, and a unique January Term, and Hartwick prepares students for the world ahead. Strong financial aid and scholarship programs keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Christopher Lott
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