Who Were the Aztec: Bridging the Gap between Myth and Reality

March 20, 2013
Hosted by Dr. Joseph Schuldenrein

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Episode Description

In a world of sensationalist headlines the Aztec would appear to be the ultimate players. But what do we really know and how do we reconcile contradictory trends and traditions? The archaeological record has provided compelling evidence for human sacrifice and brutal warfare in the interests of conquest and expansion. By the same token, magnificent city-states with pyramids, monumental architecture, and complex trading networks bespeak infrastructures that may be the precursors of contemporary administrative structures. But despite their unchallenged dominance in the region, they fell under the pressure of the Spanish conquistadors who directly accounted for the Aztec collapse. How carefully can archaeology sort out fiction from reality in the Aztec legacy? Our special guest this week is Dr. Michael Smith, a leading expert on Aztec archaeology. Dr. Smith adds his unique insights to these and other questions that may help explain the developmental trajectory of an early complex society.

Indiana Jones: Myth, Reality and 21st Century Archaeology

Indiana Jones: Myth, Reality and 21st Century Archaeology

Archives Available on VoiceAmerica Variety Channel

This show targets an audience interested in archaeology. It explores myths surrounding this exotic, often misunderstood field and acquaints listeners with the contemporary practice of unearthing the human past. Themes range from Dr. Schuldenrein’s own “Indiana Jones”-like adventures in the land of the Bible to his team’s archaeological forensics effort to unearth Kurdish mass graves in Iraq. That undertaking helped convict Saddam Hussein in 2006. Topical issues contribute to the evolution vs. creationism controversy based on updated fossil records and innovative DNA studies. An episode highlights the main funding source for archaeology in the U.S. (Hint: the oil and gas industry). Experts reveal the latest high-tech approaches to buried archaeological landscapes that provide clues to understanding climate change, past, present and future.

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Dr. Joseph Schuldenrein

Dr. Joseph Schuldenrein

Joseph Schuldenrein is president and senior scientist of Geoarcheology Research Associates (GRA) in Yonkers, New York. He has been a Visiting Scholar at New York University since 1996. His professional expertise is in geoarchaeology, a sub-discipline that introduces earth science techniques to traditional archaeological excavation. Joe has worked extensively across North America and the Old World. He received his doctorate in 1983 at the University of Chicago. Recent research in North America has concentrated on the urban archaeology of New York City and Native American landscapes of the Atlantic Coast. Joe’s projects in South Asia have ranged from Human Origins investigations to the beginnings of civilization of the Indus Valley. During the Iraq war Dr. Schuldenrein’s team helped direct a forensic archaeological mission in support of the Saddam Hussein prosecution. His newest venture is an assessment of Cultural Heritage Sites in war-torn Afghanistan (2011). Dr. Schuldenrein publishes widely in numerous archaeological and geological journals. He is a reviewer for American Antiquity, Geoarchaeology, and Quaternary Science Reviews. He has acted as Principal Investigator or Consulting Scientist for grants awarded by the National Science Foundation, Wenner-Gren, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute for Aegean Prehistory. Dr. Schuldenrein has been interviewed for PBS, as well as national and regional TV and radio outlets over the past 30 years.

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