Home CMAA History Lecture Series Exhibits CMAA Membership Form

Fall 2015 Lecture Series


A Major Four Part Lecture Series
Moderated by Jerome Berman
Director of the California Museum of Ancient Art
Four Special Evenings of Exploration
Mondays, October 19 and 26, November 2 and 9, 2015, 7:30-9:00 pm
Piness Auditorium, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, 3663 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles

This unique series is the first ever presented by the California Museum of Ancient Art on Nautical Archaeology of the Ancient Near East. Four in-depth programs explore two celebrated ancient shipwrecks, a Biblical boat and one of the world's earliest harbors. Understand how ancient seafaring influenced trade, diplomacy, the diffusion of ideas and religion, ship building and much more. And see spectacular treasures of the deep. The series is made possible by two generous gifts from Jeannette and Jonathan P. Rosen, CMAA Lifetime Charter Members, and from John Matrisciano, CMAA Board of Directors Member.

VIDEO and AUDIO RECORDINGS: DVDs and CDs are available for this series. DVDs are $28 per lecture, $90 for the full series (4 programs); CDs are $21 per lecture, $70 for the series. Price includes shipping and tax.

Please contact the California Museum of Ancient Art, P. O. Box 10515, Beverly Hills, CA 90213 for DVDs and CDs.


This Fall an international Who's Who of renowned experts on the archaeology of the sea — representing Italy, Turkey, the United States and Israel — are coming to Los Angeles to present four illustrated lectures. Peer through a window into the cultures of the Ancient Near East using the relatively new science of Nautical Archaeology. Explore 2,000 years of history: from an early Red Sea harbor where expeditions were launched to the fabled Land of Punt returning with exotic materials from Africa, to the famous Uluburun ship sunk off the coast of Turkey 3300 years ago (a Bronze Age time capsule), to Noah's Ark in Genesis and an earlier version of the Flood in the Epic of Gilgamesh, and complete our journey at the Sea of Galilee on a modest fisherman's boat like those used by Jesus' disciples in the first century AD.

When we think of famous ships, the Titanic comes to mind. Yet the most famous ship of all time is Noah's Ark. In this series, we examine how the Babylonian Noah constructed his Ark. At Uluburun in Turkey, the world's oldest and richest shipwreck, from the time of King Tut, reveals treasures not found on land. At the Sea of Galilee, a humble fishing boat connects us to the time of Jesus. And we begin on land at Saaw, a 3,800-year-old Pharaoh's harbor on the Red Sea offering hints about the location of the legendary Land of Punt.

Join us in an amazing adventure as we explore Ancient Shipwrecks and Harbors: Great Discoveries in Underwater Archaeology. Our educational series will take place at Piness Auditorium inside Wilshire Boulevard Temple, 3663 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles (at Hobart three blocks east of Western). Free parking is available in a lot on Hobart.

Monday, October 19, 2015
"Pharaohs on the Red Sea: an Early Egyptian Harbor at Mersa Gawasis and the Search for the Land of Punt"
by Dr. Cheryl Ward, Institute of Nautical Archaeology

During the Bronze Age, Punt was an important source of exotic raw materials for Egypt including highly valued ebony logs and incense. Textual evidence demonstrates that Egyptian trade with Punt dates from the Old Kingdom, with direct seafaring links in the Middle Kingdom via one of the world's earliest harbors on the Red Sea. Hatshepsut, the most famous female Pharaoh, bragged that no one in 450 years had sent a major expedition to Punt for aromatic incense ("the breath of the Gods") and other luxury goods.

Recent archaeological research at Mersa Gawasis on the Red Sea in Egypt provides a rich new source of evidence about travel to Punt. Details of the organization of ancient Egyptian seafaring expeditions and nautical technology in the Bronze Age, including the remains of some of the world's oldest seagoing ships, reveal the secrets of this ancient harbor known as Saaw (modern-day Mersa Gawasis). Actual Dynasty 12 ship timbers, anchors, ropes, cargo boxes, inscribed stele, ostraca and papyri have helped Dr. Ward to reconstruct and sail a full-sized Punt ship like those the Egyptians used for their 1500-mile round trip Red Sea voyages almost 4000 years ago.

While the site of Punt has long been debated, imported ceramics excavated at Mersa Gawasis, originally from the coast of Yemen, the region of Aden, Eritrea and southeastern Sudan, point to a likely location for the Land of Punt. Dr. Ward's illustrated lecture will demonstrate how ancient Egyptians had the sophisticated technology and organization to move men and ships from the Nile Valley to the Red Sea and return.

Cheryl Anne Ward, Research Associate and Adjunct Professor at the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, received her PhD from Texas A&M University in 1993. Specializing in underwater archaeology and ancient Egyptian ships, Dr. Ward has taught at Florida State, Texas A&M and Bilkent University in Turkey. Her many awards and grants include National Geographic Society, National Science Foundation and a major grant to rebuild and sail a full-scale replica of an ancient Egyptian seagoing ship. Dr. Ward is the author of three books and numerous articles.

Monday, October 26, 2015
"Excavating the World's Oldest Shipwreck at Uluburun: a Remarkable Late Bronze Age Time Capsule"
by Dr. Cemal Pulak, Texas A&M University

The Late Bronze Age Uluburun ship (circa 1320 BC) included in its cargo 10 tons of copper ingots and one ton of tin ingots, terebinth resin and oil in Canaanite jars, glass ingots, elephant and hippopotamus tusks, ostrich eggshells, ebony logs, gold and silver jewelry, bronze tools, weapons and much more. Rare or unknown objects from land excavations include a unique golden scarab of Queen Nefertiti. Although most cargo originated from Syro-Palestinian or Cypriot ports, the ship's home port was almost certainly on the north Carmel Coast of Israel. A bronze statuette of a goddess with head, hands and feet covered in sheet gold is Canaanite in origin.

The ship's cargo, likely a royal or an elite dispatch of enormously rich and valuable raw materials and manufactured goods, was intended for a single destination. The venture was entrusted to Canaanite officials who carried prestige gifts for the elites receiving the cargo. Mycenaean items of personal nature point to the presence of two individuals escorting the ship and goods to a Mycenaean port. The recovery of a rare ceremonial scepter-mace from Bulgaria or Romania is evidence of an Aegean connection extending into the northern Balkans.

This remarkable shipwreck demonstrates how Near Eastern raw materials and manufactured goods were dispersed through maritime routes to the Aegean and beyond. Late Bronze Age trade was an integral part of life, not only to obtain raw materials not available locally, but also as a means of diplomacy and  cultural exchange.

Cemal M. Pulak, Frederick R. Mayer Associate Professor of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University, received his PhD from Texas A&M in 1996. Director of the underwater excavation of the Uluburun Shipwreck, he is now in charge of conservation, research, and publication of its unique treasures. Nearly 100 objects from the wreck were displayed at the 2008 Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit, "Beyond Babylon." Dr. Pulak authored many essays for that catalog in addition to books and numerous articles on maritime archaeology.

Monday, November 2, 2015
"Was Noah's Ark a Sewn Boat? As Viewed through the Epic of Gilgamesh"
by Dr. Ralph Pedersen, Red Sea Institute for Anthropological Research

The story of the flood is perhaps the earliest tale ever written down. Appearing first in Sumerian, where the hero, Ziusudra, built a large boat to save life on earth, the tale moved through the centuries and cultures of Mesopotamia entrancing audiences, as the flood story still does today. Various versions all contain a boat of large size but varying character — sometimes of reed, sometimes of wood.

While the ark in The Book of Genesis is the best known, a more detailed description of its construction is found in Tablet XI of the Standard Version of the Epic of Gilgamesh. In this version, Utnapishtim is the story's hero. Written in Babylonian and dating to the late second millennium BC, this ancient cuneiform tablet caused a sensation in the 1870s when first deciphered because of its many Old Testament parallels. Yet the construction of the ark itself remained a mystery. A lack of knowledge of ancient boat-building techniques and an absence of graphic art of any Mesopotamian boat building led to much confusion and speculation

In his illustrated talk, Dr. Pedersen will offer a new interpretation of the ark's construction, synthesizing the Gilgamesh text with archaeological and ethnographic evidence. He will show that ark timbers were sewn together in a construction method known from the Indian Ocean for the last 2,000 years. His interpretation helps us visualize how ancient Mesopotamians built their boats and how the Biblical ark was constructed.

Ralph K. Pedersen, President of the Red Sea Institute for Anthropological Research, received his PhD in Nautical Archaeology from Texas A&M University in 2003. He has held teaching positions at the University of San Diego, Philipps-Universität Marburg and American University in Beirut. Author of many articles including "Noah's Ark — A Sewn Boat?" the May-June 2005 cover story of Biblical Archaeology Review, Dr. Pedersen has worked in underwater archaeology in the Dominican Republic, Turkey, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon and India.

Monday, November 9, 2015
"The Sea of Galilee Boat: an Extraordinary 2,000 Year Old Discovery"
by Dr. Shelley Wachsmann, Texas A&M University

The Sea of Galilee, which despite its name is a freshwater lake, serves as Israel's main water reservoir. In 1986, the country was in the grips of a severe drought. As water was pumped from the Sea of Galilee, its level plummeted, revealing vast expanses of muddy lakebed. Two brothers, amateur archaeologists, saw this as an opportunity to search for an ancient boat... and surprisingly they found one. Thus began a unique adventure.

Representing large, all-purpose fishing boats common on the lake at this time, research reveals that it is the type of boat mentioned in the Gospels and used by the disciples of Jesus. Jews employed the same type of vessel in the brutal nautical Battle of Migdal in AD 67, against a makeshift Roman fleet. Dr. Wachsmann's illustrated lecture will describe the adventure of the boat's discovery and excavation, and delve into what research reveals about the boat and its milieu. An author's signing for three of Dr. Wachsmann's books will follow the lecture.

Shelley Wachsmann, Meadows Professor of Biblical Archaeology at Texas A&M University, received his PhD in Near Eastern Archaeology from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem in 1990. Underwater Antiquities Inspector for the Israeli Department of Antiquities, he carried out maritime excavations in the Mediterranean, Red Sea and Sea of Galilee. Dr. Wachsmann is the author of five books including the two volumes: The Sea of Galilee Boat: An Extraordinary 2000 Year Old Discovery and Seagoing Ships and Seamanship in the Bronze Age Levant.