GENERAL MEETING, March 17, 2018
Doors open at 12:30 pm with refreshments. Lecture begins at 1:00 pm.
2017 HCAA Ancient Echoes Journal NOW AVAILABLE!
All current members will receive a complimentary copy of the latest journal at the March 17, 2018 General Meeting.
Those interested in purchasing a copy may do so at the March 17 meeting.
Speaker: Dr. Michael J. O’Brien, Provost, Texas A&M University-San Antonio & Professor of History, Texas A&M University-San Antonio
Lecture Title: “CULTURAL LEARNING AND THE CLOVIS COLONIZATION OF NORTH AMERICA”
The timing of the earliest colonization of North America is debatable, but what is not at issue is the point of origin of the early colonists: Humans entered the continent from Beringia and then made their way south along or near the Pacific Coast and/or through a corridor that ran between the Cordilleran and Laurentide ice sheets in western North America. At some point, they abandoned their Arctic-based tool complex for one more adapted to an entirely different environment.
That new techno-complex is termed “Clovis,” and its dispersal allows us to examine, at a fine scale, how colonization processes played out across a vast continent that at the time had at best a very small resident population. Clovis has figured prominently in American archaeology since the first Clovis points were identified in eastern New Mexico in the 1930s, but the successful marriage of learning models grounded in evolutionary theory and modern analytical methods that began roughly a decade ago has begun to pay significant dividends in terms of what we know about the rapid spread of human groups across the last sizable landmass to witness human occupation.
Michael J. O’Brien was born in Houston in 1950 and graduated from St. Thomas High School in Houston in 1968. His undergraduate degree is from Rice University (1972) and his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin (1977). After graduation he served as a research associate at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln until 1980, when he joined the University of Missouri as an assistant professor of anthropology and director of the American Archaeology Division, the research arm of the anthropology department.
He became director of the Museum of Anthropology several years later and joined the College of Arts and Science dean’s office as associate dean for research. He was promoted to the rank of professor in 1989 and became dean of arts and science in 2006 following a national search.
O’Brien is best known for his work in evolutionary archaeology and biology and has authored or edited 26 books and written over 150 articles, which have appeared in journals such as Science, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Journal of Human Evolution, and Journal of Theoretical Biology. O’Brien and his wife, Gloria, have five grown children and a rather lazy cat, Marley.