Promoting archaeological inquiry and public understanding of the diverse cultures of the human past


The Archaeological Institute of America - Jacksonville Society

The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) is the world's oldest and largest archaeological organization. The AIA is a nonprofit founded in 1879 and chartered by the United States Congress in 1906. There are more than 100 local societies, like this Jacksonville Society, in the United States, Canada, and overseas. Members include professional archaeologists, students, and enthusiasts, all united by their passion for archaeology and its role in furthering human knowledge.

The AIA promotes archaeological inquiry and public understanding of the material record of the human past to foster an appreciation of diverse cultures and our shared humanity.

The AIA supports archaeologists, their research and its dissemination, and the ethical practice of archaeology.

The AIA educates people of all ages about the significance of archaeological discovery and advocates for the preservation of the world’s archaeological heritage.

Professional archaeologists who are AIA members, have conducted fieldwork worldwide. The Institute has founded research centers and schools in seven countries and maintains close contact with these institutions. AIA Members are dedicated to the greater understanding of archaeology, the protection and preservation of the world's archaeological resources, and the support of archaeological research and publication.



Our speaker presentations take place at noon, in Building 51 at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville, (1 UNF Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32224).  Email [email protected] to find out if Zoom is offered for each lecture.  The lectures are free and open to the public. After the lecture,  complimentary refreshments may be served in the Physical Anthropology Lab. On Saturdays, parking is free and the staff/faculty/vendor spaces are open to everyone.



Dr. Sarah Freidline, University of Central Florida

Recent advances in human origins research: new insights from Northern Africa to Southeast Asia

New technologies and methodological approaches in the last decades have led to exciting advances in paleoanthropology—especially concerning the origin of our species, dated to roughly 300,000 years ago, and our subsequent dispersions out of Africa. Current fossil and genomic data suggest that we were not the only members of our genus alive during this time. In this talk, I will discuss recent advances and pending questions in human origins research, focusing on my work on some of the earliest Homo sapiens fossils from Northern Africa (Jebel Irhoud, Morocco) and Southeast Asia (Tam Pà Ling, Laos), as well as our enigmatic cousins, the Denisovans.

Dr. Freidline is a biological anthropologist who specializes in paleoanthropology. Her research focuses on the evolution and development of human craniofacial morphology. She applies state-of-the-art methods to interpret craniofacial growth in fossil species ranging from Homo erectus to H. neanderthalensis and H. sapiens with the ultimate goal of better understanding the evolution of the H. sapiens face.  Freidline combines geometric morphometric methods and surface histology to quantify macro and microscopic shape changes. Furthermore, as fossil bones are nearly always damaged, a large part of her work consists of virtual fossil reconstruction.  

Sarah received her Ph.D. in 2012 working jointly at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center and the Max Plank Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA) in Leipzig, Germany. From 2012 to 2020, she worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the MPI-EVA in the Department of Human Evolution.

Dr. Charles Cobb from the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida

Following the Metal Wake of Spanish Expeditions in the Southeast

Many of the artifacts from 16th-century Spanish explorations found on Native American sites in the American Southeast have been documented from burial contexts. This has given rise to the received wisdom that these objects were usually gifts distributed to Indigenous elites. Over the past decade, archaeological research at sites in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia has challenged this perspective. Systematic-metal detecting surveys have revealed that objects of European origin are far more abundant than previously realized and are often found in domestic contexts. This work is opening up new interpretations about how Native Americans acquired European goods, as well as how they modified these objects in ways that aligned with Indigenous worldviews.

Charles Cobb has been the Curator of Historical Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History since 2014. He also is Director of the Museum’s Randell Research Center located on Pine Island in southwest Florida. He received his PhD in 1988 from Southern Illinois University and was subsequently a faculty member in anthropology at SUNY-Binghamton and University of South Carolina before his arrival at the University of Florida. Cobb has a long-term interest in the history and archaeology of Indigenous cultures of the southeastern United States, with a particular focus on interactions between Native Americans and European colonials. Since his arrival at Florida, he has been developing an online digital database of Florida Museum artifact collections from St. Augustine and Franciscan mission sites. Meanwhile, his field projects have had two emphases: first, addressing the impacts of Spanish expeditions on Native American societies during the 1500s A.D.; second, investigating the widespread abandonment of Indigenous towns in the mid-South during the 1400s A.D. Since 2015, his fieldwork has been carried out in collaboration with the Chickasaw Nation.


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Blended 45,000-Year-Old Toolkit From Northern China Examined

SHUOZHOU, CHINA—Cosmos Magazine reports that a collection of artifacts unearthed at the Shiyu site in northern China has been dated to 45,000 years ago by an international team of researchers using radiocarbon and luminescence dating methods. The artifacts, made by modern humans, includes a mix of Upper Paleolithic and Middle Paleolithic technologies, items made from imported obsidian, and a perforated graphite disk. The analysis of bones at the site, combined with the wear on the unusual group of tools, suggests that Shiyu inhabitants came from a mix of different cultures who adapted to the East Asian environment and hunted horses. “The site reflects a process of cultural creolization—the contact between societies and relocated peoples—blending inherited traits with novel innovations, thus complicating the traditional understanding of Homo sapiens’ global expansion,” commented team member Francesco D’Errico of the University of Bordeaux. For more on Chinese archaeology, go to "China's River of Gold."

(Lidar image by A. Dorison and S. Rostain)
(Lidar image by A. Dorison and S. Rostain)

Network of Ancient Amazonian Cities Identified in Ecuador

QUITO, ECUADOR—According to a Science Magazine report, a lidar survey of the jungles of Ecuador’s Upano Valley has mapped a network of interconnected cities dated to at least 2,500 years ago. Stéphen Rostain of the French National Center for Scientific Research and his colleagues had been excavating mounds from the ancient settlements of Sangay and Kilamope for decades, but they wanted a complete overview of the region. Using the lidar data, they identified five additional large settlements, and 10 smaller ones in the Upano Valley. All of these densely packed sites had residential and ceremonial structures. The survey also spotted agricultural fields and hillside terraces where corn, manioc, and sweet potato were grown; wide, straight roads that connected the cities; and smaller streets that connected neighborhoods within each city. The presence of the roads suggests that these cities all existed at the same time, some 1,000 years earlier than other known complex Amazonian societies, Rostain added. “We’re talking about urbanism,” explained team member Fernando Mejía of Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador. For more on ancient Ecuador, go to "Ancient Amazonian Chocolatiers."





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