Derek Kennet Opens AIA-Houston 2010-2011 Series

AIA-Houston’s 2010-2011 series got off to a wonderful start as Derek Kennet of the University of Durham spoke to a crowd of almost 150 about “Silk and Spices from Across the Sea”. The first thing that caught my attention was his mention of how he is interested in economic archaeology–learning what the evidence of human economic activity can tell us about our past. Dr. Kennet’s talk was almost a little TOO fascinating; thousands of years of Indian Ocean trade condensed into one hour, but one slide stood out and continues to fascinate me. He showed two sculptures and said that he was sure everyone in the audience could identify which one was Roman and which one was Indian, and indeed, everyone certainly could. But then he told us that the Roman sculpture was unearthed in India and the Indian sculpture was discovered in Italy.

I’m sure that everyone in attendance has things in their house made in China, Korea, Vietnam, Haiti, and innumerable other places around the earth. Yet we tend to think of this as a relatively modern phenomenon when clearly, it isn’t. Thousands of years ago, humans made “stuff” and sent it off to distant lands where other people were fascinated by it and displayed it as evidence of their worldliness or used it as part of their everyday lives.  Evidence once again that archaeology shows us how much we’ve changed and how much we haven’t.

This lecture also marked the beginning of AIA-Houston’s new relationship with the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Did you stay for the reception in the Hall of Gems and Minerals? If there is a more beautiful room in the whole city, I can’t imagine what it is! The reception was an event for members and donors.


Here are a few pictures from the reception…

Dr. Kennet with board members Priscilla Watkins and Judy Chapman

AIA-Houston President Becky Lao and Treasurer Deb Castillo enjoy good food and friendly chat with lecture attendees.

AIA-Houston president Becky Lao chats with Qianqing Li, the Vice Consul for Cultural Affairs at the Chinese Consulate.

Supporters of AIA-Houston enjoy the reception and chat with board member Karen Fernandez (far right) in the Gems and Minerals Hall of the Houston Museum of Natural Science.