Trash Talk Lecture: The Archaeologist's View of Trash

Cambridge, September 6, 2011 - Trash is a nuisance and a problem, but archaeologists treasure it as a key to the question: how did people of the past live their daily lives? Trash has caused villages, towns, and even cities to rise vertically and spread horizontally. It has provided a means to understand the dynamic history of those settlements and their place in the landscape.

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology presents the free lecture, "Garbage: The Archaeologist's View of Trash," on Thursday October 6 at 5:30 P.M. at the Geological Lecture Hall (24 Oxford St., Cambridge). The lecture will be followed by a public reception at the Peabody Museum (11 Divinity Ave.).

The speaker is Richard H. Meadow, Director of the Peabody Museum's Zooarchaeology Laboratory and Senior Lecturer on Anthropology, Harvard University.

This illustrated lecture will look at ancient trash through an archaeological lens, discussing trash generation, deposition, and preservation, and how recycling and redeposition can cause problems for the study of the past. Dr. Meadow will use examples from his own fieldwork at the urban site of Harappa in Pakistan (3600-1500 BC) and other projects that have involved Harvard faculty and students to show how the trash of the past can be the treasure of today.

Additional talks in this series include managing materials to achieve sustainable results, and a look at where our trash goes. Join us this Fall for an exploration of the anthropology of waste!

About the Peabody Museum
The Peabody Museum is among the oldest archaeological and ethnographic museums in the world with one of the finest collections of human cultural history found anywhere. It is home to superb materials from Africa, ancient Europe, North America, Mesoamerica, Oceania, and South America in particular. In addition to its archaeological and ethnographic holdings, the Museum’s photographic archives, one of the largest of its kind, hold more than 500,000 historical photographs, dating from the mid-nineteenth century to the present and chronicling anthropology, archaeology, and world culture.

Hours and location: 9 A.M. to 5 P.M., seven days a week. The Museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for students and seniors, $6 for children, 3–18. Free with Harvard ID or Museum membership. The Museum is free to Massachusetts residents Sundays, 9 A.M. to noon, year round, and Wednesdays from 3 P.M. to 5 P.M. (September to May). Admission includes admission to the Harvard Museum of Natural History. For more information call 617-496-1027 or go online to: The Peabody Museum is located at 11 Divinity Avenue in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Museum is a short walk from the Harvard Square MBTA station.

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Media Contact:

Faith Sutter
Communications Coordinator
Peabody Museum
Tel: 617-495-3397


Ceramic sherds from the archaeological excavation in Harvard Yard.

The Archaeologist's View of Trash, the third in the Peabody Museum Trash Talk series of free lectures, is Thursday, October 6, 2011 at 5:30 pm at the Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford St., Cambridge.

A public reception follows at the Peabody Museum, 11 Divinity Ave., Cambridge.

Public information: 617-496-1027.