Field Museum hosts Charles Mann, bestselling author of 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
For Immediate Release
Contact: Field Museum PR Department
(312) 665-7100, firstname.lastname@example.org
CHICAGO - July 16, 2006 - The Field Museum is hosting a lecture and book signing by Charles Mann, whose bestselling book–soon to be released in paperback–revealed to the general public groundbreaking research about the Americas before it was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus in 1492.
Two Field Museum archaeologists who conduct extensive research in Central and South America will share the stage with Mann, describing their work and how it intersects with and contributed to the subject matter discussed in 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (Knopf, 2005).
“This book is important because it relates the rich history of the pre-Columbian Americas in an engaging manner, while capturing some of the excitement, debates and complexities of archaeological research,” said Gary Feinman, PhD, Chair of Anthropology at The Field Museum. “The richness and diversity of pre-Columbian societies and their history is largely unknown to the broader North American public, and Mann's book does a good job of beginning to fill that knowledge gap.”
Dr. Feinman is one of the two archaeologists who will present their research after Mann discusses his book during The Field Museum program at 7:00 pm on October 19. He will talk about his research at El Palmillo and how it speaks to questions Mann raises regarding the Zapotec settlement of Monte Albán in the Valley of Oaxaca. For more than 10 years, Dr. Feinman has been excavating a hilltop center at El Palmillo, where more than 5,000 people lived during the height of the Zapotec civilization from A.D. 200 to 800. Collected wisdom would suggest that such a hilltop with terraces was used for agriculture, but Dr. Feinman and his colleagues have determined that it was a residential center whose residents made goods for exchange with other people who produced food.
The other Field Museum archaeologist who will share the stage with Mann is Jonathan Haas, PhD, MacArthur Curator, Anthropology of the Americas. Dr. Haas’ current work is in the Norte Chico Region of Peru.
Both Dr. Feinman and Dr. Haas are very involved in a major renovation of The Field Museum’s permanent exhibition on the Americas. The new exhibition, called The Ancient Americas, has been years in the making and is scheduled to open on March 9, 2007.
“The Museum hopes that the extensive new exhibition on the Americas will provide a foundation for understanding the long and rich history of the Western Hemisphere,” Dr. Feinman said. “It is important that we who live in the Americas today start to grasp the millennial legacy that we have inherited. This is an historical epoch that has involved creativity, innovation, conquest, enduring relations with landscapes and biodiversities, and the rise and fall of many states and empires. The history of our hemisphere is culturally distinct, in some respects, yet it is a ‘saga’ that shares many processes and analogues with the histories other regions of the globe.”
Bringing New Findings to the Public
Mann is a correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly, Science, and Wired. His provocative book, 1491, created a sensation when it was first published in hardback in 2005 because it reveals how current research has rewritten many heretofore accepted theories about how the Americas was settled and developed. For example, it explains that in 1491:
- More people lived in the Americas than in Europe;
- The earliest cities in the Americas were thriving before the Egyptians built the great pyramids;
- Amazonian Indians learned how to farm the rain forest without destroying it;
- The arrival of Europeans set off devastating epidemics that created the worst demographic disaster in history, killing one out of five people on Earth.
This is what Publishers Weekly (July 20, 2005) said about 1491:
“In a riveting and fast-paced history…Mann debunks much of what we thought we knew about pre-Columbian America. He zestfully demonstrates that long before any European explorers set foot in the New World, Native American cultures were flourishing with a high degree of sophistication. The new researchers have turned received wisdom on its head.”
The lecture and book selling/signing will occur at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 19, 2006, at The Field Museum’s James Simpson Theater. The ticket price is $8 for adults; $7 for teachers and students with valid ID; and $6 for Field Museum members. Pre-registration is encouraged. Purchase tickets online. The Field Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day of the year except Christmas and New Year’s Day. For general Museum information, call (312) 922-9410.
The Field Museum is located at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, on CTA bus lines #12 Roosevelt and #146, and close to other routes and Metra. Parking is available nearby. For more travel information, call the Illinois Department of Transportation, (312) 368-4636, or the RTA Travel Center Hotline, (312) 836-7000. You can also visit The Field Museum at our interactive web site: www.fieldmuseum.org.
For general Museum information, call (312) 922-9410.
Color image available digitally:
Cover of the new paperback version of 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (Knopf, 2005), by Charles Mann.
Courtesy of Knopf