The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) has selected Mercyhurst College professor Dr. James Adovasio as the Martha Sharp Joukowsky Lecturer for the 2007-08 academic year. The lecture program committee selected Adovasio from among several hundred distinguished archaeologists nominated for the prestigious award.
As part of the yearlong commitment, Adovasio will visit 14 local societies, or chapters of the AIA, which are based primarily in academic departments of colleges and universities and at museums in 39 states as well as Canada and Athens, Greece. Though his schedule is not finalized, he will be visiting societies from Los Angeles and Seattle to Detroit and Montreal, bringing important developments in the field of archaeology to the general public.
It was Adovasio's highly successful excavations at the Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Washington County, Pa., from 1973 to 1978 that gained him an international reputation and formed the basis of his landmark book, The First Americans: In Pursuit of Archaeology's Greatest Mystery. Meadowcroft has been recognized as the earliest well-dated archaeological site in the Western Hemisphere, with evidence of human habitation dating to 16,000 years ago.
According to the AIA, Adovasio was selected because of his impressive contributions to anthropological and archaeological scholarship, as well as his invigorating lecturing abilities
"Dr Adovasio is a great lecturer whose subject matter is very interesting and whose lecture style is captivating," said AIA spokesman Rebecca Donahue. "He has the ability to keep an audience interested and to generate a lot of questions."
Since the endowed lecture series was inaugurated in 1993, the AIA has awarded lectureships to two outstanding archaeologists annually. Lanny Bell, an Egyptologist from Brown University, joins Adovasio in receiving the honor for the 2007-08 academic year. Martha Sharp Joukowsky, meanwhile, is past president of the AIA and professor of old world archaeology at Brown.
Adovasio came to Mercyhurst College in 1990 and has built the Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute into a world-renowned center for archaeological studies and research. Besides directing the MAI, he is dean of the Zurn School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and chairman of the department of anthropology/archaeology at Mercyhurst. In March, he was named senior counselor to the president under the new administration of Dr. Thomas J. Gamble.