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Archaeologist to Deliver Inaugural Sigma Xi Lecture
October 18, 2006

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MACON — Daniel Sandweiss, Ph.D., an archaeologist and author researching the link between climate change and prehistoric cultures, will give the inaugural Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecture at Mercer University at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 25, on Mercer's Macon campus. Sandweiss will give a lecture entitled "Explorations with Thor Heyerdahl: Peruvian Pyramids and a Cuban Connection," about the legendary explorer and scientist's work in Peru and later in Cuba.
The event will be held in the Charles H. Andrews Classroom, Room 251 of Stetson Hall. The lecture is free and open to the public and will be preceded by a reception at 6 p.m.
A well-known archeologist, Sandweiss serves as professor of Anthropology and Quaternary and Climate Studies and dean and associate provost for Graduate Studies at the University of Maine. He directed excavations for three years at Túcume, Peru's largest pyramid center as part of a project coordinated by Norwegian explorer and scientist Thor Heyerdahl, best known for his expedition to cross the Pacific aboard the balsa wood raft, Kon-Tiki in 1947. In 1995, Sandweiss co-authored a book with Heyerdahl about the pyramids, The Pyramids of Túcume: The Quest for Peru's Forgotten City.
In his lecture, Sandweiss will review Heyerdahl's contributions to New World prehistory through their joint work at Túcume and in Cuba. Túcume's vast, barren ruins of the pyramids of rise out of the flat coastal plains of northern Peru. Though eroded over the centuries, the massive monuments bear witness to their original grandeur. Covering over 540 acres and including 26 major pyramids as well as myriad smaller structures, the ancient city is truly impressive. Heyerdahl first visited Túcume in 1987 and began a major research project at Túcume in 1988. Over the following six years, Heyerdahl and Sandweiss, learned much about this ancient city. First built around 1100 A.D. by the Lambayeque culture, it survived and even grew under successive waves of conquest by the Chimú and later Inca armies, only to fall into ruins within a few years of the Spanish conquest. While the Túcume project was still on going, Heyerdahl was also instrumental in re-opening Cuba to American archaeologists in the early 1990s.
Sandweiss is an archaeologist interested in climate change and maritime adaptations in Latin America. Most of his research has been carried out on the desert coast of Peru, but he has also worked in Central America and Cuba. He has excavated the earliest known fishing site in the New World as well as fishing sites of other civilizations, including the Inca Empire. Sandweiss also has a particular interest in the prehistory of El Niño, which was first recognized in Peru and is now known to affect weather throughout the world, and he has developed a variety of techniques for identifying ancient El Niño activity.  Sandweiss was President of the Scientific Committee for FERCO (Foundation for Research and Exploration on Cultural Origins), a Canary Island foundation, from 1998-2002; he is the founder and editor of Andean Past (Cornell University Latin American Studies Program); and he is Chair-Designate of the Society for American Archaeology's Committee on the Americas.  Sandweiss has published frequently in Science as well as in other journals, and he is the author and editor of several books. He received a B.A. in Archaeology from Yale University in 1979 and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Cornell University in 1989.
About the Mercer Chapter of Sigma Xi:
Sigma Xi, the scientific research society is a global honor society that recognizes scientific achievement. The Mercer University Chapter was established in 2005 and is the first in Central Georgia. The Mercer Chapter serves as the Society chapter for the university and for all of Central Georgia. Sigma Xi is one of the oldest and largest non-profit scientific organizations in the world. It is the international honor society of scientists and engineers, with nearly 65,000 members in 100 countries, including more than 200 Nobel laureates.
About Mercer University:
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University has 7,300 students; 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies; major campuses in Macon and Atlanta; four regional academic centers across the state; a university press; teaching hospitals in Macon and Savannah; an educational partnership with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; a performing arts center in Macon; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit
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