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Archaeology of the recent past on Thursday's Access Utah

A drawing of the Nauvoo temple. Text reads, "Historical Archaeology and the Latter-day Saint Past. Arrington Mormon History Lecture."
USU Libraries

At its core, archaeology is an effort to understand the human past through the study of the material remnants of the past. Although archaeology is often associated with the ancient world, the material remains that archaeologists study don’t have to be thousands of years old. The branch of archeology known as historical archeology focuses on the more recent past, the last 600 years of human history.

Dr. Benjamin Pykles will deliver the 2022 Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture, titled “Historical Archaeology and the Latter-day Saint Past” Thursday evening at 7:00 in the Russell/Wanlass Performance Hall at Utah State University.

The lecture will review the history of archeological investigations at sites connected to the Latter-day Saint past and examine the ways historical archaeology has contributed to our understanding of that past. Examples from various sites, where historical archaeologists have utilized a wide range of methods, illustrate the potential of historical archaeology to confirm, complete, correct and sometimes confuse our understanding of the Latter-day Saint past.

Dr. Benjamin Pykles lives in Bountiful, Utah with his wife and four children. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from Brigham Young University in Provo and a Ph.D. in Anthropology with an emphasis in Historical Archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He was an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the State University of New York at Potsdam before joining the Historic Sites Division in the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in July 2011. As a member of the Church’s Historic Sites Division, he helps envision, develop, interpret and manage the two-dozen historic sites of the Church. He is the author of "Excavating Nauvoo: The Mormons and the Rise of Historical Archaeology in America," which won the Best First Book Award from the Mormon History Association.

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Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996. He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.) He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah.” He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.