What did you discover?

Discovery was the topic of the symposium this year, some professors drawing different meanings from the word. Large crowds were at the lectures for both of those topics. Attendance was possibly bolstered by mandatory attendance imposed by professors, as sign-in sheets littered the table by the main entrance to the BHC Auditorium.

Rachel Horner-Brackett spoke about three new discoveries in the archaeological community, gesturing broadly as she spoke about Stone Henge, a new hominin discovery, and uncontacted tribes in the Amazon Rainforest.

Due to the use of ground-penetrating radar, archaeologists are able to look deep beneath the surface of the Salisbury Plaines where Stone Henge is located to discover new monuments and burial sites without disturbing the soil above.

Because of this new technology, a superhenge was discovered about a mile away from Stone Henge. This superhenge was made of over 90 stones, each 15 feet high. These stones were arranged in a circle inside of a large trench which was 130 meters set into the ground.

It was announced on Sept. 10 that a new hominin species was discovered in South Africa, homo naledi. Scientists have yet to determine the age of the fossils discovered deep underground in a cave, but estimations range from two million years old to four million years old. Part of why h. naledi is such a momentous discovery is because it’s theorized that they buried their dead. The earliest confirmed burial is only 100,000 years old, so even if h. naledi is two million years old it’s going to rewrite textbooks.

The final topic that Horner-Brackett discussed was the “uncontacted tribes in the world” myth. All groups have had contact with westerners at one point. Many tribes that are considered uncontacted are extremely hostile to outsiders or have asked to not be contacted. There are many threats to groups who have not had extensive contact with Westerners, including disease and epidemics. Because uncontacted tribes have never been exposed to many of the communicable diseases that we have vaccinated against, whole tribes could be wiped out.

Dan Gano spoke after Horner-Brackett’s lecture about mass murderers and serial killers. He explained the difference between the two, stating that mass murderers kill many people the same way at the same time, while serial killers have a long period of killing people the same way. This is best illustrated by comparing those who committed 9/11 and Jeffrey Dahmer. Gano said that the media currently glorifies the serial killer phenomena in movies, books, and TV shows.

Gano then went on to talk about different serial killers in the past, ranging from Jack the Ripper to Russian Andrei Chikatilo to Jeffrey Dahmer. Chikatilo confessed to 53 murders in 1990, all young people between the ages of 9 and 19. Gano said that there is a serial killer phenomena in Hollywood.


20151118_110331 (1)Day two of this semester’s symposium showcased five different speakers on topics of their choice. The theme of the symposium was “Discovery,” which was interpreted literally in some cases, but taken to mean “let’s teach the kiddos something new” to other presenters.
Typically, the speakers are limited to professors at Black Hawk College, but this semester the League of Social Scientists presented the former senator of Iowa, Maggie Tinsman, to the college.

Tinsman is an active advocate against sex trafficking, which was the basis of her lecture. Her focus was primarily on the sex trafficking of minors, hitting home with many in the audience by how local the issue truly presents itself.

“There are 100,000 American kids who become a victim of sex trafficking every year,” divulged Tinsman.

Breaking Traffik is an organization in the Quad Cities that specifically addresses the issue of “sexual exploitation in the Quad Cities.” For more information on the organization, you can visit www.brakingtraffik.org.

Professor Melissa Herbert-Johnson delivered a presentation on a much lighter topic, but one deeply significant nonetheless: “Great Discoveries in Art History.”

From the Tomb of Tutankamen in Egypt to the uncovering of the Chauvet Cave in France, archaeological discoveries have married with art history throughout the centuries. Herbert-Johnson covered these two topics and many more, including the Terracotta Warriors of China and Machu Picchu in Peru.

The Riace Bronzes of Italy were one of the most fascinating from the lecture; they were discovered off the coast and are presumably from a shipwreck, although there is no direct proof of that theory.

Ironically, because they were “lost,” they were spared, whereas other bronze pieces created in Classic Greece were typically melted down. “[The warriors] may not exist at all if they hadn’t been shipwrecked,” marveled Herbert-Johnson.

Other presenters of that day included Professor Hoogeheem on “Thou Brazen-Faced Varlet! Translation, Adaptation, and the Discovery of Shakespeare,” Professor Larrabee discussing “Centuriation and Urban Settlement: Did the Ancient Romans Discover the solution to the Modern Migration Crisis?” and Professor Hampes’s “The Relationship Between Humor and Forgiveness.”

A symposium takes place every semester at Black Hawk College, where professors are given an opportunity to expand upon a topic of their choice. They are not as extensively advertized as they should be, but the symposiums are always a treat for students to attend and “discover” something new.

This article submitted by Anna Headley and Gayle Grundstrom