Exhibit 1: Teaser


Distant view on the Yuanmou site, China, 1982. (Dr. Basil Cooke Collection, SFU MAE 2009.024.199)

In 1965 hominin remains of the so called Yuanmou Man were discovered in Yuanmou in southern China. Until today it is presumed that they belonged to a Homo erectus, but not enough evidence is available to confirm this statement. Based on thorough research, the Smithsonian Institution estimates that the found objects date from around 1,7 million years ago. They are therefore the oldest fossils of human ancestors found in China and could indicate the spread of early hominin populations from Africa to East Asia between 2 million and 1.7 million years ago.


Overview of the ruins of the World Heritage site of Palmyra (Syria) before the destructions by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in 2015-2016, Syria, 1978. (Dr. Arnoud Stryd Collection, SFU MAE 2016.002.295)

Between the 1st and 2nd century CE Palmyra was one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world and an important trading post on the Silk Road. Its art and architecture combined Graeco-Roman techniques with local traditions and Persian influences. Palmyra, also called ‘the Pearl of the Desert’, is considered an important historical and cultural treasure. It became UNESCO World Heritage in 1980. In 2015, during the Syrian Civil War, ISIL seized control over the city and destroyed large parts of it. Since the city was recaptured in 2017, several restoration projects are in place to repair the damage.


The Monumental Arch of the World Heritage site of Palmyra (Syria) before its destruction by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in 2015, Syria, 1978. (Dr. Arnoud Stryd Collection, SFU MAE 2016.002.292)

The Monumental Arch of Palmyra was constructed in the 3rd century CE under the reign of Roman emperor Septimus Severus. It was decorated with geometrical and plant ornaments and linked the main street of the Colonnade with the Temple of Bel. It was considered as one of the jewels of the ancient site.


The Taj Mahal, India, 1968. (Dr. Basil Cooke Collection, SFU MAE 2009.039.394)

This large mausoleum of ivory-white marble was built mid-17th century by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz. Today, the Taj Mahal is a universally recognized masterpiece and considered as a ‘jewel of Muslim art’. It was therefore included on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1983. More than 6 million people visit this site every year.


Stairway at Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi, India, 2010. (Dr. Barbara Winter Collection, SFU MAE 2011.010)

This Islamic royal tomb was constructed around 1570 in memory of Emperor Humayun, the second ruler of the Indian Mughal dynasty. It is also called ‘dormitory of the Mughals’ as over 150 Mughal family members are buried in its chambers. This building was the first of the grand dynastic Mughal mausoleums with Persian, Turkish and Indian architectural influences, which later culminated in the construction of the Taj Mahal. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993.


Potter’s workshop with kiln, Chanderai, Maharashtra, India, 2010. (Dr. Barbara Winter Collection, SFU MAE 2011.010)

Kilns are special kinds of ovens that have been used for millennia to dry, bake and harden substances such as clay objects, ceramics, herbs, grains, wood etc. As the image shows this Indian kiln is particularly used for pottery. In the back you notice stacks of fired pottery and a stack of firewood that is used to fire the kiln.


9th century Hindu temple of Prambanan during its restoration, Indonesia, 1982. (Dr. Richard Shutler Collection, SFU MAE 1999.002.371)

The Prambanan temple, also called Loro Jonggrang, is with its 240 temples the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia. It lies in the larger Prambanan Archaeological Park that contains over 500 temples. Some of these are Hindu while others are Buddhist. According to UNESCO the Prambanan Temple Compounds represent “not only an architectural and cultural treasure, but also a standing proof of past religious peaceful cohabitation”. Extensive restoration work has been ongoing since 1918. Some buildings have been restored, others have been retained as ruins. The complex is a recognized World Heritage site since 1991.


Drying herbs and spices, Nepal, c. 1985. (Dr. Basil Cooke Collection, SFU MAE 2009.039.866)

This image was taken by Dr. Basil Cooke in Nepal. Do you recognize where this image was taken? Please let us know at museum@sfu.ca. 


The ancient Maya city Uxmal, Mexico, 1982. (Dr. Alan McMillan Collection, SFU MAE 2000.027.090)

The city of Uxmal dates from the Late Classic Mayan Period (ca. AD 600-900) and is considered as one of the most important archaeological sites of the Maya empire. The ruins are excellent representations of the highlight of the late Mayan architecture and art. Like some other pre-Columbian cities, the spaces are organized in relation to the topography of the site and to astronomical phenomena, such as the rise and setting of Venus. It is estimated that at its height the city had around 25.000 inhabitants. This image displays some of Uxmal's most important buildings such as the Pyramid of the Magician (right), that stands in the ceremonial heart of the city, the Nunnery (in the back) and the ball court (in the front). The site became UNESCO World Heritage in 1996.  


Overview of the terraces of Machu Picchu, Peru, 1982. (Dr. Diane Lyons Collection, SFU MAE 2001.007.020)
Overview of the terraces of Machu Picchu, Peru, 2018. (Dr. Arnoud Stryd Collection, SFU MAE 2018.006.053)

Machu Picchu was built in the mid-15th century as a royal estate by the first great Inka ruler Pachacuti. The city is situated in the middle of a tropical mountain forest at 2,430m above sea-level. This spiritual, ceremonial, astronomical and agricultural centre is a masterpiece of the fine Inkan architecture and engineering with its giant walls, terraces and ramps. It was abandoned in the 16th century at the time of the Spanish conquest and only rediscovered in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. It was declared a cultural and natural UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

Since its discovery more and more people visit the site every year, making it today’s most visited tourist attraction in Peru. Though tourism provides economic benefits, it also has a large cultural and ecological impact. In order to control tourism and preserve the archaeological complex, the access is becoming more and more regulated. Look for example at the differences between the images of 1982 and 2018. How many visitors can you count on each image?


Olmec colossal head, named Monument 1, at the Parque-Museo La Venta, Villahermosa, Mexico, 1977. (Dr. Brian Hayden Collection, SFU MAE 2001.005.014)

This is one of the 17 recovered giant basalt head sculptures that were made by the Olmecs on the Gulf Coast of Mexico (1200 BCE - 400 BCE). Although there is debate on the exact representation and meaning of these sculptures, most archaeologists agree that they depict ancient Olmec rulers. They all have distinct headdresses which would underline their different personalities. The boulders originated from the Sierra de Los Tuxtlas mountains of Veracruz, about 100-150 kilometers from the place where the sculptures were found. They were probably moved by manpower, sledges and rafts on rivers. Monument 1 was found in La Venta during archaeological explorations in 1925. The statue weighs 24 tons and measures 2.41 meters by 2.08 meters by 1.95 meters.


Altar 4 from the Olmec civilization, La Venta, Mexico, 1977. (Dr. Brian Hayden Collection, SFU MAE 2001.005.015)

In La Venta several basalt thrones, also identified as altars, were found with a sculpted well dressed figure in its centre. Altar 4 is the largest found altar and has a carved figure with an eagle headdress sitting in an oval-shaped niche. This niche would symbolize a cave or the mouth of a creature forming a gateway between the natural and the spiritual world. The man is believed to be an ancient Olmec ruler who holds a rope of kinship that winds along the base of the throne. Many theories still exist on the identity of the carved gate creature above the figure and on the significance of the altar. The consensus today seems however that it was used as a throne on which Olmec rulers were seated during important ceremonies.


Concave volcanic saltpans, Hawaii, 2014. (Dr. Barbara Winter Collection, SFU MAE 2018.001.044)

These saltpans were used by Native Hawaiians to dry sea water into raw salt for traditional ceremonies and dishes. This salt - also referred to as Alaea Hawaiian Sea Salt - has a red color due to its contact with the volcanic clay (alae) which is rich in iron oxide.


Petroglyphs on lavabed, Hawai, 1991. (Dr. George F. McDonald Collection, SFU MAE 2014.008.355)

These petroglyphs are part of the archaeological site of Pu`u Loa on the southern flank of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii. This site dates geologically from around 1200-1450 A.D. and contains over 23 000 petroglyph images such as cupules, motifs of circles, human representations, fish hooks, animals etc. It is therefore also the largest petroglyph field in all of Polynesia. The petroglyphs are enigmatic and have multiple interpretations. It is for example believed that they represent the individual as a transitional figure between the ancestors (of the past) and the offspring (of the future). The cupules could relate to fertility and childbirth.


Smoking salmon, Neah Bay, Washington, USA, 1977. (Dr. Alan McMillan Collection, SFU MAE 2004.023.003)

Salmon being smoked in typical Northwest Coast fashion by the Makah community in Washington. They were served as part of the annual Makah Days celebration, during which the community commemorated their ancient culture and the anniversary of becoming US citizens in 1924. Like other NWC Peoples, the Makah use cedar skewers to pierce and smoke these salmon filets over open fires.


Salmon rack, Yakoun River, Haida Gwaii, BC Canada, 1974. (Dr. Barbara Winter Collection)

This cedar rack, with a literal scarecrow, was used to dry large quantities of salmon, an important part of the Haida diet. During the summer months the Haida harvested, dried and stored the fish in order to preserve it for the winter or to trade it for mainland foods. Today, this tradition is still carried on within many First Nation communities on the Northwest Coast.


Pole looking over the sea and hills at Skidegate, Haida Gwaii, BC Canada, 1973. (Dr. Barbara Winter Collection)

Northwest Coast carved wooden poles are spectacular forms of crest figures, representing animals, supernatural beings, or ancestors who met supernatural beings, thereby obtaining privileges and hereditary rights such as names, songs, masks, images, lands, resources, house designs and ceremonies. This photo is a poignant juxtaposition of a heraldic pole recognizing land rights and the industrial clear cut logging practices seen on the hills across the water.


George Pellisey and John Shae defleshing a caribou skin, Deh Cho, Mackenzie River, NWT Canada, 1983. (Dr. Barbara Winter Collection, SFU MAE 1999.011.055)

Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) are an important bush food for the Mountain Dene of K'asho Got'ine (Fort Good Hope) and other nearby communities. The meat and organs are eaten, the hide tanned for clothing, tools are made from some of the bones and even the hoofs are strung on a thong and used as a hunting call. Here George Pellisey and John Shae are removing the flesh from the inside surface of a caribou hide prior to tanning.


Cavate (cliff dwellings) at Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA, 1965. (Dr. George F. MacDonald Collection, SFU MAE 2011.011.109)

These dwellings were carved from volcanic tuff by the Ancestral Pueblo people, also called Anasazi. This Native American civilization lived in this area between approximately 1150 CE to 1550 CE.  The cavities have now been provided with ladders to allow visitors to visit them.


Skhūl cave site, western slopes of Mount Carmel, Israel, 2016. (Dr. Barbara Winter Collection, SFU MAE 2017.001.1139)

Between 1919 and 1934 several remains of Homo sapiens and stone tools were found in this cave in today’s Israel. The recovered skeletons of adults and children are estimated to date from around 120,000 to 80,000 years ago. Together with findings in other nearby caves at least 500,000 years of human evolution came to light. These caves are crucial sites in the research of human evolution, the ‘out of Africa’ hypothesis and in understanding the prehistory of the region. The Sites of Human Evolution at Mount Carmel: The Nahal Me’arot / Wadi el-Mughara Caves was declared a cultural and natural UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012.


These images were taken during the 1977 field school excavation at Namu on the BC central coast. They show the excavations and the removal of a section of the trench wall for reconstruction at the SFU Museum. For more information on the Namu profile, please click here.


The Duomo, Florence, Italy, 1956-1957. (Dr. Basil Cooke Collection, SFU MAE 2009.030.084)

The 14th century Gothic Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, also called the Duomo, is the third largest church in the world. It is also known for its impressive Renaissance dome that was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi in the early 15th century and has a diameter of 45.5 meters. The historic centre of Florence, with the cathedral as its spiritual centre, has been recognized as World Heritage since 1982. Although not archaeological in nature, this photo is a remarkable moment in time.


Behind the scenes of the Powell-Cotton Museum, Kent, UK, 1956. (Dr. Basil Cooke Collection, SFU MAE 2009.031.726)

The Powell-Cotton Museum for Natural History and Ethnography houses the collection of English hunter and explorer Percy Powell-Cotton and his family. The museum was established in 1896 and concentrates mainly on the zoological, cultural and ecological diversity of Africa and the Indian sub-continent. It also contains extensive collections of local archaeology, ceramics, fine art, jade and ivory from Europe, China and Japan.

If you know the identity of the museum professional pictured, please contact the SFU Museum at museum@sfu.ca. We would love to add her name to our records.