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Judith Kirk
Mathers Museum

Last modified: Monday, November 17, 2008

'Maps Of Time' author to deliver Wilkie Lecture

Nov. 17, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- History from earth's first micro-seconds to the present and beyond receives the big picture treatment when award-winning author David Christian visits Bloomington to present the 2008 Leighton A. Wilkie Lecture on Human Origins.

The San Diego State University history professor will present the annual memorial lecture on his 2004 work Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History. Christian will also receive the CRAFT and Stone Age Institute Award for Outstanding Research into Human Origins for his "outstanding contributions to human evolutionary studies."

Described by William McNeill, University of Chicago Professor Emeritus of History, as a "historical and intellectual masterpiece," Maps of Time received the 2005 World History Association Book Prize for the way it explored history from the origins of the universe while melding the human story within the context of the larger history of the biosphere.

"We're particularly pleased to be able to co-sponsor Christian's lecture," said Geoffrey Conrad, director of Indiana University's Mathers Museum of World Cultures. "His perspective extends historical narrative beyond its traditional boundaries, incorporating research and scholarship from a wide range of disciplines including anthropology, history, archaeology, astronomy, biology, geology and paleontology, to provide a context for understanding who we are, where we came from and how we happened."

Christian's work has been so profound, Conrad added, that it has provided the impetus for at least one other "big history" presentation planned for Indiana University.

"His ideas have led us to begin working, along with the Stone Age Institute and CRAFT, to develop a new exhibit at the Mathers Museum which will present a broader perspective on humanity's history," Conrad said.

The Stone Age Institute is a research center near Bloomington dedicated to the study of early human evolution and culture. It is affiliated with Indiana University's CRAFT, the Center for Research into the Anthropological Foundations of Technology.

The two centers have presented the lecture and human origins research award since 1991. Wilkie, an inventor with a passion for the evolution of human technology, sponsored Jane Goodall's first African expeditions to study apes and was an early supporter of both CRAFT and the Stone Age Institute prior to his death in 1993. The Stone Age Institute houses his library on human origins and technology, and his artifact collection.

Christian will give the memorial lecture at noon, Friday (Nov. 21) at the Indiana University Fine Arts Auditorium, Room 015, at 1201 E. 7th Street. The lecture is free and open to the public.