Using NASA Technology to Revolutionize Archeology from Space, and Unveil History’s Best Kept Secrets:
Lecture by Archeoastronomer Tom Sever

Date: Thursday, November 8, 2007
Time Details: 5:30 pm Member’s Meeting
6:00 pm Cocktails
7:00 pm Dinner
8:15 pm Talk
Location: The St. Louis Woman’s Club
4600 Lindell Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63108


The topic of his exciting presentation will be the use of remote sensing for detecting archeological sites which until now were completely hidden. The techniques Sever uses have also found application for state-of-the-art climate analysis. Sever has modeled the manner in which the Maya destroyed their landscape and changed their climate, ultimately causing collapse of their civilization and their disappearance from the region.

This is the greatest known ecological and social disaster in human-prehistory.

Abstract of Sever’s research: The goal of this research is to understand the effects of human activity upon the Central American landscape in order to forecast ecological changes and climatic effects for decision making by scientists, educators, and policy-makers. This investigation uses satellite and airborne imagery to understand the dynamics of human adaptation and interaction upon the Central American landscape, and the role of natural and human-induced past and present changes to climate variability in the region. These two subjects are highly interrelated since human-induced landscape changes can have strong impacts on climate, while natural climate variability can in turn exert strong pressures on the landscape, potentially exacerbating human-induced effects. Special emphasis will be placed upon the northern Peten of Guatemala, an area that contains the largest protected park in Central America but which is threatened by current deforestation and land use changes. It was in this region that the ancient Maya civilization began, flourished, and abruptly disappeared beginning around AD 800. This incident, known as the Maya Collapse, is considered to be one of the worst demographic disasters in human history. Preliminary research suggests that the destruction of the landscape by human activity contributed to this collapse. This project also uses NASA remote sensing products and other observations to understand mechanisms driving past, present, and potential future climate variability over Central America. This understanding is critical for the current population in the region that is experiencing rapid population growth and destroying the landscape through non-traditional farming and grazing techniques, resulting in socio-economic problems, as well as potential consequences for climate.

Walk-Ins Welcome: No
Reservation Deadline: Nov. 2, 2007
Reservation Contact: Jeanine Harris, St. Louis Woman’s Club, 314-367-0700
Payment Information: Make checks payable to “St. Louis Chapter / Explorer’s Club” and mail to:
St. Louis Woman’s Club
Attn: Jeanine Harris
4600 Lindell Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63108
Member Dinner Ticket: $35.00
Guest Dinner Ticket: $40.00
Lecture Only Ticket: No

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