Arts & Humanities

27th Arrington Mormon History Lecture Explores Historical Archaeology

By Kellianne Gammill |

LOGAN, Utah — This year’s Leonard J. A­rrington Mormon History Lecture will explore “Historical Archaeology and the Latter-day Saint Past” at 7 p.m. Oct. 13. It will be in the Russell/Wanlass Performance Hall and is free and open to the public.

Benjamin Pykles, historic sites manager for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and author of Excavating Nauvoo: The Mormons and the Rise of Historical Archaeology in America, was chosen as this year’s lecturer.

“I am honored to be giving the Arrington Lecture this year,” Pykles said. “There are only a small number of practicing historical archaeologists in the state of Utah and I am grateful to represent them and others in sharing how historical archaeology has contributed to our understanding of the Latter-day Saint past”

The branch of archeology known as historical archeology focuses on the more recent past, the last 600 years of human history.

“I hope that my presentation will pique interest in the discipline and help others value its role in illuminating the human past,” Pykles said. “I also hope people enjoy seeing examples of how historical archaeology has been used on various Latter-day Saint historic sites in our quest to better understand the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Pykles argues that 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.

“Currently, there are no institutions of higher education in Utah that have a program in historical archaeology,” Pykles said.

This lecture will review the history of archeological investigations at sites connected to the Church’s 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 Church’s past.

“I hope people come away from this lecture with an understanding of what historical archaeology is and an appreciation for the ways it can contribute to our understanding of the past,” Pykles said.

This year’s Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture is sponsored by USU University Libraries, USU Religious Studies Program and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The lecture honors former Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints historian Leonard J. Arrington, whose papers are housed in USU’s Special Collections and Archives. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Pykles will also be participating in The Evans Biography Awards Ceremony on Oct. 14 at 9:30 a.m. in the Merrill-Cazier Library room 101 to discuss “In Search of the Past: Finding Human Stories of the Mountain West in Object, Archives, and Memory” with the award recipients. The panel discussion will be followed by a book signing with the authors and is free to attend.

For more information, visit or call 435-797-2631.


Kellianne Gammill
Public Relations Specialist
University Libraries
(435) 797-0555


Benjamin Pykles


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