ROBYN PRICE presents virtual lecture on “Egyptian Smells.”

Robyn Price, PhD candidate at the Cotsen Institute, presented a virtual lecture on how sensory experience contributed to the overall organization of ancient society during a virtual lecture on April 10. She shared some of the research she’s done for her thesis covering the cultural importance of smelling in the daily lives of the ancient Egyptians and how smell tied to narratives of power and poverty. The lecture was presented by The Institute for Art and Olfaction, a non-profit devoted to creative experimentation with a focus on scent. Details on the event are available at

JOHN PAPADOPOULOS elected academic trustee of the AIA

JOHN PAPADOPOULOS has been elected an academic trustee of the governing board of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA). The AIA is one of the largest and oldest nonprofit organizations in North America dedicated to archaeology. Its goal is to advance awareness, education, fieldwork, preservation, publication, and research of archaeological sites and cultural heritage throughout the world. Papadopoulos is professor of Classics and core faculty member of the Cotsen Institute. Monica Smith, professor of Anthropology and core faculty member of the Cotsen Institute, previously served as an academic trustee of the AIA.

SONIA ZARRILLO presented “New Approaches to Tracing Cacao’s Dispersal from the Amazon Basin”

SONIA ZARRILLO, postdoctoral fellow at the Cotsen Institute, presented “New Approaches to Tracing Cacao’s Dispersal from the Amazon Basin” on January 23 at the first gathering of the year, and decade, of the Andean Working Group. Her presentation was co-authored with Michael Blake from the University of British Columbia, Canada. Throughout her informative presentation Zarrillo shed light on the origins and many characteristics of cacao, resulting from her years of investigation in Ecuador. While it was known that cacao trees grow within the cacao belt—about 20° on either side of the equator—more varieties of cacao appear endemic to South America than previously known. Zarrillo demonstrated that cacao likely came from the Amazonian Basin and was domesticated in present-day Equator. Only after it had been brought to Mesoamerica, however, what we now know as chocolate was invented. The Andean Working Group of the Cotsen Institute draws scholars from across Southern California to UCLA campus for meetings focused on current research in Andean archaeology, art history, anthropology, and history.

Figure 1. Graduate student Georgi Kyorlenski introduces the speaker.

Figure 2. Postdoctoral fellow Sonia Zarrillo prepares for her presentation on the dispersal of cacao.

Figure 3. Members and visitors of the Andean Working Group enjoy refreshments served before the beginning of the presentation.

ANTHONY MEYER published report with Society of Architectural Historians

ANTHONY MEYER, PhD candidate in art history and the coordinator of the Architecture Laboratory at the Cotsen Institute, published a report on the website of the Society of Architectural Historians. Meyer discusses the everyday and extraordinary dynamics of religious specialists of the Nahua, a large indigenous group in Mexico and El Salvador. His research is based on studies of Nahua religious rituals and was supported by the Edilia and François-Auguste de Montêquin Junior Scholar Fellowship.