AMR SHAHAT quoted in Sapiens magazine

AMR SHAHAT, PhD candidate at the Cotsen Institute, has been quoted in the article Pandemic Bakers Bring the Past to Life published in the anthropology magazine Sapiens. The magazine is an independent publication of the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research in partnership with the University of Chicago Press.

BARBARA GREENSTEIN honors Jim Sackett with gift to the Cotsen Institute

Barbara Greenstein (Anthropology 1972, Law 1979), has made her first ever gift to the Cotsen Institute in honor of James Sackett, who passed away in December 2019. Sackett was instrumental in founding the Institute of Archaeology at UCLA in 1973 and in its renaming as the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology in 2001. In making the gift, Greenstein reflected on her experience learning and working with Sackett.

“In the early 1970s, with great good fortune, I stumbled into Jim Sackett’s undergraduate anthropology courses in human evolution and Paleolithic archaeology. Sackett taught lively classes where the fossil record of hominid evolution—manifested as Australopithecus spp., Homo erectus, Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens—was brought back to life in the classroom. He introduced us to Carl Linnaeus, Gregor Mendel, Alfred Wallace, Charles Darwin, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, among others. We pondered what set humans on a divergent evolutionary course compared to other animals, be it our descending from trees, walking upright, hunting and gathering, or our large brains and our capacity for violence. In his hands our study was never dry, and I credit him for my abiding interest in primates, archaeology, and the history of science. Sackett also informed his students of his opinion that Paleontology was a third-rate science, fraught with religious opposition, a history of scams like the Piltdown fraud, and internecine warfare between various academics and schools of thought. He conveyed all of this with a sense of humor, a sense of excitement, and the certainty that whichever fossil a paleontologist uncovered was inevitably believed by its discoverer to be the direct ancestor of modern humans, while everyone else’s finds were offshoots that led only to an extinct branch on the human evolutionary tree.

“In the summer of 1973 I joined Sackett’s excavation at Solvieux, an open-air Paleolithic site in southwest France. There we learned that Sackett was the only American archaeologist that the French allowed to direct a Paleolithic excavation. As we trudged back from daily fieldwork covered in sweat and grime, he would smile broadly at our dirty jeans and streaked faces, our hair tied up in dusty bandanas, and say fondly, ‘you all look really great, you look like archaeologists.’ My memories of that summer also include internecine warfare between various graduate students vying for his attention (a cautionary tale, but proving his point), as well as plenty of vin ordinaire, melon au jambon, and marron glacé, along with lively discussions of the differences in accent between Paris and the Dordogne.

“I last saw Jim Sacket in 2012 or 2013 at an Open House of the Cotsen Institute. I walked into his laboratory to say hello, and we chatted about that summer and the time since. He would have loved the Chauvet Cave program. I hope that he had an opportunity to see the material. Perhaps his spirit is now flowing through those caves, looking on in wonder, as we did with the film The Final Passage.”


Cotsen alumna DEBBY SNEED published in journal Antiquity

Debby Sneed, a recent graduate of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology and current adjunct lecturer in Classics at California State University, Long Beach, authored an article in the latest issue of Antiquity (a peer-reviewed journal on world archaeology, founded in 1927 and published by Cambridge University Press). In her article, “The architecture of access: ramps at ancient Greek healing sanctuaries,” Sneed describes the first attested access ramps for disabled community members, which she identified in ancient Greek temples as early as 370 BCE. This shows that accessible architecture has a much deeper history than the Americans with Disabilities Act, which mandates disabled access to buildings and was signed thirty years ago by president George H. W. Bush. Sneed earlier published on disabled community members in ancient Greece, as well as on social justice within archaeology.


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Mellon Opportunity alumna CHEYENNE CARRAWAY receives inaugural Getty internship

“We are excited to share that Cheyenne Carraway, a participant in the 2018 summer workshop of the Mellon Opportunity for Diversity in Conservation Program, has been accepted as one of four inaugural Getty Foundation Post-Baccalaureate Conservation interns beginning in September, 2020,” announced Ellen Pearlstein, professor in the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and the UCLA/Getty Program in the Conservation of Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials, who is the director of the Mellon Opportunity for Diversity in Conservation Program. This program supports outreach to undergraduate students and recent graduates who are presently underrepresented in conservation, as well as workshops and internships at museum, library, and archaeological conservation laboratories. Carraway is Choctaw and Chickasaw from southern Oklahoma. Read more about Carraway and her experiences in the Mellon program here.

EMILIE LIU honored with the 2020 Donald F. McCallum Memorial Scholarship for Outstanding Senior Award

Emilie Liu has been named the recipient of the 2020 Donald F. McCallum Memorial Scholarship for Outstanding Senior Award from the UCLA  Art History Department. Liu worked with Prof. Stella Nair in the Andean Lab on an undergraduate research project and, prior to COVID-19, had been chosen by the Department of Art History to give the lecture during the Undergraduate Research Week . Read more about her project here.

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.