Department of Anthropology

Adaptation to starchy diet, high altitudes helped ancient settlers survive

A multi-center study of the genetic remains of people who settled thousands of years ago in the Andes Mountains of South America reveals a complex picture of human adaptation—from early settlement to the devastating exposure to European disease in the 16th century. Professor Anna Di Rienzo was part of a research team that used newly available samples of DNA from seven whole genomes to study how ancient Andean people—including groups that clustered around Lake Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia, 12,000...

Cultural exchange allows for study of migration issues in France, United States

Audrey Celestine, a graduate student at the University of Paris, had a virtual presence in Hyde Park recently thanks to a bilingual videoconference that brought together students in Paris and students in Chicago. The students were participating in a monthly videoconference workshop as part of a three-year project that the Partner University Fund and the French American Cultural Exchange are funding. Speaking from the University of Chicago’s Center in Paris via videoconference, Celestine quizzed...

Michel-Rolph Trouillot, scholar of Caribbean history, 1949-2012

Michel-Rolph Trouillot, a professor of anthropology at UChicago and a leading authority on the dynamics of power across cultural boundaries, died July 5. He was 62. “Rolph touched many people, both personally and professionally. He had a deeply challenging, critical and caring mind and leaves behind an impressive scholarly legacy that extends beyond his published work,” said Greg Beckett, PhD’08, 
Collegiate Assistant Professor in the Social Sciences Division, of his former professor. “As a...

Leslie Freeman, scholar of Paleolithic period in Spain, 1935-2012

Leslie Freeman, a leading scholar of Paleolithic Spain, died on Dec. 14 in Portland, Ore. Freeman, professor emeritus in anthropology, was 77. Lawrence Guy Straus, PhD’75, a former student of Freeman’s, said, “Les had a virtually unparalleled record of commitment by an American scholar to doing Stone Age archaeology in a European country." Freeman worked extensively with Joaquin Gonzalez Echegaray of the Instituto para Investigaciones Prehistoricas in Spain, in what Straus described as one of...

New research shows genetic adaptations help Tibetans thrive at high elevations

Residents of the Tibetan plateau have been found to possess special genetic adaptations for life at high elevations. These special adaptations originated around 30,000 years ago in peoples related to the modern-day Sherpa. These genes were passed on to more recent migrants from lower elevations via population mixing, and then amplified by natural selection in the modern Tibetan gene pool, according to a new study by scientists from the University of Chicago and Case Western Reserve University...

UChicago anthropologist leads global effort to improve climate change models

Current climate models do not accurately account for humans’ role in changing the environment, according to a UChicago-led team of international researchers embarking upon a project to help climate scientists better document land cover and use over the past 10,000 years. Calling it an “insanely ambitious effort,” Kathleen Morrison, the Neukom Family Professor of Anthropology, is one of the leaders of the LandUse 6K , a study that includes dozens of scholars from around the world. “I think one of...