International Research Team Discovers Oldest Known Sexed Personal Ornament

An international team of researchers, including UC Davis Associate Professor of Anthropology Nicolas Zwyns, has uncovered the earliest known representation of a sexed personal ornament in human history. The study, published in Scientific Reports, describes and analyzes a phallus-shaped black pendant discovered in northern Mongolia and dating back to 42,000 years ago. In addition to pushing back the timeline for sexed symbolic representation in the archaeological record, the pendant was discovered in a location where Homo sapiens mingled with other ancient human species, including the extinct Denisovans. The research adds more fuel to the debate about whether figurative depictions in art was a trait exclusive to Homo sapiens in ancient human history.

Anthropological Ally

Liza Grandia, associate professor in the Department of Native American Studies and an internationally acclaimed public scholar, was barely drinking age when she stopped the World Bank and an international oil company from building a pipeline through the rural regions of Guatemala. The lesson Grandia learned then — that one is never too young to become engaged in public scholarship — is something that she emphasizes to her students at UC Davis. 

Hemispheric Institute Scholars Present Recent Findings

Ten doctoral students across many disciplines in the College of Letters and Science and two students from outside the college will present research done as UC Davis Hemispheric Institute on the Americas Summer Fellowship recipients. The fellowships allowed the students to travel to further their scholarship into diverse topics ranging from music about the Panama Canal to examining human remains for insights into drought and societal collapse in Peru.

Grant Awarded for Ongoing Muslim Women and Media Project

Suad Joseph, Distinguished Research Professor of Anthropology and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, is among a cohort of three interdisciplinary teams awarded $45,000 each from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) to advance public understanding of global religions. The new award builds on an ongoing UC Davis project on Muslim women and the media, as well as a New York Times media project, both led by Joseph. “Decolonizing the Representation of Muslim Women in the Media: Training Next Generation Journalists” is an extension of Joseph's 25 years as general editor of "Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures."

Denisovans or Homo Sapiens: Who Were the First to Settle (Permanently) on the Tibetan Plateau?

The Tibetan Plateau has long been considered one of the last places to be populated by people in their migration around the globe. A new paper by archaeologists at UC Davis highlights that our extinct cousins, the Denisovans, reached the “roof of the world” about 160,000 years ago — 120,000 years earlier than previous estimates for our species — and even contributed to our adaptation to high altitude.