University of Rochester

Rochester Anthropologist Honored for Contributions to Archaeology

December 15, 2004

René Millon, professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Rochester, will receive the A. V. Kidder Prize from the American Anthropological Association this week for his contributions to mapping and excavating at Teotihuacán, Mexico. Sharing the prize will be George L. Cowgill, professor of anthropology at Arizona State University.

The world’s largest organization of anthropologists calls the mutual achievements and leadership of Millon and Cowgill on the Teotihuacán Mapping Project “one of the most important investigations of early urbanism in the history of archaeology.”

From 1964 to 1970, Millon led a team of Mexican, American, and Canadian researchers who produced the first complete building-by-building map of the 2,000-year-old city northeast of Mexico City. Known for its Pyramids of the Moon and the Sun, Teotihuacán was the largest and most influential city of the pre-Columbian New World, and now the most visited archaeological site in Mexico.

The citation from the association points out that articles written by Millon over four decades to examine Teotihuacán as a functioning city defined many of the topics now considered fundamental to the analysis of ancient urbanism. He conceived of the Teotihuacán Mapping Project, obtained funding for it, and directed it through its early and intermediate stages. “That it exists today is a testament to Millon’s intellect and determination, and his rare combination of vision and practical acumen,” the citation reads.

In addition to publication of the Teotihuacán map, the AAA applauds Cowgill’s “broad theoretical sophistication and formidable expertise in quantitative methods and computers helped attract attention to the Teotihuacán data.”

Millon was a professor and researcher at Rochester from 1961 to 1986. Since then, he has worked as a consultant at Teotihuacán. In 2001, Millon was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the nation’s most select group of thinkers and scientists.