Roderick McIntosh appointed the Stephenson Professor of Anthropology

McIntosh is an archaeologist who studies the ancient past of Africa, as well as the origin of complex societies worldwide.
Photo of Professor Roderick McIntosh.
Roderick McIntosh

Roderick James McIntosh, newly appointed as the Clayton Stephenson/Yale Class of 1954 Professor of Anthropology, is an archaeologist who studies the ancient past of Africa, as well as the origin of complex societies worldwide (especially urbanism), paleoclimate and human response, the intellectual history of archaeology, and the suppression of the illicit international traffic in art and antiquities.

McIntosh was involved in the creation of the first bilateral accord banning the import of antiquities into a “market” nation (the United States) from a “source” nation (Mali). For the past 40 years he has looked comparatively at the urban landscapes of the Niger and Senegal floodplains, including co-directorship of investigations at Jenne-jeno, sub-Saharan Africa’s oldest city.

McIntosh’s future fieldwork will concern the palaeoclimate, floodplain dynamics, and rise and fall of cities in the now “dead” delta of the Niger, the Méma of Mali. He also plans to take samples for archaeomagnetism dating from Peru, South Africa, Senegal and Mali. These samples are for his new archaeomagnetism dating laboratory, with the capacity to determine high-resolution dates from archaeological contexts and to provide magnetic intensity data to field models of the changing intensity of the Earth’s magnetic field.

The Yale professor is the author of 11 books, including “Ancient Middle Niger: Urbanism and the Self-Organizing Past,” “Plundering Africa’s Past,” and “The Way the Wind Blows: Climate Change, History, and Human Action.”

McIntosh earned his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. He taught at Rice University for more than 25 years before joining the Yale faculty in 2006. He also serves as Curator-in-Charge of the Anthropology Division at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History and as the Honorary Distinguished Professor of Archaeology at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

McIntosh has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a Fulbright Senior Fellow (on two occasions), and has held a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

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