The Team

The Executive Team

Margaret W. Conkey (Project Co-Director)

Professor Emerita of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley
PhD, University of Chicago, 1978


I joined the Berkeley Department of Anthropology in 1987. Since that time, I have continued research and publication in several interrelated areas. First, I have continued my interest in understanding the issues of gender and feminist perspectives in archaeology and in past human societies. By spring 1998, I will have co-organized two major conferences to address such issues, and published numerous articles including a 1997 review article (co-authored with Joan Gero) on the topic in the Annual Reviews of Archaeology.

Second, I have continued an interest in the interpretation and study of what is loosely called "Paleolithic art." I have continued work on the intellectual history of how this corpus of images and artifacts has been interpreted, and on bringing together various kinds of observations and research that have been ongoing in the field under different theoretical umbrellas, including practice theory and feminist theory. I have published nearly a dozen essays in this area and have recently negotiated a new book contract with the University of California Press for a book that probes the very processes of interpretation as much as the extant and historic interpretations themselves of and for this art. Because of this research interest, I have been active in the field that is called "rock art research," and have participated in numerous conferences, often internationally, specifically those concerned with the theory and social contexts of rock art research. The combined interests in prehistoric art, especially that of Paleolithic Europe, and gender and feminist archaeology, have involved recent research and publication concerning the so-called "goddess" figurines, especially of ancient Europe, in collaboration with Berkeley colleague, Ruth Tringham. We have been particularly concerned to show how the archaeological stories about these figurines have been taken up, often problematically, by contemporary popular culture.

Third, I have been carrying out a field research project since 1993, which is primarily focused on understanding the possibilities for open air archaeological evidence, especially of the late Paleolithic, in the French Midi-Pyr*n*es; this is a project we call "between the caves," since it is intended to contextualize the rich archaeological evidence of art and material culture found in the region's caves. That is, we believe this is a project intended to better understand the social geography and landscapes of Paleolithic art. It is also a project about fundamental archaeological survey, about survey methods, about distributional archaeology. As such, we have now carried out with support--from two grants from the National Science Foundation, one from the France-Berkeley Fund, and several from the Stahl Endowment (UC Berkeley, Archaeological Research Facility--5 years of field research, with crews of varying size and doing varied intensity of survey. This is plow-zone archaeology. To date, we have recovered more than 3000 identifiable lithic artifacts differentially distributed within a 260 square kilometer transect. The project is multi/interdisciplinary, including a geomorphological study, including a soil transport model, and interfacing with a long-term regional paleoecology/paleoenvironmental project directed by two French colleagues, who are carrying out extensive coring of regional paleolakes for palynological, sedimentological and paleoentomological evidence for past climate and environment during the pleniglacial--when Paleolithic art was being made and used.

Closely interconnected with the fieldwork, other research and publications has been an explicit research concern with pedagogy and the teaching of archaeology (including one publication to date on this topic); the development of internet resources for and the use of the internet in the teaching of Introduction to Archaeology (including the receipt of several instructional technology grants to enable this); and initiating and implementing an archaeology outreach program in local schools. I have twice been awarded teaching awards since coming to Berkeley, and have leveraged the start-up funds for a Multi-Media Teaching Laboratory for the Department of Anthropology. In July 1997, I was named the Class of 1960 Professor of Anthropology, an endowed chair.

Sébastien Lacombe (Project Co-Director)

Research Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Binghamton University
PhD, University of Toulouse-le Mirail, 1998


Sébastien is an archaeologist with interests in the Paleolithic of the Old World, the archaeology of decorated caves, the prehistory of North America, archaeopetrography and cultural resource management.

His research focuses on lithic technology and rock material sourcing, particularly exploring the socio-economic organization of prehistoric groups in relation to natural resources and landscape, as well as the symbolic aspects that often lie underneath.

He has carried out most of his field work in Southwestern Europe (especially in France), but also in Central America and Central Asia (where he directed the excavation of the Early Upper Paleolithic site of Dörölj II).

Kathleen Sterling (Project Co-Director)

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Binghamton University
PhD, University of California, Berkeley, 2005


Kathleen's research is centered in the French Pyrenees, where she is currently co-director of Peyre Blanque, an open-air late Paleolithic site.This project grew out of a long-term pedestrian survey project that has collected thousands of lithic objects spanning the Paleolithic.

Her interests include lithic technology, learning and identity, communities of practice, Paleolithic visual imagery, hunting and gathering groups, gender and feminist science, Black feminist theory, landscape archaeology, and the sociopolitics of archaeology.

The main themes of her work are concerned with dispelling myths about human ancestors as violent, primitive, and limited. She is also concerned with equal opportunity in anthropology and science in general, particularly in the ways in which this has an impact on knowledge production.

She is a member of the Committee on the Status of Women in Archaeology, the Society of Black Archaeologists, the Association for Feminist Anthropology, and the Association of Black Anthropologists.

Patrice Bonnafoux (Field Director / Project Development)

Research Associate, Institute of Archaeology, University College London & UMR 8096, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
PhD, University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, 2008


I graduated in Archaeology from Université Toulouse II - Le Mirail (France) after completing a BA dissertation on Classic Maya sculpture.

Following my interest in Maya studies, my doctoral research focused on Early Classic ceramics to provide stylistic and iconographic analysis as well as socio-cultural, ideological, political, and environmental contexts. 

My work on the ancient Maya has led me to collaborate with projects in Honduras, Guatemala and Belize.

I was also very lucky to be invited on Meg Conkey's project in France in 2002. I have been part of the team ever since. 

Nowadays, I explore various topics such as Maya iconography and worldviews, Material culture and innovations, Environmental stress, crisis and socio-cultural adaptation, Networks of contact and exchange, Semiotics, and Design and communication. 

I'm also interested in public engagement in archaeology, open-access initiatives, everything IT and social media.

Field & Research

William E. Dietrich (Geomorphologist)

Professor, Earth and Planetary Science, University of California, Berkeley
PhD, University of Washington, 1982


Bill Dietrich’s research focuses on the processes that underlie the evolution of landscapes. His research group and collaborators are developing geomorphic transport laws for soil production, weathering and transport, and river and debris flow incision into bedrock. They are exploring the processes that control the sorting of sediment on river beds, the transport of sediment in steep, coarse bedded channels, the routing of sediment through river networks, the influence of sediment supply on river morphodynamics, the entrainment of sediment to form debris flows, and the dispersion and deposition of sediment across floodplains.

New computational approaches are being tested to predict the size and location of shallow landslides. He is collaborating in an intensive field investigation to identify, quantify, and model the processes that will control the co-evolution of climate, vegetation and water availability in Northern California forested landscapes. He is part of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission to Mars, and is collaborating on related field studies of the soil development and landscape evolution in the hyper arid Atacama Desert in Chile.

Bill co-founded the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping. As part of the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics he is co-developing a digital terrain model for predicting salmon populations from digital terrain data. Other collaborative studies are underway to link ecologic and geomorphic processes.

John O'Hara (Field Director)

PhD Student, Anthropology, New York University


John is a doctoral candidate in archaeology at NYU, having earned his BA at Trinity College, Dublin (2006) and his MA at the University of Southampton (2008).

His main research interest is in Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Europe, and his dissertation focuses on social geographies in Late Glacial Franco-Cantabria, using typo-technological variation in personal ornaments to address questions of cultural identity, and strontium and oxygen stable isotopes to reconstruct patterns of exchange and mobility.

He is also interested in lithic analysis, GIS, stable isotope geochemistry, geoarchaeology, North American prehistory, and archaeological methods and theory.

John has extensive experience as a teaching assistant for archaeological courses, and has worked in cultural resource management for several years throughout Ireland and the UK. Besides Peyre Blanque, John has also excavated across Ireland, the UK, France, Belgium, Spain and the United States.

Rachel Kulick (Soil Micromorphology)

PhD Student, Anthropology, University of Toronto


Rachel, a fourth-year PhD Candidate and a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar, earned her B.A., magna cum laude, in Archaeology from Cornell University (2009) and her MPhil in Archaeological Science from the University of Cambridge, St. John’s College (2010).

Her main research interests include Aegean and east Mediterranean prehistory, geoarchaeology (specialization in soil micromorphology), archaeological science, and viticulture and olive oil production and consumption.

Her dissertation research on “Environmental Sustainability in a Minoan Bronze Age Town: A Multi-Scale Geoarchaeological Investigation of Human-Landscape Interactions at Palaikastro, Crete,” explores the relationship between anthropogenic and palaeoenvironmental change.

She is the project soil micromorphologist at Peyre Blanque (Ariège, France) and has previously excavated in Cyprus, Italy, and Ireland.

Michelle C. Langley (antler, bone, ivory technology)

Post-Doctoral Researcher, Archaeology & Natural History, CAP, Australian National University
PhD, University of Oxford, 2014


Michelle is a Post-Doctoral researcher at the Australian National University.
Her main research interests centre around the use of technologies manufactured from hard animal materials in early human communities. In particular, antler, bone, and ivory projectile weapons recovered from European Magdalenian, African LSA, and Pleistocene Australasian contexts have been the focus of her most recent research, including her PhD dissertation. 

She is also interested in the use of material culture in social signalling during the Pleistocene, Neanderthal archaeology, human cognitive evolution, and prehistoric trade networks.

Apart from Peyre Blanque, Michelle has excavated at sites located in France, Morocco, New Caledonia, and Australia and is currently involved in the technological analysis of various organic artefact assemblages recovered from these regions.

Joelle Nivens (Pigments)

PhD Student, Anthropology, New York University


Joelle Nivens is a PhD student in Anthropology at NYU. Her research focuses on the Early Upper Paleolithic exploitation of mineral colorants. 

She primarily explores the ways in which the preparation and use of iron oxides link multiple activities- symbolic and quotidian (flint-knapping, ornament production, parietal art, hide-working) - within and between archaeological sites. 

In spring 2015, Joelle was a visiting CIRHUS (Center for International Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences) (CNRS NYU UMI 3199) fellow at the Laboratoire d’Archéologie Moleculaire et Structurale of the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris.

Research Collaborators

Bordeaux (France)

Beta AnalyticIncorporation
Miami, Florida (USA)

Archaeological Research Facility
University of California, Berkeley (USA) 

Palynological Laboratory,
Department of Geology
University of California, Berkeley (USA) 

Toulouse (France) 

Luminescence Dating Laboratory
University of Washington, Seattle (USA) 

Archaeology Department
Boston University (USA) 

Koji LUM
Department of Anthropology
Binghamton University (USA) 

Department of Anthropology
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (USA)

Philippe WALTER
Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Ivry sur Seine 

Blanton & Associates Inc.
Environmental Consulting – Planning – Project Management
Austin, Texas (USA)