Brooklyn, N.Y.—The Archaeology Division of the American Anthropological Association has honored Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology Sophia Perdikaris with the prestigious Gordon R. Willey Prize. Perdikaris received the award for her contributions as a co-author of a scholarly work voted the “most outstanding archaeology article” that appeared in the society’s journal American Anthropologist during the 2007–09 period.
Perdikaris, a zooarchaeologist who has conducted digs in Norway, Iceland and Barbuda, and 17 colleagues were honored for the article “Landscapes of Settlement in Northern Iceland: Historical Ecology of Human Impact and Climate Fluctuation on the Millennial Scale.” The piece, published in 2007, examines the effects of Norse settlement on the North Atlantic island around 871 and the impact that human habitation has had in the thousand years since.
The Willey prize is awarded for the most outstanding archaeology article that has appeared in the AAA’s flagship journal over a three-year period. The winning article must apply archaeological data to a problem of general anthropological interest in an innovative manner.
Perdikaris says her studies of animal bone remains from archaeological sites “provide excellent insights to diet, economy and climate.”
She explains, “Archaeological data sheds light into human-nature interactions, sustainability and resilience. Because in the past, cycles of life, death and change are long completed, archaeological data can be used for informed predictive modeling that can be applied to issues of modern-day concern.”
The article’s lead researcher was Professor Thomas McGovern of Hunter College, a frequent colleague of Perdikaris. The other authors were O. Vésteinsson, Adolf Fridriksson, M.J. Church, I.T. Lawson, I.A. Simpson, Á. Einarsson, A. Dugmore, A.J. Cook, K. Edwards, A.M. Thomson, P.W. Adderley, A.J. Newton, G. Lucas, R. Edvardsson, O. Aldred and E. Dunbar.
Perdikaris notes that the prize brings “no great monetary value, but it signifies national recognition. And it’s nice to be appreciated.”
In addition, she says, “Working on such a noteworthy dig is also a very good experience for students, who have the opportunity to work in an international, interdisciplinary setting and are exposed to scientists of varied backgrounds and from many different nations.”