World-Renowned Anthropologist to Speak at Pitt on Nov. 12

Issue Date: 
November 11, 2013

The University of Pittsburgh will host the first U.S. lecture by anthropologist and archaeologist David Lordkipanidze at 8 p.m. on Nov. 12 in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium. During the free and public event, Lordkipanidze will focus on recent excavation findings in the Republic of Georgia that have unearthed skulls of Homo erectus—an early hominin, or a human ancestor—which some believe may be a precursor of Homo sapiens. These paleontological findings could potentially transform current understanding of the evolution of early humankind.

The discovery is seen as strengthening the hypothesis that Homo erectus evolved in Africa and then migrated to Eurasia. The predominant rival theory is that Homo erectus originated in Asia and then spread throughout the rest of the world.

Titled “The First Representative of Homo Out of Africa,” the lecture is the concluding session of the Department of Anthropology’s three-part lecture series, Mysteries of Human Evolution.

Since 2005, Lordkipanidze has held the position of director general of the Georgian National Museum, a network of leading museums in the Republic of Georgia. Prior to arriving at the National Museum as deputy director in 2002, Lordkipanidze served as a senior researcher at the Academy of Sciences of Georgia from 1992 to 1997 and head of the Geology and Paleontology Department at the Georgian State Museum from 1997 to 2001. In addition, Lordkipanidze served as visiting scholar in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University as well as the National Natural History Museum in Paris.

Lordkipanidze holds memberships in such prominent scientific organizations as the National Academy of Sciences, the German Archaeological Institute, the World Academy of Art and Science, the Georgian Academy of Science, the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, and the Academy of Europe. He has served as an associate editor for the journals European Prehistory, Archaeology Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia, and the Journal of Human Evolution. Lordkipanidze has published more than 120 articles in such noted scientific publications as Nature, Science Magazine, Proceedings of U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the Journal of Human Evolution.

Lordkipanidze’s honors and distinctions include the prestigious Rolex Award for Enterprise, for his archaeological exploration of the earliest known settlements outside of Africa, in 2004. He also is the recipient of the 2008 Award of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei “Fabio Frassetto” International Prize, the 2004 Georgian National Prize for Science and Technology, and the 2001 Award of the Prince of Monaco. Lordkipanidze has been honored with the National Decorations of Georgia in both 2011 and 2001.

Pitt’s Mysteries of Human Evolution Lecture Series challenges the commonly held belief that man’s evolutionary history comprised a continuum of evolutionary transformations from one species to the next. Utilizing recently uncovered findings from Indonesia, China, and the Republic of Georgia, the series raises the specter that species diversity characterized the human lineage. Past speakers were Dean Falk, evolutionary anthropologist and Hale G. Smith Professor of Anthropology at Florida State University, and Darren Curnoe, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of New South Wales in Sydney Australia.

The series is cosponsored by Pitt’s Asian Studies Center, Center for Russian and East European Studies, Humanities Center, and University Honors College.