Cathy Lynne Costin

Cathy Costin
Department Chair/Liberal Studies Gateway Course Coordinator
(818) 677-3331
Office location:
Sierra Hall, Room 232



  • Ph.D. Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles, 1986
  • UCLA Alumni Association Distinguished Scholar, 1985
  • M.A.  Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles, 1980
  • B.A.  Honors in Anthropology (Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) University of California, Los Angeles, 1978

Awards and Recognition

  • American Anthropological Association
    • Executive Board, 2015-2018
      • Publications’ Specification Advisory Committee, Section Assembly
      • Chair, Audit Committee
  • Archeology Division Publications Director, 2007-2013
  • Archeology Division Executive Committee, 2000-2002; 2007-2013
  • Archeology Division (Annual Meeting) Program Editor 2000-2002
  • Society for American Archaeology, member
    •      Chair, Publications Committee, 2006-2009   
    •      Committee on the Status of Women in Archaeology, 1996-2002
      • National Science Foundation Archaeology Review Panel 2006-2009

Courses Taught

  • 153: Temples, Tombs, and Treasures??? An Introduction to Archaeology
  • Liberal Studies 300: Liberal Studies Gateway
  • 308: Women, Sex Roles, and Culture
  • 352: Peoples of South America
  • 429: Archaeology of South America
  • 460: Archaeological Study of Women in the Ancient World
  • 462: Anthropology of the Arts
  • 490C: Seminar: Craft Production
  • 490C: Seminar: Food, Culture and Society
  • 518: Archaeological Laboratory Analysis
  • 601: Graduate Seminar in Anthropological Theory

Selected Publications and Presentations

2018  Crafting Identity and Wealth on the North Coast Of Peru.  In Craft Production Systems in a Cross-Cultural Perspective, edited by Martin Bentz and Tobias Helms, PP 171-184.  Graduiertenkolleg 1878 Studien zur Wirtschaftsarchäologie.  University of Bonn.


2018 Gender and Status in Inca Textile and Ceramic Craft Production.  In The Oxford Handbook of the Incas, edited by Sonia Alconini and Alan Covey.  Oxford University Press.


2016 Making Value, Making Meaning:  Techné in the Pre-Columbian World.  Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington,  D.C.


2016 Political, Social, Economic, and Ideological Dimensions in the Gendered Division of Labor on the North Coast of Peru.  In Gendered Labor in Specialized Economies, edited by Sophia Kelly and Traci Ardren, pp. 27-60.  University Press of Colorado.


2016 Who Benefits?  Labor Deployment, Relations of Production, and Access to Wealth and Power in the Late Prehispanic Andes.  Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association 27:120-142.  Volume 27:Archaeology of the Human Experience, pp. 120-142. Michelle Hegmon, volume editor.

2011 Textiles and Chimu Identity Under Inka Hegemony on the North Coast of Peru. In Textile Economies: Power and Value from the Local to the Transnational, edited by W. Little and T. McAnany, pp. 101-124. AltaMira Press, Lanham, MD.

2011 Hybrid Objects, Hybrid Social Identities: Style and Social Structure in the Late Horizon Andes. In Identity Crisis: Archaeology and Problems of Social Identity, edited by Lindsay Amundsen-Meyer, Nicole Engel, and Sean Pickering, pp 211-225. University of Calgary, Alberta.

2007    Thinking About Production:  Phenomenological Classification and Lexical Semantics.  In Rethinking Craft Specialization in Complex Societies:  Archaeological Analyses of the Social Meaning of Production, edited by Z. Hruby and R. Flad.  Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association 15, pp 143-162.

2005    The Study of Craft Production.  In  Handbook of Methods in Archaeology, edited by H. Maschner, pp 1032-1105.  AltaMira Press.

2004    Craft Economies of Prehispanic Andean States.  In Archaeological Perspectives on Political Economies, edited by Gary M. Feinman, Linda M. Nicholas, and James M Skibo.  Foundations of Archaeology Inquiry Series.  University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.  Release announced January 2004.

2002    Status Distinction and Legitimation of Power as Reflected in Changing Patterns of Consumption in Late Prehispanic Peru.  In Bronze Age Economics:  the First Political Economies, edited by T. Earle.  Rowland and Littlefield.  Reprinted from American Antiquity 54(4):691-714.

2002    Cloth Production and Gender Relations in the Inka Empire.  In Archaeology:  Original Readings in Method and Practice, edited by P. Peregrine, C. Ember, and M. Ember, pp.261-279.  Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.

2001    Production and Exchange of Ceramics. In Empire and Domestic Economy by T. D'Altroy, C. Hastorf and Associates, pp. 203-242.  Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.  New York.

2001    Craft Production Systems.  In Archaeology at the Millennium: A Sourcebook, edited by G. Feinman and T. Price, pp. 273-327.  Kluwar Academic/Plenum Press, New York.

2000    The Use of Ethnoarchaeology for the Archaeological Study of Ceramic Production.  In Ceramic Ethnoarchaeology (Theme Issue),  Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, edited by B. Bowser, 7(4):377-403

1999    Formal and Technological Variability and the Social Relations of Production:  Crisoles from San Jose de Moro, Peru.  In Material Meanings:  Critical Approaches to Interpreting Material Culture, edited by Elizabeth S. Chilton, pp.85-110.  Foundation of Archaeological Inquiry.  University of Utah Press.

1998    Concepts of Property and Access to Non-agricultural Resources in the Inka Empire.  In Property in the Economy, edited by B. Hunt and A. Gilman, pp. 119-138.  Monographs in Economic Anthropology No. 14.  University Press of America.  Lanham, MD.

1998    Housewives, Chosen Women, and Skilled Men:  Cloth Production and Social Identity in the Late Prehispanic Andes.  In Craft and Social Identity, edited by C. Costin and R. Wright.  Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association Number 8.  Washington D.C.

1998    Introduction.  In Craft and Social Identity, edited by C. Costin and R. Wright.  Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association, Number 8.  Washington D.C.

1996    Exploring the Relationship among Craft Production, Gender, and Complex Societies: Methodological and Theoretical Issues of Gender Attribution.  In Gender and Archaeology, edited by R. Wright, pp. 111-142.  University of Pennsylvania Press.

1996    Craft Production and Mobilization Strategies in the Inka Empire.  In Craft Specialization and Social Evolution:  In Memory of V. Gordon Childe, edited by B. Wailes, pp. 211-228.  University of Pennsylvania Museum Publications.

1993    Textiles, Women, and Political Economy in the Late Prehispanic Andes. Research in Economic Anthropology 14:3-28.

1991    Specialization:  Issues in Defining, Documenting, and Explaining the Organization of Production.  In Archaeological Method and Theory, Volume 3, ed. by M. Schiffer, pp.1-56.  University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Research and Interests

5 keywords that describe your topical areas of specialization: 

Craft production and specialization, Ancient economic organization, Political economy and social inequality, Evolution of complex society, Gender

Geographic areas of specialization: Andean South America

Current Projects:
• Uncovering the use and role of psychedelic plants in early Andean societies.  I am using images in ancient (3000 year old) pottery to determine (1) what psychoactive plants were used by prehistoric Andean people and (2) how the use of those substances factored in to the rise of complex, socially stratified societies.

• The relationship among communication, technology, and visual appearance in ancient ceramics. In this project, I am trying to answer a basic questions  why did ancient people choose to have their pottery look a certain way (painted or not, smooth or textured, elaborately decorated or not, for example).  I argue that in societies without formal writing, objects such as pottery were important for communicating important information (cultural myths, values, beliefs, norms) and that potters consciously chose different ways to make pottery that were particularly well-suited to the kind of messages the objects were intended to convey.

• Chimu iconography.  Although the Chimu empire (c. 1300-1470 C.E.) was the second largest and most powerful polity in the ancient Andes, few people have studied their ceramics, because most people think it is “ugly.”  However, I think the things depicted in ancient ceramics can tell us a lot about how people lived, what they thought and what they believed.  In this very basic project, I aim to create a basic “catalog” of the plants, animals, activities, and other designs Chimu potters put on their wares.

Personal Bio Statement

I am an anthropological archaeologist working in Andean South America.  I became interested in Anthropology in 4th grade, when we studied Louis Leakey and Olduvai Gorge.  My research focus on Peru developed while I was an undergraduate interning in the UCLA Museum of Cultural History, and I’ve never wavered since. 

Through most of my professional career, my research focused on craft production (especially pottery and textiles), using those studies to answer broader questions about ancient societies:  how do people make and/or acquire the things they need?  how are ancient economies structured?  what is the relationship between the economy and power:  who has power?  how do they get it and hold on to it?

More recently, I’ve focused on the images and designs we find on textiles, pottery, and wall murals.  In analyzing them, I hope to learn more about how ancient people without a formal writing system communicated core cultural ideas; expressed social identities; defined and communicated social relationships; helped maintain order and balance; and strengthened social values.