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Anthropology Department
New York University
25 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10003

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Randall White


Professor of Anthropology


B.A. 1976, Alberta
Ph.D. 1980, Toronto





Research Sites:

Abri Castanet in south west France

Research Focus:

Professor Randall White entering the
400-meter-deep cave at
Sergeac in the Dordogne

Randall White is Professor of Anthropology at New York University and one of the world’s leading specialists in the study of Paleolithic art and personal adornment. White was one of the first to recognize the evolutionary importance of personal adornment and its critical role in the organization and demographic expansion of modern humans. His work on the origins of art and personal adornment in Europe has taken him to various museums from France to Russia. He recently published the lavishly illustrated book Prehistoric Art: The Symbolic Journey of Humankind (New York: Harry Abrams, 2003).

White has worked on the Upper Paleolithic cultures of France for more than 30 years and is currently director of excavations at the 35,000 year old ornament-rich site of Abri Castanet in SW France. He is also a member of several other research teams and is responsible for the analysis and publication of hundreds of early Upper Paleolithic personal ornaments from modern excavations at sites such as Isturitz, Brassempouy and Arcy-sur-Cure.

Some of the hundreds of Aurignacian ivory beads from Abri Castanet In 1993 White was instrumental in the re-discovery, authentification and publication of a long-missing private collection of seven Ice Age female statuettes from Grimaldi, Italy. This work led him to undertake a massive study of more than 100 Gravettian female statuettes, bringing into focus the techniques used to fabricate them and new directions in their interpretation.

Over the past twenty years White has been instrumental in bringing to light, and publishing important Paleolithic collections acquired early in this century by North American museums. This endeavor has led him to a detailed investigation of the history of French Paleolithic archaeology. His most recent book (2006), entitled L’affaire de l’abri du Poisson : Patrie et préhistoire, is the first in a series of planned historical works on French Paleolithic archaeology in the crucial period immediately prior to World War I. He is currently working on a second, more massive volume entitled, Préhistoire et patrie: l’affaire Hauser et la politique de l’avant-guerre.

Recent and Selected Publications:

  • White, R. 2007. Systems of Personal Ornamentation in the Early Upper Palaeolithic: Methodological Challenges and New Observations. In, Mellars, Paul, Boyle, Katie, Bar-Yosef, Ofer and Stringer, Chris (eds.) Rethinking the Human Revolution: New Behavioural and Biological Perspectives on the Origin and Dispersal of Modern Humans. Cambridge, UK, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 287-302. (McDonald Institute Monographs). Download PDF
  • White, R.W. 2007. From Puente Viesgo to Central Park West : Hugo Obermaier, Nels Nelson and the American Museum of Natural History’s collections from Cantabrian Spain. in Maillo, J. and Baquedano eds., Miscelánea en Homenaje a Victoria Cabrera, Vol. I. Madrid : Zona Arqueológica 7, pp. 58-77. Download PDF
  • Henry-Gambier, D & R. W. White. 2006. Modifications artificielles des vestiges humains aurignaciens de la grotte des Hyènes et de la galerie Dubalen. Quelle signification. El centenario de la cueva de El Castillo : el ocaso de los Neandertales. V. Cabrera and F. Bernaldo de Quiros (eds.) Madrid: Madrid: Ministerio de Educacion y Ciencia. Download PDF
  • White, R. W. 2006. L'affaire de l'abri du Poisson: Patrie et préhistoire. Périgueux: Editions Fanlac. (abstract). Download PDF
  • White, R. W. 2006. The Women of Brassempouy: A Century of Research and Interpretation. Journal of archaeological Method and Theory, 13: 251-304. Download PDF
  • White, R. W. 2004. La parure en ivoire des hommes de Cro-Magnon. Pour la Science. April-June. Download PDF'
  • Henry-Gambier, H., B. Maureille and R. W. White. 2004. Vestiges humains des niveaux de l’Aurignacien ancien du site de Brassempouy (Landes). Bulletins et Mémoires de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris, n.s., 16 : 49-87. Download PDF
  • White, R. W., D. Henry-Gambier and C. Normand. 2003. Human-tooth ornaments from the French early Aurignacian: implications for early Upper Paleolithic treatment of the dead. Annual Meetings of the Paleoanthropology Society, Tempe, Arizona. Download PDF
  • Henry-Gambier, D. and R. W. White. 2003. New chrono-cultural data on the Cro-Magnon and Combe-Capelle human remains (Dordogne, France): consequences for the biocultural origins of modern humans in Europe. Annual Meetings of the Paleoanthropology Society, Tempe, Arizona. Download PDF
  • White, R. W. and A. Roussot. 2003. Résumé de ma vie : une note autobiographique de Denis Peyrony. Bulletin de la Société Historique et Archéologique du Périgord. 125 : 34-49. Download PDF
  • White, R. W. 2002. Observations technologiques sur les objets de parure in B. Schmider (ed.) L'Aurignacien de la grotte de Renne: Les fouilles d'André Leroi-Gourhan à Arcy-sur-Cure (Yonne). XXXIVe Supplément à Gallia Préhistoire, 257-266. Download PDF
  • White, R. W. 2002. Une nouvelle statuette phallo-féminine paléolithique : la « Vénus des Milandes (commune de Castelnaud-la-Chapelle), Dordogne Paléo. 14 : 177-198. Download PDF
  • White, R. W. 2002. The historic and legal context of foreign acquisitions of Paleolithic artifacts from the Périgord: 1900-1941. In L. Straus (ed.) The Rôle of American Archaeologists in the Study of the European Upper Paleolithic. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports, pp. 71-83. Download PDF
  • White, R. W. 2000. Un big bang socioculturel: Une nouvelle façon d'apprehender le monde est née voici 40,000 ans La Recherche, hors série no. 4, pp. 10-16. Download PDF