María Martinón-Torres awarded the Rivers Medal

An honour awarded by the Royal Anthropological Institute to the Director of CENIEH for her prolific work and the impact of her research in the field of paleoanthropology..

The Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (RAI), the world’s longest-established scholarly association dedicated to anthropology in its broadest sense, has awarded the Rivers Memorial Medal 2019 to María Martinón-Torres, Director of the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH).

As highlighted by the RAI in the public announcement, Martinón-Torres receives the medal in recognition of her “prolific” work on fossil hominin dentition and because she “has been pivotal in bringing together new data and analyses from China that are having major impact in the field.”.

The Medal, founded in 1923 by the Council of the RAI in memory of its late President, William Halse Rivers, is one of the highest honours in Anthropology and Archaeology provided by this institution. This award recognises the excellence in a recent body of research which makes, as a whole, a significant contribution to anthropology or archaeology.

Past recepients of the medal include some of the most distinguished anthropologists worldwide, such as Bronislaw Malinowski, Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard, Dorothy Garrod, Richard Leakey, Colin Renfrew, Maurice Bloch, Chris Stringer, Clive Gamble, Philip Tobias and Rob Foley. “I feel honoured and grateful to receive an award that has been previously conferred to scholars I deeply admire and whose work has been so inspirational to me”, Martinón-Torres said.

The award, which is granted to a Spanish scientist for the first time, will be officially conferred in September, during the Annual General Meeting of the RAI.

International trajectory

María Martinón-Torres is Director of the CENIEH and Honorary Professor at the Anthropology Department of University College London (UCL). She specialises in the study of hominin dentition, paleopathology and the reconstruction of the evolutionary scenario of Eurasian Pleistocene populations.

Long-standing member of the Atapuerca Research Team and now one of its co-directors, her professional trajectory has involved international collaborations with research teams from Dmanisi (Republic of Georgia) and the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of Beijing (IVPP), leading to a change of paradigm in the understanding of the first hominin dispersals.