George L. Cowgill

George L. Cowgill

Tempe, Ariz.

December 19, 1929 - July 31, 2018

George Lewis Cowgill, 88, died in Tempe, Ariz., on July 31, 2018. He was a native of Grangeville, Idaho, who became a distinguished professor of anthropology, specializing in the ancient civilization of Teotihuacan in central Mexico.
George and his twin brother, Warren Crawford Cowgill, were born to George Dewey Cowgill and Ruby (Smith) Cowgill on December 19, 1929, just outside Grangeville in a farmhouse that stood on the site where the Bear Den now stands. The twins attended the one-room Adkison School for a year before going to school in town. They graduated from Grangeville High School in 1948; one of their favorite teachers was Grace Jordan, who later wrote “Home Below Hell’s Canyon.”
With little inclination for farm work, the Cowgill twins enrolled in the University of Idaho. After one year, they transferred to Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. George graduated in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree in physics; he eventually got a doctorate in anthropology from Harvard University in 1963.
George was a professor of anthropology at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., between 1962 and 1990. He devoted most of his research effort to mapping the city of Teotihuacan and analyzing archaeological artifacts, such as pot sherds, found there. He also made important contributions to the application of statistics to archaeological research, and to the comparative study of ancient cities.
In 1990, Arizona State University recruited him to its faculty, and he gladly left the Boston metropolitan area to return to his roots in the west. He flourished at ASU and continued to work with graduate students and do research in Teotihuacan well after his retirement in 2005. As long as his health permitted, George made at least yearly visits home to Grangeville.
The American Anthropological Association awarded him the Alfred Vincent Kidder Award for Eminence in the Field of American Archaeology in 2004. In 2015, he published Ancient Teotihuacan: Early Urbanism in Central Mexico.
George L. Cowgill is survived by his niece, Karen, of Seattle. A memorial service in Arizona will be planned for later this year. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Arizona State University Teotihuacan Archaeological Research Center Endowment.


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