Anita Cook Headshot


  • Anthropology
  • School

  • School of Arts and Sciences
  • Expertise

  • Andean Archeology
  • Religion and Politics through the Visual Arts
  • Complex Society: Ancient States and Emires in the Americas (Inka and Huari/Wari)
  • Political Economy in the Ancient World: Ancient Foodways
  • Art and Architecture and Material Culture
  • Cultural Heritage Preservation
  • Ethnohistory
  • Languages

  • Spanish, Italian, French and oral understanding of Dutch and German
  • Biography

    Anita G. Cook, Ph.D. is an expert in comparative ancient civilizations and pre-Columbian Empires of Andean South America. She contributes to the Smithsonian and State Department annual training program of Immigration and Customs Agents in the identification and protection of global cultural heritages.

    Cook received her doctorate from the State University of New York at Binghamton, and a B.A. degree cum laude in ancient history and art history from Bard College. She is currently chair and full professor of anthropology at The Catholic University of America, Washington D.C. As one of the lead experts on early Andean empires, her work has focused on the lesser known Wari (Huari) Empire of the Central Andes. Her recent focus has been on cultural heritage and measures to prevent the illicit exportation of archaeological and colonial material culture. Since 2000 she has been visiting professor of Anthropology at the National University of San Cristóbal de Huamanga, Ayacucho, Peru, and from 1992 to 2008 she was a research associate in the Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

    She received Municipal Honorary Recognition and a Medal for defending and preserving the site of Conchopata-in Ayacucho, Peru. As director of the Lower Ica Valley Archaeological Project and co-director of the Conchopata Archaeological Project her research focuses on the emergence of early Andean states and empires (Huari and Tiwnaku in particular) with a particular focus on material culture, the visual arts, and iconography. Her research has been internationally recognized through grant and fellowship awards including: the Fulbright Commission for field research; National Endowment for the Humanities, an in-residence fellowship and summer research grants from Dumbarton Oaks, Harvard University; and another in-residence Ailsa Mellon Bruce Senior Fellowship, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, The National Gallery of Art.

    A few of her most important publications include two books: Ritual Sacrifice in Ancient Peru, edited by Elizabeth Benson and Anita Cook (2001) and Wari y Tiwanaku: entre el estilo y la imagen (1994), and numerous articles.

    See curriculum vitae

    Selected Publications

    Williams, Patrick, Donna Nash, Anita Cook, WilliamIsbell, and Robert J. Speakman. "Wari Ceramic Production in the Heartland and the Provinces." Ceramics of the Indigenous Cultures of South America. Michael D.Glascock, Hector Neff, and Kevin J.Vaughn (eds) University of New Mexico Press, pp. 125-129. 2019.

    “The Shape of Things to Come: the genesis of Wari Wak’as.” The Archaeology of Wak'as: Explorations of the Sacred in the Pre-Columbian Andes. Tamara Bray (ed.). University of Colorado Press. 2014.

    Chiou, Katherine,  Anita Cook, Christine Hastorf. "Flotation versus Dry Sieving archaeo-botanical remains: a case history from the Middle Horizon southern coast of Peru."  Journal of Field Archaeology 38(1): 1-14. 2013

    "The Coming of the Staff  Deity." Wari: Lords of the Ancient Andes, Susan Bergh editor. pp 105-124.  Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio. 2012

    "Visllani visllacuni: patrones de consumo a comienzos del Horizonte Medio." Revista Chilena de Antropología  N°20, 205-226. Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile. 2009

    Tung, Tiffiny and Anita G. Cook "Intermediate Elite Agency in the Wari Empire: The Bioarchaeological and Mortuary Evidence."  Intermediate Elites in Pre-Columbian States and Empires, Edited by Christina Elson and Alan Covey, University of Arizona Press. pp. 68-93. 2006

    Anita G. Cook and Nancy Parrish, "Gardens in the Desert: macrobotanical analyses from the Lower Ica Valley, Peru." Andean Past,Vol. 7:135-156. Cornell University, Latin American Studies Program, Ithaca, New York. 2005

    "Wari Art and Society" (Chapter 9) In: Andean Archaeology. Edited by Helaine Silverman. Blackwell Studies in Global Archaeology,  Pp 146-166. Blackwell Publishers. 2004