Institute of Archaeology


David Wengrow gives SAGE Lecture 2023

6 June 2023

David Wengrow (UCL Institute of Archaeology) has been invited to the University of California, Santa Barbara, as a SAGE Center Speaker for 2022-23.

Prof David Wengrow, UCL Institute of Archaeology (Image credit: Tom Jamieson)

The SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind at the University of California, Santa Barbara, was established in 2005 and fosters collaboration among researchers, publishers, teachers and speakers in order to address historically significant and cutting-edge questions about the brain and mind. 

While housed in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at UCSB, their focus is interdisciplinary with SAGE Speakers being at the core of their mission. SAGE Speakers give a public lecture on their areas of specialization and, as time allows, meet with interested UCSB faculty, post-doctoral researchers and graduate students. 

David Wengrow was selected from a long list of nominees generated by the SAGE Center's Executive Council and joins an elite group of psychologists, biologists, physicists, philosophers, engineers, economists and other intellectuals.

David was invited to give his SAGE Lecture in June 2023 entitled 'The Role of Image Systems in Human Cognition and History.' 


Image systems form a major component of our species’ cultural heritage. Most likely, their use extends back further into our evolutionary past than the earliest surviving traces of image-making in the archaeological record. Yet the capacity of image systems to serve as complex intellectual devices in their own right is often overshadowed by their perception as “merely illustrating” propositions expressed in language or writing. My SAGE lecture will offer a reappraisal of the status of image systems in human cognition and history, highlighting their role in the development of human societies across the divide of “oral” and “literate” cultures.

David is co-author (with the late David Graeber) of The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity (2021), which was named a Sunday Times, Observer and BBC History Book of the Year. The Dawn of Everything has been translated into French, German, and Italian, and is due to appear in over 30 languages worldwide.  

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Image: Prof David Wengrow, UCL Institute of Archaeology (Image credit: Tom Jamieson)