Antczak, Prof. dr. Maria Magdalena

Maria Magdalena (Marlena) Antczak is an archaeologist specialized in Northern South America and the Caribbean. She is currently a senior researcher at KITLV, studying the impact of indigenous imagery across the ‘Columbian divide’ in the Southeastern Caribbean within the project CaribTRAILS. Her work focuses on the role of figurative material culture and its involvement in the construction and maintenance of socio-cultural identities and ideologies in the past and in the present.

Marlena Antczak studied Ethnography at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland, Anthropology at Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas, and Archaeology at University College London (PhD in Prehistoric Archaeology in 2000). She was Professor of Anthropology of Art and Archaeology at Universidad Simón Bolívar (USB) in Caracas, Venezuela (2005 to 2013) and Associate Professor in Caribbean Archaeology at the Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University (2013 to 2017). Marlena is also co-founder and co-director (with Andrzej Antczak) of the Archaeology Research Unit at USB.

In 1982, she co-created and co-directed the project Archaeology of the Islands of Venezuela, and since then has carried out pioneering archaeological investigations on most of the 60 offshore islands of the Venezuelan Caribbean. Since 2006, she has also co-directed research (with Andrzej Antczak) on the small islands off the eastern coast of Martinique and on the island of Bonaire. Marlena has also conducted museological research on archaeological collections from Venezuela in museums in the Americas and Europe. From 2013 to 2019 she was a senior researcher in the NEXUS1492 Project. Dr. Antczak has garnered extensive experience in teaching (in Spanish, English and Polish) graduate and undergraduate courses on both sides of Atlantic (more than 70 since the year 2000). She has published (in English and Spanish) numerous monographs and dozens of articles in scholarly books and journals, as well as the popular press; she has also participated in several archaeological exhibitions and films.

Marlena’s interests include Caribbean archaeology and the (re)construction of past social realities, focusing on the ontological character of Amerindian imagery — especially figurines — and signifying practices applied to the study of archaeological imagery using a multidisciplinary approach. Alongside this, she also works toward an ‘engaged archaeology’, undertaking community archaeology and interweaving (or making relevant) the past in the present.

Selected Publications

(With A.T. Antczak and C. Guzzo Falci), ‘Vibrant Pasts in Museum Drawers: Advances in the Study of Late Precolonial (AD 800–1500) Materials Collected from North-central Venezuela‘,  Museum History Journal 12(1): 52–74, 2018.

(With A.T. Antczak), ‘Making Beings: Amerindian Figurines in the Caribbean’, Oxford Handbook of World Figurines, edited by T. Insoll, pp. 195–220. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2017.

(With. C. Falci Guzzo and A.T. Antczak), ‘Recontextualizing Bodily Ornaments from North-Central Venezuela (AD 900-1500): The Alfredo Jahn Collection at the Ethnologisches Museum Berlin’, Baessler-Archiv 64: 87–112, 2017.

(With A.T. Antczak and B. Urbani), ‘Re-thinking the migration of Cariban-speakers from the Middle Orinoco River to north-central Venezuela (AD 800)’,  Journal of World Prehistory 30(2): 131–175, 2017.

(With A.T. Antczak), ‘Their World in Clay: The Art of Pre-Hispanic Venezuela’, Ancient American Art 3500 BC-AD 1532: Masterworks of the Pre-Columbian Era, edited by Antczak, M. M., A. Antczak, S. Berti, J-F. Bouchard, D. Reents-Budet, and G. Griffin, pp. 175–203, 2011. Milan: 5 Continents Editions.

(With A.T. Antczak, G. González Hurtado and K.A. Antczak), ‘Community Archaeology in the Los Roques Archipelago National Park, Venezuela’,  Politeja 24: 201–236, 2013.

(With A.T. Antczak), ‘Between Food and Symbol: The Role of Marine Molluscs in the Late Pre-Hispanic North-Central Venezuela’, Early Human Impact on Megamolluscs, edited by A. Antczak and R. Cipriani, pp. 231–245. British Archaeological Reports International Series 1865. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2008.

(With A.T. Antczak), Los Mensajes Confiados a la Roca. Caracas: Editorial Equinoccio, Universidad Simón Bolívar, 2007.

(With A.T. Antczak), Los Ídolos de las Islas Prometidas: Arqueología Prehispánica del Archipiélago de Los Roques. Caracas: Editorial Equinoccio, Universidad Simón Bolívar, 2006.

(With L. Sajo-Bohus, E.D. Greaves, A.T. Antczak, J. Bermudez, Zs. Kasztovszky, T. Poirier and A. Simonits), ‘Incipient archaeometry in Venezuela: Provenance study of pre-Hispanic pottery figurines’, Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry 265(2): 247–256, 2005.