The Palaeolithic Studies Lab has been established to foster research on issues concerning human evolution in Eurasia during the Pleistocene. Such research may take many forms and the lab is designed to evolve in response to the research interests of Old World Archaeology graduate students,
The zooarchaeology laboratory is a new research space that is devoted to research and teaching. We are in the process of building skeletal and taphonomic comparative collections that will include local New England fish, bird, and mammal species, as well as select taxa from southwest Asia and Europe. At this point the collection is small (N = 30 skeletons), and is best suited for teaching and small research projects.
The lab, however, is newly equipped with a fume hood, freezer and basic equipment necessary to process small mammals, birds and fish and the collection will soon begin to grow. Lab space is available for students to undertake research projects, to store research collections and to engage in quiet study. The lab is equipped with scanner, printer and a computer station, with a variety of software packages that students are encouraged to use for their research.
The Lab’s current research can be divided into three major programs:
(1) The Gazelle Project
The gazelle project documents the evolution of human-gazelle interactions across ca. 20,000 years of hunter-gatherer prehistory up to the appearance of the first domestic animals in the southern Levant. In particular, it traces the long-term impact of human hunting on the wild mountain gazelle (Gazella gazella). The project employs a large-scale data collection campaign that implements standardized protocols and refined methodologies. The project aims to refine current models of animal domestication. This research is a collaborative effort with my colleague, Guy Bar-Oz from the University of Haifa. The research is currently funded by a three year grant from the National Science Foundation: BCS0618937.
(2) The Faunas of Franchthi Cave
This project investigates human subsistence and demographic change across the 20,000 year faunal record from the unique prehistoric site, Franchthi Cave, in Greece. The Franchthi sequence is unusual in its long temporal span, and its encapsulation of the transition to agriculture. The faunal remains from the site will be analyzed to address two of the most critical issues in current prehistoric research in the Old World: 1) the nature of human demographic change following the expansion of fully modern humans into Europe; and; 2) how and why the transition to agriculture occurred in Greece, the first stop in the spread of agriculture into Europe from Southwest Asia.
(3) Small Game Project
This research uses the skeletal remains of small prey to illuminate patterns of human resource use and demographic pressure across the transition to agriculture (ca 13,000-7,500 BP) in Southwest Asia. The research also uses small game as secondary indicators to track the initiation of sheep and goat management and domestication in the region. Ultimately the project seeks to develop a regional picture documenting temporal and spatial variation in human subsistence strategies across Southwest Asia. To date, several assemblages from the Levant (n = 5), and the Zagros region (n = 7) have been examined.
The Deep History Laboratory currently houses a number of experimental, resin-cast replicas, and archaeological collections (primarily from Africa and Eurasia), teaching and research-grade casts of fossil hominins, and a large collection of samples of volcanic ash (tephra), stone raw materials, and petrographic thin sections of them from sites in eastern Africa, Turkey, and elsewhere, and archival materials related to research on eastern Africa. Use of these collections is facilitated by dedicated space for their study, as well as a modest collection of basic tools for their documentation and analysis, including binocular and other optical and digital microscopes, photographic equipment, digital calipers and scales.
Current work in the laboratory includes undergraduate-led efforts to study, document, and repatriate archaeological collections from north-central Tanzania.