Paleoanthropology Lab

About the Lab

The Paleoanthropology Laboratory at UConn provides a space for those interested in multidisciplinary approaches to human history. The lab’s research approaches draw especially on archaeology, geology, geography, and ecology. They are often centered around questions related to the origin, dispersal, and particularly the diversification of earlier populations of Homo sapiens in eastern Africa and the Mediterranean basin.

Lab director Christian Tryon is particularly interested in archival research, the social aspects of technology, stone tools, and chronology. He is a member of the Early Occupation of Sicily (EOS) project in Italy, the Kondoa Deep History and Heritage Project in Tanzania, and the Smithsonian Institution’s Human Origins Program at the National Museum of Natural History. He teaches courses in Human Evolution, African Archaeology, Technology and Society, Professional Development in Anthropology, and Modern Human Origins.

Lab members conduct research in a cave.


The lab houses equipment for basic collections-based research, including digital calipers and scales, a camera-mounted binocular microscope with an extensive depth of field, and a professional-grade camera stand. Multiple experimental and archaeological collections are available for study and research purposes.

Volcanic Ash (Tephra) And Sediment Samples

A large number of samples and prepared, polished thin sections of them are available from sites in Kenya (especially from near Lakes Baringo and Victoria Nyanza), Turkey (primarily from Kaletepe Deresi 3), and France (from Orgnac 3).

Artifact and Fossil Casts

High-quality resin and plaster casts are available of lithic artifacts and fossils, including hominins, are available from multiple sites in Kenya. The collection is particularly rich in examples of early Levallois technology from the Kapthurin Formation, Middle Stone Age lithic assemblages from GvJm22 at Lukenya Hill and various sites from the Victoria Nyanza region. Fossils include type or representative specimens of a number of extinct species of animals (Damaliscus hypsodon and Rusingoryx atopocranion) as well as research-grade casts of hominin fossils (e.g., KNM-LH1 from Lukenya Hill). Additional casts are available of artifacts drawn from multiple time periods from elsewhere in Africa, the U.S., Europe, and Australia.

Paleolithic Technology Teaching Collection

The lab houses experimentally-made collections that include a complete set of examples defined by the Bordes typology; complete reduction sequences of cores and flakes made by various Levallois, discoidal, and blade methods; and various hafted stone tools. The lab also houses replicas or casts of bone artifacts (including early examples from Katanda, DRC) and personal ornaments and decorated objects, particularly from western Europe.

Experimental Reference Collections

The lab curates a series of experimental stone projectile donated to us by John Shea (Stony Brook University) and published in detail here:

  • Shea, J.J.; Davis, Z.; Brown, K. (2001) Experimental tests of Middle Paleolithic spear points using a calibrated crossbow. Journal of Archaeological Science 28: 807-816.
  • Sisk, M.L.; Shea, J.J. (2009) Experimental use and quantitative performance analysis of triangulate flakes (Levallois points) used as arrowheads. Journal of Archaeological Science 36: 2039-2047.

The lab also curates experimental collections related to artifact modification through trampling produced by the late Dr. Sally McBrearty:

  • McBrearty, S.; BIshop, L.; Plummer, T.; Dewar, R.; Conard, N. (1998) Tools underfoot: Human trampling as an agent of lithic artifact edge modification. American Antiquity 63:108-129.

Artifact Collections

A number of inherited artifact collections from sites in Europe, Asia, and Africa are currently in the process of being curated. Please contact Christian Tryon for more information.

Selected Publications

Bailey, S.E.; Tryon, C.A. (2023) The dentition of the Upper Paleolithic hominins from Ksâr ‘Akil, Lebanon. Journal of Human Evolution 176:103323.

Pargeter, J.; Brooks, A.; Douze, K.; Eren, M,; Groucutt, H.; McNeil, J.; Mackay, A.; Ranhorn, K.; Scerri, E.; Shaw, M.; Tryon, C.A; Will, M.; Leplongeon, A. (2023) Replicability in lithic analysis. American Antiquity.

Tryon, C.A. (2019) The East African Middle/Later Stone Age transition and cultural dynamics of late Pleistocene East Africa. Evolutionary Anthropology 28:267-282.

Lowe, D.J.; Pearce, N.J.G.; Kuehn, S.C.; Tryon, C.A.; Hayward, C. (2017) Correlating tephras and cryptotephras using compositional analyses and numerical and statistical methods: Review and evaluation. Quaternary Science Reviews 175:1-44.

Our Team

Lab Director

Postdoctoral Fellows

Research Associates

Joelle Nivens
Laure Metz
Bill Keegan

Graduate Students

Former Lab Members

Ravid Ekshtain
Nick Blegen
Matthew Magnani
Kathryn Ranhorn
Rebecca Kraus

Contact Us
Address: Beach Hall, Room 448
354 Mansfield Road Unit 1176
Storrs, CT 06269-1176