Research Interests, Methods, and Locations
One theme of my research is investigating how human groups made use of natural resources (like the raw materials for stone tools) distributed differentially across the landscape, how they responded to change in their environments, and how their resulting behaviors shaped opportunities for the spread of technological and cultural innovations. My dissertation research examined the Early and Middle Bronze Age of Syria, including the effects of drought on ancient trade systems; however, since the start of the Syrian Civil War, I have primarily focused on the Palaeolithic of Southwest Asia and the Caucasus. Other research projects, though, have involved the Americas, Southeast Asia, and Eastern Africa during more recent time periods.
Below are a few more details about my research. More information can be found in my publications.
Scientific techniques, such as X-ray fluorescence analysis or rock magnetic characterization methods, can enable archaeologists to identify the geological sources of artifacts' raw materials, providing clues about the geographic origins of artifacts that were transported, due to either exchange or mobility, by people living in the distant past.
Agent-based modeling can be a means to consider archaeological observations, to identify and quantify those variables that best account for our observations, and to make predictions for which more fieldwork and labwork are required to test.
The methods above – sourcing and simulations – provide ways to compare and contrast the behaviors of archaic and modern humans, revealing unexpected similarities and differences in their ways of life and sometimes even overturning widely held beliefs about our early ancestors.
OUR EARLIEST TECHNOLOGIES
How did the production of stone tools and the control of fire, as evidenced in the archaeological record and in material culture, become critical stimuli to the emergence of behavioral, cultural, and societal complexity around the world?
Southwest Asia, largely corresponding to what is called the Middle East today, was the key corridor for human dispersals out of Africa and into the rest of Eurasia. It served as an important crossroads in the history of archaic and modern humans.