David R. Braun



archaeology dept, beattie building, room 3.20

phone: +27 21 650-2350

fax: +27 21 650-2352

email: david.braun AT uct.ac.za

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Curriculum vitae (.pdf file)



Courses lectured: AGE1002s Africa and World Archaeology; Archaeology in Practice (AGE 3013); Archaeology section of GEO 1009F; Archaeology honours programme




My research interests centre around the basic question of how the the production and use of stone artifacts relates to the ecology of our earliest ancestors. This research focus has three main foci: 1) The experimental determination of the signature of different behaviors as they are reflected in artifact and bone accumulations. This incorporates actualistic methods to parse out the meaning behind patterns in stone artifacts 2) The provenance of stone material collected by hominins for the production of stone artifacts. This research involves the collection and sampling of numerous rock outcrops and using geochemical methods to link sources to archaeological specimens 3) The excavation of large collections of prehistoric stone tools in various ecological settings.  This research is driven by the question of how and why stone artifacts vary through time and across space. Further, what does this variation mean for the selective pressures driving early hominin behavior and cognition? Most of this research has been focused on some of the earliest occurrences of stone artifacts in East Africa. My research has focused on two major localities (Koobi For a, Turkana Basin, Kenya and Kanjera, Kavirondo Basin, Kenya). But more recently I have expanded this research to include aspects of stone artefact behavior in the Early Pleistocene (Elandsfontein, Western Cape, South Africa) as well as new localities in collaboration with colleagues and students in Ethiopia (Gademotta, Main Ethiopian Rift).

Dr. Braun is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology at UCT.  He received a doctoral degree in Anthropology (Rutgers University), and was a post-doctoral fellow at the National Museums of Kenya (NSF-IRFP) before taking up his post at UCT in 2007. He is currently an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.



Selected publications:    

Braun, D. R. (2010) Paleoanthropology: Australopithecine butchers. Nature 466:828

Braun, D. R., Harris, J.W.K., Levin, N. E., McCoy, J. T., Herries, A. I. R., Bamford, M., Bishop, L.. C., Richmond, B. G., Kibunjia, M. (2010) Early hominin diet included diverse terrestrial and aquatic animals 1.95 Myr ago in East Turkana, Kenya. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (U.S.A.) 107(22): 10002-10007

Archer, W. A., Braun, D. R. (2010) Morphometric analysis of Acheulian technology at Elandsfontein, Western Cape, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science. 37: 201-209

Plummer, T., Ditchfield, P., Bishop, L. C., Kingston, J., Ferraro, J. V., Braun, D. R., Hertel, F., Potts, R. (2009) Oldest evidence of toolmaking hominins in a grassland-dominated ecosystem. Public Library of Science One. (4)9: e7199

Brown, K. S., Marean, C. W., Herries, A. I., Jacobs, Z., Tribolo, C., Braun, D. R., Myers, M., Bernatchez, J. (2009) Fire as an engineering tool of early modern humans in coastal South Africa. Science. 325: 859-862

Bennett, M. R., Harris, J. W. K., Richmond, B. G., Braun, D. R., Mbua, E., Kiura, P., Olago, D., Kibunjia, M., Omuombo, C., Behrensmeyer, A. K., Huddart, D., Gonzalez, S. (2009) Early hominin foot morphology based on 1.5 million year-old footprints from Ileret, Kenya. Science 323: 1197-1199

Braun, D. R., Plummer, T. P., Ferraro, J. V., Ditchfield, P., Bishop, L. C. (2009) Raw Material Quality and Oldowan Hominin Toolstone Preferences: Evidence from Kanjera South, Kenya. Journal of Archaeological Science 36: 1605-1614

Braun, D. R., Rogers, M. J., Harris, J. W. K., and Walker, S. J. (2008) Landscape scale variation in hominin tool use: Evidence from the Developed Oldowan of the Koobi Fora Formation. Journal of Human Evolution 55: 1053-1063

Braun, D. R., Plummer, T., Ditchfield, P., Ferraro, J. V., Maina, D., Bishop, L. C., Potts, R. (2008) Oldowan Behavior and Raw Material Transport: Perspectives from the Kanjera Formation. Journal of Archaeological Science 35: 2329-2345 Impact factor 1.610

Braun, D. R., Plummer, T., Ditchfield, P., Ferraro, J. V., Maina, D., Bishop, L. C., Potts, R. (2008) Oldowan Behavior and Raw Material Transport: Perspectives from the Kanjera Formation. Journal of Archaeological Science 35: 2329-2345

Braun, D. R., Tactikos, J., Ferraro, J., Arnow, S., and Harris, J. W. K. (2008) Oldowan reduction sequences: Methodological considerations. Journal of Archaeological Science 35: 2153-2163

Braun, D., Harris, J. W. K., and Maina, D. (2008) Oldowan Raw Material Procurement and Use: Evidence from the Koobi Fora Formation. Archaeometry 51:26-42

Braun, D. R., Pobiner, B., and Thompson, J. (2008) An Experimental Investigation of Cut Mark Production and Stone Tool Attrition. Journal of Archaeological Science.35: 1216-1223.

Bishop, L. C., Plummer, T., Ferraro, J. V., Braun, D. R., Ditchfield, P. W., Hertel, F., Kingston, J., Hicks, J. and Potts, R. (2007) Recent research into Oldowan hominid activities at Kanjera South, western Kenya. African Archaeological Review.23: 31-40

Braun, D. R., Tactikos, J. C. Ferraro, J. V., and Harris, J. W. K. (2006) Archaeological inference and Oldowan behavior. Journal of Human Evolution 51: 106-108

Pobiner, B. L. and Braun, D. R., (2005) Strengthening the inferential link between cutmark frequency data and Oldowan hominid behavior: results from modern butchery experiments. Journal of Taphonomy. 3: 107-119.

Pobiner, B. L. and Braun, D. R., (2005) Applying actualism: Considerations for future research. Journal of Taphonomy.3:57-63

Braun, D. R., Tactikos, J. C. Ferraro, J. V., and Harris, J. W. K. (2005) Flake recovery rates and inferences of Oldowan hominin behavior: A response to Kimura 1999, 2002. Journal of Human Evolution 48: 525-531

Braun, D. R. (2005) Examining flake production strategies: Examples from the Middle Paleolithic of Southwest Asia. Lithic Technology. 30: 107-125


Edited Volumes

Hovers, E. and Braun, D. R. (2009) Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Oldowan. Springer, New York

Norton, C. J., Braun, D. R. (2010) Asian Paleoanthropology. Springer, New York