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Alexandra Sumner

I am a palaeo-archaeologist with an expertise in lithic analysis.  In general, I am interested in the period spanning the late Earlier and the Middle Stone Ages of sub-Saharan Africa (beginning ~400-30,000 years before present) and the forces that signal key shifts and increasing diversity in human behaviour during this period.  Specifically, my primary area of interest relates to prehistoric landscape use, associated resource procurement strategies on the regional scale and what systems of stone tool production at specific localities can tell us about the relationships early populations had with their surroundings during the late Pleistocene of South Africa.  Principle research objectives are to explore the symbiotic nature of raw material availability and selection, the range of lithic technologies employed, evidence for exploited subsistence resources and ancillary behavioural indicators including site spatial patterning.

In South Africa I am currently permit holder and director of excavations at the site of Uitspankraal 1 (UPK 1).  UPK 1 is a large open-context Pleistocene river terrace located at the confluence of the Beidouw and Doring Rivers, Western Cape that demonstrates evidence for human occupation beginning in the Earlier Stone Age through to the Later Stone Age.  The project is part of the larger Pleistocene Landscape Project (PLP) research programme coordinated by Dr. Alex Mackay of the University of Wollongong, Australia.  Additionally, with William Archer of the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology in Liepzig, Germany, I co-direct excavations at Montagu Cave which is located in the Langeberg Range of the Western Cape.  Collections amassed from previous excavations at Montagu Cave in 1919 and again between 1964-65, as well as recently renewed work at the cave, demonstrates evidence for large-scale stone tool production during the Earlier and Middle Stone Ages.


T. Alexandra Sumner and Kathleen Kuman (2014). Refitting evidence for the stratigraphic integrity of the Kudu Koppie Early to Middle Stone Age site, northern Limpopo Province, South Africa. Quaternary International 343: 169-178.

Alex Mackay, Alex Sumner, Zenobia Jacobs, Matthew Shaw and Kyla Bluff (2014). Putslaagte 1 (PL1), the Doring River, and the later Middle Stone Age in southern Africa’s Winter Rainfall Zone. Quaternary International 350: 43-58.

T. Alexandra Sumner (2013).  A refitting study of late Early to Middle Stone Age lithic assemblages from the site of Kudu Koppie, Limpopo Province, South Africa.  Journal of African Archaeology 11 (2): 133-15.

M. Chazan,  N. Porat, A. Sumner and L.K. Horwitz (2013). The use of OSL dating in unstructured sands: The archaeology and chronology of the Hutton Sands at Canteen Kopje (Northern Cape Province, South Africa).  Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 5(4), 351-363.

T. Alexandra Sumner (2012).  A comparative study of scraper retouch patterns from the Levantine Mousterian: a pilot project. Journal of the Israel Prehistoric Society 42,1-28.

T. Alexandra Sumner (2011).  Psychological components of Middle Palaeolithic technology: the proceduralization of lithic core reduction. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 30, 416–431.

T. Alexandra Sumner and Andrew T.R. Riddle (2009).  Remote Anthropology: Reconciling Research Priorities with Digital Data Sharing.  Journal of Anthropological Sciences 89.

T. Alexandra Sumner and Andrew T.R. Riddle (2008).  A Virtual Paleolithic: Assays in Photogrammetric Three-Dimensional Artifact Modelling.  PaleoAnthropology 158-169.

M. Chazan, H. Ron, A. Matmon, N. Porat, P. Goldberg, R. Yates, M. Avery, A. Sumner, and L.K. Horwitz (2008). Radiometric dating of the Earlier Stone Age sequence in Excavation I in Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa: preliminary results. Journal of Human Evolution 55, 1-11.


T. Alexandra Sumner (2013). Book review: Hardaker, T. 2011. New Approaches to the Study of Surface Palaeolithic Artefacts. A pilot Project at Zebra River, Western Namibia.  BAR International Series 2270. Oxford: Archaeopress. South African Archaeological Bulletin. 68 (197): 98–99.

T. Alexandra Sumner (2012). The Middle Ground: Epipalaeolithic Technological Diversity in the Levant and the Transfer from Late Upper Palaleolithic Hunting and Gathering to Neolithic Agriculture. Project report. American Schools of Oriental Research Newsletter 61(4)/62(1):30.