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David Braun

Dr. Braun is an Adjunct Assistant Professor 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 was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Dr. Braun’s  research interests centre around the basic question of how the production and use of stone artifacts relates to the ecology of our earliest ancestors. This research has three main foci: 1) The experimental determination of the signature of different behaviours 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 behaviour 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 in Kenya  (Koobi Fora, Turkana Basin and Kanjera, Kavirondo Basin) as well as research in in South Africa in the Early Pleistocene (Elandsfontein, Western Cape, South Africa) and Ethiopia (Gademotta, Main Ethiopian Rift; Ledi-Geraru, Afar).

Selected publications:    

Villmoare B., Kimbel W.H., Seyoum C., Campisano C.J., DiMaggio E.N., Rowan J., Braun D.R., Arrowsmith J.R., and Reed K.E. (2015) Early Homo at 2.8 Ma from Ledi-Geraru, Afar, Ethiopia. Science 347(6228):1352-1355.

Kyriacou K., Parkington J.E., Marais A.D., and Braun D.R. (2014). Nutrition, modernity and the archaeological record: Coastal resources and nutrition among Middle Stone Age hunter-gatherers on the western Cape coast of South Africa. Journal of Human  Evolution 77:64-73. [Special Issue: The Role of Freshwater and Marine Resources in Hominin Diet]

Caruana, M.V., Carvalho, S.C., Braun, D. R., Presnyakova, D. A., Haslam, M., Archer, W., Bobe, R., and Harris, J. W. K. (2014) Quantifying traces of tool use: A novel morphometric analysis of damage patterns on percussive tools. Public Library of Science One.

McPherron, S.P., Braun, D.R., Dogandzic, Desta, D., Lin, S., Archer, W. (2014). An experimental assessment of the influences on edge damage to lithic artifacts: A consideration of edge angle, substrate, grain size, raw material properties and exposed face. Journal of Archaeological Science.

Archer, W., Braun, D. R., Harris, J. W. K., and Richmond, B. G. (2014) Aquatic resource use by Pleistocene Hominins in the Koobi Fora Formation. Journal of Human Evolution. [Special Issue: The Role of Freshwater and Marine Resources in Hominin Diet]

Lemorini, C., Plummer, T.W., Braun, D. R., Bishop, L. C., Hertel, F., Ditchfield, P.W. and Potts, R. (2014) Old stones' song: Use-wear experiments and analysis of the Oldowan quartz and quartzite assemblage from Kanjera South (Kenya). Journal of Human Evolution.

Sahle, Y., Hutchings, W.K., Braun, D. R., Sealy, J.C., Morgan, L. E., Negash, A., and Atnafu, B. (2013) Earliest stone-tipped projectiles from the Ethiopian Rift date to >279,000 years ago. Public Library of Science One.

Braun, D. R., Levin, N.E., Stynder, D.D., Herries, A.I., Archer, W., Forrest, F., Roberts, D., Mathews, T., Lehman, S., Pickering, S., and Fitzsimmons, K. (2013) Pleistocene hominin occupation of the Western Cape, South Africa. Quaternary Science Reviews

Lin, S., Rezek, Z., Braun, D.R. & Dibble, H.L. (2013) On the utility and economization of unretouched flakes: The effects of exterior platform angle and platfrom depth. American Antiquity.

Sahle, Y., Morgan, L.E., Braun, D.R. & Hutchings, W.K. (2013) The context of the Late Middle Pleistocene occupations in the Gademotta Formation, Main Ethiopian Rift. Quaternary International.

Archer, W., Braun, D.R., (2013). Investigating the Signature of Aquatic Resource Use within Pleistocene Hominin Dietary Adaptations, PLoS ONE.

Ferarro, J. V., Plummer, T.W., Pobiner, B., Oliver, J.S., Bishop, L.C., Braun, D. R., Ditchfield, P.W., Seaman, J.W., Binetti, K.M., Seaman, J. W., Hertl, F, and Potts, R. (2013) Two-million-year-old evidence of persistent hominin carnivory. Public Library of Science One.

Sahle, Y, C., Negash, A., and Braun, D. R. (2012) Variability in ethnographic hidescraper use among the Hadiya of Ethiopia: Implications for reduction analysis. African Archaeological Review

Ndiema, K. E., Dillian, C. D., Braun, D. R., Harris, J. W. K., and Kiura, P. (2011) New insights on mobility patterns and obsidian source use strategies during the transition to pastoralism, Koobi Fora, Kenya. Archaeometry. 53: 1085-1098

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