Brian Stewart

Brian Stewart

Information

  • Email: bastewk@umich.edu
  • Phone: 734.764.2151
  • Office: 4013 Ruthven Museums Bldg, 1109 Geddes Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1079
  • Ph.D. 2008, University of Oxford
  • CV
  • Website

Research Interests

Topical/Theoretical

  • Evolution of adaptive flexibility
  • Paleolithic socio-spatial organization
  • Hunter-gatherer site and assemblage formation
  • Middle and Later Stone Age archaeology
  • Lithic technological organization
  • Ceramic technologies

Geographical

  • Southern Africa
  • South Africa
  • Lesotho

Research Projects

Research Description

My research focuses on prehistoric hunter-gatherers of Africa, particularly southern Africa. I am especially interested in the evolution of the profound adaptive flexibility that is the hallmark of our species. Southern Africa is a great place to explore this because it has yielded some of the world's earliest evidence for behavioral complexity on par with recent and extant human foragers. I am conducting fieldwork at rockshelters and open-air sites in mountain (highland Lesotho) and desert (Namaqualand, South Africa) settings in order to understand when, why and how early modern humans learned to cope with these harsh habitats over the past 200,000 years. By reconstructing the foraging strategies involved learning to exploit exacting landscapes within Africa, this project ultimately aims to better understand how our species was eventually able to colonize and so rapidly adapt to the full range of global ecosystems. I am also interested in the more recent archaeology of prehistoric Africa, which is better preserved and thus amenable to addressing social questions. Specifically, I use the spatial patterning of domestic remains at hunter-gatherer campsites to reconstruct aspects of social organization and connectivity.