Robert Whallon

Current research projects include both fieldwork and the development of agent-based simulations of early hominid behavior and cultural evolution.

Excavations at Crvena Stijena, Montenegro

Crvena Stijena is a large rock shelter in Montenegro. Most of the Upper Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic occupations of this site were removed by earlier excavations. The focus of our project—a collaboration between the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology, the Center for Archaeological Research of Montenegro, Podgorica, and the National Heritage Museum, Niksic—is the remaining, massive Middle Paleolithic deposit. According to earlier, typological analyses of the Middle Paleolithic industries from Crvena Stijena, these occupations run from the "Premousterian," or "Protomousterian," up to the end of the Middle Paleolithic. The first field season of this project, in 2004, established a new reference grid for the site, cleaned the old profiles, began systematic, geological sampling of the ca. 12 m-thick Middle Paleolithic sequence, and removed some remaining, later layers in the upper portions of the site.

Among the finds from the 2004 season are many Mousterian and later artifacts, and a well-preserved Neanderthal tooth.

Excavations at Grotta S. Angelo

The Grotta S. Angelo is a small rock shelter in the province of Abruzzo in Italy. Excavations here—a collaboration between the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology and the University of Rome—have uncovered an Upper Paleolithic lithic workshop, dated to ca. 25,000 B.P. Local flint resources apparently were exploited for raw material that was prepared at this site, with preforms and finished products being removed for use elsewhere.

Agent-based Simulation of Early Hominid Behavior

In this project, a collaboration with Wayne State University, we are attempting to build models of early hominid foraging and cultural behavior. Some results so far have suggested that, in the absence of language for sharing of information, the sharing of foraged resources leads inevitably to extinction, and only dominance-hierarchy-based access to foraged resources is evolutionarily stable.