Jason Lewis

Jason Lewis

Jason Lewis received a Ph.D. in Anthropological Sciences from Stanford University in 2011. His research program focuses on fieldwork and taphonomic and zooarchaeological studies of Plio-Pleistocene sites in Africa and Middle and Late Pleistocene sites in France, in order to test hypotheses about the evolution, ecology, and behavior of fossil hominins. Lewis is paleoanthropologist (with Dr. Sandrine Prat) and paleontologist/zooarchaeologist (with Dr. Jean-Philip Brugal) for the West Turkana Archaeological Project in Northern Kenya (newly led by Dr. Sonia Harmand; all CNRS). This multidisciplinary and international project is expanding on the important archaeological discoveries by Helene Roche and fossil finds made by Richard and Meave Leakey’s team by reconstructing West Turkana’s ancient landscapes and the activities of the earliest stone-tool makers.  Lewis is also co-director (with Dr. Ludovic Slimak of the CNRS, France) of excavations at the Middle Pleistocene site of Orgnac 3 and the Late Pleistocene site of Le Grand Abri aux Puces (both in Southeastern France).

For further information about Jason Lewis’s field and laboratory research (beyond what is mentioned below), teaching, or anything else, please visit his website: http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~jel102/

Some Current Projects

West Turkana Archaeological Project

This year I joined an international team, lead by Drs. Helene Roche and Sonia Harmand (both CNRS), devoted to finding archaeological sites from the first 2 million years of human stone tool use along the western shore of Lake Turkana in Northern Kenya.  The team has discovered over two dozen sites from all along this time period, including the oldest Acheulean in the world (Kokiselei 4 at 1.76 million years ago [mya]), and the oldest site in Kenya (Lokalalei 2C at 2.34 mya).  I work on the team as paleoanthropologist (with Dr. Sandrine Prat) and paleontologist/zooarchaeologist (with Dr. Jean-Philip Brugal; both CNRS).  I have worked in the field using satellite imagery to direct new survey and found many early archaeological sites, excavated, and performed zooarchaeological analyses on fossil remains at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi.  

Orgnac 3

Orgnac 3 is a Middle Pleistocene site that has provided important yet little-studied hominin remains and abundant lithic and faunal material. My dissertation research focused on building a taphonomic and paleoecological framework with which to analyze the fossil fauna in order to reconstruct hominin subsistence behavior during the “Muddle in the Middle”, using the methods Dr. Richard Klein has developed over several decades.  I am working with Drs. Ludovic Slimak (CNRS), Christian Tryon (NYU) and others on a Leakey Foundation-funded project to revise and refine the chronology of the Orgnac 3 site using new methods such as micro-tephra fingerprinting and K/Ar dating, and we are planning future excavations. For more information, visit http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~jel102/Orgnac_3.html

Le Grand Abri aux Puces

In 2008 Dr. Ludovic Slimak (CNRS) and I started a new collaboration to excavate a new site just a few tens of kilometers from Orgnac 3. Le Grand Abri aux Puces (French for ‘the big rockshelter of fleas’; abbreviated GAP), is a ~127,000 year old cave site which, due to a century of amateur spelunking, has been known to contain well-preserved stone tools and faunal remains, but our test excavation was the first professional, controlled excavation at the site and has revealed the presence of a very rich and diverse faunal assemblage and stone tools with immaculate surface preservation. For more information, visit http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~jel102/GAP.html


Lewis, J.E. & Slimak, L. (in prep) Orgnac 3: New Perspectives on an Old Site and Directions for Future Research. Quaternary Science Reviews.

Crégut-Bonnoure, É., Lewis, J. E., Slimak, L., Brochier, J.-E. (accepted) New data on the Pleistocene localities with Ursus arctos in Vaucluse (Southern France). Quaternaire

Lewis, J.E., DeGusta, D., Meyer, M.R., Monge, J.M., Mann, A.E., & Holloway, R.L. (2011) The Mismeasure of Science: Stephen Jay Gould versus Samuel George Morton on Skulls and Bias. PLoS Biology, 9:(6): e1001071. doi:10.1371/. [Full Text] [Comments]

Harmand, S. & Lewis, J.E. (2010). New Views on Old Stones: France-Stanford Conference on Early Stone Tools and Cognitive Evolution. Evolutionary Anthropology, 19: 121–122.

Slimak, L., Lewis, J.E., Crégut-Bonnoure, É., Metz, L., Ollivier, V., André, P., Chzrazvez, J., Giraud, Y., Jeannet, M., Magnin, F. (2010). Le Grand Abri aux Puces (Vaucluse, France), a Middle Paleolithic Site from the Last Interglacial: Paleogeography, Paleoenvironment, and New Excavation Results. Journal of Archaeological Science, 37: 2747-2761.

Harmand, S., DeGusta, D., Slimak, L., Lewis, J., Melillo, S., Dohmen, I., Omar, M. (2009). New sites from the Lower Paleolithic of the Republic of Djibouti: Initial results from a recent survey of the Gobaad Basin, Central Afar. Comptes-Rendus Palévol, 8: 481–492.

Lewis, J.E. (2008). Identifying Sword Marks on Bone: Criteria for Distinguishing Between Cut Marks Made by Different Classes of Bladed Weapons. Journal of Archaeological Science, 35: 2001-2008.

Schoenemann, P.T., Gee, J., Avants, B., Holloway, R.L., Monge, J., & Lewis, J.  (2007). Validation of Plaster Endocast Morphology Through 3D CT Image Analysis.  American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 132: 183–192.

Contact Us

The Center for Human Evolutionary Studies
Department of Anthropology
131 George Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1414

P: 848-932-9275
F: 732-932-1564