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John Yellen

Portrait of John Yellen.

John Yellen serves as Program Director for Archaeology at the National Science Foundation and is a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. He received a PhD in Anthropology at Harvard University and is the founder and President of the Paleoanthropology Society. For many years he administered the national grants competition for the Explorers Club. He conducted extended fieldwork in the Kalahari Desert studying !Kung Bushman hunter-gatherers from an archaeologist’s perspective and has since excavated archaeological sites in The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Kenya. His research focuses on the processes which led to the emergence of behaviorally modern humans. He and his archaeologist-collaborator and wife, Alison Brooks, have two grown children, neither of whom are archaeologists.



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Brooks, A.S., Yellen, J.E., Potts, R., Behrensmeyer, A.K., Deino, A.L., Leslie, D.E., Ambrose, S.H., Ferguson, J., d’Errico, F. Zipkin, A.M., Whittaker, S., Post, J., Veatch, E.G., Foecke, K., Clark, J.B., 2018. Long-distance stone transport and pigment use in the earliest Middle Stone Age, Science

Potts, R., Behrensmeyer, A.K., Faith, J.T., Tryon, C.A., Brooks, A.S., Yellen, J.E., Deino, A.L., Kinyanjui, R., Clark, J.B., Haradon, C., Levin, N.E., Meijer, H.J.M., Veatch, E.G., Owen, R.B., Renaut, R.W., 2018. Environmental dynamics during the onset of the Middle Stone Age in eastern Africa, Science 

Deino, A.L., Behrensmeyer, A.K., Brooks, A.S., Yellen, J.E., Sharp, W.D., Potts, R., 2018. Chronology of the Acheulean to Middle Stone Age Transition in Eastern Africa, Science

Yellen, J., A. Brooks. D. Helgren, M. Tappen, S. Ambrose, R. Bonnefille, J. Feathers, G. Goodfriend, K. Ludwig, P. Renne and K. Stewart., 2005. The Archaeology of Aduma Middle Stone Age Sites in the Awash Valley, Ethiopia. PaleoAnthropology 10: 25-100.

Yellen, J.,1998. Barbed Bone Points: Tradition and Continuity in Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa. African Archaeological Review 15, 173-198.

Yellen, J., 1996. Behavioural and Taphonomic Patterning at Katanda 9: a Middle Stone Age Site, Kivu Province, Zaire. Journal of Archaeological Science 23.

Brooks, A., Helgren, D., Cramer, J., Franklin, A., Hornyak, W., Keating, J., Todd, N., Verniers, J., Yellen, J., 1995. Dating and Context of Three Middle Stone Age Sites with Bone Points in the Upper Semliki Valley, Zaire. Science 268, 548-553.

Yellen, J., 1995. Small Mammals: Post Discard Patterning of !Kung San Faunal Remains. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 10, 152-192.

Yellen, J. E., Brooks, A. S., Cornelissen, E., Mehlman, M., Steward, K., 1995. A Middle Stone Age Worked Bone Industry from Katanda, Upper Semliki Valley, Zaire. Science 286, 553-556.

Yellen, J., 1990. The Transformation of the Kalahari !Kung. Scientific American 262, 96-105.

Yellen, J., 1991. Small Mammals: !Kung San Utilization and the Production of Faunal Assemblages. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 10, 152-192.

Gould, R. A., Yellen, J., 1987. Man the Hunted: Determinants of Household Spacing in Desert and Tropical Foraging Societies. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 6, 77-103.

Yellen, J., 1987. Optimization and Risk in Human Foraging Strategies. Journal of Human Evolution 15, 733-750.

Yellen, J., 1977. Archaeological Approaches to the Present - Models for Reconstructing the Past. Academic Press, New York.