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Zelalem Assefa

Portrait of Zelalem Assefa.

Zelalem Assefa is a Research Associate at the Human Origins and Archaeobiology Programs of the Smithsonian Institution. Zelalem’s research interest focuses on the evolution and ecology of human subsistence behavior, the dynamics of human’s cognitive developments, the later prehistory of the horn of Africa, and the applications of geospatial information sciences in archaeological investigations. He has co-directed a multi-disciplinary palaeoanthropological project at Omo-Kibish (southern Ethiopia), and currently he is pursuing active field projects that include a survey of rockshelter and cave sediments in southeastern Ethiopia (project director), and documentation of paleontological and archaeological sites in the Fanta stream and surrounding areas of the Ethiopian Central Highlands. At the Smithsonian Institution, Zelalem has developed a digital archive on dentitions of east African large mammals, intended to assist taxonomic identification of the African ungulates using teeth.


Assefa, Z, David Pleurdeau, Frederique Duquesnoy, Erella Hovers, Osbjorn Pearson, Asfawossen Asrat, Constantinos T/Tsion, Yin Man Lam (2014). Survey and explorations of caves in southeastern Ethiopia: Middle Stone Age and Later Stone Age archaeology and Holocene rock art. Quaternary International, 343, 1 September, 136-147.

David Pleurdeau, Erella Hovers, Assefa, Z, Asfawossen Asrat, Osbjorn Pearson, Jean-Jacques Bahain, Yin Man Lam (2014). Cultural change or continuity in the late MSA/Early LSA of southeastern Ethiopia? The site of Goda Buticha, Dire Dawa area . Quaternary International, 343, 1 September, 117-135.

Assefa, Z, Lam, Y.M., Mienis, H.K., 2008a. Symbolic Use of Terrestrial Gastropod Opercula during the Middle Stone Age at Porc-Epic Cave, Ethiopia. Current Anthropology 49, 746-756.

Assefa, Z., Yirga, S., Reed, K.E., 2008b. The large-mammal fauna from the Kibish Formation. Journal of Human Evolution 55, 501-512.

Fleagle J.G., Assefa, Z., Brown, F.H., Shea, J.J., 2008. Paleoanthropology of the Kibish Formation, southern Ethiopia: Introduction. Journal of Human Evolution 55, 360-365.

Shea J.J., Fleagle J.G., Assefa, Z., 2007. Context and Chronology of early Homo sapiens fossils from the Omo Kibish Formation, Ethiopia. In: Mellars, P., CS., Bar-Yosef, O., Boyle, K., (Ed.), Rethinking the Human Revolution McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research Monographs. Cambridge, pp 153-162.

Assefa, Z. 2006. Faunal remains from Porc-Epic: Paleoecological and zooarchaeological investigations from a Middle Stone Age site in southeastern Ethiopia. Journal of Human Evolution 51, 50-75.

Marean, C.W., Assefa, Z., 2005. The Middle and Upper Pleistocene African record for the biological and behavioral origins of modern humans. In: Stahl, A. (Ed.), African Archaeology: A critical Introduction. Blackwell publishing Ltd, pp 93-129.

Marean, C.W., Assefa, Z., 1999. Zooarchaeological evidence for the faunal exploitation behavior of Neanderthals and early modern humans. Evolutionary Anthropology 8, 22-37.