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Christan Tryon employs archaeological and geological methods to explore the behavioral evolution of Middle and Later Pleistocene hominins and the origin of Homo sapiens. As a Paleolithic archaeologist, he is a specialist in the analysis of stone tools, and am particularly interested in the origins and diversification of Levallois technology, associated with early populations of Homo sapiens in Africa and with Neanderthals in Eurasia. Interpreting the behavior of extinct hominin populations often requires a geological perspective. He focuses on reconstructing site formation processes, stone raw material source attribution by petrographic or geochemical means, and using volcanic ashes as stratigraphic markers on the basis of their geochemical ‘fingerprint.’ This compositional signature is determined by micro-scale quantitative analyses of volcanic ash (composed of fragments of rapidly quenched magma, or glass) using an electron microprobe. His field research has focused on the survey and excavation of ~700,000 to 100,000 year old sites in the Rift Valley of Kenya, and as a collaborator in a project in the Central Anatolian Volcanic Province of Turkey. In both areas, Acheulian and Middle Stone Age/Middle Paleolithic artifacts and volcanic ashes are locally abundant. In Kenya, this research has been important in establishing the mode and tempo of behavioral evolution during and immediately preceding the appearance of Homo sapiens; in Turkey it has provided further age estimates for the only excavated Acheulian site in Anatolia. In addition to the Paleolithic of Eurasia and Africa, his research interests include the African Holocene archaeological record and the late prehistory and history of New England.
Tryon, C.A., Logan, M.A.V., Mouralis, D., Kuhn, S.L., Slimak, L., Balkan-Atil, N. 2009. Building a tephrostratigraphic framework for the Paleolithic of Central Anatolia, Turkey. Journal of Archaeological Science 36, 637-652.
Tryon, C.A., Roach, N.T., Logan, M.A.V. 2008. The Middle Stone Age of the northern Kenyan Rift: Age and context of new archaeological sites from the Kapedo Tuffs. Journal of Human Evolution 55, 652-664.
Tryon, C.A. 2006. ‘Early’ Middle Stone Age lithic technology of the Kapthurin Formation (Kenya). Current Anthropology 47, 367-375.
Tryon, C.A., McBearty, S. 2006. Tephrostratigraphy of the Bedded Tuff Member (Kapthurin Formation, Kenya) and the nature of archaeological change in the later Middle Pleistocene. Quaternary Research 65, 492-507.
Tryon, C.A. 2006. Investigating the destructive potential of earthworms for the archaeobotanical record. Journal of Field Archaeology 31, 199-202.
Tryon, C.A., McBearty, S., Texier, P.J. 2005. Levallois lithic technology from the Kapthurin Formation, Kenya: Acheulian origin and Middle Stone Age diversity. African Archaeological Review 22, 199-229.
Tryon, C.A., McBearty, S. 2002. Tephrostratigraphy and the Acheulian to Middle Stone Age transition in the Kapthurin Formation, Kenya. Journal of Human Evolution 42, 211-235.