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Dr Tomos Proffitt

Technological Primates Research Group
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6
04103 Leipzig

Email: Tomos_Proffitt@[>>> Please remove the text! <<<]eva.mpg.de
Office: B 2.34

Research Interests

I am a Palaeolithic archaeologist with a background in lithic analysis, GIS analysis, experimental archaeology and run and conduct archaeological fieldwork in various parts of the globe. I am particularly interested in exploring diachronic and synchronic lithic variation during in the Palaeolithic archaeological record to better understand early hominin technology, technical expertise and land use patterns.

In addition to this, since 2016 I have been heavily involved in the development of the new field of primate archaeology, in which I am especially interested in fields of primate tool use and early hominin percussive technology. I currently conduct long-term capuchin primate archaeology fieldwork in Serra da Capivara National Park in Brazil which is centered on understanding the archaeological signature of capuchin stone tool use. I am also, currently involved in primate tool use fieldwork in Thailand and the Ivory Coast, which covers the tool use of both macaques monkeys and chimpanzees. This research allows me to developed insights and models to understand the conditions and mechanisms behind the emergence of stone tool technology in our species. In addition to this, I am actively developing quantitative and qualitative methods for characterizing and identifying the archaeological signature of a range of ephemeral stone tool technological behaivours to better interrogate the Plio-Pleistocene archaeological record.

I currently work with Dr Lydia Luncz in the Technological Primates Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, where I research both primate and hominin lithic technology. I have previously been a British Academy Fellow at University College London where I ran Primate Archaeological fieldwork at Serra da Capivara National Park in Brazil to document capuchin monkey stone tool use and explore the emergence of stone flake technology in early hominins, as well as working on chimpanzee and macaque stone tools. Prior to this, I was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Oxford. I gained my PhD at University College London where I conducted fieldwork at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania and studied the Oldowan archaeological assemblages originally excavated by Mary Leakey.


Key, A., Proffitt, T., de la Torre, I. 2020. Raw material optimization and stone tool engineering in the Early Stone Age of Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania). Journal of the Royal Society Interface. 17 (162). 

Arroyo, A., Proffitt, T., Key, A. 2019. Morphometric and technological analysis of Acheulean large cutting tools from Porzuna (Ciudad Real, Spain) and questions of African Affinities. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 27.  

Falótico, T*, Proffitt. T* (*Joint first author)., Ottoni E.B., Staff, R.A., Haslam, M. 2019. Three thousand years of wild capuchin stone tool use., Nature Ecology & Evolution. 3(7), 1034-1038.  

Luncz, L.V., Gill, M., Proffitt, T., Svensson, M.S., Kulik, L., Malaivijitnod, S. 2019. Group-specific archaeological signature of stone tool use in wild macaques. eLife. 8.  

Proffitt, T., de la Torre, I. 2018. Comments on Apprenticeship in Early Neolithic Societies. The Transmission of Technological Knowledge at the Flint Mine of Casa Montero (Madrid, Spain), ca. 5300-5200 cal BC. Current Anthropology. 59 (6).  

Proffitt, T. 2018. Is there a Developed Oldowan A at Olduvai Gorge? A diachronic analysis of the Oldowan in Bed I and Lower-Middle Bed II at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Journal of Human Evolution. 120. 92-113. 

de la Torre, I., Vanwezer, N., Benito-Calvo, A., Proffitt, T., Mora, R., 2018. Spatial and orientation patterns of experimental stone tool refits. Journal of Archaeological and Anthropological Science. 11, 4569–4584. 

Tan, A., Luncz, L. V., Haslam, M., Kulik, L., Proffitt, T., Malaivijitnond, S., et al. (2018).Shellfish exploitation, resource depletion, and technological change, in a monkey model system. American  of Physical Anthropology, 165(S66), 270 

Proffitt, T., Luncz, L.V., Malaivijitnond, S., Gumert, M., Haslam, M. 2018. Analysis of wild macaque stone tools used to crack oil palm nuts. Royal Society Open Science. 5(3): 171904 

Proffitt, T., Haslam, M., Mercader, J.F., Boesch, C., Luncz, L. 2018. Revisiting Panda 100, the first archaeological chimpanzee nut-cracking site. Journal of Human Evolution. 124, 117-139 

Haslam, M., Hernandez-Aguilar, R.A., Proffitt, T., Arroyo, A., Falótico, T., Fragaszy, D., Gumert, M., Harris, J.W., Huffman, M.A., Kalan, A.K., 2017. Primate archaeology evolves. Nature ecology & evolution 1, 1431. 

de la Torre, I., Benito‐Calvo, A., Proffitt, T., 2017. The impact of hydraulic processes in Olduvai Beds I and II, Tanzania, through a particle dimension analysis of stone tool assemblages. Geoarchaeology. 33:218–236 

Luncz, L.V., Svensson, M.S., Haslam, M., Malaivijitnond, S., Proffitt, T., Gumert, M., 2017. Technological Response of Wild Macaques (Macacafascicularis) to Anthropogenic Change. International journal of primatology 38, 872–880. 

Luncz, L.V., Tan, A., Haslam, M., Kulik, L., Proffitt, T., Malaivijitnond, S., Gumert, M., 2017. Resource depletion through primate stone technology. eLife 6. 

Proffitt, T., Arroyo, A., Haslam, M., 2017. Primate Archeology: International Workshop, University of Oxford, June 2016. Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews 26, 1–2. 

Proffitt, T., Luncz, L.V., Falotico, T., Ottoni, E., de la Torre, I., Haslam, M. 2016. Wild Monkeys Flake Stone Tools. Nature. 539, 85-88. 

Luncz L. V., Proffitt. T., Kulik, L., Haslam, M., Witting. R. 2016. Distance-decay effect in stone tool transport by wild chimpanzees. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 283 (1854).  

Key, A., Proffitt. T., Stefani, E., Lycett, S.J., 2016. Looking at handaxes from another angle: assessing the ergonomic and functional importance of edge form in Acheulean bifaces. Journal of American Anthropology. 44, 43-55. 

de la Torre, I., Arroyo, A., Proffitt, T., Martin Ramos, C., Theodoropoulou, A. 2015. Archaeolgoical fieldwork techniques in Stone Age sites: some case studies. Treballsd’Arqueologia: Mètodesitècniques per a la recuperació del registrearqueològic: una mirada des del present. 20: 21-40  

Byrne, F., Proffitt, T., Arroyo, A., de la Torre, I. 2015.A comparative analysis of bipolar and freehand experimental knapping products from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Quaternary International 

Arroyo, A., Proffitt, T., Harmand, S. 2015, An interdisciplinary approach to percussive technology, International conference Institute of Archaeology (UCL) September 18-19, 2014. Journal of Evolutionary Anthropology. 23:205–206 

Key, A., Stemp, J., Morozov, M, Proffitt, T., de la Torre, I., 2014. Is loading a significantly influential factor in the development of lithic microwear? An experimental test using LSCM on basalt from Olduvai Gorge. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. 22 (4). 1193-1214. 

Proffitt, T. de la Torre, I. 2014. The effect of raw material on inter-analyst variation and analyst accuracy for lithic analysis: a case study from Olduvai Gorge. Journal of Archaeological Science, 45, 270-283  

de la Torre, I., Benito-Calvo, A., Arroyo, A; Zupancich, A., Proffitt, T. 2013. Experimental protocols for the study of battered stone anvils from Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania). Journal of Archaeological Science, 40:1; 313-332 

Proffitt, T, Zupancich, A. 2011. Macro and Microscopic wear analysis of the non-worked lateral edge of a large biface. www.archaeologicaltraces.org