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Nicolas Zwyns


  • Ph.D., Archeology, Leiden University, The Netherlands, 2012
  • M.A., Archeology, University College of London, United Kingdom, 2006
  • M.A., Art History & Archeology, University of Liege, Belgium, 2004
  • B.A., Art History & Archeology, University of Liege, Belgium, 2001


I graduated from the University of Liège, Belgium, with a degree in Art History and Archaeology (2004) and I completed a MA at University College of London (2006), UK. I received my PhD degree after working on the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic in Siberia  in the Department of Human Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany (2007-2012, the Leipzig School for Human Evolution; the University of Leiden). In 2011, I was awarded a post-doctoral grant from the Fyssen Foundation, and to work with the UMR 5608 TRACES in Toulouse, France, before joining the UC Davis Department of Anthropology in 2012.

Research Focus

I focus on the archaeology of the Pleistocene and at the beginning of the Holocene and while trying to integrate data from genetic and of physical anthropology studies. As a lithic specialist, I study the material culture of Pleistocene hominins to address issues related to subsistence strategies, cultural geography, and population dynamics. Working on the peopling of Asia by Modern Humans, Neanderthals and the Denisovans, I consider late Pleistocene hominins as mobile hunter-gatherers responding to a complex and changing physical geography and environment. As a field archeologist, I participated in numerous Paleolithic excavations from Western Europe to the Tian Shan, including sites in western Russia, in Iran, or Uzbekistan. Since 2011, he has co-directed an international excavation project at numerous Paleolithic sites in the Ikh-Tulberiin Gol, north Mongolia. I also participate in international projects on the Paleolithic of north China (Ningxia Province) and on the tool use by capuchins in Panama. Since 2018, I am co-directing excavations at the Trou al' Wesse Cave in Belgium (Liege Province) to investigate Neandertal and Early Homo sapiens occupations.

Selected Publications

  • Zwyns, N., Paine, C.H., T., Bolorbat Talamo, S., Fitzsimmons, K.E., Angaragdulguun G, Lkhundev, G., Odsuren D, Flas, D., Dogandzic, T., Doerschner, N., Welker, F., Gillam, J.C., Noyer, J.B., Bakhtiarya, R.S., Allshouse, A.F., Smith K.N., Khatsenovich, A.M., Rybin, E.P.,  Gunchinsuren B, Hublin, J.-J. (2019). The Northern Route for Human dispersal in Central and Northeast Asia: New evidence from the site of Tolbor-16, Mongolia. Scientific Reports, 9:11759.
  • Zhang, P., Zhang, X., Zwyns, N., Fei, P., Lin, S., Guo, J., Wang, H., Gao, X.   The contribution of use -wear for stone tool identification at the Upper Paleolithic site Shuidonggou Locality 2, North China. Quaternary International (in press).
  • Izuho, M, Zwyns, N., Sano, K.. (2019). Special Issue. The Initial Upper Paleolithic in Asia: Assemblages variability, timing and significance. Archeological Research in Asia, 17, 1.
  • Lin, S., Fei, P., Zwyns, N., Guo, J., Wang, H., Gao, X. (2019) Detecting patterns of local raw material utilization among informal lithic assemblages at the Late Paleolithic site of Shuidonggou Locality 2 (China). Archeological Research in Asia, 17, 137-148.
  • Zwyns, N., Lbova, L.V. (2019) The Initial Upper Paleolithic of Kamenka site, Zabaikal region (Siberia): A closer look at the blade technology. Archeological Research in Asia, 17, 24-49.
  • Barrett, B., Monteza-Moreno, C., Dogandzic, T., Zwyns, N., Ibanez, A., Crofoot, M.C. Habitual Stone-Tool Aided Foraging in White-Face Capuchins, Cebus Capucinus (2018). Royal Society Open Science 5 (8).

  • Zwyns, N. (2018). Homo sapiens: Evolution, émergence et dispersion. In Demoule, J.P., Garcia, D., Schnapp, A., (Dir.) Une histoire des civilisations: Les révolutions de l’archéologie contemporaine. Coédition Éditions La Découverte, Dominique Carré éditeur, Institut national de recherches archéologiques préventives : p. 112-118.

  • Kuhn, S. L., & Zwyns, N. (2018). Convergence and continuity in the Initial Upper Paleolithic of Eurasia. In Convergent Evolution in Stone-Tool Technology. MIT Press Cambridge, MA.
  • Rybin, E.P., Khatsenovich, A.M., Gunchinsuren, B., Olsen, J.W., Zwyns, N. (2017) The impact of the Last Glacial Maximum on the development of Upper Paleolithic in Mongolia. Quaternary international, 425, 69-87.