Jessica Thompson, Ph.D., Arizona State University, 2008

Jessica Thompson's picture
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
10 Sachem Street

Jessica Thompson specializes in human evolution, and especially those aspects that can be revealed through the analysis of ancient animal bones found at archaeological sites (zooarchaeology). She leads the Malawi Ancient Lifeways and Peoples Project in Malawi, central Africa, where she has maintained a field site since 2009. This multidisciplinary work combines archaeological science, evolutionary theory, and hunter-gatherer ethnography to develop and interpret the first cultural and paleoenvironmental chronologies in the region that span the transition from the last Ice Age. Her other research, based on collaborative work in Ethiopia, targets the opposite end of the archaeological record, at its origin in the Pliocene. Thompson is PI of the Yale Paleoarchaeology Laboratory. 

Selected Publications:

(2021, in press) Miller, J.M*, Keller, H., Heckel, C., Kaliba, P.M., and Thompson, J.C.*” Approaches to land Snail shell bead manufacture in the early Holocene of Malawi”. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences.

(2021, in press) Thompson, J.C., Wright, D.K., and Ivory, S.J. “The emergence and intensification of early hunter-gatherer niche construction”. Evolutionary Anthropology.

(2020) Thompson, J.C. “Faunal Analysis in African Archaeology”. In: Shirikure, C. (Ed.), Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology. New York: Oxford University Press. 

(2019) Stephens, L. et al. (ArchaeoGLOBE Project). “Archaeological assessment reveals Earth’s early transformation through land use”. Science 365(6456): 897-902.

(2019) Nightingale, S., Schilt, F., Thompson, J.C., Wright, D.K., Forman, S., Mercader, J., Moss, P., Clarke, S., Itambu, M., Gomani-Chindebvu, E., and Welling, M. “Late Middle Stone Age behavior and environments at Chaminade I (Karonga, Malawi)”. Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology 2(3): 258–297.

(2019) Braun, D.R. Aldeias, V.  Archer, W.  Arrowsmith, J.R.  Baraka, N. Campisano, C.J. Deino, A. DiMaggio, E. Dupont-Nivet, G. Engda, B. Feary, D.A.Garello, D. Kerfelew, Z. McPherron, S.P.  Patterson, D.B. Reeves, J.S. Thompson, J.C, and Reed, K.E. “Earliest known Oldowan artifacts at >2.58 Ma from Ledi-Geraru, Ethiopia, highlight early technological diversity”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116 (24) : 11712-11717.

(2019) Thompson, J.C., Carvalho, S., Marean, C.W., and Alemseged, Z. “The origins of the human predatory pattern: The transition to large animal exploitation by early hominins”. Current Anthropology 60(1): 1-23.

(2018) Scerri, E.M.L., Thomas, M.G., Manica, A., Gunz, P., Stock, J.T., Stringer, C., Grove, M., Groucutt, H.S., Timmermann, A., Rightmire, P., d’Errico, F., Tryon, C.A., Drake, N.A., Brooks, A.S., Dennell, R.W., Durbin, R., Henn, B.M., Lee-Thorp, J., deMenocal, P., Petraglia, M.D., Thompson, J.C., Scally, A., and Chikhi, L. “Homo sapiens evolved in structured populations”.Trends in Ecology and Evolution 33(8): 582-594.  

(2018) O’Driscoll, C. and Thompson, J.C. “The origins and early elaboration of projectile technology”. Evolutionary Anthropology27:30-45.  

(2018) Thompson, J.C., Mackay, A., Nightingale, S., Wright, D., Choi, J-H., Blackmore, H., Welling, M., and Gomani-Chindebvu, E. “Ecological risk, demography, and technological complexity in the Late Pleistocene of northern Malawi: Implications for geographical patterning in the Middle Stone Age”. Journal of Quaternary Science 33(3):261-284.

(2017) Skoglund, P., Thompson, J., Prendergast, M.E., Mittnick, A., Sirak, K., Hajdinjak, M., Salie, Rohland, N., Mallick, S., Peltzer, A., Heinze, A., Olalde, I., Ferry, M., Harney, E., Michel, M., Stewardson, K., Cerezo-Román, J., Chiumia, C., Crowther, A., Gomani-Chindebvu, E., Gidna, A.O., Grillo, K.M., Helenius, T., Hellenthal, G., Helm, R., Horton, M., López, S., Mabulla, A.Z.P., Parkington, J., Shipton, C., Thomas, M.G., Tibesasa, R., Welling, M., Hayes, V., Kennett, D., Ramesar, R., Meyer, M., Pääbo, S., Patterson, N., Morris, A.G., Boivin, N., Pinhasi, R., Krause, J., and Reich, D.  “Reconstructing Prehistoric African Population Structure”. Cell 171(1): 59-71.

(2017) Thompson, J.C., Faith, J.T., Cleghorn, N., and Hodgkins, J. “Identifying the accumulator: Making the most of bone surface modification data”. Journal of Archaeological Science 85: 105-113.  

(2017) Harris, J.A., Marean, C.W., Ogle, K., and Thompson, J.C. “The trajectory of bone surface modification studies in paleoanthropology and a new Bayesian solution to the identification controversy”. Journal of Human Evolution 110:69-81.

(2017) Wright, D.K., Thompson, J.C., Schilt, F., Cohen, A., Choi, J-H., Mercader, J., Nightingale, S., Miller, C., Mentzer, S., Walde, D., Welling, M., and Gomani-Chindebvu, E. “Approaches to Middle Stone Age landscape archaeology in tropical Africa”. Special issue Geoarchaeology of the Tropics of Journal of Archaeological Science 77: 64-77.  

(2015) Thompson, J.C., McPherron, S.P., Bobe, R., Reed, D., Barr, W.A., Wynn, J., Marean, C.W., Geraads, D., and Alemseged, Z. “Taphonomy of fossils from the hominin-bearing deposits at Dikika, Ethiopia”. Journal of Human Evolution 86:112-135.

(2014) Thompson, J.C., Mackay, A., De Moor, V., and Gomani-Chindebvu, E. “Catchment survey in the Karonga District: A landscape-scale analysis of core reduction strategies during the Middle Stone Age of northern Malawi”. African Archaeological Review 31(3): 447-478.

(2014) Thompson, J.C. and Henshilwood, C.S. “Tortoise taphonomy and tortoise butchery patterns at Blombos Cave, South Africa”. Journal of Archaeological Science 41: 214–229.  

(2014) Thompson, J.C. and Henshilwood, C. “Nutritional values of tortoises relative to ungulates from the Middle Stone Age levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa: Implications for foraging and social behaviour”. Journal of Human Evolution 67: 33-47.  

(2012) Thompson, J.C., Mackay, A., Wright, D., Welling, M., Greaves, A., Gomani-Chindebvu, E., and Simengwa, D. “Renewed Investigations into the Middle Stone Age of northern Malawi”. Quaternary International 270:129-139.

(2011) Thompson, J.C. and Henshilwood, C.S. “Taphonomic analysis of the Middle Stone Age larger mammal faunal assemblage from Blombos Cave, southern Cape, South Africa”. Journal of Human Evolution 60: 746-767.

(2010) Thompson, J.C. “Taphonomic analysis of the faunal assemblage from Pinnacle Point Cave 13B, Western Cape, South Africa”. Journal of Human Evolution 59: 321-339.

(2008) Thompson, J.C., Sugiyama, N., and Morgan, G.S. “Taphonomic analysis of the mammalian fauna from Sandia Cave, New Mexico, and the ‘Sandia Man’ controversy”. American Antiquity 73(2): 337-360.

(2007) Thompson, J.C. and Lee-Gorishti, Y. “Carnivore bone portion choice in modern experimental boiled bone assemblages”.Journal of Taphonomy 5(3): 121 – 135.

(2005) Thompson, J.C. “The impact of post-depositional processes on bone surface modification frequencies: a corrective strategy and its application to the Loiyangalani site, Serengeti Plain, Tanzania”. Journal of Taphonomy 3(2): 57-80.