Miriam Belmaker

Miriam Belmaker

Assistant Professor of AnthropologyHarwell Hall 1st Floor, Room 105

I am a Paleolithic archaeologist and paleoanthropologist. My research focuses on environmental change primarily in the past 2 million years and how it affected hominid biological and cultural evolution. I analyze fossil faunal remains obtained from archaeological and paleontological sites to reconstruct ancient environments through space and time and to ask questions about human evolution.

To track climate change through space and time, I use both zooarchaeological and paleontological methods. I am currently building a large comparative collection to assist me in my research. This includes comparative collection of modern species, fossil casts as well as a virtual collection based on 3D images of famous fossils.

I also use ecomorphological methods to reconstruct the environment. Ecomorphology is the relationship between the morphology of species such as diet, locomotion and size, to their environments. I am currently focused on reconstructing paleodiets of fossil animals by using 3D high power microscopes to look at the wear on the surface of teeth caused by different types of vegetation as a proxy for environmental change.

I am currently working on four main research questions:

(1) What was the ecological milieu of the Plio-Pleistocene dispersals of early Hominins from Africa and how did ecological changes affect the timing and mode of these dispersal events?
(2) What was the role of climate change in the dispersal and extinction of the Neanderthals?
(3) How did climate change contribute to the onset of sedentism and domestication in Southwestern Asia?
(4) What was the environmental milieu during the evolution of Homo in South Africa?

In addition to lab based research in my lab at TU (see Zooarchaeology Lab here), I am currently have several ongoing collaboration which include excavation in several archaeological sites in Israel, Armenia and South Africa.

Education and Degrees Earned

  • 2006 Ph.D. Evolution. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.
  • 2001 M.Sc. Evolution, Systematics and Ecology. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.
  • 1995 B.A. Prehistoric Archaeology. Haifa University, Israel.

Areas of Academic Specialty

Paleoanthropology, Old World Paleolithic archaeology, paleoecology, Zooarchaeology,

Areas of Research Focus

  • The evolution and dispersal of the genus Homo
  • Origins of modern humans
  • Neanderthals extinction
  • Origins of sedentism and domestication

Previous Teaching Experience

  • The College of William & Mary, Department of Anthropology, 2011-2012
  • Boston University, Anthropology Department, 2008

Professional Affiliations

  • The American Quaternary Society (AMQUA)
  • Society for Archaeological Sciences (SAS) 
  • Society for American Archaeology (SAA)
  • The International Council for Archaeozoology (ICAZ) 
  • The Israel Prehistoric Society 
  • The Paleoanthropology Society
  • The American Association of Physical Anthropology (AAPA) 
  • The Society for Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP)

Courses Taught at TU

  • Culture before History: Archaeology (ANTH 2053)
  • Topics in Prehistory:Bioarchaeology (ANTH 4053/6503)

Awards & Recognition

  • 2010 - 2012 Principle Investigator Wenner-Gren. “Rodent paleoecology and paleodiets as evidence for Last Glacial climate change in the Levant and its implications for hominin population dynamics”.
  • 2010 - 2011 Principle Investigator Irene Levi Sala CARE Archaeological Foundation Research Grant. “High-resolution diachronic paleoecological analysis of the Early Pleistocene of the Levant: Evidence from herbivore paleodiets”.
  • 2008 Principal Investigator Irene Levi Sala CARE Archaeological Foundation Research Grant ($5,000). “A diachronic study of the micromammal assemblages of Kebara Cave, Israel: Environment and Neanderthal extinction”.
  • 2007 Wenner-Gren Richard Carley Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2007 Principal Investigator Irene Levi Sala CARE Archaeological Foundation Research Grant. “Ecomorphological analysis of the Lower Pleistocene ungulate communities of the Levant”.


  • The Southern Levant during the Last Glacial and Zooarchaeological Evidence for the Effects of Climatic-Forcing on Hominin Population Dynamics
    In CLIMATE CHANGE, HUMAN RESPONSE AND ZOOARCHAEOLOGY (Monk, G. ed.) Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology Series. Springer, Dordrecht. (In press)2013
  • The Bovid assemblage (Bovidae, Mammalia) from the Early Pleistocene site of ‘Ubeidiya: Biochronological and biogeographical implications for the fossil and lithic bearing strata
    Martínez-Navarro, B., Belmaker, M. and Bar-Yosef, O. (2012) QUATERNARY INTERNATIONAL 267: 78:97.
  • Ecological change and the extinction of the Levantine Neanderthals: Implications from a diachronic study of micromammals from Amud Cave, Israel
    Belmaker, M. and Hovers, E. (2011) QUATERNARY SCIENCE REVIEWS 30 (21-22): 3196- 3209.
  • Early and Middle Pleistocene faunal and hominin dispersals through Southwestern Asia
  • Revisiting the question of Neanderthal regional variability: a view from the Rhône Valley Corridor
    Condemi, S., Voisin, J.-L., Belmaker, M. and Moncel, M.-H. (2010) COLLEGIUM ANTHROPOLOGICUM 34 (3): 787-796.