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Nicolas Zwyns

Nicolas Zwyns

Assistant Professor, PhD Leiden University, 2012

203 Young Hall Department of Anthropology
University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue

Davis , California 95616

Office Hours for Fall 2015 :

  • Tuesday 1:00pm - 3:00pm


  1. PhD: Archeology, Leiden University, The Netherlands (2012)
  2. Ma: Archeology, University College of London, United-Kingdom (2006)
  3. and Art History & Archeology, University of Liege, Belgium (2004)
  4. Ba: Art History & Archeology, University of Liege, Belgium (2001)


• Background

I graduated from the University of Liège, Belgium, in 2004 with a degree in Art History and Archeology (supervised by Prof. Marcel Otte). In 2006, I completed a Ma in Archeology at University College of London, UK (supervised by Dr. Ignacio de la Torre). In 2007, I received a full fellowship (International Max Planck Research School) from the Department of Human Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany to conduct a PhD research on the beginning of Upper Paleolithic in Siberia (supervised by Prof. Jean-Jacques Hublin and Dr. Shannon P. McPherron). In 2011, I was awarded a Post-doctoral grant from the Fyssen Foundation and joined the SMP3C (Equipe SMP3C - Sociétés et milieux des populations de chasseurs-cueilleurs-collecteurs, Dr. S. Costamagno and Dr. N. Teyssandier) at the UMR 5608 TRACES (Travaux et Recherches Archéologiques sur les Cultures, les Espaces et les Sociétés) in Toulouse, France before joining UC Davis Department of Anthropology.

• Research Interests

My interests focus on human paleontology and behavior during the Pleistocene and at the beginning of the Holocene. Although I see human evolution through the prism of archeology, my research is grounded in a multi-disciplinary approach that integrates the results of genetics and of physical anthropology. As a lithic specialist, I study the material culture of Pleistocene hominins to address issues related to subsistence strategies, cultural geography and population dynamics. My work on the peopling of Asia by Modern Humans, Neanderthals and the Denisovans considers 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 and in Uzbekistan. Since 2011, I am co-directing an international excavation project at the Paleolithic site of Tolbor 16, in northern Mongolia. In 2014, I joined an international team to conduct new research in Ningxia, north China.

• Selected Publications

- Journal Articles

Fu, Q., Li, H., Moorjani, P., Jay, F., Slepchenko, S. M., Bondarev, A. A., Johnson, P.L. F., Aximu-Petri, A., Prufer, K., de Filippo, C., Meyer, M., Zwyns, N., Salazar-Garcia, D. C., Kuzmin, Y. V., Keates, S. G., Kosintsev, P. A., Razhev, D. I., Richards, M. P., Peristov, N. V., Lachmann, M., Douka, K., Higham, T. F. G., Slatkin, M., Hublin, J.-J., Reich, D., Kelso, J., Viola, T. B, Pääbo, S. (2014). Genome sequence of a 45,000-year-old modern human from western Siberia. Nature 514, 445–449

Zwyns, N., Gladyshev, S., A., Gunchinsuren, B., Bolorbat, T., Flas, D., Dogandzic, T., Gillam, J.C., Khatsenovich, A. M., McPherron, S. P., Paine, C.H., Purevjal, K.E., Stewart J.R. (2014) The open-air site of Tolbor 16 (Northern Mongolia): preliminary results and perspectives. Quaternary international, 347, pp. 53–65.

Kuhn, S.L., Zwyns, N (2014). Rethinking the Initial Upper Paleolithic, Quaternary international, 347, pp. 29–38.

Zwyns, N. (2012) Laminar technology and the onset of the Upper Paleolithic in the Altai, Siberia. Studies in Human Evolution, Leiden University Press.

Zwyns, N., Roebroeks, W., McPherron, S. P., Jagich, A., Hublin, J.-J. (2012). Comment on “Late Mousterian Persistence near the Arctic Circle” by Slimak et al., 2011. Science. Vol. 335 no. 6065 p. 167.

Zwyns, N., Rybin, E.P., Hublin, J.-J., Derevianko, A.P. (2012). Burin-core technology & laminar reduction sequence in the initial Upper Paleolithic from Kara-Bom (Gorny-Altai, Siberia). Quaternary International 259, p.33-47.

Otte, M., Shidrang, S., Zwyns, N., Flas, D. (2011). New radiocarbon dates for the Zagros Aurignacian from Yafteh cave, Iran. Journal of human evolution, 61 (3), p. 340-346.

Krause J., Briggs A.W., Kircher M., Maricic T., Zwyns N., Derevianko A., Pääbo S. (2010) A complete mtDNA genome of an early modern human from Kostenki, Russia. Current Biology, 20(3), p.231-236.

Otte, M., F. Biglari, D. Flas, S. Shidrang, N. Zwyns, M. Mashkour, R. Naderi, A. Mohaseb N. Hashemi, J. Darvish, & V. Radu (2007) The Aurignacian in the Zagros region: new research at Yafteh Cave, Lorestan, Iran, Antiquity 81:82-96.

- Book

Zwyns, N. (2012) Laminar technology and the onset of the Upper Paleolithic in the Altai, Siberia. Studies in Human Evolution, Leiden University Press.

- Book Chapters

Zwyns, N., Viola, B. (2014). L'Asie centrale et le Pleistocene superieur. In: Otte, M. (Ed.) Neandertal/Cro-Magnon: La Rencontre. Editions Errances, Arles, pp.267-295 (in French)

Flas D., Tartar, E., Bordes J.-G., Le Brun-Ricalens F., Zwyns, N., (2013). New perspectives on the Aurignacien from Spy: Lithic assemblage, osseous artefacts and chrono-cultural sequence. SPY CAVE 125 years of multidisciplinary research at the Betche aux Rotches (Jemeppe-sur-Sambre, Province of Namur, Belgium) Edited by Hélène Rougier & Patrick Semal. Anthropologica et Præhistorica, 123/2012, 2013: 231-255.

Zwyns, N. (2012). Small laminar blanks at Siuren I Rockshelter: Technological and comparative approach. Demidenko Y.E., Otte M. & Noiret P. (dir.) - Siuren I rock-shelter. From Late Middle to Epi-Paleolithic in Crimea. Liège, ERAUL 129, p. 359-373.

Miller, R., Stewart, J., Zwyns, N., Otte, M. (2010). The stratified Early to Late Mesolithic sequence at Trou Al'Wesse (Modave, Belgium). In: Crombe, P. et al. (eds) Chronology and Evolution within the Mesolithic of North-West Europe, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, p.277-296.

Derevianko A.P., Islamov U.I., Kolobova K.A., Flas D., Krivoshapkin A.I., Lecshinski S.V., Krakhmal K.A., Zwyns N., Pavlenok K.K., Mukhtarov G. (2008) Re-excavation of multilayered site of Kul-Bulak in 2007. In: History of material culture of Uzbekistan. Vol. 36. Tashkent, FAN Press, 2008. Pp. 24-37 (in Russian).

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Dept. of Anthropology

328 Young Hall
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