Aaron J Armstrong

Photo of Aaron J Armstrong

Contact Me

armst147@umn.edu


Affiliations

My research contributes a subsistence-based behavioral and material cultural perspective to the study of modern human origins during the African Middle Stone Age (MSA; 230,000 – 30,000 years ago). It adds to recent evidence and the theoretical perspective that the foundations of behavioral modernity (“The Human Revolution”) first emerged in Africa as opposed to Eurasia. These behaviors include the creation and use of symbols, technological and social complexity, and adaptable foraging strategies and use of landscapes. My research builds on contemporary theoretical perspectives by examining human subsistence behavior during the MSA of South Africa and has produced new information regarding the complex ways humans navigated their landscapes and incorporated novel resources in their economies. My paper published in the "Journal of Human Evolution" (Armstrong, 2016) describes newly recognized subsistence adaptations by MSA humans in response to changing paleo-environmental and demographic conditions. I documented the habitual utilization of small mammals for their fur and as a stable protein source. This research has demonstrated that MSA humans maximized the resource yield of local habitats to include lower-quality resources when necessary, a behaviorally flexible and adaptive response that foreshadows the substantial diversification in resource breadth observed around the Mediterranean Basin and known as the “Broad Spectrum Revolution.”

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • PhD: Anthropology, University of Minnesota, 2015.
  • M.A.: Anthropology, University of Minnesota, 2010.
  • B.A., Magna cum laude: Anthropology and History, Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota, 2003.

Curriculum Vitae

Specialties

  • I am a paleo-archaeologist whose research incorporates zooarchaeology and taphonomy, ethnoarchaeology, and biological anthropology towards the scientific study of modern human origins in Africa.
Courses Taught
  • Introduction to Archaeology (Anth 210), Department of Anthropology, Minnesota State Mankato
  • Neanderthals: Biology and Culture of Humanity’s Nearest Relative (Anth 4077), Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota
  • The Anthropology of Material Culture (Anth 5221), Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota
  • Human Evolution (Anth 1001), Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota
  • Zooarchaeology Laboratory Methods (Anth 5402), Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota
  • Zooarchaeology: Skeletal Materials for Archaeologists, Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota
  • Human Evolution, Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota
  • Sex, Evolution, and Behavior, Department of Anthropology & Department of Ecology Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota
Publications
  • Small mammal utilization by Middle Stone Age Humans at Die Kelders Cave 1 and Pinnacle Point Site 5-6, Western Cape Province, South Africa: Armstrong, Aaron, Journal of Human Evolution, 101 17-44.
  • Eagles, owls, and coyotes (oh my!): Taphonomic analysis of rabbits and guinea pigs fed to captive raptors and coyotes: Armstrong, Aaron, ournal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 5 135-155.
  • Taphonomy of Verreaux's Eagle (Aquila verreauxii) prey accumulations from the Cape Floral Region, South Africa: Implications for archaeological interpretations: Armstrong, Aaron, Graham Avery, Journal of Archaeological Science, 52 163-183.
Awards
  • Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship Travel Grant for Paleoanthropology Society Meetings, Graduate School, University of Minnesota, 2013
  • Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, Graduate School, University of Minnesota, 2012 - 2013
  • Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (with Martha Tappen), National Science Foundation., 2010 - 2012
  • Scholarly Travel Grant, Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, University of Minnesota., 2009
  • Anthropology Block Grant (3 awards), Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota., 2007 - 2009
  • University of Minnesota Graduate School, International Thesis Research Grant, 2008
  • University of Minnesota Graduate School, International Thesis Research Grant, 2008
  • Graduate Research Partnership Program Fellowship (with Martha Tappen), College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota., 2006