Dr. Gilliane Monnier is an Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Anthropology at the University of Minnesota. She is a Paleolithic archaeologist who studies Neanderthal behavior through their stone tools. She does this in the lab as well as in the field, using her expertise in lithic analysis and microarchaeology.

Her current research investigates Neanderthals’ responses to climatic and environmental change around 40,000 – 35,000 years ago, during the millennia preceding their extinction. She tackles this subject using multi-disciplinary excavations at the site of Crvena Stijena in Montenegro, where she is co-Principal Investigator along with Dr. Gilbert Tostevin. Dr. Monnier uses her expertise in microarchaeology to coordinate a team of specialists whose analyses will help clarify how Neanderthals used fire as well as track paleo-environments, while controlling for chronology and site formation processes. Previously, she applied microarchaeological tools as co-PI of excavations at the early Upper Paleolithic site of Tvarožna, Czech Republic, as well as at the Bremer Site, a Middle Woodland site in Minnesota.

Dr. Monnier also works to gain a better understanding of how Neanderthals used stone tools by developing new methods of lithic residue analysis. She uses the analytical techniques of chemistry, such as Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, Raman microscopy, and mass spectroscopy, as well as light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy, to obtain molecular and elemental data on residues.

Her work has been funded by numerous sources, including three National Science Foundation grants since 2014 on which she has been PI or co-PI, a Fulbright Senior Scholar award, and a Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage grant.

She works closely with undergraduate and graduate students in the lab, the field, and the classroom, and regards this as one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling aspects of her job.

As part of her commitment to bringing cutting-edge imaging instrumentation to researchers and creative scholars in the College of Liberal Arts, she co-founded the Advanced Imaging Service for Objects and Spaces (AISOS) with two grants from the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Minnesota.

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and learning new languages.

Educational Background & Specialties
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Educational Background

  • M. Phil.: Archaeology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, U.K., 1992 -
  • B. A.: Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1991 -
  • Ph.D: Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2000 -

Specialties

  • Stone tool analysis
  • Lower and Middle Paleolithic in Western Europe
  • Microarchaeology
  • Neanderthal behavior