Joshua Robinson Ph.D.

Part-time Lecturer of Anthropology
Joshua Robinson Photo

Office Location

300 Bailey Hall


(207) 780-5300

Academic Degrees

  • Ph.D., Anthropology, Emory University
  • M.A., Anthropology, Emory University
  • B.A., Anthropology and Geography, University of Florida


Josh Robinson is a paleoanthropologist with research interests in the paleoecological context of Plio-Pleistocene biological and behavioral adaptations of the human lineage. His primary research is focused on understanding the Middle to the Later Stone Age transition in sub-Saharan Africa through the reconstruction of social and exchange networks. The Middle and Later Stone Ages are a critical period of human evolution where various populations of Homo sapiens, as well as other transitional or archaic hominins, likely exchanged genes, ideas, and technology. He is a specialist in geochemical analysis, specifically stable isotope characterization of fossil animal and human tooth enamel. He has conducted fieldwork and museum research across eastern and southern Africa, including in Kenya, Ethiopia, Zambia, and South Africa. In addition to studying Middle and Later Stone Age archaeology, Josh is a research member of the Ledi-Geraru Paleoanthropology Research Project investigating the origins of the genus Homo in Ethiopia. His research has been supported by the US National Science Foundation, the Rust Family Foundation for Archaeological Research, and the Palaeontological Scientific Trust of South Africa.

Research Interests

African Middle and Later Stone Ages; Reconstructing social and exchange networks; Local paleoenvironments and climate; Stable isotope analyses; Hunter-to-herder transition in sub-Saharan Africa; Geospatial analysis and modeling; Geochemical fingerprinting and tracking; Paleoecological reconstructions of Plio-Pleistocene hominin sites; Habitat contexts of early Homo; Adaptive radiation of platyrrhines during the Miocene

Recent Publications

Du, Andrew, Joshua R. Robinson, Ignacio A. Lazagabaster, John Rowan, and Anna K. Behrensmeyer. 2019. Stable carbon isotopes from paleosol carbonate and herbivore enamel document differing paleovegetation signals in the eastern African Plio-Pleistocene. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 261:41-52. DOI: 10.1016/j.revpalbo.2018.11.003

Robinson, Joshua R., and Lyn Wadley. 2018. Stable isotope evidence for (mostly) stable local environments during the South African Middle Stone Age from Sibudu, KwaZulu-Natal. Journal of Archaeological Science 100:32-44. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2018.10.002

Lazagabaster, Ignacio A., Antoine Souron, John Rowan, Joshua R. Robinson, Christopher J. Campisano, and Kaye E. Reed. 2018. Fossil Suidae (Mammalia, Artiodactyla) from Lee Adoyta, Ledi-Geraru, lower Awash Valley, Ethiopia: Implications for late Pliocene turnover and paleoecology.    Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 504:186-200. DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2018.05.029

Robinson, Joshua R., John Rowan, Christopher J. Campisano, Jonathan G. Wynn, and Kaye E. Reed. 2017. Late Pliocene environmental change during the transition from Australopithecus to Homo. Nature Ecology and Evolution 0159. DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0159

Robinson, Joshua R. 2017. Thinking locally: Environmental reconstruction of Middle and Later Stone Age archaeological sites in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Zambia based on ungulate stable isotopes. Journal of Human Evolution 106:19-37. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2017.01.013

Robinson, Joshua R., and John Rowan. 2017. Holocene paleoenvironmental change in southeastern Africa (Makwe Rockshelter, Zambia): implications for the spread of pastoralism. Quaternary Science Reviews 156:57-68. DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.11.030

Rowan, John, Ellis M. Locke, Joshua R. Robinson, Christopher J. Campisano, Jonathan G. Wynn, and Kaye E. Reed. 2017. Fossil Giraffidae (Mammalia, Artiodactyla) from Lee Adoyta, Ledi-Geraru and Late Pliocene dietary evolution in giraffids from the lower Awash Valley, Ethiopia. Journal of Mammalian Evolution 24:359-371. DOI: 10.1007/s10914-016-9343-z

Robinson, Joshua R., John Rowan, J. Tyler Faith, and John G. Fleagle. 2016. Paleoenvironmental change in the late Middle Pleistocene – Holocene Kibish Formation, southern Ethiopia: evidence from ungulate isotopic ecology. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 450:50-59. DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.02.049

Mummert, Amanda, Emily Esche, Joshua R. Robinson, George J. Armelagos. 2011. Stature and robusticity during the agricultural transition: Evidence from the bioarchaeological record. Economics & Human Biology 9:284-301. DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2011.03.004