Dr. Robert Patalano

Dr. Robert Patalano

Department of Archaeology

Main Focus

As a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Palaeoenvironmental Biomarkers, Dr. Robert (Bob) Patalano investigates stable carbon and hydrogen isotopes of leaf wax biomarkers from archaeological and paleoenvironmental sediments to answer questions concerning the relationships between environmental processes, cultural change, and human subsistence strategies. He mainly uses gas chromatography mass spectrometry and isotope ratio mass spectrometry for environmental reconstructions but also in creating modern ecological baselines for correlating paleoenvironmental proxies with stratigraphic, chronological, and archaeological contexts. 

Bob is also invested in capacity building through cross-disciplinary training and granting greater access to scientific information for his colleagues in Tanzania. With his new position at the Max Planck, Dr. Patalano wants to strengthen his existing collaborative networks with the University of Dar es Salaam and the Arusha Natural History Museum to promote sustainable paleoanthropological research in East Africa.

Curriculum Vitae

Bob earned his PhD in Archaeology from the University of Calgary, Alberta Canada. His dissertation focused on the environmental context of the earliest Acheulean at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, and how early humans effectively responded to different climate and environmental conditions roughly 1.7 million years ago. He mainly uses carbon and hydrogen isotopes from different organic compounds found within plant leafs to look into how factors such as precipitation, plant type, and CO2 concentrations helped configure ancient ecosystems. This is typically applied to archaeological sites to investigate the way in which humans adapted to diverse habitats in the past, both technologically and physically. Bob is also interested in modern ecosystems, specifically how they can inform us on ecological changes throughout time, and how this is reflected in isotopes.

In addition to Tanzania, Dr. Patalano has worked in the Bahamas, Canada, China, the United States, and Zimbabwe, is also a member of the Stone Tools, Diet, and Sociality project, Canada’s leading research partnership interested in the science of human evolutionary ecology. He earned his Master's degree in Environmental Geoscience and a graduate certificate in Geographical Information Systems from the University of New Haven, Connecticut, and his Bachelor's degree in Computer Information Systems from Bryant University, Rhode Island.


2020. Robert Patalano, Jana Zech, and Patrick Roberts. Leaf Wax Lipid Extraction for Archaeological Applications. Current Protocols in Plant Biology, 5, e20114, https://doi.org/10.1002/cppb.20114.

2020. Julien Favreau, María Soto, Rajeev Nair, Pastory Bushozi, SSiobhán Clarke, Christopher DeBuhr, Paul Durkin, Stephen Hubbard, Jamie Inwood, Makarius Itambu, Fergus Larter, Patrick Lee, Robert Marr, Aloyce Mwambwiga, Robert Patalano, Laura Tucker and Julio Mercader. Petrographic Characterization of Raw Material Sources at Oldupai Gorge, Tanzania. Frontiers in Earth Science 8(158). https://doi.org/10.3389/feart.2020.00158

2020. Laura Tucker, Julien Favreau, Makarius Itambu, Fergus Larter, Neduvoto Mollel, Aloyce Mwambwiga, Robert Patalano, Patrick Roberts, María Soto, Julio Mercader. Initial assessment of bioavailable strontium at Oldupai Gorge, Tanzania: Potential for early mobility studies. Journal of Archaeological Science, 114. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2019.105066.

2020. María Soto, Julien Favreau, Kathryn Campeau, Tristan Carter, Matthew Abtosway, Pastory Bushozi, Siobhán Clarke, Paul Durkin, Stephen Hubbard, Jamie Inwood, Makarius Itambu, Samson Koromo, Fergus Larter, Patrick Lee, Aloyce mwambwiga, Rajeev Nair, Lucas Olesilau, Robert Patalano, Laura Tucker, Julio Mercader. Fingerprinting of Quartzitic Outcrops at Oldupai Gorge, Tanzania. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2019.102010.

2019. Julio Mercader, Siobhán Clarke, Mariam Bundala, Julien Favreau, Jamie Inwood, Makarius Itambu, Fergus Larter, Patrick Lee, Garnet Lwiski-McQuaid, Neduvoto Mollel, Aloyce Mwambwiga, Robert Patalano, María Soto, Laura Tucker, Dale Walde. Soil and Plant Phytoliths from the Acacia-Commiphora Mosaics at Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania). PeerJ 7:e8211. http://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.8211.

2019. María Soto, Jamie Inwood, Siobhán Clarke, Alison Crowther, Danielle Covelli, Julien Favreau, Makarius Itambu, Steve Larter, Patrick Lee, Mariana Lozano, Jason Maley, Aloyce Mwambwiga, Robert Patalano, Ramaswami Sammynaiken, Josep M. Vergès, Jianfeng Zhu, Julio Mercader. Structural characterization and decontamination of dental calculus for ancient starch research. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 11. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-019-00830-7.

2018. Julio Mercader, Matthew Abtosway, Robert Bird, Mariam Bundala, Siobhán Clarke, Julien Favreau, Jamie Inwood, Makarius Itambu, Fergus Larter, Patrick Lee, Robert Patalano, María Soto, Laura Tucker, Dale Walde. Morphometrics of Starch Granules from Sub-Saharan Plants and the Taxonomic Identification of Ancient Starch. Frontiers in Earth Science, Q6:146. https://doi.org/10.3389/feart.2018.00146.

2018. Julio Mercader Florin, Tope Akeju, Mariam Bundala, Matthew Collins, Les Copeland, Alison Crowther, Peter Dunfield, Amanda Henry, Jamie Inwood, Makarius Itambu, Joong-Jae Kim, Steve Larter, Laura Longo, Thomas Oldenburg, Robert Patalano, Ramaswami Sammynaiken, María Soto, Robert Tyler, Hermine Xhauflair. Exaggerated expectations in ancient starch research and the need for new taphonomic and authenticity criteria. FACETS, v. 3, p. 777-798, DOI: 10.1139/facets-2017-0126.

2017. Julio Mercader Florin, Matthew Abtosway, Enrique Baquedano, Robert Bird, Fernando Díez-Martin, Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo, Julien Favreau, Makarius Itambu, Patrick Lee, Audax Mabulla, Robert Patalano, Alfredo Perez-Gonzalez, Manuel Santonja, Laura Tucker, Dale Walde. Starch Contamination Landscapes in Field Archaeology: Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Boreas, v. 46, Issue 4, p. 918-934, DOI: 10.1111/bor.12241.

2016. Julio Mercader, Robert Patalano, Julien Favreau, Makarius Itambu, Joshua Kumbani, Happinos Marufu. Mid-Acheulean Prepared Core Technologies from the Eastern Zimbabwe Escarpment, Maunganidze (Manicaland). Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, v. 8, p. 47-62.

2015. Robert Patalano, Zheng Wang, Qin Leng, Weiguo Liu, Yunfei Zheng, Guoping Sun, Hong Yang. Hydrological changes facilitated early rice farming in the lower Yangtze River Valley in China: A molecular isotope analysis. Geology, v. 43, no. 7, p. 639-642.

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