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.


2021. Mercader, J., Akuku, P., Boivin, N., Bugumba, R., Bushozi, P., Camacho, A., Carter, T., Clarke, S., Cueva-Temprana, A., Durkin, P., Favreau, J., Fella, K., Haberle, S., Hubbard, S., Inwood, J., Itambu, M., Koromo, S., Lee, P., Mohammed, A., Mwambwiga, A., Olesilau, L., Patalano, R., Roberts, P., Rule, S., Saladie, P., Siljedal, G., Soto, M., Umbsaar, J., Petraglia, M. Earliest Olduvai hominins exploited unstable environments ~ 2 million years ago. Nature Communications 12, 3. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-20176-2.

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

2020. Favreau, J., Soto, M., Nair, R., Bushozi, P.M., Clarke, S., DeBuhr, C.L., Durkin, P.R., Hubbard, S.M., Inwood, J., Itambu, M., Larter, F., Lee, P., Marr, R.A., Mwambwiga, A., Patalano, R., Tucker, L., Mercader, J. Petrographic Characterization of Raw Material Sources at Oldupai Gorge, Tanzania. Frontiers in Earth Science 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/feart.2020.00158.

2020. Tucker, L., Favreau, J., Itambu, M., Larter, F., Mollel, N., Mwambwiga, A., Patalano, R., Roberts, P., Soto, M., Mercader, J. 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. Soto, M., Favreau, J., Campeau, K., Carter, T., Abtosway, M., Bushozi, P.M., Clarke, S., Durkin, P.R., Hubbard, S.M., Inwood, J., Itambu, M., Koromo, S., Larter, F., Lee, P., Mwambwiga, A., Nair, R., Olesilau, L., Patalano, R., Tucker, L., Mercader, J. Fingerprinting of quartzitic outcrops at Oldupai Gorge, Tanzania. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 29, 102010. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2019.102010.

2019. Mercader, J., Clarke, S., Bundala, M., Favreau, J., Inwood, J., Itambu, M., Larter, F., Lee, P., Lewiski-Mcquaid, G., Mollel, N., Mwambwiga, A., Patalano, R., Soto, M., Tucker, L., Walde, D. Soil and plant phytoliths from the Acacia-Commiphora mosaics at Oldupai Gorge (Tanzania). PeerJ 7, e8211. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.8211.

2019. Patalano, R. The Environmental Context of the Earliest Acheulean at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology. University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. PhD Dissertation, p. 465.

2019. Soto, M., Inwood, J., Clarke, S., Crowther, A., Covelli, D., Favreau, J., Itambu, M., Larter, S., Lee, P., Lozano, M., Maley, J., Mwambwiga, A., Patalano, R., Sammynaiken, R., Vergès, J.M., Zhu, J., Mercader, J., Structural characterization and decontamination of dental calculus for ancient starch research. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 11, 4847-4872. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-019-00830-7.

2018. Mercader, J., Abtosway, M., Bird, R., Bundala, M., Clarke, S., Favreau, J., Inwood, J.L., Itambu, M., Larter, F., Lee, P., Patalano, R., Soto, M., Tucker, L., Walde, D. Morphometrics of Starch Granules From Sub-Saharan Plants and the Taxonomic Identification of Ancient Starch. Frontiers in Earth Science 6. https://doi.org/10.3389/feart.2018.00146.

2018. Mercader, J., Akeju, T., Brown, M., Bundala, M., Collins, M.J., Copeland, L., Crowther, A., Dunfield, P., Henry, A.G., Inwood, J., Itambu, M., Kim, J.-J., Longo, L., Oldenburg, T., Patalano, R., Sammynaiken, R., Soto, M., Tyler, R., Xhauflair, H. Exaggerated expectations in ancient starch research and the need for new taphonomic and authenticity criteria. Facets 3, 777-798. https://doi.org/10.1139/facets-2017-0126.

2017. Mercader, J., Abtosway, M., Baquedano, E., William Bird, R.W., Diez-Martin, F., Domínguez-Rodrigo, M., Favreau, J., Itambu, M., Lee, P., Mabulla, A., Patalano, R., Pérez-González, A., Santonja, M., Tucker, L., Walde, D. Starch Contamination Landscapes in Field Archaeology: Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Boreas. https://doi.org/10.1111/bor.12241.

2016. Mercader, J., Patalano, R., Favreau, J., Itambu, M., Kumbani, J., Marufu, H. Acheulean prepared core technologies from the eastern Zimbabwe Escarpment, Maunganidze (Manicaland). Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 8, 47-62. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2016.05.046.

2015. Patalano, R., Wang, Z., Leng, Q., Liu, W., Zheng, Y.F., Sun, G.P., Yang, H. Hydrological changes facilitated early rice farming in the lower Yangtze River Valley in China: A molecular isotope analysis. Geology 43, 639-642. https://doi.org/10.1130/G36783.1.

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