Dr. Emma Finestone

Department of Archaeology

Main Focus

Dr. Emma Finestone uses archaeological fieldwork to investigate behavioral innovations and adaptive shifts in the human lineage. Her integrative field projects in eastern Africa and Central Asia span evolutionary changes throughout the Plio-Pleistocene. Emma’s research focuses on reconstructing the mobility, range expansion, and landscape use of toolmakers to illuminate how early technology facilitated the spread of genus Homo across the globe. She directs projects investigating the adaptive significance and impact of early tool-use and hominin dispersal into Central Asia. Emma also spearheads several MPI-SHH initiatives in science communication and outreach, including the online discussion series ArchaeoChats (with co-creator Robert Patalano).

Curriculum Vitae

Emma received her PhD in 2019 in Biological Anthropology from the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center. Her dissertation “Oldowan tool behaviors through time on the Homa Peninsula, Kenya” used technological measurements and geochemical methods to identify shifts in strategy and resource use in lithic production through the Oldowan Industrial Complex. This research received awards and grants from the National Science Foundation, the Leakey Foundation, and the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Emma was also an instructor from 2014-2019 at Hunter College, and Lehman College and received a Graduate Teaching Fellowship and a Professional Staff Congress award from CUNY. Prior to CUNY, Emma worked at the Conservation and Science Department at the Lincoln Park Zoo studying the foraging and tool behaviours of chimpanzee and gorillas. Emma holds a BA with honors in Anthropology and Biology from the University of Chicago (2010).


Patalano R., Hamilton R., Finestone E.M., Amano N., Heddell-Stevens P., Itambu M., Petraglia M. & Roberts P. (2021) Microhabitat Variability in Human Evolution. Frontiers in Earth Science 9:797669. 

Reeves J.S., Braun D.B., Finestone E.M., Plummer T.W. (2021). Ecological perspectives on technological diversity at Kanjera South. Journal of Human Evolution.

Finestone E.M., Braun D.R., Plummer T.W., Bartilol S., & Kiprono N. (2020). Building ED-XRF datasets for sourcing rhyolite and quartzite artifacts: A case study on the Homa Peninsula, Kenya. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, ISSN: 2352-409X, Vol: 33. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2020.102510.

E.M. Finestone. (2019). Oldowan tools behaviors through time on the Homa Peninsula, Kenya. CUNY Academic Works.

Plummer T.W. & E.M. Finestone. (2018). Archeological sites from 2.6 2.0 Ma: Towards a deeper understanding of the early Oldowan. In J. Schwartz (ed.) Rethinking Human Evolution(pp. 267-296). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Finestone E.M., Brown M.H., Ross S.R., & Pontzer H. (2018). Great ape walking kinematics: Implications for hominoid evolution. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 166:4355.

Kozma E.E., Webb N.M., Harcourt-Smith W.E.H., Raichlen D A., D’Août K., Brown M.H., Finestone E.M., Ross S.R., Aerts P., & Pontzer H. (2018). Hip extensor mechanics and the evolution of walking and climbing capabilities in humans, apes, and fossil hominins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 201715120. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1715120115.

Finestone E.M., Bonnie K.E., Hopper L.M., Vreeman V.M., Lonsorf E.V., & Ross S.R. (2014). The interplay between individual, social, and environmental influences on chimpanzee food choice. Behavioural Processes 105: 71-78.

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