Makarius Itambu

Research Associate
Department of Archaeology

Main Focus

Mak Itambu is interested in exploring and underscoring Pleistocene’s hominin behaviours in relation to food procurement strategies during the time in question, stone tools manufacture and the synergetic links between hominin-environmental interactions, cognition abilities and subsistence systems, and stone tool technological innovations. Specifically, his uses phytolith analysis in combination with archaeological and plant micro-remains data in order to reflect the nature and type of environments that were occupied by early humans and the plant environments surrounding their habitats during the Pleistocene epoch.

Curriculum Vitae

Mak Itambu earned his PhD degree in Archaeology recently with a specialization on Biological Anthropology under supervision of Dr. Mercader and has been working with the Stone Tools, Diet, and Sociality team at the University of Calgary since 2014. He received theoretical and practical lab training which equipped him to the newly emerging analytical approaches, techniques, and their application for paleovegetation reconstruction. In his PhD thesis, he did microscopic analysis of the soil and sediment for phytoliths, and the laboratory treatment for starch grains and residue analyses. His doctoral dissertation is topically titled: “Diversity of plant niches available for Hominin settlement during Upper Bed I-Lower Bed II: A phytolith perspective, Oldupai Gorge (Tanzania). He defended his doctoral dissertation in December 16th, 2019; after which he returned to teach at the University of Dar Es Salaam (UDSM) in Tanzania. He is currently teaching Palaeolithic Archaeology, Human Evolution and Stone Age Archaeology, as well as Research Methods courses at the UDSM.


Itambu, M.P. (2015). Rediscovering the intriguing patrimonies depicted in rock shelters of Iringa, Tanzania. In Runge J. (ed.) Changing Climates, Ecosystems and Environments within Arid Southern Africa and Adjoining Regions: Palaeoecology of Africa 33: 10. 

Itambu, M.P and Bushozi, P.G.M. (2015).The Rock Art of Iringa Region: Another Avenue for Rock Art Studies in Southern Highlands of Tanzania: Studies in the African Past, The Journal of African Archaeology Network Vol.11 E and D Vision Publishing Limited, Dar Es Salaam.

Itambu, M.P (2016)."Managing the Balance: Ecological Pressures and Heritage Resources in Rungwe District, Southern Highlands of Tanzania". Journal of Geoscience and Environment Protection Vol.4 No.3. Scientific Research:  An Academic Publisher.

Itambu, M.P and Hongoa, N.M (2016). Archaeology and Heritage Resource Management in Siuyu, Singida Region (Tanzania). Journal of Geoscience and Environment Protection Vol.4 No.6.

Mercader, J., Patalano, R., Favreau, J., Itambu, M., Marufu, H., and Kumbani, J. (2016). Mid-Acheulean Prepared Core Technologies from the Eastern Zimbabwe Escarpment, Maunganidze (Manicaland). Journal of Archaeological Science (JAS).Reports,Vol. 8, pp. 47–62.

Mercader J., Abtosway, M., Baquedano, E., BirdR., Díez-MartínF., Domínguez-Rodrigo, M., Favreau, J., Itambu, M., Lee, P.,Mabulla, A., Patalano,R., Pérez-González, A.,Santonja, M., Tucker, L., and Walde, D. (2017). Starch contamination landscapes in field archaeology: Olduvai Gorge,Tanzania. Boreas. An international Jouurnal of Quaternary Research, DOI: 10.1111/bor.12241.

Itambu, M. P. (2017). “Integrating Rock Art Heritage Conservation with Eco-Tourism: The Case of Iringa Region, Tanzania”. UNESCO Proceedings: African Heritage and the Pillars of Sustainability.

Itambu, M. P. et al., (2018). Rock Engravings and Paintings: Rethinking of the Cupules, Gongs, and Grinding Hollows of Siuyu and Ughaugha in Singida East (Tanzania), Journal of Geoscience and Environment Protection Vol.6 No.6. DOI: 10.4236/gep.2018.66012.

Mercader, J.F, Itambu, M.P. et al., (2018). Exaggerated expectations in ancient starch research and the need for new taphonomic and authenticity criteria. FACETS journal,

Mercader, J.F, Itambu, M.P. et al., (2018). Morphometrics of Starch Granules From Sub-Saharan Plants and the Taxonomic Identification of Ancient Starch; Frontiers in Earth Science: Quaternary Science, Geomorphology, and Palaeoenvironment:

Nightingale, S., Itambu, M., Mercader, J.,, (2019). Late Middle Stone Age Behaviour and Environments at Chaminade I (Karonga, Malawi). Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology.

Soto, M., Inwood, J., Clarke, S., Itambu, M., et al., (2019). Structural characterization and decontamination of dental calculus for ancient starch research, Archaeol. Anthropol. Sci., 11: 4847.

Soto, M., Favreau, J., Campeau, K., Carter, T., Abtosway, M., Bushozi, P., Clarke, S., Durkin, P., Hubbard, S., Inwood, J., Itambu, M., Koromo, S., Later, F. Lee, P., Mwambwiga, A., Nair, R., Oleislau, L., Patalano, R., Tucker, L., Mercader, J., ( 2019). Fingerprinting of Quartzitic Outcrops at Oldupai Gorge, Tanzania. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

Mercader, J., Clarke, S., Soto, M., Patalano, R., Bundala, M., Favreau, J., Inwood, J., Larter, F., Lee, P., Lewiski-McQuaid, G., Mollel, N. Mwambwiga, A., Itambu, M., (2019). Soil and Plant Phytoliths from the Acacia-commiphora Mosaics at Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania). PeerJ 7:e8211

Favreau, J.,  Soto, M., Nair, R., Bushozi, P., Clarke,  S., DeBuhr, C., Durkin, P., Hubbard, S., Inwood, J., Itambu, M., Larter, F., Lee, P., Marr, R., Mwambwiga, A., Patalano, R.,  Tucker, L., Mercader, J., (2019). Petrographic Characterization of Raw Material Sources at Oldupai Gorge, Tanzania. Frontiers in Earth Science, section Quaternary Science, Geomorphology and Paleoenvironment.

Tucker, L., Favreau, J., Itambu, M., Larter, F., Mollel, N. Mwambwiga, A., Patalano, P., Roberts, P., Soto, M., Mercader, J., (2019). Initial Assessment of Bioavailable Strontium at Oldupai Gorge, Tanzania: Potential for Early Mobility Studies. Journal of Archaeological Science.

Mercader JF, Itambu MP et al., 2020. "Earliest Olduvai hominins exploited unstable environments ~ 2 million years ago" (reference number: NCOMMS-20-30106C), Nature Communications.

Itambu, MP and Bushozi PGM (2020). Rock art and tourism in Iringa Region, Tanzania. South African Archaeological Bulletin 

Mercader JF, Itambu MP et al., 2021. "Earliest Olduvai hominins exploited unstable environments ~ 2 million years ago" (reference number: NCOMMS-20-30106C), Nature Communications.

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