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Faculty & Staff Directory

Julien Riel-Salvatore, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Email: Julien Riel-Salvatore
Office Location: AD 270F
Phone: (303) 556-2621
Fax: (303) 556-8501
Office hours: Summer 2013, in the field
Areas of Expertise:


Education & Degrees

Ph.D., Anthropology, Arizona State University, 2007
M.A., Anthropology, Arizona State University, 2001
B.A., Anthropology, McGill University, 1999


I'm an archaeologist who focuses on the ecology and prehistory of hunter-gatherers, and on how humans have interacted with their environment in the past. Most of my work to date has concentrated on Neanderthals and early Homo sapiens, and especially on the disappearance of Neanderthals, a topic I've studied extensively in Italy where I've been working since 2003. I've also participated in several field projects in Italy, Spain, Ethiopia, South Africa and the US Southwest.

Currently, I'm directing work at the Paleolithic site of the Caverna delle Arene Candide, in the region of Liguria in northern Italy. With my Italian colleagues, we have exposed a nearly continuous sequence of deposits beginning some 30,000 years ago, which provides a unique archive to track how human behavior changed through time, notably in response to climate change and resource fluctuation. This project began during a postdoctoral fellowship I held at McGill University (Montreal, Canada), after I completed my doctoral studies at Arizona State University.

Some of my recent work has sought to apply niche construction theory as a useful conceptual framework for looking at the human past. NCT encourages researchers to look at the dynamic evolutionary interplay between biology, culture and ecology to understand how given evolutionary trajectories came to be. Since archaeology by its very nature looks at the long-term, the discipline provides a natural body of evidence of how humans have engaged with and modified their environments to suit their needs, often with unexpected consequences in the long run. I have recently edited (with L. Pyne) a special issue of the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory on the topic of "Archaeological Perspectives on Niche Construction Theory" in which several colleagues and I explore some of these issues.

Select Publications

Riel-Salvatore, Julien. 2010. "A Niche Construction Perspective on the Middle-Upper Paleolithic Transition in Italy." Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 17(4): in press.

Riel-Salvatore, Julien. 2009 "What Is A ‘Transitional’ Industry? The Uluzzian of Southern Italy as a Case Study." In Sourcebook of Paleolithic Transitions: Methods, Theories, and Interpretations (M. Camps and P. Chauhan, Eds.), pp. 377-396. New York, Springer.

Riel-Salvatore, Julien, and Fabio Negrino. 2009 "Early Upper Paleolithic Population Dynamics and Raw Material Procurement Patterns in Italy." In The Mediterranean from 50.000 to 25.000 BP: Turning Points and New Directions, (M. Camps & C. Szmidt, Eds.), pp. 211-230. Oxford, Oxbow Books.

Clark, Geoffrey A., and Julien Riel-Salvatore. 2009 "What’s in a Name? Observations on the Compositional Integrity of the Aurignacian." In The Mediterranean from 50.000 to 25.000 BP: Turning Points and New Directions, (M. Camps & C. Szmidt, Eds.), pp. 323-338. Oxford, Oxbow Books.

Riel-Salvatore, Julien, Alexandra E. Miller, and Geoffrey A. Clark. 2008 "An Empirical Evaluation of the Case for a Châtelperronian-Aurignacian Interstratification at Grotte des Fées de Châtelperron." World Archaeology 40 (4): 480-492.

Riel-Salvatore, Julien, Gabriel Popescu, and C. Michael Barton. 2008 "Standing at the gates of Europe: Human behavior and biogeography in the southern Carpathians during the Late Pleistocene." Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 27(4): 399-417.

Riel-Salvatore, Julien. 2008 "Mad Neanderthal disease? Some comments on 'A potential role for Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies in Neanderthal extinction.'” Medical Hypotheses 71: 473-474.

Clark, Geoffrey A., and Julien Riel-Salvatore. 2005 "Observations on systematics in Paleolithic archaeology." In Transitions before the Transition: Evolution and Stability in the Middle Paleolithic and Middle Stone Age (E. Hovers & S.L. Kuhn, Eds.), pp.29-56. New York: Springer.

Riel-Salvatore, Julien, and C. Michael Barton. 2004 "Late Pleistocene technology, economic behavior, and land use dynamics in Southern Italy." American Antiquity 69 (2):257-274.

Riel-Salvatore, Julien, and Geoffrey A. Clark. 2001 "Grave markers: Middle and Early Upper Paleolithic burials and the use of chronotypology in contemporary Paleolithic research." Current Anthropology 42 (4): 449-479.

Courses Taught

ANTH 1302: Introduction to Archaeology
ANTH 3700: Ancient Human Environmental Impacts (Current Topics in Anthropology)
ANTH 4330/5330: Lithic Analysis
ANTH 4380/5880: Archaeology of Hunter-Gatherers
ANTH 4580/5580: Neanderthals and the Origins of Modern Humans
ANTH 6307: Archaeological Research Design