Berhane Asfaw

Rift Valley Research Service


Primary Section: 51, Anthropology
Membership Type: International Member (elected 2008)

Biosketch

Dr. Berhane Asfaw has spent over thirty years working on the earliest hominids in Africa's Great Rift Valley. His teams are widely credited with discovering fossils providing strong evidence for Africa as the cradle of humanity. The fossils unearthed range from about 6 million years ago to the most complete, earliest modern humans at 160,000 years ago. Dr. Asfaw served as the Director of the National Museum of Ethiopia, and member of the Center for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage in Ethiopia. After completing his undergraduate education in Addis Ababa in Geography, he received a fellowship from the Leakey Foundation to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley. He currently lives in Ethiopia with his wife, three sons and a daughter, where he is currently the manager of the Rift Valley Research Service and a co-director of the Middle Awash Research Project.

Research Interests

My main interest is in human evolution between the time period between two and three million years ago. Major technological and biological changes occurred during this time. The earliest stone tools mark a dramatic shift in human behavior. There is also an increase in brain size in this little-known time period. I am pursuing a program of geological, archaeological, and paleontological research in order to generate the necessary data to test hypotheses regarding global climate change and human evolution, particularly the origin of our genus Homo during this period.

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