Benjamin D. Smith
Visiting Assistant Professor, Anthropology and Geography
Benjamin D. Smith is an anthropological archaeologist interested in the lifeways and material culture of African hunter-gatherers during the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene epochs (~120,000-7,000 years ago). Dr. Smith’s doctoral thesis examined the procurement and management of stone raw materials, specifically obsidian, using X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy and 3D scanning to characterize obsidian sources and examine the organization of lithic technology around major environmental, evolutionary, and social changes in deep human history. He also conducted ethnoarchaeological research in the Turkana Basin, northern Kenya, exploring the ways that fishing communities have developed techniques for “hunting” large aquatic fauna in nearshore environments.
Dr. Smith’s ongoing work in Wolaita, southern Ethiopia, explores the natural and artefactual stone landscapes that have been visited by hunting and gathering peoples for the past two million years, and which endure today as sources of toolstone for local craft specialists. In the future he hopes to collaborate with students, heritage specialists, and geochemists to build obsidian source databases that will allow archaeologists to trace the movement of people and things across the African continent and beyond.