Dr. Leader’s research interests include hominid behavior and cognitive abilities as found in the stone tool record of South Africa. He has excavated sites in central South Africa which yielded thousands of stone tools that display higher levels of complexity in their manufacturing process than previously suggested. These sites, along the Vaal River basin, have been dated with cosmogenic nuclide burial dating from 1.7 Ma to 1.2 Ma. Looking at the sequence through time gives us insight as to how the social traditions and cognitive abilities of these hominids advanced during this time period.
Additionally, the incorporation of very well made and extremely standardized and localized Victoria West prepared cores into the archaeological record displays a unique cultural indicator of the hominids living in this region at this time period. This Victoria West core technology can be argued to be a visible record of early social traditions or even cultural distinctions.
In addition to his work in South Africa, Dr. Leader is the Principal Material Culture Archaeologist on the Arch Street Project. This historic cemetery from 1700-1860 was accidentally rediscovered by developers. 500 remains and their associated material culture are being studied before reinterment.
Ph.D., University of the Witwatersrand; MSc, University of the Witwatersrand; BA, Gettysburg College
Palaeoarchaeology; The Earlier Stone Age; Hominid Behavior and Cognitive Abilities; The Origins of Culture; Environmental Influence on the stone tool record.