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Anthropology Unit

Anthropology Unit | University of Geneva

Katja Douze

Adjointe Scientifique III et Collaboratrice scientifique II

The focus of my research aims unveiling past behaviors, and their changes over time, based on lithic industries from the African Palaeolithic. I work more specifically on the Middle Stone Age period (ca. 300ka-20ka) which is known for the emergence of Homo sapiens, their first behavioral developments and their first diffusions within and out of Africa. I led this research in the East African region, in Ethiopia specifically, and I later broaden up this approach to Southern Africa. I worked on reference sites for these regions, such as Gademotta and Kulkuletti, Blombos Cave, Klipdrift Shelter and on a series of other collections in these two regions.


In the framework of my recent integration to the Laboratory of Archaeology and Population in Africa (APA), I currently focus my research on the West-African Palaeolithic record, and specifically on the Falémé Valley in Senegal. The integration of West Africa to the global models of cultural and population dynamics during the Middle Stone Age is intended to stimulate new perspectives on the modalities of development of first anatomically modern humans. My mission is to contribute to enlarge the data to fuel the chrono-cultural sequences which have recently been constructed (e.g. Chevrier et al ; 2016). These sequences are essential for an innovative approach regarding African Palaeolithic that would take into account the singularity of both the environmental context and the archaeological record of West Africa. During the field mission of 2017 in the Falémé valley, we also discovered a major Acheulean (>300 ka) site. This discovery opens perspectives into older periods of the West African Prehistory which is yet almost unknown. More specifically, the lithic analyses I perform embody a holistic approach to technology and techniques, and favor diachronic studies to reveal patterns of changes in production behaviors. Recently, I also started exploring the techno-functional aspects of Middle Stone Age toolkits with a special focus on the functional variability of pointed tools.

Other main collaborations

I am part of the scientific team of the ANR BigDry « Ruptures et continuité dans le peuplement de l’Afrique à la fin du Pléistocène : paléoanthropologie, paléoenvironnement et archéologies comparées du Rift et du Nil dans leur cadre continental » coordinated by François Bon (TRACES, University of Jean-Jaurès,Toulouse, France).

In this project, I take part of the study of the Djiboutian site of Hara Idé 3 (Middle Stone Age to Holocene) and I am in charge of the excavation and the study of late Middle Stone Age sites in the Bulbula Valley in Ethiopia (Middle Stone Age to early Late Stone Age).

I am also part of the Bushman Rockshelter project in South Africa, codirected by Guillaume Porraz (CNRS, AnTET, University of Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, France) and Aurore Val (Ditsong Museum, Pretoria, Afrique du Sud).


  • Rasse, M., Lespez, L., Lebrun, B., Tribolo, C., Chevrier, B., Douze, K., ... & Camara, A. (2020). Morpho-sedimentary synthesis and archaeological occurrences in the Faleme Valley (80-5 ka; east Senegal): continuing occupations during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition. Quaternaire, 31(1), 71-88.
  • Douze K., Igreja M., Rots V., Cnuts D., Porraz G., 2020. Technology and Function of Middle Stone Age Points. Insights from a Combined Approach at Bushman Rock Shelter, South Africa. In: Groucutt H. (eds) Culture History and Convergent Evolution. Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology. Springer, Cham.
  • Sanchez-Mazas A., Mayor A., Poloni E., Douze K., … & Hubert Van Blyenburgh, N., 2019, Afrique 300'000 ans de diversité humaine: catalogue de l'exposition, Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle et Université de Genève.
  • Will, M., Tryon, C., Shaw, M., Scerri, E. M., Ranhorn, K., Pargeter, J., McNeil, J., Mackay, A., Leplongeon, A., Groucutt, H. S., Douze, K., Brooks, A. S. (2019). Comparative analysis of Middle Stone Age artifacts in Africa (CoMSAfrica). Evolutionary Anthropology 8(2): 57-59.
  • Douze K., Delagnes A., Wurz S., Henshilwood C.S., 2018, Characterization of changes within the Howiesons Poort lithic sequence of Klipdrift Shelter, southern Cape, South Africa. PLoS ONE 13(11): e0206238.
  • Douze K., Delagnes A., Rots V., Gravina B., 2018 , A reply to Sahle and Braun’s reply to ‘The pattern of emergence of a Middle Stone Age tradition at Gademotta and Kulkuletti (Ethiopia) through convergent tool and point technologies’ [J; Hum. Evol. 91 (2016) 93-121]. Journal of Human Evolution 125:207-214.
  • Mayor A., Douze K., Lorenzo Martínez M., Truffa Giachet M., Aymeric J., Bocoum H., Champion L., Cervera C., Davidoux S., Garnier A., Hajdas I., Lebrun, B., Lespez L., Loukou S., Mokadem F., Ndiaye M., Pelmoine T., Rasse M., Serneels V., Tribolo C., Virmoux C., Walmsley A., Huysecom E., 2018. Dynamiques techniques et environnementales dans la vallée de la Falémé (Sénégal) : résultats de la 20ème campagne du programme « Peuplement humain et paléoenvironnement en Afrique ». Jahresbericht SLSA 2017, 157-256. (PDF)
  • Delagnes A., Schmidt P., Douze K., Wurz S., Bellot-Gurlet L., Conard N., Nickel K., van Niekerk K., Henshilwood C.S., 2016, Early evidence for the extensive heat treatment of silcrete in the Howiesons Poort at Klipdrift Shelter (layer PBD, 65 ka), South Africa. PloS one, 11(10): e0163874.
  • Douze K., Delagnes A., 2016, The pattern of emergence of a Middle Stone Age tradition at Gademotta and Kulluletti (Ethiopia) through convergent tool and point technologies. Journal of Human Evolution 91:93-121.
  • Douze K., Wurz S., Henshilwood C.S., 2015, Techno-cultural characterization of the MIS 5 (c. 105 – 90 ka) lithic industries at Blombos Cave, southern Cape, South Africa. PloS one 10(11): 1-29.
  • Porraz G., Val A., Dayet L., de la Peña P., Douze K., Miller C. E., Murungi M., Tribolo C., Schmid V. C., Sievers C., 2015, Bushman Rock Shelter (Limpopo, South Africa): A Perspective From The Edge Of The Highveld. South African Archaeological Bulletin 70 (202): 166–179.
  • Henshilwood C.S., van Niekerk K.L., Wurz S., Delagnes A., Armitage S., Rifkin R., Douze K., Keene P., Haaland M., & Reynard J., 2014, Klipdrift Shelter, southern Cape, South Africa: Preliminary Report on the c. 65 – 60 000 year old Howiesons Poort levels, Journal of Archaeological Science 45: 284-303.
  • Douze K., 2014. A new chrono-cultural marker for the early Middle Stone Age in Ethiopia: the tranchet blow process on convergent tools from Gademotta and Kulkuletti sites, Quaternary International 343: 40-52.
  • Ménard C., Bon F., Dessie A., Bruxelles L., Douze K., Fauvelle-Aymar F.-X., Khalidi L., Lesur J., Mensan R., 2014. Late Stone Age variability in the Main Ethiopian Rift: new data from the Bulbula River, Ziway-Shala basin, Quaternary International 343: 53-68.
  • Gutherz X., Diaz A., Ménard C., Bon F., Douze K., Léa V., Lesur J., Sordoille D., 2014. The Hargeisan revisited: Lithic industries from shelter 7 of Laas Geel, Somaliland and the transition between the Middle and Late Stone Age in the Horn of Africa, Quaternary Intentional 343: 69-84.
  • Douze K., Asrat A., Pleurdeau D., 2014, Guest Editorial: Changing environments and movements through transitions: Paleoanthropological and Prehistorical Research in Ethiopia: A Tribute to Prof. Mohammed Umer, Quaternary International 343: 1-4.
  • Bon F., Dessie A., Bruxelles L., Daussy A., Douze K., Fauvelle-Aymar F.-X., Khalidi L., Lesur J., Ménard C., Marder O., Mensan R., Saint-Sever G., 2013, Archéologie préhistorique de la partie centrale du Main Ethiopian Rift (bassin lacustre de Ziway-Shala) : contribution à l’établissement de la séquence Late Stone Age d’Afrique orientale, Annales d'Ethiopie 28:261-297
  • Douze K., 2013, Le Early Middle Stone Age d'Éthiopie : Les changements techno-économiques à la période de l'émergence des premiers Homo sapiens. Presses Académiques Francophones, 524 p. ISBN: 978-3-8381-7707-6.
  • Douze K., 2011, L’Afrique de l’est dans la réflexion globale sur le Middle Stone Age, Annales d’Ethiopie 26 : 15-52.
Katja Douze
Katja Douze
University of Geneva
Dpt. of Genetic & Evolution
Anthropology Unit
Quai Ernest-Ansermet 30
1205 Genève
Ph +41 22 379 69 67
Fax +41 22 379 31 94