Sonia Harmand

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Sonia Harmand (born in 1974[1]) is a French archaeologist who studies Early Stone Age archaeology and the evolution of stone tool making.[2] She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Paris where she was associated with the "Prehistory and Technology" research unit, which was well known in the field of stone tool analysis. Harmand earned a PhD from Paris Nanterre University, and is a research associate at CNRS, which is the largest French governmental research organization, and Europe's largest fundamental science agency, she worked as a Research Scientist at CNRS for four years before joining Stony Brook University in New York as an associate professor.[2] In 2017 she was named one of the '50 Most Influential French' by the French edition of Vanity Fair magazine.[3]

Early Stone Age Archaeology[edit]

Lomekwi 3 Stone Tools[edit]

In 2011, Harmand discovered the Lomekwi 3 stone tools in the Turkana Basin of Kenya near the town of Lomewki; this discovery was made while Harmand was leading the West Turkana Archaeological Project team along with Jason Lewis. They were both working with Stony Brook University's Turkana Basin Institute at the time.[4]

At the Lomekwi 3 site, between 2011 and 2012, there were 149 stone artifacts recovered in total;[5] these artifacts were found at the Lomekwi 3 site which sits above the Toroto Tuff, dated at about 3.32 Ma.[6] The 149 artifacts range from small broken flakes weighing less than 1 kg to anvils and passive elements weighing about 12 kg.[7] All of these tools are evidence of knapped stone tools. Stone tool knapping was previously associated with the genus Homo;[5] the discovery of stone tools from the Oldevai Gorge in Tanzania dating to about 2.6 Ma brought forth a theory of non-homo hominins usage of stone tools since there is only fossil evidence of homo from 2.4-2.3 Ma.[5] The tools found at Lomekwi 3 are dated to ≈3.3 Ma which pushes back the evidence of stone tool use by nearly 700,000 years, and further expands the overall archaeological record.[7] Furthermore, these discoveries support the theory of usage of stone tools by non-homo hominids. Harmand and other archaeologists and paleoanthropologists suspect Australophithecines including: A. Africanus, A. Sediba, A. Garhi, A. Aethiopicus, and A. Robustus to be possible non-homo stone tool knappers. The Lomekwi 3 site is still currently under excavation and the West Turkana Archaeological Project team continues fieldwork in the Turkana Basin every summer.

Acheulean Tools[edit]

Harmand additionally worked along the northwest shore of Lake Turkana in Kenya in 2011, recovering and studying acheulean tools; the stone tools found at the Kokiselei 4 site are dated to about 1.76 Ma which pushes the evidence for acheulean tool use back an extra ≈300,000 years.[8] Acheulean tools are thought to be connected to Homo Erectus because there were H. erectus fossils found in the same area which are dated at a similar age.[8]

Work at Stony Brook University[edit]

Sonia Harmand is currently an Associate Professor at New York's Stony Brook University teaching in the Anthropology Department. Along with professorial work, Harmand is an associate research scientist at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), and the head of the West Turkana Archeological Project (WTAP) as of 2012. Harmand's research utilizes the chaîne opératoire method to aid in her analysis of stone tools, which places emphasis on the interactions between tool-makers and their environment; the central focus of her research at Stony Brook is on the origins of hominin technology and the role of biomechanics in stone tool production.[9]

Honors and Publications[edit]

Harmand has received many awards for her work with Early Stone Age archaeology. In 2015, Harmand won both the Stone Age Institute Award for Outstanding Research into Human Origins,[10] and the Field Discovery Award from the Shanghai Archaeology Forum[11] for her work with the Lomekwi 3 tools; the following year, in 2016, she earned the Prix La Recherche archaeology award in Paris, France. In 2017, the Tübingen research prize for Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology was awarded to Harmand from the Eberhard-Karls-University of Tübingen, Germany.


  1. ^ VIAF resume
  2. ^ a b Communications, Stony Brook Office of. "Sonia Harmand | Experts at Stony Brook University, New York". Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  3. ^ "Les 50 Français les plus influents du monde | Vanity Fair". 2017-01-06. Archived from the original on 2017-01-06. Retrieved 2018-05-04.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  4. ^ "Oldest Stone Artifacts Found in Kenya's Turkana Basin". Turkana Basin Institute. Retrieved 2018-10-27.
  5. ^ a b c Lewis, Jason E.; Harmand, Sonia (2016-07-05). "An earlier origin for stone tool making: implications for cognitive evolution and the transition to Homo". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 371 (1698): 20150233. doi:10.1098/rstb.2015.0233. ISSN 0962-8436. PMC 4920290. PMID 27298464.
  6. ^ "Figure 4: Stratigraphic sections and placement of hominin specimens at sites in upper part of the Lomekwi drainage, west of Lake Turkana, northern Kenya". Retrieved 2018-10-27.
  7. ^ a b Harmand, Sonia; Lewis, Jason E.; Feibel, Craig S.; Lepre, Christopher J.; Prat, Sandrine; Lenoble, Arnaud; Boës, Xavier; Quinn, Rhonda L.; Brenet, Michel (2015-05-20). "3.3-million-year-old stone tools from Lomekwi 3, West Turkana, Kenya". Nature. 521 (7552): 310–315. doi:10.1038/nature14464. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 25993961.
  8. ^ a b Lepre, Christopher J.; Roche, Hélène; Kent, Dennis V.; Harmand, Sonia; Quinn, Rhonda L.; Brugal, Jean-Philippe; Texier, Pierre-Jean; Lenoble, Arnaud; Feibel, Craig S. (September 2011). "An earlier origin for the Acheulian". Nature. 477 (7362): 82–85. doi:10.1038/nature10372. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 21886161.
  9. ^ "Stony Brook University: Department of Anthropology". Stony Brook University. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  10. ^ "2015 SAI Public Lectures: Sonia Harmand". Retrieved 2018-12-02.
  11. ^ "PACEA — De la Préhistoire à l'Actuel : Culture, Environnement et Anthropologie. - Jacques Jaubert et ses collaborateurs récompensés par l'Académie des Sciences sociales de Chine pour leurs travaux sur la grotte de Bruniquel". (in French). Retrieved 2018-12-02.