KUKA robot performing a scraping task.
(Credit: Fabio Bergamin, ETH-Zürich)

Contact Information

Director: Dr. Radu Iovita

Email: iovita@nyu.edu

Phone: 212-992-7475





Let him lose himself in wonders as amazing in their littleness as the others in their vastness.– Blaise Pascal, Pensées, Man’s Disproportion (1670, trans. T.S. Eliot, 2003 edition)

The Anthrotopography Laboratory takes advantage of a common methodology (surface analysis) to link two strands of research into the material traces of human action at two fundamentally different scale: the microscopic and the landscape scale.  We focus on two main questions:

  1.  How did ancient landscapes and their associated environments influence past human migrations; and
  2. How did prehistoric people employ simple technologies to adapt to the diverse environments they encountered?

Currently, landscape-scale project focus on using remote sensing and other geoarchaeological methods to predict and discover new sites and ultimately understand the role of Central Asian mountain foothills in connecting various parts of Asia during the Stone Age (see PALAEOSILKROAD and Maibulak Projects).  At the microscopic scale, we are interested in characterizing use-traces through controlled experiment and using them to reconstruct the evolution of hominin gesture and motor control (see RoboCut Project).


Equipment and Resources

The Anthrotopography lab is in its early stages of development and many new and exciting tools are being added as they are needed in research projects.

  • reflected light microscopes
  • transmitted light microscopes
  • metrology software
  • use-wear experiment cast collection


Excavations at Maibulak
(Credit: Radu Iovita)

Research Projects





Lab Members

We are excited to welcome Alice Rodriguez (from Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris) and Emily Coco (Washington University, St. Louis) as new Ph.D. students and Johannes Pfleging (ETH Zurich) as a visiting scholar in the Fall of 2017.