Anthropology Department Directory


Karen Lupo

Professor and Department Chair

Ph.D University of Utah
Heroy Hall 408

  • Sub-Saharan Africa (Prehistory and Ethnography)
  • Central African rain forest paleoenvironment
  • Forager-Farmer Interactions
  • Zooarchaeology
  • Taphonomy
  • Ethnoarchaeology
  • Human behavioral ecology
  • Human-animal interaction
  • Hunters and gatherers
  • Courses Taught

    ANTH 6332 - Ethnoarchaeology
    ANTH 6332 - Hunter-Gatherers


    Karen Lupo received a Ph.D. from the University of Utah in 1994. She taught at the University of North Texas and Washington State University and came to Southern Methodist University in 2012. She is an archaeologist who specializes in the use of zooarchaeological analysis as a platform for exploring different questions about human-animal interactions. By combining the use of Neodarwinian theory with ethnoarchaeological and experimental research, she explores questions relevant to the formation of faunal assemblages. Recently, she led a team of international researchers on archaeological and paleoenvironmental expeditions to the Congo Basin.


    The Central African rain forest is the second largest rain forest in the world covering some 3.7 km2. This area is characterized by heterogeneous vegetation from lush and dense forests to wet  savanna's. While it plays a central role in global climates, it remains one of the most understudied regions in the world. My recent research is focused on understanding the longitudinal prehistory of the rain forest and how early populations articulated with this vulnerable habitat. The focus of my work is on understanding how modern populations (foragers and farmers( interact with the flora and especially the fauna of the forest. This information provides an unparalleled context for understanding how prehistoric populations in the recent past influenced the forest.

    We recently received additional funding from the National Geographic Society for an archaeological project scheduled for December 2017-January 2018 to further explore the chronology and nature of the early iron-age in the southern Central African Republic.

    With funding from the National Geographic Society and Dedman's Deans Research Council (SMU), I led a team in an exploratory project collecting paleoenvironmental data from Lake Mai-Ndoumbe (Democratic Republic of Congo), one of the largest freshwater lakes and wetland areas in Africa. Our team retrieved several sediment cores with preserved microbotanical remains that date back approximately 25,000 years making it one of the oldest paleoenvironmental records in the area. My role in this project was to collect ethnographic data on local Twa populations who traditionally occupied the lake-edge zone. Analyses of these data are on-going.

    Beginning in 2006, I initiated a long-term project to document and research prehistoric remains in the Central African rainforest. This project involves an international and multidisciplinary research team and was funded by NSF and the National Geographic Society. Central African Ethnoarchaeology Project (1999 - 2005): With funding from NSF and the LSB Leakey Foundation, I led a small team of researchers in an ethnoarchaeological project studying indigenous forest foragers, the Aka and Bofi, in two different villages in the N'gotto Forest Reserve in the Central African Republic. Over the last two decades, I have conducted ethnoarchaeological, experimental and archaeological research of different zooarchaeological questions such as cutmarks and human butchery patterns, the economic anatomy of prey and carnivore taphonomy.


    Selected Publications

    Schmitt, Dave N., and Karen D. Lupo
    2017 On Early Holocene Moisture and Small-Mammal Histories in the Bonneville Basin, Western USA. The Holocene (in press).

    Lupo, Karen D. and Dave N. Schmitt
    2017 How do Meat Scarcity and Bushmeat Commodification Influence Sharing and Giving among Forest Foragers? A View from the Central African Republic. Human Ecology (in press).

    Lupo, Karen D.
    2017 When and where do dogs improve hunting productivity? The empirical record and some implications for early Upper Paleolithic prey acquisitionJournal of Anthropological Archaeology, published on-line May 25, 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.jaa.2017.05.003.

    Lupo, Karen D. and Dave N. Schmitt
    2016 When Bigger is Not Better: The Economics of Hunting Megafauna and its Implcations for Plio-Pleistocene Hunter-gatherersJournal of Anthropological Archaeology 44:185-197. (I was also Guest Editor of this vol. with Brian Codding).

    Cooper, C., K.D. Lupo, R.G. Matson, W. Lipe, C.J. Smith, and M.P. Richards
    2016 Short-term Variability of Human Diet at Basketmaker II Turkey Pen Ruins, Utah: Insights from Bulk and Single Ammo Acid Isotope Analysis of Hair. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 5:10-18.

    Lupo, K.D.
    2016 In Pursuit of the Individual: Recent Economic Opportunities and the Persistence of Traditional Forager-farmer Relationships in the Southwestern Central African Republic In Why Forage? Hunters and Gatherers in the 21st Century, edited by B.F. Codding and K.L. Kramer., pp: 137-166 School of Advanced Research, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

    Lupo, K.D., D.N. Schmitt, C.A. Kiahtipes, J-P. Ndanga, D.C. Young, and B. Simiti
    2015 On Intensive Late Holocene Iron Mining and Production in the Northern Congo Basin and the Environmental Consequences Associated with Metallurgy in Central AfricaPLoS ONE 10(7):e0132632.

    Lupo, Karen D., A. Jean-Paul Ndanga, and Christopher Kiahtipes
    2014 On Late Holocene Population Interactions in the Northwestern Congo Basin: When,
    Hunter-Gatherers of the Congo Basin: Cultural, Biological and Ecological Approaches to African Pygmies, edited by Barry S. Hewlett, Transaction-Rutgers University Press, New Jersey.

    Lupo, Karen D., Jason M. Fancher, and Dave N. Schmit
    2013 The Taphonomy of Resource Intensification: Implications of Resource Scarcity Among Bofi and Aka Forest Foragers for the Zooarchaeological Record.
    Journal of Archeological Method and Theory 20(3): 420-477.

    Karen Lupo
    2011 Implications of Bofi and Aka Ethnoarchaeology in the Congo Basin for Understanding Late Holocene Prehistoric Technological Change. Before Farming (on-line).

    Schmitt, David N., and Karen Lupo
    2012 The Bonneville estates rockshelter rodent fauna and changes in Late Pleistocene-Middle Holocene climate and biogeography in the northern Bonneville Basin, USA. Quaternary Research 78(1): 95-102.

    Kiahtipes, Christopher, Karen Lupo, Dave Schmitt, Jean-Paul Ndanga, John Jones, Ray Lee
    2012 Prehistory and the Present: Paleoenvironments in the Northern Congo Basin. Before Farming (on-line journal).

    Karen Lupo
    2012 On Early Hominin Meat-eating and Carcass Acquisition Strategies: Still Relevant After All These Years? In Theoretical Debates in Early Pleistocene African Archaeology, edited by M. Domingo-Rodriguez. Cambridge University Press.

    Karen Lupo
    2011 A Dog is for Hunting. In Ethnozooarchaeology: The Present and Past of Human-Animal Relationships, edited by U. Albarella and A. Trentacoste, pp. 4-12. Oxbow Press, Oxford.

    Schmitt, Dave N., and Karen D. Lupo
    2008 Do Faunal Remains Reflect Socioeconomic Status? An Ethnoarchaeological Study of Central African Farmers in the Northern Congo Basin. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 27: 315-325.

    Karen Lupo
    2007 Evolutionary Foraging Models in Zooarchaeological Analysis: Recent Applications and Some Future Challenges. Journal of Archaeological Research 15: 143-189.

    Karen Lupo
    2006 What Explains Field Processing and Transport Decisions of Contemporary Hunter-Gatherers? Measures of Economic Anatomy and Zooarchaeological Skeletal Part Representation. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 13: 19-66.

    Karen D. Lupo and Dave Schmitt
    2005 Small Prey Hunting Technology and Zooarchaeological Measures of Taxonomic Diversity and Abundance: Ethnoarchaeological Evidence from Central African Forest Foragers. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. [PDF JAA 2005]

    Johnson, William Gray, Saxon E. Sharpe, Thomas F. Bullard, and Karen D. Lupo
    2005 Characterizing a First Occurrence of Bison Deposits in Southeastern Nevada. Western North American Naturalist, 65(1): 24-35.

    Schmitt, Dave N., David B. Madsen, and Karen D. Lupo
    2004 The Worst of Times, the Best of Times: Jackrabbit Hunting by Middle Holocene Human Foragers in the Bonneville Basin of Western North America. In Colonization, Migration, and Marginal Areas: A Zooarchaeological Approach, edited by M. Mondini, S. Munoz, and S. Wickler. Oxbow Books, Oxford.

    Karen D. Lupo and Dave N. Schmitt
    2003 Meat-Sharing and the Archaeological Record: A Preliminary Test of the Show-Off Hypothesis among Central African Bofi Foragers. In Hunters and Gatherers in Theory and Archaeology, edited by G. Crothers. Center for Archaeological Investigations Occasional Papers. Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

    Schmitt, Dave N., David B. Madsen and Karen D. Lupo
    2002 Small-Mammal Data on Early and Middle Holocene Climates and Biotic Communities in the Bonneville Basin, USA. Quaternary Research 58: 255-260. [PDF QR 2002]

    Karen D. Lupo and Dave Schmitt
    2002 Upper Paleolithic net hunting, small mammal procurement and women's work effort: a view from the ethnographic and ethnoarchaeological record of the Congo Basin. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 9(2): 147-180. [PDF JAMT 2002]

    O'Connell, James F., Kristen Hawkes, Karen Lupo and Nicholas Blurton Jones
    2002 Male Strategies and Plio-Pleistocene Archaeology. Journal of Human Evolution 43: 831-872. [PDF JHE 2002]

    Karen D. Lupo and James F. O'Connell
    2002 Cut and Tooth Mark Distributions on Large Animal Bones: Ethnoarchaeological Data from Hadza and Their Implications for Current Ideas about Early Human Carnivory. Journal of Archaeological Science. 29: 85-109. [PDF JAS 2002]

    Karen D. Lupo
    2001 On the Archaeological Resolution of Body Part Transport Patterns: An Ethnoarchaeological Example from East African Hunter-Gatherers. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 20: 361-378. [PDF JAA 2001]

    Karen D. Lupo
    1998 Experimentally Derived Extraction Rates for Marrow: Implications for Body Part Exploitation Strategies of Plio-Pleistocene Hominid Scavengers. Journal of Archaeological Science 25(7): 657-675. [PDF JAS 1998]

    Karen D. Lupo and Dave N. Schmitt
    1997 Experiments in Bone Boiling: Nutritional Returns and Archaeological Reflections. Anthropozoologica25/26: 137-144.

    Karen D. Lupo and Dave N. Schmitt
    1997 On Late Holocene Variability in Bison Populations in the Northeastern Great Basin. Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 19(1): 50-59.

    Schmitt, Dave N., and Karen D. Lupo
    1995 On Mammalian Taphonomy, Taxonomic Diversity, and Measuring Subsistence Data in Zooarchaeology.American Antiquity 60(3): 496-514.

    Karen D. Lupo
    1995 Hadza Bone Assemblages and Hyena Attrition: An Ethnographic Example of the Influence of Cooking and Mode of Discard on the Intensity of Scavenger Ravaging. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology14(3): 288-314. [PDF JAA 1995]

    Karen D. Lupo and Joel C. Janetski
    1994 Evidence of Domesticated Dogs and Some Related Canids in the Eastern Great Basin. Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 16(2): 199-220.

    Karen D. Lupo
    1994 Butchering Marks and Carcass Acquisition Strategies: Distinguishing Hunting from Scavenging in Archaeological Contexts. Journal of Archaeological Science 21(6): 827-837. [PDF JAS 1994]

    Janetski, C. Joel, Karen D. Lupo, John McCullough, and Shannon A. Novak
    1992 The Mosida Burial: An Archaic Burial from the Eastern Great Basin. Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 14(2): 180-200.