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What is the CECD? 
The CECD is an AHRC funded research group dedicated to examining the evolutionary underpinnings of human cultural behaviour, past and present. more>

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Director Profile
Dr James Steele
Research Reader, AHRC CECD, Institute of Archaeology, University College London

31-34 Gordon Sq.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 4773
Fax: (+44) (0)20 7383 2572

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Research and Teaching interests
My research focuses on two separate topics: the evolution of speech and tool use, and the modelling of diffusion processes. As part of this focus I have worked in the past on human handedness, and on the early population history of the Americas and of Europe’s first farmers. I am currently interested in investigating common cognitive mechanisms underlying both language processing and action recognition, and also in generalising spatial models of population expansion to cases of wave-like spread of cultural innovations.

I was Associate Director of the Phase 1 AHRB CEACB, and have also served as Chair of the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (2002-2005).
Educational Background
PhD University of Southampton
Associated Links:

Associated AHRC CECD Projects (Phase 2):
Project A001
Population size and structure as determinants of behavioural diversity and innovation rate
Project A004
Cultural and skeletal markers of population density and stability: geographical and secular trends
Project A006
Radiocarbon record of the spread of farming in sub-Saharan Africa
Project A008
Early population history of the Americas.
Project B007
Evolution of phonological complexity: a production system approach
Project B008
Direct methods for language phylogeny
Project C001
Polity and pottery: innovation and evolution
Project B010
Pre-sapiens cultural learning strategies
Project C004
Continuum models of spatial innovation diffusion: empirical variation in rates of spread
Project C009
Tools for numerical modelling of spatial diffusion

Associated Continuing AHRC CEACB Projects (Phase 1):
Project 021
Spatial analysis of cultural change in the early Neolithic of Europe

Associated AHRC CEACB Projects (Phase 1):
Project 020
Evolution of culture areas in North America
Project 023
Modelling the evolution of genetic and cultural traits

Associated Publications - AHRC CECD - phase 2:
Anne Kandler and James Steele (eds) (in press 2011).
Cultural Evolution in Spatially Structured Populations.Advances in Complex Systems. World Scientific Publishing.
James Steele, Pier Francesco Ferrari and Leo Fogassi (eds) (in press 2011).
From action to language: comparative perspectives on primate tool use, gesture, and the evolution of human language.Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. . London: Royal Society Publishing.
G. Politis and J. Steele (in press).
Cronologia de Arroyo Seco 2.Politis G, Gutierrez MA & Scabuzzo C (eds). Estado actual de las Investigaciones en el sitio 2 de Arroyo Seco (región pampeana, Argentina). Serie Monográfica INCUAPA 5. Olavarría, Argentina.
Lucas Bueno, Gustavo Politis, Luciano Prates and James Steele (eds) (forthcoming 2012).
Special issue on "A Late Pleistocene/early Holocene archaeological C14 database for Central and South America: palaeoenvironmental contexts and demographic interpretations".Quaternary International.
C. Glatz, A. Kandler and J. Steele (2011).
Pottery production in the Hittite capital: Cultural selection and drift in the bowl repertoire.E. Cochrane & A. Gardner. Evolutionary and Interpretive Archaeologies: a discussion. Left Coast Press.
F. Silva & J. Steele (2011).
Modelling boundaries between converging fronts in prehistory.Advances in Complex Systems.
Smaers J, Steele J, Case CR, Cowper A, Amunts K, Zilles K (2011).
Primate prefrontal cortex evolution: human brains are the extreme of a lateralized ape trend.Brain, Behavior and Evolution. Vol 77. 67-78.
Smaers JB, Steele J, Zilles K (2011).
Modeling the evolution of cortico-cerebellar systems in primates..Ann N Y Acad Sci. Vol 1225. 176-190.
A. Barney, S. Martelli, A. Serrurier & J. Steele (2011).
Articulatory capacity of Neanderthals, a very recent and human-like fossil hominin.Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B.
Blandine Bril, Jeroen Smaers, James Steele, Robert Rein, Tetsushi Nonaka, Gilles Dietrich, Elena Biryukova, Satoshi Hirata and Valentine Roux (2011).
Functional mastery of ‘percussive technology’ in nut-cracking and stoneflaking actions: experimental comparison and implications for the evolution of the human brain.Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B.
A. Kandler, R. Unger and J. Steele (2010).
Language shift, bilingualism and the future of Britain's Celtic languages.Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. Vol 365. 3855-3864 .
J. Steele (2010).
Commentary on V.T. Holliday and D.J. Meltzer, "The 12.9ka ET Impact Hypothesis and North American Paleoindians".Current Anthropology. Vol 51. 594-596.
James Steele, Peter Jordan and Ethan Cochrane (eds) (2010).
Special Theme Issue: Cultural and linguistic diversity: evolutionary approaches. .James Steele, Peter Jordan and Ethan Cochrane (eds). Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 365 (1559). London: Royal Society Publishing.
Steele, J. (2010).
Using 14C dates to track early human dispersals.Revista de Arqueologia. Vol 23(2). 10-20.
Steele, J. and Kandler, A (2010).
Language trees ≠ gene trees.Theory in Biosciences. Vol 129. 223-233.
Steele, J., Glatz, C. and Kandler, A (2010).
Ceramic diversity, random copying, and tests for selectivity in ceramic production.Journal of Archaeological Science. Vol 37. 1348-1358.
Steele, J (2010).
Radiocarbon dates as data: quantitative strategies for estimating colonization front speeds and event densities.J. Archaeological Science. Vol 37. 2017-2030.
Peter Campbell, Mark Huckvale, Sandra Martelli, James Steele & Charles Tracy (2010).
Voicebox: the Physics and Evolution of Speech.Gatsby Science Enhancement Programme: London.
A. Kandler andJ. Steele (2009).
Innovation diffusion in time and space: effects of social information and of income inequality. .Chmelik,C., Kanellopoulos,N., Karger,J., Theodorou,D. . Diffusion Fundamentals III. Leipzig: Leipziger Universitatsverlag. 82-98 .
J. Steele and S. Shennan (eds.) (2009).
Special theme Issue: Demography and Cultural Macroevolution.Human Biology. J. Steele and S. Shennan (eds.). Human Biology.
J. Steele and G. Politis (2009).
AMS 14C dating of early human occupation of southern South America .Journal of Archaeological Science. Vol 36. 419-429 .
Kandler, A. and Steele, J (2009).
Innovation diffusion in time and space: effects of social information and of income inequality.Diffusion Fundamentals. Vol 11[3]. 1-17.
Kandler, A and J. Steele (2009).
Social Learning, Economic Inequality and Innovation Diffusion.M .J. O'Brien & S.J. Shennan (eds.). Innovation in Cultural Systems: Contributions from Evolutionary Anthropology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 193-214.
Steele, J. and Shennan, S. (2009).
Introduction: Demography and Cultural Macroevolution .Human Biology. Vol 81. 105-119.
Steele, J. and Uomini, N (2009).
Can the archaeology of manual specialization tell us anything about language evolution? A survey of the state of play.Cambridge Archaeological Journal. Vol 19. 97-110.
Steele, J (2009).
Innovation Diffusion and Travelling Waves.S. J. Shennan (ed.). Pattern and Process in Cultural Evolution. University of California Press. 163-174.
Steele, J (2009).
Human dispersals: mathematical models and the archaeological record .Human Biology. Vol 81. '. '. 121-140.
C. Duke and J. Steele (2009).
Geology and lithic procurement in Upper Palaeolithic Europe: a Weights-of-Evidence based GIS model of lithic resource potential.Journal of Archaeological Science. Vol 37. 813-824.
T. Russell and J. Steele (2009).
A geo-referenced radiocarbon database for Early Iron Age sites in sub-Saharan Africa: initial analysis.South African Humanities. Vol 21. 327-344.
A. Kandler and J. Steele (2008).
A reaction-diffusion approach to modelling language competition. A. D. M. Smith, K. Smith and R. Ferrer i Cancho . Evolang 2008. The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 7th International Conference (EVOLANG7). Singapore: World Scientific Press. 447-448.
Kandler, A. and J. Steele (2008).
Ecological models of language competition.Biological Theory. Vol 3. 164-173.
Steele, J (2008).
Population structure and diversity indices.S. Matsumura, P. Forster & C. Renfrew (eds.). Simulations, Genetics and Human Prehistory. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.
A. Kandler and J. Steele (2007).
Reaction-Diffusion Models of Language Competition.Emergence of Social Behaviour workshop. Proceedings 9th European Conference on Artificial Life. Lisbon, Portugal. September 10-14, 2007.
A. Kandler and J. Steele (2007).
Innovation diffusion in time and space: social learning and threshold heterogeneity models.European Conference on Complex Systems. Proceedings of the European Conference on Complex Systems. Dresden, Germany, October 1-5, 2007.
J. Steele (2007).
The Sociocultural Theatre and the Evolutionary Play.Archaeology International.
Steele, J. & Uomini, N (2005).
Humans, tools and handedness.V Roux et al, (eds.). Knapping Stone: a uniquely hominid behaviour. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. 217-239.
Associated Publications - AHRC CEACB - phase 1:
M. Llobera, D. Wheatley, J. Steele, S. Cox, O. Parchment (in press).
Calculating the inherent visual structure of a landscape (‘total viewshed’) using high throughput computing.XXXII International Conference - Computer Applications in Archaeology 2004 - Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology, Beyond the Artifact: Digital Interpretation of the Past, Prato, Italy, 13-17 April, 2004.. (in press).
Hazelwood, L. and Steele, J (2004).
Spatial dynamics of human dispersals: constraints on modelling and archaeological detection.Journal of Archaeological Science. Vol 31. 669-679.
Steele, J., M. Gkiasta and S. Shennan (2004).
The Neolithic transition and European population history - a response.Antiquity. Vol 78. 711-713.
IC Harding, S Trippier and J Steele (2004).
The provenancing of flint artefacts using palynological techniques.EA Walker, F Wenban-Smith & F Healy (eds.). Lithics in Action. Oxford: Oxbow Books. 78-88.
Hazelwood, L. and Steele, J (2003).
Colonizing new landscapes: archaeological detectability of the first phase.M Rockman & J Steele (eds.). Colonization of Unfamiliar Landscapes: the Archaeology of Adaptation. London: Routledge. 203-221.
Steele, J. and M Rockman (2003).
Where do we go from here? Modelling the decision-making process during exploratory dispersal.M Rockman & J Steele (eds.). Colonization of Unfamiliar Landscapes: the Archaeology of Adaptation. London: Routledge. 130-143.
Gkiasta,M., T Russell, S Shennan, J Steele (2003).
Neolithic transition in Europe: the radiocarbon record revisited.Antiquity. Vol 77. 45-62.
M Rockman and J Steele (eds) (2003).
Colonization of Unfamiliar Landscapes: the Archaeology of Adaptation.London: Routledge.
J. Steele (2002).
When did directional asymmetry enter the record? In TJ Crow (ed.) 'The Speciation of Homo sapiens'.Proceedings of the British Academy . Vol 106. 153-168.
J. Steele (2002).
Biological constraints.J. Hart & J. Terrell (eds.). Darwin and Archaeology. Greenwood. 29-47.
Buckley, C. and J Steele (2002).
Evolutionary ecology of spoken language: co-evolutionary hypotheses are testable.World Archaeology. Vol 34. 26-46.
Russell, T. and J Steele (2002).
Visualizing the Neolithic Transition in Europe.CAA 2001. Gotland: BAR Int. S.
J. Steele (2001).
Skeletal indicators of handedness.M.Cox & S. Mays (eds.). Human Osteology. Greenwich Medical Media. 307-323.