Christopher J. Bae, PhD
Associate Professor and Graduate Chair
I was born in Korea to Korean parents. However, from about the age of one I had what many would consider, an atypical upbringing; one that drew me to eastern Asian paleoanthropology from my earliest days in school. At about the age of one I was orphaned in Seoul, Korea and after living in an orphanage for six months, I was then adopted by an American family. Growing up in a Caucasian-American household and neighborhood always made me aware and interested in topics such as race and human variation. In order to discover my ethnic “roots” I traveled to Korea during my undergraduate days on an exchange program. The general goal of paleoanthropology is to reconstruct the past without all the pieces. My original objective in going to Korea was to reconstruct my own past, but I have since expanded this approach to address a diversity of questions about eastern Asian paleoanthropology.
Since that initial trip to Korea I have been conducting paleoanthropological field and laboratory research in Japan and China as well. I have been carrying out collaborative research on a diversity of projects (e.g., hominin fossils, vertebrate taphonomy, lithics) in all three countries. Having spent a good part of my time living and becoming acclimated with each country’s particular culture has facilitated the development of a strong network of collaborators and collaborations. From the accumulated experience, I believe that the best way to develop a firm understanding of the human evolutionary record in East Asia is to link the hominin morphological and behavioral records. This facilitates a more comprehensive perspective of the nature of Pleistocene hominin morphological and behavioral variation in Homo erectus and Homo sapiens (both archaic and modern). As such, my current research interests crosscut different subdisciplines in anthropology and other fields in the natural sciences.
My research program is entitled RAPP (Research in Asian Paleoanthropology Program), with the focus on developing a deeper understanding of the eastern Asian human evolutionary record, particularly in its biotic setting. Thus, my research is multi-disciplinary in nature and involves paleoanthropologists, vertebrate paleontologists, archaeologists, geologists, geneticists, and dating specialists from eastern Asia, North America, and Europe. By using a multi-disciplinary approach, we are developing models to reconstruct Quaternary hominin lifeways and filling in gaps in the eastern Asian paleoanthropological record. The primary projects I am currently involved with are:
- Field and laboratory research in Korea and southern China. We are conducting surveys and excavations of cave and open-air sites that potentially contain paleoanthropological residues in the form of hominin body and/or trace (hominin modified bone, manuports, lithics) fossils. These regions were chosen as starting points because a diversity of evidence indicates they served as hominin migration corridors throughout the Quaternary.
- Vertebrate Taphonomy. I use vertebrate taphonomy to address questions related to reconstructing the nature of hominin-carnivore interactions during the Early and Middle Pleistocene, the evolution of modern human behavior, megafaunal extinctions, and changing human diet breadth during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition in East Asia. In particular, I am involved with a series of taphonomic studies of Middle-Late Pleistocene and Holocene faunal assemblages in China, Japan, and Korea. My collaborators and I are also developing experimental taphonomic studies.
- Geometric Morphometrics. I use geometric morphometrics to study in more detail the morphological variation in Quaternary hominin teeth and bone fossils from eastern Asia. These studies have been contributing to a better understanding of hominin evolution in this region. In particular, I am studying the evidence for the replacement of, transition of, and/or admixture between Homo erectus and modern H. sapiens in eastern Asia. My collaborators and I are studying Quaternary fossils from Korea and southern China to address these questions. We are also expanding our research to investigate morphological variation between and among different modern human populations in eastern Asia.
- Movius Line. In the 1940s, the eminent archaeologist Hallam Movius observed that bifacially-worked stone implements are present in much of the western Old World, but absent in eastern Asia during the Pleistocene. This observation came to be known as the Movius Line. Since Movius made this interesting observation, bifaces have been found in several different places in eastern Asia. However, for the most part, these handaxes, cleavers, and picks are rarer in terms of the number of sites and the number of implements excavated from these sites than in regions like South Asia and East Africa. Furthermore, the handaxes in eastern Asia are morphologically different, often produced on local river cobbles, they tend to be thicker with fewer flakes knocked off. My colleagues and I are working on further analyzing the nature of this variability.
2012 Regents Medal for Excellence in Research (university system wide award for excellence in research)
Monographs/Edited Volumes/Edited Special Issues of Peer-Reviewed Journals
2012 Bae, C.J., Bae, K.D., Wang, W. (Editors). Current multidisciplinary approaches to deciphering the East and Southeast Asian paleoanthropological record. Quaternary International 281.
2010 Norton, C.J., Braun, D.R. (Editors). Asian Paleoanthropology: From Africa to China and Beyond. Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology Series, Springer Press, Dordrecht, The Netherlands. (ISBN: 978-90-481-9093-5)
2010 Norton, C.J., Jin, J. (Editors). Hominin Morphological and Behavioral Variability in Eastern Asia and Australasia: Current Perspectives. Quaternary International 211.
Publications in Peer-Reviewed Journals
In Press Wang, W., Bae, C.J., Huang, S.M., Huang, X., Tian, F., Mo, J.Y., Huang, Z.T., Huang, C.L., Xie, S.W., Li, D.W. Middle Pleistocene handaxes from Fengshudao (Bose Basin, Guangxi, China). Journal of Human Evolution.
2013 Bae, C.J.Paleolithic cave home bases, bone tools, and art and symbolism: Perspectives from Korea. Hoseo Archaeology 29, 59-85.
2013 Bae, C.J., Bae, K.D., Kim, J.C. The Early to Late Paleolithic Transition in Korea: A Closer Look. Radiocarbon 55, 1341-1349.
2013 Bae, K.D., Bae, C.J., Kim, J.C. Reconstructing human subsistence strategies during the Korean Neolithic: Contributions from zooarchaeology, geosciences, and radiocarbon dating. Radiocarbon 55, 1350-1357.
2013 Bae, C.J. Archaic Homo sapiens. Nature Education Knowledge 4(8):4.
2013 Pei, S.W., Gao, X., Wu, X.Z., Li, X.L., Bae, C.J. Middle to Late Pleistocene hominin occupation in the Three Gorges Region, South China. Quaternary International 295, 237-252.
2012 Bae, C.J., Bae, K.D., Wang, W. Current multidisciplinary approaches to deciphering the East and Southeast Asian paleoanthropological record. Quaternary International 281, 1-4.
2012 Bae, K.D., Bae, C.J., Kim, K.R. The age of the Paleolithic handaxes from the Imjin-Hantan River Basins, South Korea. Quaternary International 281, 14-25.
2012 Xu, G.L., Wang, W., Bae, C.J., Huang, S.M., Mo, Z.M. Spatial distribution of Paleolithic sites in Bose Basin, Guangxi, China. Quaternary International 281, 10-13.
2012 Huang, S.M., Wang, W., Bae, C.J., Xu, G.L., Liu, K.T. Recent Paleolithic Field Investigations in Bose Basin (Guangxi, China). Quaternary International 281, 5-9.
2012 Bae, C.J., Bae, K.D. The nature of the Early to Late Paleolithic transition in Korea: current perspectives. Quaternary International 281, 26-35.
2012 Pei, S.W., Gao, X., Kuman, K., Bae, C.J., Chen, F.Y., Guan, Y., Zhang, Y., Zhang, X.L., Wang, H.M., Li, X.L. The Shuidonggou (Choei-tong-keou) site complex: New excavations and implications for the initial Late Paleolithic in North China. Journal of Archaeological Science 39, 3610-3626.
2012 Wang, W., Lycett, S.J., von Cramon-Taubadel, N., Jin, J., Bae, C.J. Convergence of functional form, not hominin cognition, explains similarities and differences between handaxes from Bose Basin (China) and the western Acheulean. PLoS ONE 7 (4), e35804.
2012 Wu, X.J., Liu, W., Bae, C.J. Spatio-temporal craniofacial variation between southern and northern Holocene Chinese populations. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 22, 98-109.
2010 Bae, C.J. The late Middle Pleistocene hominin fossil record of eastern Asia: Synthesis and review. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 53, 75-93.
2010 Lycett, S.J., Bae, C.J. The Movius Line and Old World Palaeolithic patterns: the state of the debate. World Archaeology 42(4): 521–544.
2010 Bae, C.J., Kim, J.C. The Late Paleolithic-Neolithic Transition in Korea: Current archaeological and radiocarbon perspectives. Radiocarbon 52, 493-499.
2010 Kim, J.C., Bae, C.J. Radiocarbon dates documenting the Neolithic-Bronze Age transition in Korea. Radiocarbon 52, 483-492.
2010 Norton, C.J., Jin, J. Hominin morphological and behavioral variation in eastern Asia and Australasia: Current perspectives. Quaternary International 211, 1-3.
2010 Wu, X.J., Schepartz, L.A., Norton, C.J. Morphological and morphometric analysis of variation in the Zhoukoudian Homo erectus brain endocasts. Quaternary International 211, 4-13.
2010 Liu, W., Wu, X.Z., Pei, S.W., Wu, X.J., Norton, C.J. Huanglong Cave: a late Pleistocene human fossil site in Hubei Province, China. Quaternary International 211, 29-41.
2010 Norton, C.J., Kondo, Y., Ono, A., Zhang, Y.Q., Diab, M. The nature of megafaunal extinctions during the MIS 3-2 transition in Japan. Quaternary International 211, 113-122.
2010 Lycett, S.J., Norton, C.J. A demographic model for Palaeolithic technological evolution: the case of East Asia and the Movius Line. Quaternary International 211, 55-65.
2009 Norton, C.J., Jin, J. The evolution of modern humans in East Asia: behavioral perspectives. Evolutionary Anthropology 18, 247-260.
2009 Norton, C.J., Bae, K.D. Erratum to “The Movius Line sensu lato (Norton et al., 2006) further assessed and defined” J. H. Evol. 55 (2008) 1148–1150. Journal of Human Evolution 57, 331-334.
2008 Norton, C.J., Gao, X. Zhoukoudian Upper Cave revisited: A taphonomic perspective. Current Anthropology 49: 732-745.
2008 Norton, C.J., Bae, K.D. The Movius Line sensu lato (Norton et al. 2006) further assessed and defined. Journal of Human Evolution 55: 1148-1150.
2008 Norton, C.J., Gao, X. Hominin-carnivore interactions during the Chinese Early Paleolithic: Taphonomic perspectives from Xujiayao. Journal of Human Evolution 55: 164-178.
2007 Norton, C.J., Hasegawa, Y., Kohno, N., Tomida, Y. Distinguishing archaeological and paleontological faunal collections from Pleistocene Japan: Taphonomic perspectives from Hanaizumi. Anthropological Science 115: 91-106.
2007 Wu X.J., Liu, W., Zhang, Q.C., Norton, C.J. The microevolution of the craniofacial morphological features for the Holocene human populations in north China. Chinese Science Bulletin 52: 1661-1668.
2007 Norton, C.J. Sedentism, territorial circumscription, and the increased use of plant domesticates across Neolithic-Bronze Age Korea. Asian Perspectives 46(1):133-165.
2006 Norton, C.J., Bae, K.D., Harris, J.W.K., Lee, H.Y. Middle Pleistocene handaxes from the Korean Peninsula. Journal of Human Evolution 51: 527-536.
2002 Gao, X., Norton, C.J. Critique of the Chinese “Middle Paleolithic.” Antiquity 76: 397-412.
2000 Norton, C.J. Subsistence change at Konam-ri: implications for the advent of rice agriculture in Korea. Journal of Anthropological Research 56: 325-348.
2000 Norton, C.J. The current state of Korean paleoanthropology. Journal of Human Evolution 38: 803-825.
1999 Norton, C.J., Kim, B.M., Bae, K.D. Differential processing of fish during the Korean Neolithic: Konam-ri. Arctic Anthropology 36(1-2): 151-165.
Contributions to Edited Volumes (* denotes peer-reviewed)
*2010 Norton, C.J., Braun, D. Introduction. In: Norton, C.J., Braun, D. (Eds.), Asian Paleoanthropology: From Africa to China and Beyond. Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology Series, Springer Press, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp. 1-5.
*2010 Norton, C.J., Jin, C.Z., Wang, Y., Zhang, Y.Q. Rethinking the Palearctic-Oriental biogeographic boundary in Quaternary China. In: Norton, C.J., Braun, D. (Eds.), Asian Paleoanthropology: From Africa to China and Beyond. Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology Series, Springer Press, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp. 81-100.
*2010 Norton, C.J., Gao, X., Liu, W., Braun, D., Wu, X.J. Central-East China - a Plio-Pleistocene migration corridor: the current state of evidence for hominin occupations. In: Norton, C.J., Braun, D. (Eds.), Asian Paleoanthropology: From Africa to China and Beyond. Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology Series, Springer Press, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp. 159-168.
*2010 Braun, D.R., Norton, C.J., Harris, J.W.K. Africa and Asia: Comparisons of the earliest archaeological evidence. In: Norton, C.J., Braun, D. (Eds.), Asian Paleoanthropology: From Africa to China and Beyond. Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology Series, Springer Press, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp. 41-48.
*2009 Norton, C.J., Gao, X., Feng, X.W. The criteria defining the East Asian Middle Paleolithic reexamined. In: Camps, M., Chauhan, P.R. (Eds.), Sourcebook of Paleolithic Transitions: Methods, Theories, and Interpretations. Springer Press, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp. 245-254.
*2007 Norton, C.J., Bae, K.D., Lee, H.Y., Harris, J.W.K. A review of Korean microlithic industries. In: Keates, S., Kuzmin, Y., Shen, C. (Eds.), Origin and Spread of Microblade Technology in Northern Asia and North America. Archaeology Press, Vancouver, pp. 91-102.
Short Communications, Book Reviews
2011 Bae, C.J. Review of H. Shang and E. Trinkaus' The Early Modern Human from Tianyuan Cave, China (2010), Texas A&M University Press. Anthropos 106, 709-710.
2010 Norton, C.J. Review of: R. Dennell’s The Palaeolithic Settlement of Asia (2009), Cambridge University Press. The Holocene 20, 479-480.
2010 Norton, C.J., Lycett, S.J. The Movius Line. McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science and Technology 2010, 248-250.
2009 Norton, C.J. International collaborative research in East Asian paleoanthropology: personal perspectives. Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Record 9:5-7.
2009 Bae, C.J. Review of: S. Schmalzer's The People's Peking Man (2008), University of Chicago Press. China Review International 16, 250-252.
- ANTH 215 – Introduction to Physical Anthropology
- ANTH 215L – Introduction to Physical Anthropology Lab
- ANTH 310 – Human Origins
- ANTH 375 – Race and Human Variation
- ANTH 460 – Asian Paleoanthropology
- ANTH 604 – Biological Anthropology Graduate Core
- ANTH 660 - Prehistory of Asia
- ANTH 750G - Graduate Seminar in Biological Anthropology