John Olsen, PhD

/John Olsen, PhD
John Olsen, PhD2017-07-27T22:22:34+00:00
My research focuses on the Pleistocene prehistory of arid lands and high elevations in Central and Inner Asia. Since 1980, I have conducted collaborative archaeological fieldwork in the now independent Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union, and in Russia, China, Tibet, and Mongolia. My research seeks to understand the links between the initial human colonization of marginal environments, particularly high altitudes and deserts, and diachronic paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic changes. I am particularly interested in the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition and the florescence of Upper Pleistocene stone technologies on large geographical scales.



  • Executive Director, Je Tsongkhapa Endowment for Central and Inner Asian Archaeology, University of Arizona (since 2004)
  • Regents’ Professor Emeritus, School of Anthropology, University of Arizona, Tucson (since 2016)
  • Leading Researcher, Russian Academy of Sciences, Siberian Branch, Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography (Институт археологии и этнографии CO PAH, Ведущий научный сотрудник; since 2016)
  • Guest Research Fellow, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (中国科学院古脊椎动物与古人类研究所客座研究员; since 2016)
  • Co-Director, Joint Mongolian-Russian-American Archaeological Expeditions (since 1995)
  • Co-Director, Zhoukoudian International Paleoanthropological Research Center Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing (中国科学院周口店国际古人类研究中心联席主任; since 1992)
  • Foreign Expert, The Yak Museum, Lhasa, Tibet (西藏牦牛博物馆国外专家; since 2013)


  • Archaeology
  • Prehistory
  • Paleolithic Period
  • Paleoenvironment
  • Paleoclimate

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