Harold Dibble, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Anthropology
Curator-in-Charge of the European Archaeology Section and the Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs, University of Pennsylvania Museum
Date appointed: 2010
Harold Dibble received his B.A. in 1971 and his Ph.D. in 1981 from the University of Arizona. His research interests encompass the archaeology of the Middle Paleolithic of Western Europe, North Africa, and the Near East. He was among the first to use a total station (combining a theodolite, an electronic distance measuring device, and computer software) for accurate 3-D spatial recording of site topography, archaeological layers, and artifacts. Prof. Dibble (collaborating with Shannon McPherron) also wrote the software for an early version of GIS (Geographic Information Systems), a program allowing data to be viewed on a computer as individual layers that can then be superimposed with other layers, providing visualization of, for instance, artifact distribution or the stratigraphy of a site. He currently is the director or co-director of two ongoing field projects: excavations at the cave of La Ferrrassie, Dordogne, France; excavations at the Grotte des Contrebandiers (Smugglers' Cave) in Témara, Morocco; and he is director of the Laboratory for the Study of Ancient Technology, which is currently involved in experimental research on stone tool production. His previous fieldwork included excavations at the French Paleolithic sites of Combe-Capelle bas, Cagny-l’Epinette, Fontéchevade, Pech de l’Azé IV, and Roc de Marsal, and he was co-director of the Abydos Survey for Paleolithic Sites in the desert surrounding Abydos, Egypt. He is Curator-in-Charge of the European Archaeology Section and was formerly Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs at the Penn museum.
Prof. Dibble is co-author of fourteen books including: Handbook of Paleolithic Typology: Lower and Middle Paleolithic of Europe, Philadelphia: University Museum Press, 1994 (translated into Korean in 2012); Using Computers in Archaeology: A Practical Guide, New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing, 2001; The Human Evolution Cookbook, Philadelphia: University Museum Press, 2003; and The Cave of Fontéchevade - Recent Excavations and Their Paleoanthropological Implications, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. In addition, he has been featured in the 2002 NOVA production Neanderthals on Trial and the 2010 PBS documentary "The Human Spark," a three-part series examining what makes us human. Most recently, in June 2011, National Geographic Channel's "World's Oldest Child," part of Naked Science, focused on his team's discovery of a child's skull and parts of the skeleton in Smuggler's Cave (Grotte des Contrebandiers) dated to 108,000 years ago. He has received significant funding from the National Science Foundation, the Leakey Foundation, and the National Geographic Society.