Noriyuki Shirai

Noriyuki Shirai

  • BA, MA, PhD
  • Honorary Research Associate
  • Marie Curie Visiting Research Fellow 2013-15 (Gerda Henkel M4HUMAN Programme)

Current Research Project

How did cultural transmission and innovation occur when agriculture diffused from the Near East to Egypt in prehistory? A cultural evolutionary approach

This research, funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation’s M4HUMAN Programme, is an archaeological study of the beginning of agriculture in Egypt in the 6th-5th millennia BC.

Egypt built one of the earliest civilisations in human history on the basis of agriculture which diffused from the Near East. The study of how the diffusion of agriculture took place over long distances and how inhabitants of Egypt abandoned a hunting-gathering way of life and increasingly relied on agriculture has immense significance for any academic disciplines dealing with the human past.

In order to answer these large questions, this research deals with a specific archaeological question as to how the diffusion of agriculture and the change of lifestyle are reflected in material culture. This research focuses on flint tools which were collected in a region of Egypt and are presently housed in museums in the UK, and demonstrates how material technologies have changed over time and how cultural transmission and innovation have occurred, by using a cultural evolutionary approach. 

Research Interests

  • Prehistory of North Africa and the Near East
  • Epipalaeolithic, Neolithic, Neolithisation
  • Beginning and dispersal of agriculture
  • Lithic technology
  • Cultural evolution
  • Human behavioural ecology

Educational Background

  • 2010  PhD Archaeology, Leiden University
  • 1995  MA Archaeology, Waseda University                                  
  • 1992  BA Archaeology, Waseda University
  • The Archaeology of the First Farmer-Herders in Egypt
  • Neolithisation of Northeastern Africa

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