UNIVERSITY OF THE WITWATERSRAND, JOHANNESBURG

Senior Researcher Lucinda Backwell

Senior Researcher Lucinda Backwell
Position:Experimental taphonomist
Qualifications:PhD., MSc. Palaeoanthropology, University of the Witwatersrand and University of Bordeaux
Phone:011 7176672
Fax:011 7176694
Email:lucinda.backwell@wits.ac.za
Organisational Unit:Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research
 

Research Interests

Main fields of specialization

Current research projects

  1. Documenting for archival purposes modern Kalahari Bushman elders describing in their own words, and demonstrating the use of a century-old collection of traditional artefacts housed at Museum Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa.
  2. Taphonomic analysis of Australopithecus sediba and associated Plio-Pleistocene fauna from Malapa, South Africa.
  3. Experimental taphonomy: invertebrate modification of bone in South Africa.
  4. Excavation and analysis of Wonderkrater, a spring and peat mound site in Limpopo Province, South Africa. 100,000 year record of archaeology, palaeontology and climate change.
  5. Excavation and taphonomic analysis of a large mammal mass death assemblage, Free State Province, South Africa.
  6. Longitudinal studies of modern mammal carcass modification, disarticulation, dispersal and burial in a semi-arid grassland environment in South Africa.
  7. Description and analysis of Plio-Pleistocene-aged porcupine quills from Malapa preserving colour and amino acids.
  8. Description of Middle Stone Age bone artefacts from Sibudu Cave and Border Cave, South Africa.
  9. Origin of ritual mortuary practice, a reappraisal of the fossil evidence.

 

Publications

Journal articles

Backwell, L.R., McCarthy, T., Wadley, L., Henderson, Z., Steininger, C., deKlerk, B., Barre, M., Lamothe, M., Chase, B.M., Woodborne, S., Susino, G., Bamford, M., Sievers, C., Brink, J., Rossouw, L., Pollarolo, L., Trower, G., Scott, L., d’Errico, F. 2014. Multiproxy record of late Quaternary climate change and Middle Stone Age human occupation at Wonderkrater, South Africa. Quaternary Science Reviews. In press.

Taru, P. and Backwell, L.R.  2014. Hair morphology of some artiodactyls from southern Africa. Annals of the Transvaal Museum. 4: x-x. PDF.

Backwell, L.R., McCarthy, T., Wadley, L., Henderson, Z., Steininger, C., deKlerk, B., Barre, M., Lamothe, M., Chase, B.M., Woodborne, S., Susino, G., Bamford, M., Sievers, C., Brink, J., Rossouw, L., Pollarolo, L., Trower, G., Scott, L., d’Errico, F. 2014. Multiproxy record of late Quaternary climate change and Middle Stone Age human occupation at Wonderkrater, South Africa. Quaternary Science Reviews. In press.

Taru, P. and Backwell, L.R. 2013. Identification of fossil hairs in Parahyaena brunnea coprolites from Middle Pleistocene deposits at Gladysvale cave, South Africa, Journal of Archaeological Science. 40(10): 3674-3685. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2013.04.031. PDF

Backwell, L.R., Parkinson, A., Roberts, E., d'Errico, F. & Huchet, J-B. 2012. Criteria for identifying bone modification by termites in the fossil record. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 337-338: 72-87. DOI:10.1016/j.palaeo.2012.03.032. PDF

d’Errico, F., Backwell, L.R., Villa, P., Degano, I., Lucejko, J., Bamford, M., Higham, T., Colombini, M.P., Beaumont, P. 2012. Early evidence of San material culture represented by organic artifacts from Border Cave, South Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109(33): 13214-13219: DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1204213109. PDF

d’Errico, F., Backwell, L.R., Villa, P., Degano, I., Lucejko, J., Bamford, M., Higham, T., Colombini, M.P., Beaumont, P. 2012. Reply to Evans: use of castor bean for poison still the most parsimonious argument. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109(48): E3291–E3292. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1214711109. PDF

Villa, P., Soriano, S., Tsanova, T., Higham, T., d’Errico, F., Backwell, L.R., Lucejko, J., Beaumont, P. 2012. Border Cave and the beginning of the Later Stone Age in South Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109(33): 13208-13213. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1202629109. PDF

d’Errico, F. Backwell, L.R. & Wadley, L. 2012. Indentifying regional variability in Middle Stone Age bone technology. The case of Sibudu Cave. Journal of Archaeological Science. 39: 2479-2495. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2012.01.040. PDF

Barré, M, Lamothe, M., Backwell, L.R. & McCarthy, T. 2012. Optical dating of quartz and feldspars: A comparative study from Wonderkrater, a Middle Stone Age site in South Africa. Quaternary Geochronology. 10: 374-379. DOI:10.1016/j.quageo.2012.01.009. PDF

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 2010. Comment on Shipman 'The animal connection and human evolution'. Current Anthropology.51(4): 525-526. PDF

McCarthy, T.S., Ellery, W.N., Backwell, L.R., Marren, P., de Klerk, B., Tooth, S., Brandt, D., Woodborne, S. 2010. The character, origin and palaeoenvironmental significance of the Wonderkrater spring and peat mound, South Africa. Journal of African Earth Sciences58: 115-126. PDF

Backwell, L.R., Pickering, R., Brothwell, D., Berger, L.R., Witcomb, M., Martill, D., Penkman, K. & Wilson, A. 2009. Probable human hair found in a fossil hyaena coprolite from Gladysvale cave, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science36(6): 1269-1276. PDF

d'Errico, F. & Backwell, L.R. 2009. Assessing the function of early hominin bone tools. Journal of Archaeological Science36: 1764?1773. PDF

de Ruiter, D.J., Pickering, R., Steininger, C.M., Kramers, J.D., Hancox, P.J., Churchill, S.E., Berger, L.R., Backwell, L.R. 2009. New hominin fossils from Cooper?s Cave (Gauteng, South Africa) and the first U-Pb date for Australopithecus robustusJournal of Human Evolution56(5): 497-513. PDF

Berger, L.R., Pickering, R., Kuhn, B., Backwell, L.R., Hancox, J. & Kramers, J.D. 2009. The first recorded occurrence of a fossil brown hyaena (Parahyaena brunnea) latrine (midden) in a cave setting in Africa from Gladysvale Cave, South Africa.Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology279(3-4): 131-236.PDF

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 2008. Early hominid bone tools from Drimolen. Journal of Archaeological Science35(11): 2880-2894.PDF

Backwell, L.R., d?Errico, F. & Wadley, L. 2008. Middle Stone Age bone tools from the Howiesons Poort layers, Sibudu Cave, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science . 35(6): 1566-1580. PDF

Cukrowska, E., Pole, S., McCarthy, T.S., Backwell, L.R. & Steininger, C. 2005. The chemical removal of manganese dioxide coatings from fossil bones . South African Journal of Science . 101(1/2): 101-103. PDF

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 2004. The first use of bone tools: a reappraisal of the evidence from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania.Palaeontologia africana40: 95-158. PDF

Backwell, L.R. & d?Errico, F. 2003. Additional evidence on the early hominid bone tools from Swartkrans with reference to spatial distribution of lithic and organic artefacts. South African Journal of Science99(5/6): 259-267. PDF

d'Errico, F., Henshilwood, C., Lawson, G., Vanhaeren, M., Bresson, F., Soressi, M., Tillier, A.M., Maureille, B., Nowell, A., Lakarra, J., Backwell, L.R. & Julien, M. 2003. Archaeological evidence for the emergence of language, symbolism and music ? an alternative multidisciplinary perspective. Journal of World Prehistory. 17(1): 1-70. PDF

d'Errico, F. & Backwell, L.R. 2003. Possible evidence of bone tool shaping from the early hominid site of Swartkrans, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science. 30: 1559-1576. PDF

Backwell, L.R. & d?Errico, F. 2001. Evidence of termite foraging by Swartkrans early hominids. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. United States of America. 98(4): 1358-1363. PDF

d'Errico, F., Backwell, L.R., & Berger, L.R. 2001. Bone tool use in termite foraging by early hominids and its impact on understanding early hominid behaviour. South African Journal of Science97: 71-75. PDF

d'Errico, F. & Backwell, L.R. 2001. Les premiers outils en os. Pour la Science. 284: 24.

Backwell, L.R., Dane, G. H., Gabamondi, K. J., Fenn, G.J., Names, C.M., Pennifer, P.M. 1996. Report on the Late Iron Age site of Twyfelpoort, Free State, South Africa. Journal of Field Archaeology5: 84-95.

Books

d’Errico, F. & Backwell, L.R. (Eds) 2005. From Tools to Symbols. From Early Hominids to Modern Humans. Proceedings of a conference in honour of Professor Phillip Tobias. Wits University Press.

Chapters in books

Backwell, L.R. & d’Errico, F. 2014. Palaeolithic bone tools. In C. Smith (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, Vol. 2. Springer, New York, pp. 950-962. Print: ISBN 978-1-4419-0426-3; Online: ISBN 978-1-4419-0465-2

Caruana, M., d’Errico, F., Backwell, L.R. 2013. Early hominin social learning strategies underlying the use and production of bone and stone tools. In: C. Sanz, C. Boesch, J. Call (Eds.). Tool Use in Animals: Cognition and Ecology. Cambridge University Press, pp. 242-285.

d’Errico, F. & Backwell, L.R. 2007. From Swartkrans to Arcy-sur-Cure. The use of bone tools in the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic. In E. Baquedano (Ed.), El Universo Neanderthal, pp. 101-143. Fundación Duques de Soria, Spain. ISBN 978-84-95803-56-6 PDF

McCarthy, T.S. and Rubidge, B. 2005. The Story of Earth and Life. A South African Perspective on a 4.6 Billion Year Journey. Contributing author to Chapter 10, Arrival of Humans, pp. 274-295. Struik Publishers, Cape Town. ISBN 1 77007 148 2.

Backwell, L.R. & d’Errico, F. 2005. The origin of bone tool technology and the identification of early hominid cultural traditions, pp. 238-275. In F. d'Errico & L.R. Backwell (Eds), From Tools to Symbols. From Early Hominids to Modern Humans. Wits University Press. ISBN 1-86814-417-8 PDF

d’Errico, F. & Backwell, L.R. 2005. Searching for common ground in Palaeoanthropology, Archaeology and Genetics, pp. 1-8. In From Tools to Symbols. From Early Hominids to Modern Humans, F. d'Errico & L.R. Backwell (Eds). Wits University Press. ISBN 1-86814-417-8 PDF

Backwell, L.R. & d’Errico, F. 2004. Additional evidence of early hominid bone tools from Swartkrans. In C.K. Brain (Ed.), Swartkrans, a Cave's Chronicle of Early Man, 2nd edition, pp. 279-295. Transvaal Museum Monograph No. 8. ISBN 0-907990-01-0

Conference proceedings

Val, A., Backwell, L.R., d’Errico, F., Berger, L.R. 2012. Post-mortem in 3D: new methods to assess the spatial taphonomy of the Malapa early hominins. Palaeontological Society of Southern Africa 18th meeting, Cape Town, South Africa, 5-8 September. Palaeontologia Africana. 47: 55-56.

Backwell, L.R. & d’Errico, F. 2009. Additional evidence of early hominid bone tools from South Africa. First attempt at exploring inter-site variability. Palaeontological Society of Southern Africa. Palaeontologia africana. 44: 91-94.

Backwell, L.R. & d’Errico, F. 2008. Multifocus microscopy confirms bone tool utilisation by early hominids at Drimolen, South Africa. Microscopy Society of Southern Africa, 46th Annual Conference.  21-25 July, University of Botswana. 38: 80.

Backwell, L.R., Steininger, C.M, Brink, J., Neveling, J., Rossouw, L. & Pereira, L. 2007. Large mammal mass death accumulation in the Holocene of South Africa. Palaeontologia africana. 42: 118.

Mothupi, T. & Backwell, L.R. 2007. Taphonomy of the Late Pleistocene Plover’s Lake faunal assemblage. Palaeontologia africana. 42: 127-128.

d’Errico, F. & Backwell, L.R. 2007. From Swartkrans to Arcy-sur-Cure. The use of bone tools in the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic. In E. Baquedano (Ed.), El Universo Neanderthal, pp. 101-143. Fundación Duques de Soria, Spain.

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 2005. The origin of bone tool technology and the identification of early hominid cultural traditions, pp. 238-275. In F. d'Errico & L.R. Backwell (Eds), From Tools to Symbols. From Early Hominids to Modern Humans. Wits University Press.''

d'Errico, F. & Backwell, L.R. 2005. Searching for common ground in Palaeoanthropology, Archaeology and Genetics, pp. 1-8. In 'From Tools to Symbols. From Early Hominids to Modern Humans, F. d'Errico & L.R. Backwell (Eds). Wits University Press.

Research reports

Backwell, L.R. 2008. Report on 2005 ' 2007 excavations at Wonderkrater, a late Quaternary spring and peat mound site in Limpopo Province, South Africa. Submitted to South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA).

Backwell, L.R. 2008. Report on 2005 ' 2007 excavations at Heelbo I, a large mammal mass death assemblage in Free State Province, South Africa.Submitted to South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA).

Theses

Backwell, L.R. 2004. Early Hominid Bone Tool Industries. PhD. submitted by publications. University of the Witwatersrand and University of Bordeaux I.

Backwell, L.R. 2000. A Critical Assessment of Southern African 'Early Hominid Bone Tools'. Unpublished MSc. University of the Witwatersrand.

Other outputs

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 2009. Additional evidence of early hominid bone tools from South Africa. First attempt at exploring inter-site variability. Palaeontologia africana extended abstract44: 91-94.

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 2009. Bone tools and early hominin diet. Society of Archaeological Sciences (SAS) Bulletin, USA. 32(2): 8-12.

d'Errico, F. & Backwell, L.R. 2009. Les outils en os des hominid's d'Afrique australe. Analyse de collections in'dites et nouvelle 'tude fonctionnelle. Eurasie, Eurafrique: quels premiers peuplements avant l'OIS 15' Meeting of the Institut de Prehistoire et de Geologie de Quaternaire, University of Bordeaux.

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 2008. Bone tools and the cultural adaptations of early hominids in Africa. Wits Nano News. DST/NRF Centre of Excellence in Strong Materials, University of the Witwatersrand.

Backwell, L.R. 2007-09.Department of Education Teacher Training Lecture Series.' Syllabus and tips on teaching human evolution as part of the new school curriculum.

Steininger, C., Hardy, Y. & Backwell, L.R. 2005. Walking Tall. The Story of Human Evolution.' An Educator Booklet for Senior Learners. Published by the Palaeontology Scientific Trust.

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 2001. First evidence of termite foraging by Swartkrans early hominids. Dart. Newsletter of the Institute for the Study of Man in Africa2(2): 2-4.

In preparation

Backwell, L.R., d’Errico, F. & Brooks, A. Osseous projectile weaponry from Early – Late Middle Stone Age Africa.  In "Osseous Projectile Weaponry: Towards an Understanding of Pleistocene Cultural Variability", M.C. Langley (Ed.), Cambridge University Press.

Backwell, L.R., Harrison, J., Val, A., d’Errico, F., Berger, L. Taphonomy of Australopithecus sediba and associated fauna from Malapa, South Africa.

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. Origins of ritual mortuary practice: a reappraisal of the fossil evidence, starting with the Herto, Bodo and Daka crania from the Middle Awash, Ethiopia.'

Backwell, L.R., d'Errico, F and Stirton, B. Visions of the Past: Kalahari Bushman Material Culture Read by Community Elders. Book on the Fourie Collection of Kalahari Bushman ethnographica, including modern Bushman use of, and discussion around, similar contemporary items.

Backwell, L.R., d'Errico, F and Stirton, B. Visions of the Past: Kalahari Bushman Material Culture Read by Community Elders. Video archive and documentary of modern Bushmen elders describing in their own words, and demonstrating the use of traditional artefacts in the Fourie Collection, housed at Museum Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Churchill, S.E., Berger, L.R., Pettitt, P.B., de Ruiter, D.J., Hall, G., Skinner, A.R., Pike, A.W.G., Gilmore, M.A., Hancox, P.J., Backwell, L.R., Rhodes, J.A. Excavation of Middle Stone Age Levels and new hominin remains from Plovers Lake, Gauteng Province, South Africa.

Backwell, L.R., Brink, J., Neveling, J., Abdala, F. & Pereira, L. Drought-induced fossil mass death assemblage in South Africa.

Backwell, L.R. Invertebrate modification of bone. Contribution of actualistic experiments to understanding the fossil record.

Backwell, L.R., Penkman, K., Berger, L.R., Witcomb, M. Fossil porcupine quills from Malapa.

Conference abstracts

Val, A., Backwell, L.R., d’Errico, F., Berger, L.R. 2013. Spatial analysis of Australopithecus sediba fossils in 3D and taphonomic implications. 22nd meeting of the Paleoanthropology Society, Hawaii, 2-3 April.

Val, A., Dirks, P., Backwell, L.R., d’Errico, F. and Berger, L. 2013. A forensic approach to understand the taphonomy of the hominins from the Malapa site. Fourth East African Association of Palaeoanthropology and Palaeontology  (EAAPP) conference, Mombasa, Kenya, 28 July-2 August.

d’Errico, F., Backwell, L.R., Villa, P., Degano, I., Lucejko, J., Bamford, M., Higham, T., Colombini, M.P., Beaumont, P. 2012. Organic artefacts from Border Cave: earliest evidence of San material culture. European Society for the study of Human Evolution. Bordeaux, France, 21-22 September.

Val, A., Backwell, L.R., d’Errico, F., Berger, L.R. 2012. Post-mortem in 3D: new methods to assess the spatial taphonomy of the Malapa early hominins. Palaeontological Society of Southern Africa 18th meeting, Cape Town, South Africa, 5-8 September. Palaeontologia africana. 47: 55-56.

Taru, P., Backwell, L., 2011. Taxonomic identification of fossil hairs inParahyaena brunnea coprolites from Middle Pleistocene deposits at Gladysvale Cave, South Africa. Third East African Asssociation of Palaeoanthropology and Palaeontology (EAAP) Conference, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 8-12 August.

Val, A., Conforti, D., Sgrenzaroli, M., Backwell, L., d'Errico, F., and Berger, L. 2011. A 3D approach to understanding the depositional context of australopithecines from the Plio-Pleistocene cave site of Malapa, South Africa. Third East African Asssociation of Palaeoanthropology and Palaeontology (EAAP) Conference, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 8-12 August.

Barr', M., Lamothe, M., Backwell, L. 2011. A comparative study of two luminescence dosimeters from a Middle Stone Age site in South Africa. 13th 'International Conference on Luminescence and Electron Spin Resonance Dating. Toru', Poland. 10-14 July.

Backwell, L.R., McCarthy, T., Wadley, L., Henderson, Z., Lamothe, M., Barre, M., Scott, L., Steininger, C., Sievers, C., Woodborne, S., Chase, B.M., Pollarolo, L., Brink, J., deKlerk, B., Sukumar, R., Rossouw, L., Sheshashayee, M.S. 2010. Report on excavations at Wonderkrater, a late Pleistocene spring and peat mound site in Limpopo Province, South Africa. Palaeontological Society of Southern Africa meeting. Howick, 5-8 August.

d'Errico, F., Henshilwood, C., Vanhaeren, M., Backwell, L.R., Garcia Moreno, R., Rifkin, R. 2010. The origin of symbolic material culture. Models, methods, data, and research perspectives. Pleistocene Art of the World Congress 2010. International Federation of Rock Art Organisations (IFRAO). Tarascon-sur-Ari'ge and Foix, France. 6-11 September.

Parkinson, A., Backwell, L.R., Roberts, E., d'Errico, F., Huchet, J-B. & Val, A. 2010. The effects of termites on mammal and bird bone. International Council for Zooarchaeology (ICAZ) Conference. Paris, 23-28 August.

Parkinson, A., Backwell, L.R., d'Errico, F., Huchet, J.-B., Roberts, E. 2010. The microscopic effects of termite damage on mammal and bird bone. 48th Annual Conference of the Microscopy Society of Southern Africa.Bela-Bela, 26- 29 October.

Val, A., Backwell, L.R., d'Errico, F. 2010. Hunting or Scavenging' Assessing subsistence strategies in the Middle Stone Age through 3D analysis of cut marks. 
International Council for Zooarchaeology (ICAZ) Conference. Paris, 23-28 August.

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 2009. Additional evidence of early hominid bone tools from South Africa. First attempt at exploring inter-site variability. Palaeontologia africana. 44: 91-94.

Backwell, L.R., Witcomb, M.J., Berger, L.R., Pickering, R. & Brothwell, D. 2009. Scanning electron microscopy reveals oldest known hominin hair from Gladysvale Cave, South Africa. Microscopy Society of Southern Africa. Durban, 3-6 December.

d'Errico, F. & Backwell, L.R. 2009. Early hominin bone tools: archaeological reflection of different eco-cultural niches' Understanding Tool Use. Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the Cognition and Ecology of Tool Using Behaviors. 3-5 December. Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany, pg. 17.

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 2008. Drimolen: additional evidence of early hominid bone tool use and modification. First attempt at exploring inter-site variability. Palaeontological Society of Southern Africa meeting, 11-15 September, Matjiesfontein, pg. 26.

Leenen, A. & Backwell, L.R. 2008. Large mammal butchering experiments using stone tools. Palaeontological Society of Southern Africa meeting, 11-15 September, Matjiesfontein, pg. 110.

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 2008. Multifocus microscopy confirms bone tool utilisation by early hominids at Drimolen, South Africa.Microscopy Society of Southern Africa, 46th Annual Conference.' 21-25 July, University of Botswana. 38: 80.

Backwell, L.R. 2008. Africa as the Cradle of Humankind: fossil evidence of human evolution. South African Association of Science and Technology Educators (SAASTE) 4th Biennial Conference, 1-4 July, University of the Witwatersrand, pg. 17.

Backwell, L.R., Steininger, C.M, Brink, J., Neveling, J., Rossouw, L. & Pereira, L. 2007. Large mammal mass death accumulation in the Holocene of South Africa. Palaeontologia africana. 42: 118.

Mothupi, T. & Backwell, L.R. 2007. Taphonomy of the Late Pleistocene Plover's Lake faunal assemblage. Palaeontologia africana.42: 127-128.

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 2006. Early hominid bone tool technology and utilisation in eastern and southern Africa.Abstract for the Paleoanthropology Society Meeting, 24-26 April, San Juan, Puerto Rico, pg. A12.

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 2006. Bone tools and the cultural adaptations of early hominids from South and East Africa. African Genesis Conference, January' 8-14. University of the Witwatersrand Medical School, pg. 51.

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 2005. The earliest use of elephant bone. A reappraisal of the Olduvai evidence. 'The World of Elephants' 2nd International Congress, Hot Springs, South Dakota, USA, September 22-25, pp. 13-15.

Pole, S., Cukrowska, E., McCarthy, T.S., Backwell, L.R. & Steininger, C. 2005. The chemical removal of manganese dioxide coatings from fossil bones from the Cradle of Humankind. Fifth International Bone Diagenesis Conference. University of Cape Town, August 28-31, pp. 36-37.

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 2004. Reassessing early hominid bone tool traditions through experimentation and microscopic analysis. Microscopy Society of Southern Africa 43rd Annual Conference. University of Pretoria, November 30- December 3, pg. 91.

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 2004. New data on the early hominid bone tools from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, GeoScience Africa Conference, Johannesburg. July 12-16, pg. 28.'

Pole, S., Cukrowska, E., McCarthy, T. S., Backwell, L.R. & Steininger, C. 2004. The chemical removal of manganese dioxide coatings from fossil bones from the Cradle of Humankind, GeoScience Africa Conference, Johannesburg.' July 12-16, pp. 519-520.

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 2003. The origin of bone tool technology and the identification of early hominid cultural traditions. From Tools to Symbols. From Early Hominids to Modern Humans conference. Johannesburg. March 16-18.

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 2002. Possible evidence of deliberate shaping on the Swartkrans early hominid bone tools.' Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, New York. April 10-14. Book of Abstracts, pg. 39.

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 2002. Microscopic evidence for deliberate shaping of bone tools by South African early hominids. 15th International Congress on Electron Microscopy. Proceedings 2. Biology and Medicine, Durban. September 1-5, pp. 625-626.

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 2002. What the bones tell us. New information on the Swartkrans early hominid bone tools.Palaeontological Society 12th Biennial Meeting. Bloemfontein. October 3-7. Book of Abstracts, pg. 8.

d'Errico, F. & Backwell, L.R. 2001. Early hominid cultural traditions and technical systems: the full picture. Possible evidence of bone tool shaping from Swartkrans, South Africa. Knapping stone.' A Unique Hominid Behaviour'' International Workshop. November 21-24. Abbaye des Pr'montr's, Paris.

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 2000. A new functional interpretation of the Swartkrans early hominid bone tools. Abstract for the Paleoanthropology Society Meeting. Journal of Human Evolution38(3): A4-A5.

d'Errico, F. & Backwell, L.R. 2000. Bone tool use and the identification of early hominid cultural traditions. New data from Swartkrans and Sterkfontein. 11th Biennial Conference of the Palaeontological Society of southern Africa. September 4-8. Transvaal Museum, Pretoria.

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 1999.A reassessment of 'bone tools' from the early hominid sites of Swartkrans and Sterkfontein.Archaeological Sciences 99 Conference, September 20-22, University of Bristol, United Kingdom.

Backwell, L.R. & d'Errico, F. 1999.The application of SEM, confocal microscopy and image analysis to assess the first use of bone by early hominids. Microscopy Society of Southern Africa 38th Annual Conference. 1-3 December. University of the Free State, South Africa.

Assistant Editor 
Palaeontologia africana

Teaching

Teaching duties

Lecture undergraduate Palaeoanthropology:
School of Geosciences (1st year Geology)
Current Lecturer Performance rating: 9.22 (95 students)

Lecture undergraduate Palaeoanthropology:
School of Animal Plant and Environmental Studies (3rd year Zoology).
Current Lecturer Performance rating: 9.35 (10 students)

Lecture postgraduate Honours course for BPI Palaeontology: Topics include Vertebrate Taphonomy, Human and Primate Evolution, Lab Techniques: microscopy, photography and related computer software, and delivering PowerPoint presentations.

Higher degree supervision

Aurore Val, PhD.  2013. A 3D approach to understanding the site formation process and taphonomy of hominin remains from the Plio-Pleistocene site of Malapa, South Africa”. Supervisor.

Phillip Taru, PhD. 2012. Identification of mammalian species represented by fossil hairs in Parahyaena brunnea coprolites from Middle Pleistocene deposits at Gladysvale Cave, South Africa. Supervisor.

Mirriam Tawane, PhD. 2012. Dental size and frequency of pathologies in the teeth of a small-bodied population of Mid-Late Holocene Micronesians, Palau Micronesia. Co-supervisor.

Ryan Franklin, PhD. 2010. The Recognition, Frequency, and Taxonomic Association of Skeletal Pathology from Selected Plio-Pleistocene-Aged Sitesfrom the Cradle of Humankind, Witwatersrand, South Africa. Co-supervisor.

Stephen Pole, PhD. 2008. The chemical removal of manganese dioxide coatings from fossil bone. Co-supervisor.

Alexander Parkinson, MSc. 2013. Dermestes maculatus and Periplaneta americana: bone modification criteria and establishing their potential as climatic indicators. Supervisor.

Godwin Nhauro, MSc. 2010. Characterization of the elemental deposits in fossils from the Cradle of Humankind in South Africa and modern bones from the same geological area. Co-supervisor.

Bonita De Klerk, MSc. 2008 (cum laude). An osteological documentation of hybrid wildebeest and its bearing on black wildebeest evolution. Co-supervisor.

Nonhlanhla Vilakazi, MSc. 2008. An osteological comparison between bontebok, Damaliscus pygargus pygargus, and blesbok, Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi and its bearing on the evolution of bontebok. Co-supervisor.

Megan Andrew, Hons. 2013. Supervisor.

Erica da Silva Mbatha, Hons. 2013. Co-supervisor.

Alexander Parkinson, Hons. 2010. Supervisor.

Nonhlanhla Vilakazi, Hons. 2005. Supervisor.

Tebogo Mothupi, Hons. 2005. Supervisor.

Gina Ramage, Hons. 2004. Supervisor.

Membership of Societies

European Society for the Study of Human Evolution
Academy of Science of South Africa
Royal Society of South Africa
Microscopy Society of Southern Africa
Palaeontological Society of Southern Africa (secretary)
South African Archaeological Society
Society of Africanist Archaeologists
Palaeoanthropology Society, USA
Jane Goodall Institute
Leakey Foundation Alumni Society
South African Association of Science and Technology Educators

Awards/recognition

2011: NRF rating: C1 (valid 2012 - 2017).

2010: Voted 'Best Lecturer for 1st year', by Wits University School of Geosciences Geological Student Society.
Voted 'Coolest Lectures for 1st year', by Wits University School of Geosciences Geological Student Society.
Promoted to Senior Researcher.

2009: Voted 'Best Lecturer for 1st year', by Wits University School of Geosciences Geological Student Society.
FEI Prize (Life Sciences) for the best paper on electron microscopy published in an international journal. 'Probable human hair found in a fossil hyaena coprolite from Gladysvale cave, South Africa.' 
Science Direct 6th most downloaded paper in first quarter for Journal of Archaeological Science.

2008: Top 100 Science Stories Discover Magazine.

2004: First South African woman to be awarded a PhD. in Palaeoanthropology at a local institution.

2003: University Postgraduate Local Merit Scholarship.

2002: University Council Postgraduate Scholarship.
University Postgraduate Merit Award.

2001: S2A3 Medal. Presented by the South African Association for the Advancement of Science: Most distinguished Masters Degree in the Faculty of Science for 2000.
Top 100 Science Stories Discover magazine: 'Evidence of termite foraging by Swartkrans early hominids'. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
University Council Postgraduate Scholarship.
Postgraduate Merit Award.

2000: MSc. in Palaeoanthropology (cum laude), University of the Witwatersrand Medical School.
Postgraduate Local Merit Scholarship.
University Postgraduate Merit Award.
Category A Award for 2000.
Lystrosaurus Shield: Best student paper presented at the 11th Biennial Conference of the Palaeontological Society of Southern Africa.