Yin Lam

Yin Lam
Associate Professor and Undergraduate Adviser

Not accepting students

Office: COR B209

PhD Stony Brook

Area of expertise

Archaeology, zooarchaeology, palaeoanthropology

My interest in early hominin behavior as an undergraduate eventually led me to a specialization in taphonomy, with a particular focus on how differential preservation of faunal remains and zooarchaeological methodology affect our interpretations of the faunal record.

Until recently, my primary region of interest has been sub-Saharan Africa, and I have participated in fieldwork in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Africa.

My dissertation research on cementum increment formation in South African bovids was conducted while I was a guest of the Iziko South African Museum and the University of Cape Town.


  • Archaeology
  • Zooarchaeology
  • Palaeoanthropology


Fall 2023

  • ANTH 240 Archaeology
  • ANTH 347 The Pleistocene Archaeology of Africa

Spring 2024

  • ANTH 360 Zooarchaeology

Current projects

Dayan, China

At the Institute of Archaeology in Beijing, I have been studying the faunal assemblage excavated from the site of Dayan in Guangxi, China. This site dates to the Pleistocene/Holocene transition and has produced some early pottery. The objective of this research is to determine if and how patterns of faunal exploitation in this region changed from the end of the Pleistocene to the beginnings of agriculture.

Eleon, Greece

Since 2014 I have been participating in UVic Greek and Roman Studies’ Eastern Boeotia Archaeological Project, following on the work of my MA student, Matt Bullock.  (https://www.uvic.ca/socialsciences/anthropology/home/news/archive/2014-news-archive/ma-student-matthew-bullock-on-the-epab-dig-at-the-ancient-eleon-site.php )

Matt and I are currently responsible for the faunal analysis from the site of Eleon, representing occupations back to the Mycenaean.  The project is seeking additional (graduate) students to participate in this analysis; please contact me if interested.

Selected publications

Articles and chapters

  • 2018 – Z. Assefa, A. Asrat, E. Hovers, Y. Lam, O. Pearson, and D. Pleurdeau. Engraved ostrich eggshell from the Middle Stone Age contexts of Goda Buticha, Ethiopia. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 17: 723-729.
  • 2014 - Y. M. Lam, Bone density studies in environmental archaeology. In: Smith, Clare (ed.), Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, Springer, pp. 942-946.

  • 2014 - David Pleurdeau, Erella Hovers, Zelalem Assefa, Asfawossen Asrat, Osbjorn Pearson, Jean-Jacques Bahain, Y. M. Lam. Cultural change or continuity in the late MSA/Early LSA of southeastern Ethiopia? The site of Goda Buticha, Dire Dawa area. Quaternary International 343:117-135.
  • 2014 -Zelalem Assefa, David Pleurdeau, Frederique Duquesnoy, Erella Hovers, Osbjorn Pearson, Asfawossen Asrat, Constantinos T/Tsion, Y. M. Lam. Survey and explorations of caves in southeastern Ethiopia: Middle Stone Age and Later Stone Age archaeology and Holocene rock art. Quaternary International 343:136-147.

  • 2010 - Y. M. Lam, Katherine Brunson, Richard Meadow, Jing Yuan. Integrating taphonomy into the practice of zooarchaeology in China. Quaternary International 211:86–90.

  • 2010 - Y. M. Lam. [The effect of taphonomic processes on the quantification ofarchaeological faunal remains.] In: Ma, Xiaolin (ed.), Zooarchaeology. Volume 1. Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology. Beijing: Cultural Relics Press, pp. 212-217. [translated into Chinese].
  • 2009 - S. L. Carto, A. J. Weaver, R. Hetherington, Y. M. Lam, E. C. Wiebe. Out of Africa and into an Ice Age: On the role of global climate change in the Late Pleistocene migration of early modern humans out of Africa. Journal of Human Evolution 56:139-151.

  • 2008 - Y. M. Lam. Variability in cementum deposition in springbok on the South African Cape. Journal of Archaeological Science 35:1062-1073.

  • 2008 - Z. Assefa, Y. M. Lam & H. K. Mienis. Symbolic use of terrestrial gastropod opercula during the Middle Stone Age at Porc-Epic Cave, Ethiopia. Current Anthropology 49:746-756.

  • 2008 - Y. M. Lam. What have taphonomic studies taught us about early hominin behavior? Evolutionary Anthropology 17:158-161..

  • 2005 - Y. M. Lam & O. M. Pearson. Bone density studies and theinterpretation of the faunal record. Evolutionary Anthropology 14:99-108.​