Manuel Will


The Role of Culture in Early Expansions of Humans
Department of Early Prehistory and  Quaternary Ecology
Tübingen University, Schloss Hohentübingen
Burgsteige 22
72070 Tübingen

email: manuel.will[at]

Main research interests

  • Paleolithic archaeology
  • Lithic technology
  • Middle Stone Age
  • Paleoanthropology
  • Early Homo



since 2012 research assistant (archaeology) in the research centre "The Role of Culture in Early Expansions of Humans".

2010-2011 Student research assistant (archaeology) in the research centre "The Role of Culture in Early Expansions of Humans".


2011-2012 M.Phil. in Human Evolutionary Studies, University of Cambridge (UK). Thesis title: "Body size and leg length in early Homo  revisited: spatiotemporal trends and taxonomic differences".

2008-2011 B.A. in Prehistoric Archaeology and Paleoanthropology, University of Tübingen. Thesis title: "MSA lithic assemblages from Hoedjiespunt 1, Western Cape, South Africa - Implications for early costal adaptations by Homo sapiens" (in Germany).


Published papers

  • Will, M. & Conard, N.J. (2016): Assemblage variability and bifacial points in the lowermost Sibudan layers at Sibudu, South Africa. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, 1-26. DOI: 10.1007/s12520-016-0361-9.
  • Will, M., Kandel, A.W., Kyriacou, K. & Conard, N.J. (2016): An evolutionary perspective on coastal adaptations by modern humans during the Middle Stone Age of Africa. Quaternary International 404B, 68-86. DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2015.10.021.
  • Will, M. & Stock, J.T (2015): Spatial and temporal variation of body size among early Homo. Journal of Human Evolution 82, 15-33.
  • Conard, N.J. & Will, M. (2015): Examining the Causes and Consequences of Short-Term Behavioral Change during the Middle Stone Age at Sibudu, South Africa. PLoS ONE 10(6), e0130001.
  • Kyriacou, K., Parkington, J.E., Will, M., Kandel, A.W. & Conard, N.J. (2015): Middle and Later Stone Age shellfish exploitation strategies and coastal foraging at Hoedjiespunt and Lynch Point, Saldanha Bay, South Africa. Journal of Archaeological Science 57, 197-206.
  • Will, M., Mackay, A. & Phillips, N. (2015): Implications of Nubian-Like Core Reduction Systems in Southern Africa for the Identification of Early Modern Human Dispersals. PLoS ONE 10(6), e0131824.
  • Will, M., Kandel, A.W. & Conard, N.J. (2015): Coastal adaptations and settlement systems on the Cape and Horn of Africa during the Middle Stone Age. In: N.J. Conard, A. Delagnes (eds.), Settlement Dynamics of the Middle Paleolithic and Middle Stone Age, Vol. IV, 61-89. Tübingen: Kerns Verlag
  • Conard, N.J., Schmid, V.C. & Will, M. (2015): Sibudu und die kulturelle Evolution des modernen Menschen. Archäologie in Deutschland 2(2015), 12-17.
  • Will, M., Bader, G.D. & Conard, N.J. (2014): Characterizing the Late Pleistocene MSA Lithic Technology of Sibudu, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.     PLoS ONE 9(5), e98359.
  • Conard, N.J., Bader, G.D., Schmid, V.C. & Will, M. (2014): Bringing the Middle Stone Age into clearer focus. Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Urgeschichte 23, 121-128.
  • Will, M., Parkington, J. E., Kandel, A.W. & Conard, N.J. (2013): Coastal adaptations and the Middle Stone Age lithic assemblages from Hoedjiespunt 1 in the Western Cape, South Africa. Journal of Human Evolution 64, 518-537.

Published abstracts

  • Will, M. & Stock, J. (2013): Spatial and temporal variation in the body size of early Homo. 3rd Annual Meeting of the European Society for Human Evolution, 211.
  • Porraz, G., Will, M., Bader, G. & Conard, N.J. (2013): Characterizing the later part of the MSA sequence at Sibudu, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. 3rd Annual Meeting of the European Society for Human Evolution, 147.
  • Will, M., Parkington, J. E., Kandel, A.W. & Conard, N.J. (2012): MSA lithic assemblages from Hoedjiespunt 1 and the evolution of coastal adaptations in the Western Cape of Southern Africa. Abstracts of the Paleoanthropology Society 2012 Meeting. Paleoanthropology A38.
  • Conard, N.J., Kandel, A.W., Kyriacou, K., Will, M. & Parkington, J. E. (2011): Excavations at the MSA shell midden of Hoedjiespunt, South Africa: testing models for early coastal adaptations. 1st Annual meeting of the European Society for the study of Human Evolution, 22.


The PhD thesis aims at characterizing the late Middle Stone Age (MSA) sequence of Sibudu Cave, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Studies of the African MSA have become central to define the cultural adaptations that accompanied the origin and spread of modern humans. Southern Africa plays a central role in this research due to the wealth of excavated sites and a well-dated chrono-cultural framework. Much of recent research has concentrated on the Still Bay and Howieson´s Poort (HP), but neglected the periods before and after. This project intends to correct this research bias by focusing on lithic assemblages that follow the HP. The late MSA sequence at Sibudu Cave constitutes the perfect candidate for such an investigation. The site preserves a high-resolution, well-dated stratigraphic sequence, including an exceptionally thick "post-HP" sequence that comprises more than 30 individual layers. The site has also yielded high density of stone artifacts and contextual information. Therefore, Sibudu offers enormous potential to analyze this cultural unit on both an intra- and inter-assemblage basis. The lithic analyses will employ multiple methods - drawing from German, French and American traditions - to expose the defining features of the "post-HP" and its temporal variability. The analysis will characterize the lithic raw materials, investigate reduction sequences, evaluate the reduction methods and reconstruct techno-economic behavior. The results will provide new and high-resolution data on the behavioral record of MIS 3 in southern Africa, a time of major changes in human history and behavior. The PhD thesis also investigates technological and cultural evolution during the MSA on various geographic scales with these novel data. Finally, the projects aims to evaluate the evolutionary role of the late MSA with regard to dispersals of modern humans within Africa and to Eurasia.

Research and field experience

  • Archaeological excavations and surveys of Paleolithic sites in France (Germolles), Syria (Wadi Mushkuna), South Africa (Sibudu, Hoedjiespunt 1) and Kenya (West Turkana)
  •  Analyses of lithic assemblages from Hoedjiespunt 1 and Sibudu (both South Africa, MSA)