Skip to main content.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Website Search Box

Department of Anthropology

Program in
Human Ecology and Archaeobiology


Melinda Zeder is a Senior Scientist and Curator of Old World Archaeology in the Department of Anthropology of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. An anthropological archaeologist, she is best known for her research on the origins of domestication and the emergence of agriculture, with a particular focus on animal domestication in the Near East. Her work brings together genetics, animal sciences, and archaeology to understand the mechanisms behind animal domestication and the different pathways animals and their human partners traveled into domestication. She is a recipient of the Society of American Archaeology's Fryxell Award in Interdisciplinary Archaeology and the Archaeological Institute of America's Pomerance Award in Scientific Archaeology. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2008 and to the National Academy of Sciences in 2012.


Zeder’s research interests include the domestication of animals, the social and environmental implications of early agriculture in the ancient Near East, and the development of specialized subsistence economies in early complex societies. She is also interested in the intersection of archaeology and genetics in documenting the domestication of plant and animal species. She has worked in Iran, Israel, Turkey, and most recently in Syria. … link to Zeder Research Page

Links—Recent Publications in PDF

  • Zeder CV.
  • Zeder, Melinda A.
  • 2016 Domestication as a Model System for Niche Construction Theory. Evolutionary Ecology 30(2):325-348. pdf document icon
  • Zeder, Melinda A.
    2015 Core Questions in Domestication Research. PNAS doi:10.1073/pnas.1501711112.
  • Zeder, Melinda A.
    2014 Letter: Alternative to Faith-based Science. PNAS doi:10.1073/pnas.1408209111.
  • Lemoine, Ximena, Melinda A. Zeder, Katelyn J. Bishop, and Scott J. Rufolo
    2014 A New System for Computing Dentition-Based Age Profiles in Sus scrofa. Journal of Archaeological Science 47:179-193. pdf document icon
  • Zeder, Melinda A., Guy Bar-Oz, Scott J. Rufolo, and Frank Hole
  • 2013 New Perspectives on the Use of Kites in Mass-Kills of Levantine Gazelle: A View from Northeastern Syria. Quaternary International 297:110-125. pdf document icon
  • Zeder, Melinda A.
    2012 The Broad Spectrum Revolution at 40: Resource Diversity, Intensification, and an Alternative to Optimal Foraging Explanations. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 31(3):241-264. pdf document icon
  • Zeder, Melinda A.
  • 2012 The Domestication of Animals. Journal of Anthropological Research 68(2):161-190. pdf document icon
  • Zeder, Melinda A.
    2012 Pathways to Animal Domestication. In Biodiversity in Agriculture: Domestication, Evolution, and Sustainability, edited by P. Gepts, T.R. Famula, R.L. Bettinger, et al., pp. 227-229. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. pdf document icon

  • Zeder, Melinda A.
    2012 The Origins of Agriculture in the Near East. Current Anthropology 53: In The Origins of Agriculture: New Ideas and New data. Special Wenner Gren Symposium Issue. pdf document icon

  • Bar-Oz, Guy, Melinda A. Zeder, and Frank Hole
    2011 Role of Mass-Kill Hunting Strategies in the Extirpation of Persian Gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa) in the Northern Levant. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A. 108:7345-7350.
    {and supplemental doc }

  • Zeder, Melinda A., and Heather A. Lapham
    2010 Assessing the Reliability of Criteria used to Post-cranial Bones in Sheep, Ovis, and Goats, Capra. Journal of Archaeological Science 37:2887-2905.
    {and supplemental tables }
    {supplemental figures PDF document link icon}

  • Zeder, Melinda A., and Suzanne E. Pilaar
    2010 Assessing the Reliability of Criteria Used to Identify Mandibles and Mandibular Teeth in Sheep, Ovis, and Goats, Capra. Journal of Archaeological Science 37:225-242.
    {and supplemental doc }

  • Zeder, Melinda A.
    2009 Evolutionary Biology and the Emergence of Agriculture: The Value of Co-opted Models of Evolution in the Study of Culture Change. In Macroevolution in Human Prehistory: Evolutionary Theory and Processual Archaeology, pp. 157-210. Springer, New York. pdf download icon

  • Zeder, Melinda A.
    2009 The Neolithic Macro-(R)evolution: Macroevolutionary Theory and the Study of Culture Change. Journal of Anthropological  Archaeology 17:1-63.

  • Zeder, Melinda A.
    2008 Domestication and Early Agriculture in the Mediterranean Basin: Origins, Diffusion, and Impact. PNAS 105:11597-11604.

  • Zeder, Melinda A.
    2008 Animal Domestication in the Zagros: An Update and Directions for Future Research. In Archaeozoology of the Near East VIII, edited by E. Villa, L. Gourichon, A. Choyke, and H. Buitenhuis, pp. 243-277. Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée, Lyon.

  • Zeder, Melinda A., Eve Emshwiller, Bruce D. Smith, and Daniel G. Bradley
    2006 Documenting Domestication: The Intersection of Genetics and Archaeology. Trends in Genetics 22(3):139-155.

  • Zeder, Melinda A.
    2006 Central Questions in the Domestication of Plants and Animals. Evolutionary Anthropology 15(3):105-117.

  • Zeder, Melinda A.
    2006 Reconciling Rates of Long Bone Fusion and Tooth Eruption and Wear in Sheep (Ovis) and Goat (Capra). In Ageing and Sexing Animals from Archaeological Sites, edited by D. Ruscillo, pp. 87-118. Oxbow Press, Oxford.

  • Zeder, Melinda A.
    2005 A View From the Zagros: New Perspectives on Livestock Domestication in the Fertile Crescent. In The First Steps of Animal Domestication: New Archaeozoological Approaches, edited by J.-D. Vigne, J. Peters, and D. Helmer, pp. 125-147. Oxbow Press, Oxford.

  • Zeder, Melinda A.
    2001 A Metrical Analysis of a Collection of Modern Goats (Capra hircus aegargus and Capra hircus hircus) from Iran and Iraq: Implications for the Study of Caprine Domestication. Journal of Archaeological Science 28(1):61-79.
Melinda Zeder photo

Phone: 202-633-1886

Fax: 202-357-2208



Mailing Address:

Department of Anthropology, NHB 112
National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution
PO Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012

Courier Delivery Address:

Smithsonian Institution
National Museum of Natural History
10th and Constitution Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20560-0112

Share This

[ TOP ]