Bence Viola

Associate Professor; Tri-campus TA coordinator
AP 522
(416) 946-0653


Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

Research Keywords: Palaeoanthropology; Modern Human Origins; Neanderthals; Human Evolution; Ancient DNA

Research Region: Central and Northern Asia, Central Europe


I am a paleoanthropologist focusing on the biological and cultural dynamics of the contacts between different hominin groups in the late Pleistocene.

To better understand these interactions, I use a combination of morphological, genetic and archaeological approaches. I concentrate on Central / Northern Asia and Central Europe, which are both areas where contacts between modern and archaic humans are thought to have taken place.

The probably most interesting region for this question are the Altai mountains of Southern Siberia, where we do not only find the easternmost Neanderthals, but also a group that we mostly know form its DNA, the Denisovans. I am currently working on the description of new Neanderthal and Denisovan fossils from this region, and am also involved in ancient DNA analyses of these remains. I also conduct new fieldwork at Sel’ungur cave in Kyrgyzstan, where excavations in the 1980s recovered the oldest human remains from Central Asia.

Central Europe is one of the regions where Neanderthals and modern humans probably met.  Together with scientists from Germany, Austria and Hungary we are currently studying the late Neanderthals and first modern humans from this area, trying to understand when and how these contacts took place.


Ph.D. (University of Vienna, Austria, 2009)


Journal articles

Fu Q, Li H, Moorjani P, Jay F, Slepchenko S, Bondarev A, Johnson PLF, Petri AA, Pruefer K, de Filippo C, Meyer M, Zwyns N, Salazar-Garcia DC, Kuzmin YV, Keates SG, Kosintsev PA, Razhev DI, Richards MP, Peristov NV, Lachmann M, Douka K, Higham TFG, Slatkin M, Hublin J-J, Reich D, Kelso J, Viola B & Pääbo S (2014). The complete genome sequence of a 45,000 year old modern human from Western Siberia. Nature, 514:445-449. (pdf of "The Complete Genome Sequence" on ResearchGate)

Nigst PR, Haesaerts P, Damblon F, Frank-Fellner C, Mallol C, Viola B, Götzinger M, Niven L, Trnka G, Hublin JJ (2014). Early modern human settlement of Europe north of the Alps occurred 43,500 years ago in a cold steppe-type environment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111:14394-14399. (pdf of "Early Modern Human Settlement" on ResearchGate)

Castellano S, Parra G, Sánchez-Quinto FA, Racimo F, Kuhlwilm M, Kircher M, Sawyer S, Fu Q, Heinze A, Nickel B, Dabney J, Siebauer M, White L, Burbano HA, Renaud G, Stenzel U, Lalueza-Fox C, de la Rasilla M, Rosas A, Rudan P, Brajkovic D, Kucan Z, Gusic I, Shunkov MV, Derevianko AP, Viola B, Meyer M, Kelso J, Andrés AM & Pääbo S (2014) Patterns of coding variation in the complete exomes of three Neandertals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111:6666-71. (pdf of "Patterns of Coding Variation" on ResearchGate)

Pruefer K, Racimo F, Patterson N, Jay F, Sankararaman S, Sawyer S, Heinze A, Renaud G, Sudmant PH, de Filippo C, Li H, Mallick S, Dannemann M, Fu Q, Kircher M, Kuhlwilm M, Lachmann M, Meyer M, Ongyerth M, Siebauer M, Theunert C, Tandon A, Moorjani P, Pickrell J, Mullikin JC, Vohr SH, Green RE, Hellmann I, Johnson PLF, Blanche H, Can H, Kitzman JO, Shendure J, Eichler EE, Lein ES, Bakken TE, Golovanova LV, Doronichev VB, Shunkov MV, Derevianko AP, Viola B, Reich D, Slatkin M, Kelso J & Pääbo S (2014).The complete genome sequence of a Neandertal from the Altai Mountains. Nature 505:43-49 (pdf of "The Complete Genome Sequence" on ResearchGate)

Mednikova MB, Dobrovolskaya MV,  Viola B, Lavrenyuk AV, Kazansky PR, Shklover VY, Shunkov MV, and Derevianko AP (2013). Microcomputed tomography (X-Ray microscopy) of the hand phalanx of the Denisova girl. Archaeology, Ethnography and Anthropology of Eurasia 41(3):120-125.

Langergraber K, Pruefer K, Rowney C, Boesch C, Crockford C, Fawcett K, Inoue E, Inoue-Maruyama M, Mitani C, Muller M, Robbins M, Schubert G, Stoinski T, Viola B, Watts D, Wittig R, Wrangham R, Zuberbühler K, Pääbo S, Vigilant L (2012) Generation times in wild chimpanzees and gorillas suggest earlier divergence times in great ape and human evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109:15716-15721. (pdf of "Generation Times in Wild Chimpanzees" at PNAS)

Benazzi S, Viola B, Kullmer O,  Fiorenza L, Harvati K, Metscher B, Paul T, Gruppioni G, Weber GW and Mallegni F (2011). A reassessment of the Neanderthal teeth from Taddeo cave (Southern Italy), Journal of Human Evolution. 61:377-387. (pdf of "A Reassessment of the Neanderthal Teeth" on ResearchGate)

Fiorenza L, Benazzi S, Viola B, Kullmer O & Schrenk F (2011). Relationship Between Cusp Size and Occlusal Wear Pattern in Neanderthal and Homo sapiens First Maxillary Molars, The Anatomical Record 294:453-461. (pdf of "Relationship Between Cusp Size and Occlusal Wear Pattern" on ResearchGate)

Reich D*, Green RE*, Kircher M*, Krause J*, Patterson N*, Durand EY*, Viola B*, Briggs AW, Stenzel U, Johnson PL, Maricic T, Good JM, Marques-Bonet T, Alkan C, Fu Q, Mallick S, Li H, Meyer M, Eichler EE, Stoneking M, Richards M, Talamo S, Shunkov MV, Derevianko AP, Hublin JJ, Kelso J, Slatkin M & Pääbo S (2010). Genetic history of an archaic hominin group from Denisova Cave in Siberia. Nature, 468(7327):1053-60. *Authors Contributed equally (pdf of "Genetic History of an Archaic Hominim Group" on ResearchGate)

Krause J, Fu Q, Good JM, Viola B, Shunkov MV, Derevianko AP & Pääbo S (2010). The complete mitochondrial DNA genome of an unknown hominin from southern Siberia. Nature, 464(7290):894-7. (pdf of "The Complete Mitochondrial DNA Genome" on ResearchGate)

Flas D, Kolobova K, Pavlenok K, Vandenberghe DAG,  Dapper M, Leschinsky S, Viola B, Islamov U, Derevianko AP & Cauwe N (2010). Preliminary results of new excavations at the Palaeolithic site of Kulbulak (Uzbekistan)Antiquity Project Gallery, 84(325).

Friedrich KM, Nemec S, Czerny C, Fischer H, Plischke S, Gahleitner A, Viola B, Imhof H and Seidler H (2009). The story of 12 Chachapoyan mummies through multidetector computed tomography. European Journal of Radiology, 76(2):143-150. (pdf of "The Story of 12 Chachopoyan Mummies" on ResearchGate)

Glittenberg C, Schubert C, Meisel D, Viola B, Binder S & Ahnelt PK (2009). Modeling the effect of facial topographies upon the visual field of humans and primates, Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics : the Journal of the British College of Ophthalmic Opticians (Optometrists), 29(5):509-17.

Kullmer O, Sandrock O, Viola B, Hujer W, Said H, Seidler H (2008) Suids, elephantoids and palaeoecology of the Pliocene Galili hominid site, Somali Region, Ethiopia. Palaios 23: 452-464 (pdf of "Suids, Elephantoids and Palaeoecology" on ResearchGate)

Nigst PR, Viola TB, Haesaerts P, Blockley S, Damblon F, Frank C, Fuchs M, Götzinger M, Hambach U, Mallol C, Moreau L, Niven L, Richards M, Richter D, Zöller L, Trnka G, Hublin JJ (2008). New research on the Aurignacian of Central Europe: A first note on the 2006 fieldwork at Willendorf II . Quartär 55:9-15. (pdf of "New Research on the Aurignacian" on ResearchGate)

Nigst PR, Viola B, Haesaerts P, Blockley S, Damblon F, Frank C, Fuchs M, Götzinger M, Hambach U, Mallol C, Moreau L, Niven L, Richards M, Richter D, Zöller L, Hublin JJ and Trnka G (2008). Neue Forschungen in Willendorf II: Ein Vorbericht über die Grabung 2006. Mitteilungen der Anthropologischen Gesellschaft Wien 138:79-88. (pdf of "Neue Forschungen in Willendorf II" on ResearchGate)

Volpato V, Viola B, Nakatsukasa M, Bondioli L, Macchiarelli R (2008). Textural characteristics of the iliac-femoral trabecular pattern in a bipedally-trained Japanese macaque. Primates 49(1):16-25 (pdf of "Textural Characteristics of the Iliac-femoral Trebecular Pattern" on ResearchGate)

Bailey, SE, Glantz MM, Weaver T, Viola B (2008). The affinity of the dental remains from Obi-Rakhmat Grotto, Uzbekistan. Journal of Human Evolution. 55:238-248 (pdf of "The Affinity of the Dental Remains" on ResearchGate)

Glantz MM, Viola B, Chikisheva T, Derevianko AP, Krivoshapkin A, Islamov A, Suleimanov R, Wrinn P, and Ritzman T (2008). New hominid remains from Usbekistan. Journal of Human Evolution 55:223-237 (pdf of "New Hominid Remains" on ResearchGate)

Krause J, Orlando L, Serre D, Viola B, Pruefer K, Richards MP, Hublin JJ, Hänni C, Derevianko AP, Pääbo S (2007). Neandertals in Central Asia and Siberia. Nature 449(7164): 902-904 (pdf of "Neandertals in Central Asia" on ResearchGate)

Urbanek C, Faupl P, Hujer W, Ntaflos T, Richter W, Weber G, Schaefer K, Viola B, Gunz P, Neubauer S, Stadlmayr A, Kullmer O, Sandrock O, Nagel D, Conroy G, Falk D, Woldearegay K, Said H, Assefa G, Seidler H (2005). Geology, Palaeontology and Paleoanthropology of the Mount Galili Formation in the southern Afar Depression, Ethiopia – Preliminary results. Joannea Geologie und Paläontologie 6: 29-43.

Macchiarelli R, Bondioli L, Falk D, Faupl P, Illerhaus B, Kullmer O, Richter W, Said H, Sandrock O, Schafer K, Urbanek C, Viola B, Weber GW, and Seidler H (2004). Early Pliocene hominid tooth from Galili, Somali Region, Ethiopia. Collegium Antropologicum 28 Supplement 2:65-76. (pdf of "Early Pliocene Hominid Tooth" on ResearchGate)

Book chapters / non-peer reviewed journal articles

Viola B, Krivoshapkin A (2014). Sel’ungur – Middle Pleistocene hominins in Central Asia? In: Derevianko AP, Shunkov MV (eds.) Cultural developments in the Eurasian Paleolithic and the origin of anatomically modern humans. Novosibirsk, Publishing Department of the Inst. f. Archaeology and Ethnography of the SB RAS, pp. 172-178.

Zwyns N, Viola B (2014). Rencontre et divergences – en Asie Centrale et en Sibérie durant le Pleistocène supérieur. In: Otte, M (ed.) La Rencontre. Liège University Press, pp. 267-294. (pdf of "Recontre et divergences" on ResearchGate)

Viola B, Pääbo S (2013) What’s new in Central Asia? In: Shunkov MV, Molodin, V (eds.) Basic Issues in Archaeology, Anthropology and Ethnography of Eurasia. Novosibirsk, Publishing Department of the Inst. f. Archaeology and Ethnography of the SB RAS. pp. 555-565.

Nigst PR, Viola B and Trnka G (2012). KG Willendorf.  Fundberichte aus Österreich 50/2011:305 (pdf of "Fundberichte" on ResearchGate)

Viola B, Markin SV, Zenin A, Shunkov MV, Derevianko AP (2011). Late Pleistocene hominins from the Altai Mountains, Russia. In: Derevianko AP, Shunkov MV (eds.) Characteristic features of the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic Transition in Eurasia. Novosibirsk, Publishing Department of the Inst. f. Archaeology and Ethnography of the SB RAS, pp. 207-213.

Smith TM, Reid DJ, Olejniczak AJ, Bailey S, Glantz M, Viola B and Hublin J-J (2011). Dental development and age at death of a Middle Paleolithic juvenile hominin from Obi-Rakhmat Grotto, Uzbekistan. In Condemi S & Weniger G-C(eds.), Continuity and Discontinuity in the Peopling of Europe150 Years of Neanderthal Discoveries. Dordrecht: Springer. p. 155-163. (pdf of "Dental Development and Age at Death" on ResearchGate)

Nigst PR, Viola B and Trnka G (2011). KG Willendorf.  Fundberichte aus Österreich 49/2010:328-330.

Nigst PR, Viola B and Antl-Weiser W (2010). Digital Documentation of Palaeolithic Excavations: a Case Study. In: Neugebauer-Maresch Ch & Owen LR(ed.) New Aspects of the Central and Eastern European Upper Palaeolithic – methods, chronology, technology and subsistence. Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien. p. 311-318. (pdf of "Digital Documentation of Palaeolithic Excavations" on ResearchGate)

Nigst PR, Viola B and Trnka G (2008). KG Willendorf.  Fundberichte aus Österreich 46/2007:610-611.

Nigst PR, Viola B, Haesaerts P and Trnka G (2008). Willendorf II. Wissenschaftliche Mitteilungen aus dem Niederösterreichischen Landesmuseum 19:31-58. (pdf of "Willendorf II" on ResearchGate)

Nigst PR, Viola and Trnka G (2007). KG Willendorf.  Fundberichte aus Österreich 45/2006:626-627.

Minugh-Purvis N, Viola B and Teschler-Nicola M (2006) The Mladec 3 infant. In Teschler-Nicola M (ed.): Early Modern Humans at the Moravian Gate: Mladec Cave and its Remains. Springer. p. 357-383 (pdf of "The Mladec 3 Infant" on ResearchGate)

Nigst PR, Viola B, Doneus M and Antl-Weiser W (2004). Digitale Dokumentation paläolithischer Grabungen (Digital documentation of palaeolithic excavations). Archäologie Österreichs 15(1):36-48. (pdf of "Digitale Dokumentation" on ResearchGate)

Viola B, Seidler H, and zur Nedden D (2004). Izuchenie verhnih kraev piramid visochnyh kostei OR-1 s pomoshiu komputernoi tomografii (Computer tomographic investigations of the OR-1 petrosals). In: Derevianko AP (ed.) Grot Obi-Rakhmat (Obi-Rakhmat Grotto). Novosibirsk: Inst. Arheologii i Etnografii SO RAN (Inst. f. Archaeology and Ethnography of the SB RAS), pp. 100-106.

Glantz MM, Viola B, and Chikisheva T (2004). Novye ostanki gominidov iz grota Obi-Rakhmat (New Hominids from Obi-Rakhmat Grotto). In AP Derevianko (ed.): Grot Obi-Rakhmat (Obi-Rakhmat Rockshelter). Novosibirsk: Inst. Arheologii i Etnografii SO RAN (Inst. f. Archaeology and Ethnography of the SB RAS), pp. 77-99.

Viola B (2002). Histologische Untersuchungen an Leichenbränden aus Zagersdorf (Histological study of the cremated burials from Zagersdorf). In: Rebay K. Die Hallstattzeitliche Grabhügelgruppe von Zagersdorf im Burgenland. Wissenschaftliche Arbeiten aus dem Burgenland 107:139-144.

Book reviews

Viola B (2012) Einführung in die Anthropologie (Grupe et al., 2012). BioSpektrum 18(7):798.

Graduate Students