Paola Villa is an Italian archaeologist and a researcher at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History. She has a doctorate in Classical Archaeology from the University of Rome and a Ph.D. in Prehistoric Archaeology from the University of California at Berkeley. She was Professor at the University of Bordeaux in France between 1993 and 1998. Between 2003 and 2013 she has done research on the Middle Stone Age of South Africa funded by grants from the National Science Foundation of USA, the Leakey Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation and South African organizations. Together with South African colleagues, lithic specialists and an expert flint knapper from France (Sylvain Soriano) she carried out studies of five major MSA sites in South Africa: Blombos, Klasies River Mouth, Sibudu, Rose Cottage and Border Cave.
She has recently started a project on evolutionary changes in Neandertal lithic technology in Central Italy, together with Italian colleagues. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation and the Leakey Foundation. Her research in South Africa and Italy has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA, Journal of Archaeological Science, Science, Journal of Anthropological Research, PLOS ONE and Journal of Human Evolution.