Justin Holcomb

Ph.D. Student

  • Title Ph.D. Student
  • Education M.A., Applied Anthropology (Geoarchaeology), Oregon State University
    B.A., Anthropology, Texas A&M University

Personal Websites


Areas of Interest

Archaeology of human evolution, hominin dispersals; initial peopling of America and Europe, Lower/Middle/Upper Paleolithic transitions, lithic analysis; geoarchaeology, archaeological science, chemostratigraphy; eastern Mediterranean, Pacific Northwest

Research Methods

My dissertation research seeks to place the Aegean Paleolithic into the larger theoretical debate of hominin dispersals into Europe. I work on three new sites in Greece including Marathousa I in the Mani Peninsula, Stelida on the island of Naxos, and Crete (Mochlos).

I am particularly interested in multi-scalar geoarchaeological applications and quantitative methods to better understand site formation processes, stratigraphy, and context. I am currently investigating applications of portable XRF to stratigraphy (i.e., chemostratigraphy); 3D scanning and printing of archaeological artifacts; Geographic Information Systems; and applications of multivariate statistics in archaeology.

Current Projects

1) Stelida Naxos Archaeological Project (SNAP): Excavations at a Paleolithic Quarry-Site in the Greek Cyclades, Naxos, Greece: SNAPis Directed by Dr. Tristan Carter (McMaster University) and represents the first well-documented and systematically excavated site dating to the Paleolithic in the Aegean Basin. At SNAP, I am a field supervisor and project geoarchaeologist with the aim to construct a geoarchaeological framework at the site in collaboration with Dr. Contreras. Our goal is to better understand the stratigraphic integrity of Paleolithic deposits yielded at the site, and to better understand the landscape evolution of the local hillslope area.

The Stelida Naxos Archaeological Project Website

Digging for early humans in the Aegean: The 2015 season of the Stélida Naxos Archaeological Project

2) pXRF Chemostratigraphy of Viking Age farm-middens: A major research interest in mine is seeking to confront issues of scale governing the notion of context and contextual association. Recently, I have begun to collaborate with Skagafjordur Archaeological Settlement Survey (SASS) housed at University of Massachusetts, Boston. With the support of the Fiske Laboratory, Alicia Sawyer (graduate student at Boston University) and I have developed a new method integrating thin-section micromorphology with pXRF in order to quantify anthropogenic sediments, highlighting the power of this multi-faceted geoarchaeological approach to discern stratigraphic integrity.

3) Marathousa I. In collaboration with the University of Tubingen and the Paleoanthropology at the Gates of Europe (PaGE) project directed by Drs. Katarina Harvati and Vangelis Tourloukis, I will be helping to construct and correlate geoarchaeologically defined stratigraphy in collaboration with Project Geoarchaeologist Panagiotis Karkanas. At Marathousa, we are seeking to better understand the contextual associations between a core and chopper assemblage and a butchered elephant, Elephas (Palaeoloxodon) antiquus, dating to the Middle Pleistocene (~400,000 kya).

Recent Publications

T. Carter, D. Athanassoulis, K. Campeau, D. Contreras, J. A. Holcomb, and D. Mihailović (2015) Early Humans in the Aegean Basin: First Excavation Results from the Paleolithic Site of Stélida, Naxos. Paper to be presented at the Archaeological Society of America’s annual meeting, San Francisco, CA.

Sawyer, A. and J. A. Holcomb (2015) Midden Formation Processes at Three Farms in Skagafjordur, Northern Iceland Using Thin Section Micromorphology and pXRF Chemostratigraphy. Paper presented at the Society for American Archaeology’s annual meeting, San Francisco, CA. Download PDF

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