Hi, I’m Joe. I’m a computational archaeologist – I try to understand past societies using quantitative data, statistics, and computer models. In practice, that means I spend most of my time looking for interesting data and writing R code. I’m particularly interested in early prehistory, and my research to date has centered on the human ecology of prehistoric foragers in the arid fringes of Southwest Asia, between about 25,000 and 8,000 years ago. Sometimes I also get my hands dirty: I do fieldwork in eastern Jordan as part of the Epipalaeolithic Foragers in Azraq project, and in the past have worked on field research in Iran, Oman, Ukraine, and Bulgaria.

I am currently working on the XRONOS project at the Institute of Archaeological Sciences, University of Bern, and am also affiliated with the Centre for the Study of Early Agricultural Societies at the University of Copenhagen.

Recent activity


open-archaeo: a resource for documenting archaeological software development practices

Abstract Open-archaeo (https://open-archaeo.info) is a comprehensive list of open software and resources created by and for archaeologists. It is a living collection—itself an open project—which as of writing includes 548 entries and associated metadata. Open-archaeo documents what kinds of software and resources archaeologists have produced, enabling further investigation of research software engineering and digital peer-production practices in the discipline, both under-explored aspects of archaeological...


More than just porridge: old materialism and the macroarchaeology of the Neolithic Revolution

Part of a workshop on “Untelling the Neolithic of Southwest Asia”, convened by Tobias Richter and Martin Renger. Abstract Nearly a century after the theory was first articulated, the Neolithic Revolution seems all but buried under the weight of new evidence and critique. We now know that the agricultural transition in Southwest Asia was protracted and dispersed; that permanent settled societies may have brought...


rpaleoclim v1.0.0: paleoclimate data in R

PaleoClim (Brown et al. 2018, Scientific Data) is a set of high-resolution paleoclimate surfaces covering the whole world. The data is derived from HadCM3, one of the major ‘general circulation models’ that is used to forecast climate change, turned backwards to ‘predict’ conditions for key climate periods in the past. This is then ‘downscaled’ to a high spatial resolution (up to 2.5 minutes) using modern...


What did the first farmers actually farm?

Eight so-called founder crops—emmer wheat, einkorn wheat, barley, lentil, pea, chickpea, bitter vetch, and flax—have long been thought to have been the bedrock of Neolithic economies. But early prehistoric sites in Southwest Asia keep turning up more ‘exotic’ (to us) species, like the sedge tubers mixed into the earliest known breads or the new glume wheat, an important ancient crop that’s now extinct. Illustrations...


Revisiting the concept of the ‘Neolithic Founder Crops’ in southwest Asia

Abstract Zohary and Hopf coined the term ‘founder crops’ to refer to a specific group of eight plants, namely three cereals (einkorn, emmer and barley), four legumes (lentil, pea, bitter vetch and chickpea), and a fibre/oil crop (flax), that founded early Neolithic agriculture in southwest Asia. Zohary considered these taxa as the first cultivated and domesticated species, as well as those that agricultural communities...