Justin Pargeter

Office: 114 Anthropology

Email: justin.pargeter@emory.edu

Additional Contact Information


  • PhD, Anthropology, Stony Brook University
  • M.A., Anthropology, Stony Brook University
  • M.Sc., Anthropology, University of the Witwatersrand
  • B.Sc. (Hons.), Archaeology, University of the Witwatersrand
  • B.A., Archaeology, University of the Witwatersrand


Justin Pargeter is a postdoctoral fellow working with Dr. Dietrich Stout in the Anthropology Department at Emory. His research interests are in the evolution of technology and stone tools in human societies. His methods integrate quantitative and experimental approaches with predictive modelling and fieldwork data to study the evolving role of the human technological niche across a broad area of sub-Saharan Africa. He received his PhD in anthropology at Stony Brook University. Before moving to America from South Africa, he was based at the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, where he initiated several long-term fieldwork and experimental projects examining the role of stone tools in human evolution. He also has prior teaching experience as a assistant Lecturer at the Catholic University of Malawi, central Africa, where he helped establish this country’s first archaeology degree program.


At Emory University, Justin Pargeter is investigating the relationship between technology, skill, knowledge acquisition and human brain evolution. For this project, he analyzes technological data on stone tools produced by novice toolmakers under controlled conditions. His research aims are to: 1) Characterize the differences between novice and expert toolmakers, 2) Identify what if any stone tool technological attributes characterize learnt technological behaviors, 3) Describe changes in stone tool shape, form, and technology as novices learn to make stone tools, and 4) Relate these attributes to aspects of brain structure using MRI data. This research is conducted in collaboration with Dr. Dietrich Stout, Dr. Heidi Knecht, and Dr. Katherine Bryant. Research is supported by Emory University and the National Science Foundation.

Justin Pargeter also conducts research in sub-Saharan African where he focuses on the region’s late Pleistocene prehistory. His doctoral research investigated lithic miniaturization (the systematic production of small stone tools from small cores) between c. 40 – 12 kcal. BP in Lesotho and South Africa. This study developed a novel framework for predictive modeling of lithic miniaturization’s variation and its strategic and enduring deployment by prehistoric humans. Ultimately, these data have broader relevance for understanding the role of technological miniaturization (e.g. nanotechnologies and microprocessors) in our current social and environmental contexts.

His current African research involves several collaborations including co-directing the P5 Pondoland project investigating the origins and development of coastal foraging along South Africa’s Wild Coast (Dr. Erich Fisher) and under his Honorary Research Affiliation with the micro-TrACKS research program at the University of Johannesburg (Prof. Marlize Lombard).