Dr Joshua James Emmitt

2010 - BA(Hons), 2011 - MA, 2017 Doctor of Philosophy - PhD, School of Social Sciences, The University of Auckland, New Zealand

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Professional Teaching Fellow
Research Fellow

Research | Current

Phd Thesis: Looking past presence and absence: An examination of socio-economic variability in middle Holocene Egypt through pottery analysis

In the past the socio-economy of middle Holocene Egypt was interpreted based on the presence or absence of material correlates including structures, stone tools, pottery, and domesticated plants and animals. Together these formed the traits of a Neolithic Package that were thought to spread from southwest Asia to Egypt during the middle Holocene. Modern research now shows that the traits attributed to the Neolithic Package did not develop uniformly over time and space, so the package concept is less useful. Contemporary approaches focus on processes to interpret socio-economy, such as occupation duration, mobility, and exchange. These are measured through analysis of material culture such as stone artefacts and the placement of features on a landscape. However, more examples are required that use material culture types that are abundant and preserve well, such as pottery. Past research has focused on a small proportion of pottery assemblages, typically whole vessels and decorated sherds, both used to form typologies and identify cultural groupings. Similarities in decorative styles or vessel forms is used to infer movement between different cultural groups. However, these culture-historical interpretations mean that large volumes of un-diagnostic sherds are disregarded for analysis. My research uses non-destructive methods, such as x-ray fluorescence (XRF) and fragmentation ratios, to analyse all artefacts in pottery assemblages to understand the impact of the processes noted above. XRF analysis is used to identify the geochemical signatures of the materials used in pottery manufacture. This enables the identification of pottery that is not likely locally made and so provides a proxy for movement. The differential fragmentation of pottery is used in estimates of how many vessels the sherds in an assemblage represent and so provides a means for assessing occupation duration. Pottery from several places in Egypt that date to the middle Holocene are compared. Results suggest movement between locations beyond what was previously inferred in culture-historical interpretations. These results are interpreted in the wider North African context.

Teaching | Current

ANTHRO 703 Landscape Archaeology (Lecturer)


  • Best Student Poster, 62nd Conference for the New Zealand Archaeological Association, 22-25 June 2016, Blenheim
  • Arts Impact Poster Presentation Award, Faculty of Arts, University of Auckland, September 2015.
  • Catherine Southwell-Keely Travel Grant, Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation, University of Sydney, February 2014.
  • Senior Prize in Ancient History, University of Auckland, December 2009.

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Holdaway, S., Phillipps, R., Emmitt, J., Linseele, V., & Wendrich, W. (2018). The Desert Fayum in the twenty-first century. Antiquity, 92 (361), 233-238. 10.15184/aqy.2017.178
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Simon Holdaway, Rebecca Phillipps
  • Emmitt, J. J., McAlister, A. J., Phillipps, R. S., & Holdaway, S. J. (2018). Sourcing without sources: Measuring ceramic variability with pXRF. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 17, 422-432. 10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.11.024
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rebecca Phillipps, Simon Holdaway
  • Holdaway, S. J., Emmitt, J., Phillipps, R., & Masoud-Ansari, S. (2018). A Minimalist Approach to Archaeological Data Management Design. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory10.1007/s10816-018-9399-6
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Simon Holdaway, Rebecca Phillipps
  • Pillay, P., Barrett, M., Emmitt, J. J., Mackrell, T., & Phillipps, R. (22/6/2017). Data acquisition and integration protocol on the Ahuahu/Great Mercury Island Archaeological Project. Poster presented at NZAA Annual Conference 2017, Thames, New Zealand. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Matthew Barrett, Tim Mackrell, Rebecca Phillipps
  • Emmitt, J. J., Sefton, B., Phillipps, R., Wendrich, W., & Holdaway, S. (2017). Reimag(in)ing the past: Adding the third dimension to archaeological section drawings. Advances in Archaeological Practice, 5 (1), 44-53. 10.1017/aap.2016.5
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/33574
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rebecca Phillipps, Simon Holdaway
  • Emmitt, J. J. (2017). The Neolithic pottery of Egypt: investigating settlement pattern in middle Holocene northeast Africa with ceramics The University of Auckland. ResearchSpace@Auckland.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/35414
  • Phillipps, R., Holdaway, S. J., Ramsay, R., Wendrich, W., & Emmitt, J. J. (2017). Approaches to Paleoenvironment and Landscape Use. In S. J. Holdaway, W. Z. Wendrich (Eds.) The Desert Fayum Reinvestigated: The Early to Mid-Holocene Landscape Archaeology of the Fayum North Shore, Egypt (pp. 17-50). Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rebecca Phillipps, Simon Holdaway
  • Phillipps, R., Holdaway, S., Emmitt, J., & Wendrich, W. (2016). Variability in the neolithic settlement patterns of the Egyptian Nile Valley. African Archaeological Review, 33 (3), 277-295. 10.1007/s10437-016-9224-0
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/30051
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rebecca Phillipps, Simon Holdaway