Willman, John Charles


Phone: (+34) 607 982 161



Sponsor: Postdoctoral Marie Sklodowska-Curie UE Grant (H2020-MSCA-IF-2016)

I am a biological anthropologist with broad interests in bioarchaeology, dental anthropology, and paleoanthropology. I completed my Ph.D. thesis at Washington University in St. Louis in 2016.

I am currently a postdoctoral researcher at IPHES working with Dr. Marina Lozano on the “IDENTITIES” project (Integrative Approaches to Dental Wear: Non-Masticatory Tooth-Use Across the Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition Among Iberian Foraging and Farming Societies). The project is funded through a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action Individual Fellowship (H2020-MSCA-IF-2016), and involves collaboration of many specialists at IPHES, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and the University of Alicante. We will develop an integrative methodology to analyze human non-alimentary dental wear that results from manipulative behaviors (e.g., using the “teeth-as-tools”) among bioarchaeological groups from Mesolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and Bronze Age contexts across the Iberian Peninsula. Idiosyncratic patterns of dental wear related to manipulative tasks provide biocultural markers of social identities when aligned with information on sex, age, occupation, or status of individuals. Ultimately, this data will contribute to our understanding social, economic, and technological reorganization following a shift from hunting and gathering to dependence on domesticated plants and animals. Furthermore, the integration of numerous methodologies to study dental wear provides cross-validation, which ultimately advances the study of material surface modification in bioarchaeology, paleoanthropology, archaeology, and allied fields.

My additional research interests concern paleoanthropological subjects – namely, Neandertal and early modern human paleobiology. I conducted my doctoral thesis research on “The Non-Masticatory Use of the Anterior Teeth Among Late Pleistocene Humans”, and demonstrated a substantial overlap in Neandertal and early modern human non-masticatory manipulative tasks related to the use of teeth-as-tools. The results challenge long-held views of cognitive and/or behavioral inferiority among Neandertals compared to their early modern human successors. In addition, this research will address aspects of craniodental functional adaptation and the reduction of anterior tooth size among Middle and Late Pleistocene humans. Further paleoanthropological and bioarchaeological research addresses dietary variation among Late Pleistocene and early Holocene humans through the analysis or dental macrowear, dental microwear texture analysis, and paleopathology. I am also working on multiple projects related to understanding Late Pleistocene human social identities at individual and group level with an emphasis on cultural practices related to dental or body modification.