Cobb Institute staff are involved in research projects throughout North America, the Near East, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean, and the Institute provides a wide range of opportunities for MSU undergraduate and graduate students to become engaged in archaeological research and study activities. The Institute also provides assistantships to students concentrating on archaeology in the Masters Program in Applied Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures. Examples of current research projects include:

Excavations at Khirbet Summeily, Israel

Since 2011, Dr. James Hardin has co-directed excavations at the site of Khirbet Summeily in Israel, leading multiple summer archaeology field schools at the site. Summeily is a small, rural site best known for the discovery of multiple clay bullae that support the existence of political complexity in the early Iron Age. Hardin et al. published an article in the December 2014 issue of Near Eastern Archaeology, available here.

Early Americans of the Southeast

Dr. Shane Miller and Derek Anderson are currently directing two excavation projects of Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene sites. The Hester site, near Amory, MS, was initially excavated in the 1970's and was reopened by a MSU crew during the summer of 2017; it contains multiple Late Paleoindian and Early Archaic components and will be the focus of ongoing field schools offered through AMEC. The Topper and Swag sites near Martin, SC are part of the Allendale Chert Quarries Archaeological District; Anderson has been directing excavations of the Topper hilltop since 2010, and Miller and Anderson have been working at the nearby Swag site since 2015. Both sites have produced large amounts of tools and production debris from quarry-related activities, along with diagnostic points and radiocarbon dates from the Early and Late Paleoindian and Early Archaic periods.

Bioarchaeology in Central Europe and the Mediterranean

Dr. Anna Osterholtz's research focuses on the interaction between the living and the dead and in how the manipulation of the body can be important for collective identity. She is actively involved in the analysis of commingled and fragmentary human remains from around the world and different time periods. Specifically, she works in Central Europe and the Mediterranean, most recently on the island of Cyprus and in Croatia. In Croatia, Dr. Osterholtz is partnered with numerous museums and researchers to explore lived experience from the Bronze Age through the Medieval period. At the site of Đurđevac-Sošice in eastern Croatia, she has been working with the City Museum of Koprivnica to excavate and analyze remains of over 200 individuals buried within a medieval church. From the City Necropolis of Tragurium in modern-day Trogir, she has been working with the Town Museum of Trogir and the Institute for Anthropological Research in Zagreb to analyze the remains of very young individuals with an eye towards testing for lead exposure in the Roman period understanding rural versus urban lead exposure. On Cyprus, Dr. Osterholtz works with an international group of colleagues to complete analysis and publication of a Middle Bronze Age tomb, highlighting the role of rescue archaeology and public outreach.

Excavations at the Aklis site, St. Croix, USVI

Derek Anderson and Dr. Molly Zuckerman have been conducting salvage excavations at the Aklis site on St. Croix, USVI since 2014, including summer field schools in 2014 and 2016. Aklis is a Late Ceramic Age coastal conch shell midden with an extremely dense cemetery component that is being washed away due to rising sea levels and tropical storms. Zuckerman et al. have recently started investigating mortuary behaviors at the site; analysis of bone, shell, ceramic, and lithic artifacts are ongoing.

Southeastern Quaternary Fauna

Derek Anderson is curator of the comparative zooarchaeology collection at the Cobb Institute, and has been involved in multiple faunal analyses from archaeological and paleontological sites in Mississippi and the Southeastern US. He is currently assembling a database of all known Pleistocene fossil remains from MS and surrounding states as part of a large-scale paleoenvironmental study.

University of Mississippi Medical Center

From 2012 to 2015, Dr. Molly Zuckerman and Derek Anderson (along with former Cobb research associate Dr. Nicholas Herrmann) co-directed excavations and monitored construction projects at the site of the former Mississippi state insane asylum cemetery on the current UMMC campus in Jackson, Mississippi. The initial work at the site resulted in the recovery of 67 individuals who were buried there sometime between 1855 and 1935; those remains are now being analyzed by Zuckerman and her students at MSU. Zuckerman and Anderson are both members of the recently formed Asylum Hill Research Consortium, which is developing plans for future excavations and outreach related to the project.

Digital recording of Lahav Project Materials

Since 1999, Dr. Paul Jacobs has been working on a digital report of all excavated materials and associated records, photographs, maps, etc. from the Lahav excavations. The Digmaster project is intended as a "total publication" of all data and is broken down into artifact type categories and areas of the excavation and is being continually updated as additional analyses are conducted.

Freshwater Mussels of Mississippi

Dr. Evan Peacock is the Principal Investigator of a National Science Foundation grant (along with Co-PI's Dr. Brenda Kirkland and Dr. Virginie Renson) looking at the chemical composition of freshwater mussel shell fragments used as temper in prehistoric ceramics in order to reconstruct past population movements and trade networks (

Completed research projects