Justin Walsh is a leading scholar in the new field of space archaeology, which studies the material culture of human activity in outer space and human activity on Earth that is directed at space. He was selected as one of the Explorers Club 50 in 2024
, one of “50 remarkable explorers changing the world and extending the meaning of exploration.”
In 2015, he created the first archaeological effort to investigate a human habitat in space, the International Space Station Archaeological Project
, and he has co-directed ISSAP since then. In 2022, ISSAP carried out the first archaeological work in space, an experiment called SQuARE
that had astronauts on the ISS document six sample locations around the space station with daily photography for a two-month period. ISSAP has received national recognition in the form of the Archaeological Institute’s 2023 Award for Outstanding Work in Digital Archaeology
and the American Anthropological Association’s 2023 General Anthropology Division New Directions Award
. The project has been covered by global media including CNN, NPR, CBC Radio, PBS NOVA, Scientific American
, Popular Science
, The New York Times
, Ars Technica
magazine (Australia), R+D Magazine
, PM History
magazine (Germany), Space.com, CollectSpace, Forbes.com, and Agencia SINC (Spain).
Walsh also researches and teaches Mediterranean art and archaeology. He is listed in the Register of Professional Archaeologists. He has worked on excavations in the United States, Spain, Jordan, and Italy (particularly at the site of Morgantina, in east-central Sicily), since 1998. In 2014, he began a new collaborative project on the Iberian indigenous settlement of Cástulo
, in Andalusia, with archaeologists from the University of Jaén and the Andalusian regional government. This work has been supported by grants from the Loeb Classical Library Foundation and the National Geographic Society.
Walsh’s publications have concerned imported Greek pottery found across western Europe, and the implications of that material for a new consumer-oriented perspective on the ancient economy. A general monograph on the relationship between economic consumption and identity in the western Mediterranean and trans-Alpine Europe, titled “Consumerism in the Ancient World: Imports and Identity Construction
,” was published by Routledge Press in 2014 (paperback 2020).
Walsh’s other work includes problems related to cultural heritage management, both ancient and modern. He is a founding member of the ICOMOS Scientific Committee on Aerospace Heritage, and has led efforts to protect the historic district of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. He is also working to document human heritage on Mars.
He has received multiple awards and fellowships, including a Fulbright Grant to Greece in 2002-2003, a Rome Prize in 2003-2004, the inaugural Arthur Ross Advanced Research Fellowship from the Institute for Classical Architecture and Classical America in 2008, and a Tytus Summer Residency Fellowship from the Burnam Classics Library at the University of Cincinnati in 2010. In 2016, Walsh was Benjamin Meaker Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Bristol (UK). Since 2023, he has been Ad Astra Fellow in Space Habitats and Space Anthropology in the Space Engineering Research Center at the University of Southern California. Within Chapman, he has received multiple awards for his scholarly work as well as his collaborations with student researchers.