Ericson Hölzchen

organizational unit


The Role of Culture in Early Expansions of Humans
Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut
Senckenberganlage 25
60325 Frankfurt/Main
+49 69 7542 1574

Curriculum Vitae

Doctoral student


“Concept 'Out of Africa' by means of Agent-based Modeling (ABM)”

My work is focused on hominin dispersal and the processes that are involved. Hominin dispersal is not only driven by changes in the environment but also a result of a chain of active decision making. Agent-based modeling is best suited for modeling the interaction between a population and its environment which we think is a driving factor for hominin dispersal. A prominent example is “Out of Africa”. There are currently four possible routes for the human dispersal out of Africa, via the Bab al Mandab Route, along the Levantine Corridor, the Sicily Route and/or the Gibraltar Route. Several hypotheses may play a role for the hominin dispersal such as ecological variations, demographic pressure, climatic changes, biological and social organization, dispersal of megafauna, carnivore competition, vegetation and sea-level changes.  With Agent-based modeling we can develop, test and compare different scenarios that include all the mentioned hypotheses.  



since 01/2015 research fellow in Agent-based Modelling and Simulation

08/2013 - 12/2014 research fellow in maintaining and completing the “Roceeh Out of Africa Database” (ROAD) and agent based modelling

10/2012 – 07/2013 research fellow in 3D-Modeling and 3D-Scan processing of primate molar teeth at the Department of Palaeoanthropology and Messel Research, Section Tertiary Mammals, Senckenberg



2013 Diploma in Bioinformatics. Thesis title: “Simulation funktionsmorphologisch evolutiver Entwicklungsstadien bunodonter Primatenmolaren”(Goethe University, Frankfurt).



07/2020 ROCEEH Conference 2020 “Human Origins – Digital Future” in Frankfurt, Germany

09/2019 PaleoMaps Workshop 2019 “modeling and mapping paleoenvironments”, Germany

07/2019 International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA) 2019, Ireland

04/2019 Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) 2019, Poland

11/2018 METHOD IFG Workshop “We boldly went” Advances and progress modelling the Mid-Pleistocene Revolution, Spain

04/2018 METHOD IFG Training Lab on Agent-based Modelling, Germany

03/2018 Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) 2018, Germany

04/2017 METHOD IFG Workshop “Keep calm and boldly go” – Which factors in the environment drive early human expansions and have an impact on their settlements?, Germany

03/2017 Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) 2017, USA

09/2016 METHOD IFG Training Lab: Data availability, management and Storage - Working with Databases, Italy

05/2016 Royal Anthropological Institute – Anthropology, Weather and Climate Change 2016, United Kingdom

03/2016 Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) 2016, Italy

07/2015 Expansions 2015, Germany

06/2015 International Interdisciplinary Summer School “Origins of Human Cooperation” mit Michael Tomasello, Germany

03/2015 – 04/2015 Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) 2015, Italy

09/2014 Union International de Sciences Préhistoriques et Protohistoriques (UISPP), Spain

Selected publications and lectures

Hölzchen, E., Hertler, C., Mateos, A., Rodríguez, J., Jan Ole Berndt & Timm, I. (2021): Discovering the opposite shore: How did hominins cross sea straits?. PLOS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0252885

Willmes, C., Niedziólka, K., Serbe, B., Grimm, S.B., Groß, D., Miebach, A., Märker, M., Henselowsky, F., Gamisch, A., Rostami, M., Mateos, A., Rodríguez, J., Limberg, H., Schmidt, I., Müller, M., Hölzchen, E., Holthausen, M., Klein, K., Wegener, C., Weninger, B., Kellberg Nielsen, T., Otto, T., Weniger, G.C., Bubenzer, O. & Bareth, G. (2020): State of the Art in Paleoenvironment Mapping for Modeling Applications in Archaeology - Summary, Conclusions, and Future Directions from the PaleoMaps Workshop. Quaternary 3 (2), p. 13. DOI: 10.3390/quat3020013

Volmer, R., Hölzchen, E., Wurster, A., Ferreras, M.R. & Hertler, C. (2017): Did Leopards (Panthera pardus) become extinct because of competition for prey? Modelling interspecific competition within the Late Pleistocene carnivore guild of the Padang Highlands, Sumatra. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 487, 175-186. DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2017.08.032

Timm, I., Lorig, F., Hölzchen, E. & Hertler, C. (2016): Multi-scale Agent-Based Simulation of Long-Term Dispersal Processes: Towards a Sophisticated Simulation Model of Hominin Dispersal. In: J.A. Barceló & F. Del Castillo (eds.) Simulating Prehistoric and Ancient Worlds. Computational Social Sciences. Springer, Cham, pp. 141-157.

Hölzchen, E., Hertler, C., Timm, I. & Lorig, F. (2016): Evaluation of Out of Africa hypotheses by means of agent-based modeling. Quaternary International 413 Part B, 78-90.

Timm, I., Lorig, F., Hölzchen, E. & Hertler, C. (2014): Multi-Scale Agent-Based Simulation of Long-Term Dispersal Processes: Challenges in Modeling Hominin Biogeography and Expansion, 1-3.

Kubi, M., Schäfer, M., & Hölzchen, E. (2010): Salzpflanzen und Algen. Bericht über die meeresbiologische Exkursion des Zoologischen Institutes der Universität Frankfurt nach Rovinj/Kroatien, 17-20.

Main research interests

  • Hominin dispersal
  • Agent-based simulation