Christopher Wolff

Office: Arts & Sciences Building, Room 105
Ph: (518) 442-3982
Email: cwolff@albany.edu
Ph.D, Southern Methodist University, 2008
Curriculum Vitae
Christopher Wolff

Interests

Northern Cultures and Ecology, Coastal Hunter-Gatherers, Prehistoric Technology, Prehistoric Cultural Interaction, Arctic/Subarctic Drums, The Archaeology of Fear, Peopling of the Americas.

Areas

Northeastern North America, Newfoundland and Labrador, North American Arctic, Iceland.

Research Statement

My main research interest is in the interactions between northern prehistoric coastal peoples and their ecosystems. In particular, I am interested in examining the relationships between multiscalar ecological change and northern coastal hunter-gatherers. I believe that a better understanding of the dynamics of climate change, sea conditions, the biogeography of marine and coastal resources, and past northeastern cultures, may have broader implications for modern conservation efforts and environmental policies. The geographic focus of my research has been on the Eastern Subarctic/Arctic coast of Canada, but I have research interests that span the North American Arctic, Subarctic, and adjacent regions, and the historical relationships between these regions.

Since 2008, I have been conducting collaborative, multidisciplinary research in eastern Newfoundland at the Stock Cove site and on existing collections. This site is a large site with evidence of almost every culture that inhabited the island, beginning as early as 5,000 years ago. I am interested in examining the relationships these various cultures had with the dynamic environment of the Far Northeastern region of North America, as well as with contemporaneous groups living in adjacent regions of the Northeast. This includes examination of the rich lithic technology they created, settlement patterns, subsistence practices, and ecological data.

I also have more northern ranging research interests in the circumpolar north. For the last few years I have been investigating the importance of drums to Arctic and Subarctic cultures. Additionally, I have been investigating the use of caves during the Viking Age in Iceland.

Finally, I have been conducting research and compiling evidence concerning the influence of fear on cultures of the past. Every human group, past and present, has experienced collective and individual fears in some form, and many have devised ways to use it to their advantage against others, for good and evil, or have done what they could to evade it. To believe that fear’s influence in the ancient world was not as prevalent and powerful as we experience today is to deny the humanity of past societies. Yet, very little attention has been paid by archaeologists to the role of fear in the formation and development of cultural behavior.