Dr. P.J. Capelotti’s research on the archaeology and history of exploration has taken him from the equator to the North Pole, and from Indonesia to Russia. He did his doctoral fieldwork in archaeology 600 miles from the North Pole on the island of Danskøya in Northwest Svalbard, Norway.
His primary research centers on the history and archaeology of polar exploration and he is currently completing the first biography of the British polar explorer Benjamin Leigh Smith and beginning work on the first complete history of the American exploration of the Arctic archipelago of Franz Josef Land. In the course of his polar research, he has been to the North Pole twice, visited several islands in the Franz Josef Land archipelago, and made six trips to Svalbard.
In 2009, he designed, wrote and opened at the Spitsbergen Airship Museum in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, a centennial exhibit on the polar flights of the American journalist Walter Wellman. His two book chapters and an article on the possibilities of archaeological research in space were recently featured in an article in the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel. A book outlining his theory of archaeological research in space, The Human Archaeology of Space, was just published (McFarland 2010), as was an edited volume on whaling in Antarctica, The Whaling Expedition of the Ulysses, 1937-38 (University Press of Florida 2010). In total he has written or edited 15 scholarly books.
Capelotti earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in history from the University of Rhode Island (1983, 1989) and an M.A. and Ph.D. in anthropology from Rutgers University (1994, 1996), and served 24 years in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, retiring in 2012 at the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer. He is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Penn State University, Abington College.