P.J. Capelotti

P.J. Capelotti, Ph.D., in Franz Josef Land

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 at Virgohamna (Virgo Harbor) on the island of Danskøya in Northwest Svalbard (hence the name of this blog about archaeological sites in the Arctic.)

His primary research centers on the history and archaeology of polar exploration.  He has written dozens of scholarly articles and books and in 2013 published the first biography of the British polar explorer Benjamin Leigh Smith, entitled Shipwreck at Cape Flora.  He has just completed his 17th scholarly book, which will be published in 2016 by the American exploration & travel series of the University of Oklahoma Press under the title: The Greatest Show in the Arctic: the American exploration of Franz Josef Land, 1898-1905.

His first novel, Nautilus, is a sequel to Jules Verne’s classic, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  Nautilus has been described by Clive Cussler, the master of adventure fiction, as “an amazing tale filled with enigmas filled with riddles and dark mysteries. Truly a fascinating read.”  This work is now published under the pseudonym Pete Shaw by Fireship Press.  For updates be sure to ‘like’ and follow Pete Shaw. The Kindle version can be purchased here:  Nautilus.

A book outlining his theory of archaeological research in space, The Human Archaeology of Space, was  published in 2010 by McFarland, as was an edited volume on whaling in Antarctica, The Whaling Expedition of the Ulysses, 1937-38 (University Press of Florida 2010). 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, an event covered in the Norwegian newspaper Svalbardposten.  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.

In the summer of 2012, he retired as Master Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, after 24 years of service to his country. Recalled to active duty five times, his work documenting the Coast Guard’s response to the 9/11 attacks earned a decoration with the Meritorious Service Medal in 2003. Among his other military honors are the Coast Guard Commendation Medal, the Coast Guard Achievement Medal, six Armed Forces Reserve Medals, three Meritorious Team Commendations, two Special Operations Service ribbons and, in 1994, the Coast Guard Arctic Service Medal.  Upon his retirement, he received his second Meritorious Service Medal.

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).  He is Professor of Anthropology at Penn State University, Abington College.

Select publications

P.J. Capelotti.  2016.  The Greatest Show in the Arctic: the American exploration of Franz Josef Land, 1898-1905.  American exploration & travel series, University of Oklahoma Press.

P.J. Capelotti and Beth O’Leary, eds.  2014.   The Archaeology and Heritage of the Human Movement into Space.  Springer Space and Society Series.

P.J. Capelotti.  2014.  “Mobile Artifacts in the Solar System and Beyond,” in: P.J. Capelotti and Beth O’Leary, eds.  2014.  The Archaeology and Heritage of the Human Movement into Space. Springer Space and Society Series.

P.J. Capelotti.  2013.  Shipwreck at Cape Flora: The Expeditions of Benjamin Leigh Smith, England’s Forgotten Arctic Explorer.  Calgary: University of Calgary Press, Northern Lights Series. On-line at:  http://uofcpress.com/books/9781552387054.

P.J. Capelotti and Susan Barr.  2013.  “Oppegård kirke, Oppegård, Norway: fixing the location where Roald Amundsen revealed his ‘minor diversion.’”  Polar Record, Journal of the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge University. On-line at: Polar Record.

P.J. Capelotti.  2013.  In Kon-Tiki’s Wake: The Archaeology of the Transoceanic Experiment.  Tucson, AZ: Fireship Press.

P.J. Capelotti and Magnus Forsberg.  2013.  “The Place Names of Franz Josef Land: Eira Expeditions, 1880 and 1881-82.”  Polar Record/FirstView Article pp 1-8 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0032247413000429, published online: 28 June 2013.

P.J. Capelotti.  2012.  “Extreme Archaeological Sites and their Tourism: A conceptual model from historic American polar expeditions in Svalbard, Franz Josef Land and Northeast Greenland.”  Polar Journal 2 (2): 236-255.

P.J. Capelotti.  2012.  “The Theory of the Archaeological Raft: Motivation, Method, and Madness in Experimental Archaeology.”  Short version in Exarc Journal 2011: 20-23.  Full version available on line at: EXARC Journal 2012/1.

Richard E. Gambler III, P.J. Capelotti and Andrew Notarfrancesco.  2012.  “Aerial Archaeology at the Moland House: Balloon-elevated videography in search of Colonial-era structures.”  Northeast Historical Archaeology 41 (2012): 185-192.

P.J. Capelotti.  2011.  “The ‘American Supply Trail’: Archaeological notes on the remains of the Ziegler Polar Expedition in Zemlya-Frantsa Iosifa, 1903-05,”Polar Record 47 (3):  193-201, Journal of the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge University. On-line at:  Polar Record.  Download the pdf here: The American Supply Trail.

P.J. Capelotti.  2010.  The Human Archaeology of Space.  Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Publishers.Review in Spaceflight 53 (1): 36, January 2011.

P.J. Capelotti, editor. 2010. The Whaling Expedition of the Ulysses, 1937-38, by Lieutenant (j.g.) Quentin R. Walsh.  Gainesville: University Press of Florida. Review in Nautical Research Journal 56 (2): 122, Summer 2011. Review in Sea History 135, Summer 2011. Review in The Northern Mariner/le marin du nord XXI (2): 173-174, April 2011.

P.J. Capelotti.  2010.  “Benjamin Leigh Smith’s third Arctic expedition: Svalbard, 1873,” Polar Record 46 (4): 359-371. doi:10.1017/S003224740999057X

P.J. Capelotti. 2009. “Surveying Fermi’s Paradox, Mapping Dyson’s Sphere: Approaches to Archaeological Field Research in Space.” Handbook of Space Engineering, Archaeology and Heritage. Duxbury, MA: Francis and Taylor, CRC.

P.J. Capelotti. 2009. “The Culture of Apollo: A Catalog of Evidence of Manned Exploration of the Moon.” Handbook of Space Engineering, Archaeology and Heritage. Duxbury, MA: Francis and Taylor, CRC.

P.J. Capelotti. 2009. “Further to the death of Sigurd B. Myhre at Camp Abruzzi, Rudolf Island, Franz Josef Land, May 16, 1904, during the Ziegler Polar Expedition.” Polar Research, Journal of the Norwegian Polar Institute, Tromsø, Norway. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-8369.2008.00089.x

P.J. Capelotti. 2008. “Benjamin Leigh Smith’s second Arctic expedition: Svalbard and Jan Mayen, 1872,” Polar Record 44 (3): 255-264. doi:10.1017/S0032247408007444

P.J. Capelotti. 2008. “A ‘radically new method’: Balloon Buoy Communications of the Baldwin-Ziegler Polar Expedition, Franz Josef Land, June 1902,” Polar Research 27(1): 52-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-8369.2008.00045.x

P.J. Capelotti.   2007.  Flåteferder i Kon-Tikis kjølvann. (Norwegian language edition of Sea Drift.) Oslo: Flyt forlag. Review in Aftenposten, September 15, 2007.

P.J. Capelotti. 2007. “Century-old ski found at Mys Triest, Ostrov Champa, Zemlya Frantsa-Iosifa, Russia,” Polar Record 43 (3): 272-275 doi:10.1017/S0032247407006717

P.J. Capelotti. 2007. “A preliminary archaeological survey of a Tupolev TB-3 (ANT-6) aircraft on Ostrov Rudol’fa, Zemlya Frantsa-Iosifa, Russia,” Polar Record 43 (2): 173-177, Journal of the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge University. doi:10.1017/S0032247407256177

P.J. Capelotti, Herman Van Dyk & Jean-Claude Cailliez. 2007. “Strange interlude at Virgohamna, Danskøya, Svalbard, 1906: the merkelig mann, the engineer and the spy,” Polar Research 26 (1): 64-75. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-8369.2007.00008.x

P.J. Capelotti. 2006. “E.B. Baldwin and the American-Norwegian discovery and exploration of Graham Bell Island, 1899,” Polar Research 25 (2): 155-171. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-8369.2006.tb00031.x

P.J. Capelotti. 2006. “Benjamin Leigh Smith’s first Arctic expedition, Svalbard, 1871,” Polar Record 42 (220): 1-14. doi:10.1017/S0032247405004821

P.J. Capelotti.  2006.  “The Rock in the Fuselage,” Archaeology 59 (6), November/December 2006.

P.J. Capelotti, editor.  2005.   Life and Death on the Greenland Patrol, 1942.  Gainesville: University Press of Florida.  (Named Best Book on Coast Guard History, 2005-2006, by the Foundation for Coast Guard History.)

P.J. Capelotti, editor.  2004.  The Franz Josef Land Archipelago: E.B. Baldwin’s Journal of the Wellman Expedition to Franz Josef Land, 1898-1899.  Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Publishers.

P.J. Capelotti.  2004.  Rogue Wave: The U.S. Coast Guard on and after 9/11. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Coast Guard Historians Office.  (Named Best Book on Coast Guard History, 2004-2005, by the Foundation for Coast Guard History.)

P.J. Capelotti.  2004.   “Rogue Wave: The Coast Guard and September 11.”  The United States Coast Guard: The Shield of Freedom [A Government Services Group periodical], pp. 54-71.

P.J Capelotti.  2004.  “The U.S. Coast Guard Response to 9/11.”   Joint Center for Operational Analysis and Lessons Learned (JCOA-LL) Bulletin, VI (4): 9-14.

P.J. Capelotti.  2004.  “Space: The Final [Archaeological] Frontier,” Archaeology 57 (6), November/December 2004.

P.J. Capelotti.  2002.  “Let Them Eat Walrus:  E.B. Baldwin and the Norwegians of the Wellman Expedition to Franz Josef Land, 1898.” International Scientific Cooperation in the Arctic: Proceedings of a Conference Devoted to the Centenary of the Swedish-Russian Arc-of-Meridian Expedition to Spitsbergen and 125 years of V.A. Rusanov’s Birth, ed. Eugene Bouzney.  Moscow: Scientific World, pp. 59-65.

P.J. Capelotti.  2002.  “The Train Has Left the Station: Archaeological Formation Processes and the Abandoned Coal Mining Village of Pyramiden, Svalbard.”  International Scientific Cooperation in the Arctic: Proceedings of a Conference Devoted to the Centenary of the Swedish-Russian Arc-of-Meridian Expedition to Spitsbergen and 125 years of V.A. Rusanov’s Birth, ed. Eugene Bouzney.  Moscow: Scientific World, pp. 116-127.

P.J. Capelotti.  2001.  Sea Drift: Rafting Adventures in the Wake of Kon-Tiki.  New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

P.J. Capelotti, editor.  2000.  The Svalbard Archipelago: American Geographical Studies of Spitsbergen and other Norwegian Polar Territories, 1941-1950. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Publishers.

P.J. Capelotti.  2000.  “Papers of Greely survivor Francis Joseph Long.” Polar Record 36 (197): 157.

P.J. Capelotti.  1999.  By Airship to the North Pole: An Archaeology of Human Exploration.. New Brunswick:  Rutgers University Press.

P.J. Capelotti.  1999.  “Virgohamna and the Archaeology of Failure,” in Urban Wråkberg, editor. Centennial of S.A. Andrée’s North Pole Expedition: Proceedings of a Conference on S.A. Andrée and the Agenda for Social Science Research of the Polar Regions.  Sotckholm: Bidrag till Kungl. Svenska Vetenskapsakademiens Historia (Contributions to the History of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences), No. 28, pp. 37-52.

P.J. Capelotti.  1997.   The Wellman Polar Airship Expeditions at Virgohamna. Norsk Polarinstitutt Meddelelser No. 145 (Oslo 1997).

P.J. Capelotti.  1996.  A Conceptual Model for Aerospace Archaeology:  A Case Study from the Wellman Site, Virgohamna, Danskøya, Svalbard.  Ph.D. Dissertation.  Rutgers University.  University Microfilms #9633681.

P.J. Capelotti and C.L. Devlin.  1996.  “Proximity to Seacoast:  G.W. Field and the Marine Laboratory at Point Judith Pond, Rhode Island, 1896-1900,” History of Biology 29: 251-265.

P.J. Capelotti.  1994.  “A Preliminary Archæological Survey of Camp Wellman at Virgohamn, Danskøya, Svalbard,” Polar Record 30 (175): 265-276.

P.J. Capelotti.  1994.  “The U.S. Coast Guard and Borchgrevink’s Hut at Cape Adare, Antarctica, 1961,” Polar Record 30 (175): 311.

P.J. Capelotti, editor.  1991.  Our Man in the Crimea: Commander Hugo Koehler and the Russian Civil War. Columbia:  University of South Carolina Press, Studies in Maritime History.

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One Response to P.J. Capelotti

  1. Clive Cussler says:

    Pete Capelotti has to be a master of the mystery adventure. Nautilus is an amazing tale filled with enigmas filled with riddles and dark mysteries. Truly a fascinating read.

    Clive Cussler

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