Christopher Carleton

Department of Archaeology

Main Focus

Chris (W. Christopher Carleton in publication) is an archaeologist and data scientist with an interest in uncertainty and long-term human--environment interaction. He has BA in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology from the University of Saskatchewan, an MA in Anthropology from Trent University in Ontario, and a PhD in Archaeology from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia—all in Canada. He joined the independent Extreme Events Research Group with the Max Planck Society in August 2019 after finishing a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Simon Fraser University.

Chris’s research focuses on quantifying the nature of the interaction between human societies and the environment over the long-termIn particular, he is interested in studying the complexities of analyzing data from the palaeoenvironmental and archaeological records (together, “palaeo-data”), both of which are highly idiosyncratic from a data science perspective. In his research, he has found that these palaeo-data idiosyncrasies lead to uncertainties and biases that have so far gone underappreciated and understudied by archaeologists and other scholars interested in the past. As a result, there has been little attention paid to evaluating the impact of palaeo-data idiosyncrasies on our understanding of the past and little in the way of methodological development aimed at handling the data properly. Consequently, Chris spends a lot of time thinking about and analyzing the impact of palaeo-data idiosyncrasies on established statistical methods anddeveloping new statistical tools for testing hypotheses about human--environment interaction. In the long-run his objective is to develop a body of palaeo-data science literature and help establish palaeo-data science as a formal sub-discipline that reaches across several traditional disciplinary boundaries. 

While he generally thinks of himself as a “Palaeo Data Scientist” since so much of his research is data-science-focused, he also loves archaeological field work. He spent a couple of years working in archaeological heritage resource management in Canada’s (usually frozen) northern British Columbia, and he has worked on projects in southern Ontario, Turkey (at the famous Neolithic site, Çatalhöyük), and at a secondary Classic Maya centre near Lamanai in Orange Walk, Belize.

When not analyzing data or doing fieldwork, he is a father and husband who spends what little “free” time he has painting toy fantasy and sci-fi soldiers.

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