Dr. Jesse Wolfhagen

Research Associate
Department of Archaeology

Main Focus

I am interested in exploring how people react to and bring about changes in their local ecologies through their interactions with animals. I use biometric analyses and stable isotopic analyses of faunal remains recovered from archaeological sites to investigate these past interactions. By exploring the variability in specific kinds of human-animal interactions over time and space, I can estimate how interactions with local people influenced the biology and behavior of animal populations, transcending dichotomies between wild and domestic.

My research at MPI-SHH uses collagen fingerprinting (Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry: ZooMS) and stable isotopic analyses to explore the ecological impacts of early pastoralists in East Africa.

I am also an advocate for the use of more sophisticated statistical modeling techniques in archaeology, particularly those built using open source methods. I am an active #rstats user and write Bayesian models for my analyses in Stan. I am a co-founder and current co-chair of the Society of American Archaeology’s Quantitative Methods and Statistical Computing in Archaeology Interest Group (SAA QUANTARCH) with Dr. Erik Otárola-Castillo and Dr. Max Price.

My research interests are largely focused on human-animal interactions, domestication, the origins of pastoralism, stable isotopic analysis, Bayesian statistics, open science, and human niche construction.

Curriculum Vitae

I received my PhD in 2019 in Anthropology from Stony Brook University, which focused on the examination of human-cattle interactions at the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük (Turkey) and modeling cattle biometry across southwest Asia more broadly through the middle Holocene. I also received my MA in Anthropology from Stony Brook University and my BA from New York University.


Blanz, M., Mainland, I., Richards, M., Balasse, M., Ascough, P., Wolfhagen, J., Taggart, M.A., Feldmann, J. 2020. Identifying seaweed consumption by sheep using isotope analysis of their bones and teeth: Modern reference δ13C and δ15N values and their archaeological implications. Journal of Archaeological Science (118): 105140. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2020.105140

Wolfhagen, J. and Price, M. 2017. A Probabilistic Model for Distinguishing between Sheep and Goat Postcranial Remains. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 12: 625–631. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.02.022 

Twiss, K., Wolfhagen, J., Madgwick, R., Foster, H., Demirergi, G. A., Russell, N., Everhart, J., Pearson, J., Mulville, J. 2017. Horses, hemiones, hydruntines? Assessing the reliability of dental criteria for assigning species to southwest Asian equid remains. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 27(2): 298-304. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/oa.2524

Brandt, S., Hildebrand, E., Vogelsang, R., Wolfhagen, J., Wang, H. 2017. A new MIS 3 radiocarbon chronology for Mochena Borago Rockshelter, SW Ethiopia: Implications for the interpretation of Late Pleistocene chronostratigraphy and human behavior. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 11: 352–369. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2016.09.013

Price, M., Wolfhagen, J., Otárola-Castillo, E. 2016. Confidence Intervals in the Analysis of Mortality and Survivorship Curves in Zooarchaeology. American Antiquity 81(1): 157–173. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7183/0002-7316.81.1.157

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