Christopher M Stevenson, PhD


Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

PhD, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, 1984
MA, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, 1979
BA, Marquette University, Milwaukee, 1976

Email -
Phone - 804.827.3418
Fax - 804.828.0127

Office - Lafayette Hall Room 207
312 N. Shafer St. 
Richmond, VA 23220 

Christopher M. Stevenson is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology in the School of World Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. He is an archaeologist by training with concentrations in multiple culture areas. Initially, his interests focused upon prehistoric Native American communities in the Eastern Woodlands of the United States where he conducted excavations at several Late Woodland (A.D. 900-1600) villages prior to his survey of several mall tributary valleys along the Allegheny Front in Central Pennsylvania for part of his MA Thesis. Soon distracted by the larger world, he changed his research focus to Pacific archaeology and conducted field research for his dissertation on Easter Island (Rapa Nui), Chile. Since 1988, he has returned almost each year to Rapa Nui for additional fieldwork. The outcomes of this effort have included several books on the settlement archaeology of Rapa Nui (Archaeological Investigations at Maunga Tari, An Upland Agricultural Complex (1997); Stevenson, C.M. and W.S. Ayres. 2000. Easter Island Archaeology: Research on Early Rapa Nui Culture; Stevenson, C.M aand S. Haoa. 2008. Prehistoric Rapa Nui). Recently funded by the National Science Foundation, Dr. Stevenson has investigated the development of ancient farming strategies on Rapa Nui, especially the invention of rock garden technologies used to enhance crop productivity.

As a result of working in a region with abundant natural glasses, and no pottery, a major line of investigation has been the refinement of the obsidian hydration dating method. Central to the control of prehistoric chronology, numerous field and laboratory experiments have been conducted over the years to investigate models of water diffusion in glass and their ability to accurately date the past. Numerous research papers have been published on the dating method(Ambrose, W. and C.M. Stevenson. 2004. Obsidian density, connate water and hydration dating. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry. 4(2):1-10; Stevenson, C. M. and S.W. Novak. 2010. Obsidian hydration by infrared spectroscopy: method and calibration. Journal of Archaeological Science 38:1716-1726) in addition to a recent book on obsidian glass studies (Liritzis, I.s and C.M. Stevenson 2012. Obsidian and Ancient Manufactured Glasses. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque) that covers a diversity of topics.

This extensive experience in the field of material studies has led to other archaeometric investigations that currently include the refinement of a ceramic dating method known as ceramic rehydroxylation dating. A variant of the water diffusion process in natural glasses, he intends to apply the outcomes of his laboratory investigations to the ceramics of the Canary Islands, a new venue for the investigation of island farming strategies.