Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Mining for Inca Mummies - 1953

I found this story through Ebay; the HRM Library had a copy.
Excerpted from Ancient Civilizations of America. by A. Hyatt Verrill and Ruth Verrill, posthumously and republished in
Excerpts from Conquistadors Without Swords – Archaeologists in the Americas – an account with original narratives - 1967
By Leo Deuel
Chapter 4
Robbing the dead has been a flourishing industry in Peru since the Conquest. Hence the conspicuous huaquero—a Quechua derivation meaning the man who digs huacas, sanctuaries or burial places, and retrieves huacos, sacred objects. Before archaeological investigation ever got under way, knowledge of buried Peruvian antiquities was entirely due to the reckless trade in which whole villages might engage full time. Huaqueros transmitted the first reports of startling ceramics and textiles. Of course, precious metal was their prime objective, and the exquisite silver and gold objects and jewelry they found rarely survived their cupidity. They wrought destruction beyond remedy. Yet today museum collections all over the world owe most of their treasures from the Chavín, Moche, Chimú, and Nazca civilizations to disreputable pothunters. In almost every instance that scholars became aware of hitherto unknown cultures, they had initially been alerted by the ware thrown on the market by the professional grave robbers.
Whatever their dismay, it is only the priggish among the archaeologists who would deny their debt. And then, before it became fully and selfconsciously scientific, archaeology itself differed rather in intention than method from the practices of those irreverent rascals. Every archaeologist sooner or later realizes that all the talk about "stratification," "in situ," and "carbon-14" cannot hide the ugly fact that he too is engaged in disturbing the peace of the dead. The dividing line between him and the grave robber is uncomfortably thin. No honest account of antiquarian pursuits can gloss this over.
A. Hyatt Verrill, who was an explorer-adventurer first, and only on occasion an archaeologist (and then little concerned with technique), exemplifies the role of the amateur, who will often be blessed with discoveries where the expert draws blank after blank. Lady Luck shone on Verrill many times during his unconventional digs, as he freely notes with a dose of self-directed irony in the following account.
But what made his successes possible were the conditions peculiar to Peru. This South American country has along its thousand miles of Pacific coast one of the globe's driest deserts. The nitrate-rich soil is hence an excellent preserver of delicate articles, including mortal man himself. Here is one of the reasons why ancient Peruvian textiles—among the world's great artistic creations—are so important: even though cloth of equal quality may have been produced in the more humid Andean inlands and in other American regions from Mexico to Ecuador, little of it has survived. This desert belt is crossed by some thirty rivers bringing down water from the Andes and affording, with the aid of irrigation, intensive cultivation. The small streams were regular little Niles. They provided the setting for a great number of desert cultures, some concentrated in one valley, others spilling over into several adjacent ones. Like the ancient Egyptians, the inhabitants of the valley kingdoms would lay out their towns, their pyramids and shrines in the non-cultivated desert, thereby unintentionally insuring greater staying power. In time the proliferation of the dead simply became astronomical. Much of the area grew into one continuous necropolis where, as in Belzoni's Theban forays, every step one took "crushed a mummy in some part or other." E. George Squier, as we have seen, referred to the whole shore of the Moche valley as "a veritable Golgotha."
Still another boon to the despoilers—be they huaqueros or archaeologists —was the Peruvians' piety toward the dead coupled with the universal belief in an afterlife. The dead had to be well equipped on their further travels. Some were buried with a golden disk in the mouth—like the Chinese—apparently to be able to offer an "obolus" for their passage to the netherworld. There is no reason to read into all this an obsession with death, of which the Egyptians have also been wrongly accused. Ancient Peruvians nevertheless—and this is characteristic of the various civilizations on the coast and in the Andes—maintained a strange intimacy with their own dead, which amounted to ancestor worship. Corpses were buried and reburied. We know that the dried bodies of the Inca rulers were taken out of their burial chambers and, dressed in gorgeous finery, paraded at religious festivals. They then were presented with food and left to indulge in solemn conversation. Even in colonial days an Indian would have a mummified ancestor accompany him in vital situations. Some appeared in such a manner at court, so that a Spanish witness could write: "It appears that the living and the dead come to be judged together." The kidnapping of a corpse could be used in blackmailing its offspring.
Verrill dug during the late I920's and early 1930's in several of the coastal valleys for the purpose of collecting museum specimens. At Nazca and Pachacamac (southern and central Peru) he followed in the footsteps of Max Uhle, the dean of twentieth-century Peruvianists who inaugurated sequence dating of pottery and isolated the Nazca civilization noted for its fine polychrome pottery. Verrill also accompanied Dr. Julio C. Tello, discoverer of the Paracas style, to the peninsula of that name, where deep burial crypts filled with mummy bundles yielded the finest of all textiles known. Most of Verrill’s independent efforts concentrated on the Lurin Valley near Lima. There, in the shadow of the great pyramid shrine of pachacamac, a mecca of Peruvians during pre-Inca and Inca days, burials crowded in even more than elsewhere, because of the desire to be near pachacamac-Viracocha, the supreme creator.
A. Hyatt Verrill was in his long life (1871-1954) extraordinarily prolific as author of 105 books, illustrator, naturalist, and explorer. Born in New Haven, the son of a Yale professor, he attended the Yale School of Fine Arts, and studied zoology under his father. He then illustrated the natural history sections of Webster's International Dictionary. Meanwhile, he had already begun exploring in Bermuda, the West Indies, the Guianas, and Central America. In the Dominican Republic he discovered in 1907 a supposedly extinct animal, the Solendon paradoxus, an insectivorous mammal. He took out patents in color photography as early as 1902. For years on end he resided consecutively in the British West Indies and British Guiana. During a visit to Panama in 1924 he excavated a hitherto unknown pre-Columbian culture, which is his one great archaeological contribution. Peru and Bolivia, where he had traveled previously, became his territory from 1928 to 1932. In later years Verrill was engaged in salvaging Spanish galleons. He settled permanently in Florida in 1940, launching a business in shells and continuing his writing career. His discussions of pre-Columbian civilizations revived some of the more fantastic nineteenth-century theories of Old World (Egyptian, Sumerian, etc.) connections, with their inevitable apparatus of sunken continents, bearded strangers, and white (preferably Aryan) culture bearers.

MINING FOR INCA MUMMIES
A. Hyatt Verrill
Reprinted by permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons from Ancient Civilizations of America. by A. Hyatt Verrill and Ruth Verrill (pp. 184-92). Copyright © 1953 by A. Hyatt Verrill.

One might think that the people of Lurin, who dwell at the very edge of the ruins of Pachacamak, might be afraid of ghosts, for as a rule the Latin-Americans, and more especially the humbler folk, are exceedingly superstitious. And surely, if spirits ever walk, then Pachacamak should be the most thoroughly haunted. But apparently the people who dwell in the shadows of the ruins have not the slightest dread of ghosts or spirits. Perhaps, to their way of thinking, only Christians have ghosts, or it may be that they feel that the ghosts of Pachacamak have enough and to spare to attend to within the confines of the ruined city and will not wander far afield. Whatever the reason, the close proximity of the city with its thousands of dead, and which at night is a most uncanny and spectral spot, does not seem to trouble the living in the least. Indeed, those who dwell upon the borders of the ruins have had no small pan in the desecration of the Pachacamak graves, and human bones and grinning skulls lie scattered about their dooryards.
Even those who have business abroad do not hesitate to ride at dead of night through the ruins, passing the cemeteries with their countless graves as casually as though the bleached bones were so many rocks, and trampling many a skull under their horses' feet.
But in these respects the inhabitants of Lurin differ not at all from all the other inhabitants of Peru—both natives and foreigners. In fact were the dwellers in and about Lima at all nervous for fear of ghosts or did they respect the dead, there would be no Lima, or for that matter any other cities or towns in most parts of Peru, for the country is one vast cemetery.
From Ecuador to Chile and from the coast to the Andes there is scarcely a square mile without its cemeteries, its mounds or its ruins filled with dead. No one would dare estimate the number of bodies that were interred or that yet remain even in a small area of the country.
Many cemeteries cover hundreds of acres; many burial-mounds are stupendous, and in many ruined cities every available bit of ground is filled with mummies. The Huaca Juliana just outside of Lima—nearly half a mile in length, nearly a quarter of a mile wide, and over one hundred feet in height—is composed of countless brick cubicles containing mummies, and this is but one of dozens of almost equally large burial-mounds in the vicinity of Lima alone.
The Avenida Progreso that connects Lima with Callao, is cut through another immense mound and for months after the highway was completed the roadsides were littered with human skulls—many with the dried skin and hair still attached—human bones, mummy wrappings, broken pottery, wooden implements, and other artifacts ruthlessly torn from the tombs and dumped aside by the steam-shovels. Even today, bones, wrappings, and skulls may be seen protruding from the sides of the mound where it was cut through to form the road. Many of the hazards on the Lima Country Club Golf Course are ancient graves and mounds, and in the new urbanization developments about Lima the homes of the suburbanites are erected over ancient graveyards. It is not at all unusual to see a modern residence with scattered skulls, scalps, mummy wrappings and bones within a few feet of the front door, and in cultivating their flower gardens the residents are as likely to turn up skulls as stones.
I doubt if there is another country on earth where the inhabitants dwell happily and contentedly in the midst of countless dead; but as I said before, no one gives the matter a thought and the people do not appear to regard bodies and bones of men a thousand or more years old in the same way as they regard cadavers of persons who have died and been buried recently.
Ever since the days of the Spanish conquest, mining for mummies has been a more or less lucrative industry in Peru. Not that the mummies were desirable or valuable, but because the Incans and pre-Incans interred ornaments, weapons, utensils, and implements with their dead, and some of these were of silver or gold. How many tens of thousands of mummies have thus been disinterred and destroyed no one can guess. And in addition to the countless numbers thus dug up by the professional mummy miners, or huaqueros as they are called, thousands more have been disinterred by archaeologists, curio seekers and others, while many thousands more have been destroyed in the course of constructing railways and roads, digging irrigation ditches, cultivating land and carrying on various public and private works.
One would suppose that, years ago, the supply of mummies would have been exhausted. But so vast was the number of dead buried in Peru that despite all that have been disinterred practically no impression has been made, and what is more, scientists are constantly finding mummies and remains of hitherto unknown races and cultures.
Strictly speaking, the mummies are not mummies. That is, aside from those in one or two districts, the bodies were not embalmed nor purposely preserved. They merely were buried in the dry desert sand, in adobe brick tombs, or in cylindrical rock-lined graves where, owing to the dry climate and a certain amount of nitrates in the earth, they become desiccated and are indefinitely preserved. And the same conditions also preserve the innumerable articles interred with the bodies. The finest textiles, the most delicate laces, the most gorgeous of feather robes and headdresses are as fresh, as bright and as perfect as on the day they were made, and from these various objects it is possible to reconstruct and revisualize much of the life, the customs and the habits of these Peruvians who lived from one to perhaps five thousand years ago.
Obviously the majority of bodies are those of poor and humble peasants, of farmers, fishermen, and their ilk whose mummy-bundles contain very little of interest or of scientific or intrinsic value. Stone, shell or clay ornaments, an occasional stone implement, gourds filled with maize, peanuts, or other food; baskets containing needles, thread and weaving implements, pouches filled with cotton seeds; llama-hair slings and cotton spindles are the usual objects found, together with pieces of pottery and various kinds of woolen and cotton cloth. But one never knows beforehand what may be found when mining for mummies in Peru. There is no means of distinguishing the burial place of a peasant from that of a prince, a priest, a chief, or a medicine-man, and oftentimes a wonderful collection of archaeological treasures may be revealed.
From one grave I obtained a magnificent bronze battle-axe with handle complete, a most beautiful and effective weapon still capable of slicing a man's head from his shoulders or cleaving his skull. From another grave— in a small, insignificant mound on the outskirts of Lima, a mound so small and unpromising I had never bothered digging into it, I disinterred the mummy of an old medicine-man. Upon his head was a crown of black feathers, he was dressed in elaborate robes, and tucked into the folds of these were numbers of small woven pouches containing his stock of medicines, his "herbs and simples," and his instruments. About his neck was a silver collar and a string of lapis lazuli beads from which was suspended a carved wooden llama and a silver pin in the form of a heron's head. Evidently he belonged to the heron clan, for the pottery found with him bore designs embodying herons while a carved wooden spoon—possibly used in dispensing his medicines—also bore the figure of the heron.
There were also several stoppered bottles made from gourds, each containing remains of dried-up medicinal preparations, a curved bronze surgical knife, a number of bronze pincers—used for extracting hairs—a feather wand, a bundle of knotted quipos or message strings and a peculiar wooden knife-like implement. Altogether the old doctor's mummy-bundle contained over one hundred different specimens—a veritable miniature museum in itself. In another grave I found the mummy of a woman who judging from her garments, must have been high in the social whirl of her day; a woman of wealth and station and a leader of fashion. No doubt when she walked Peruvian soil and queened it over her less fortunate sisters, she was regarded as the best dressed woman of Peru, as she deserved to be. Her gown, which might well have been the model from which present day evening gowns are copied, was of the finest lace, the upper portion of rich brown, the lower portion of old ivory, while over this was a drapery of pale gray-blue lace, the whole so perfectly preserved that it might be worn by any woman today. About her head was a fillet of chased silver; she wore a necklace of polished carnelian and turquoise beads as large as pigeons' eggs; about her wrists were bracelets of silver, pearl shell, and semi-precious stones, and her long hair was confined in a net of loosely woven human hair and was fastened at the back by means of a fibre band decorated with delightfully carved figures cut from mother-of-pearl.
And instead of being wrapped in coarse textiles, this Peruvian lady of over two thousand years ago was wrapped in a shroud of thirty-five yards of the most beautiful white lace! Talk about old lace! Here was really old lace, moreover, lace made of wool as well as cotton, and as perfect as on that far distant day when sorrowing friends and bereaved relatives wrapped the dead woman's body in the filmy material she loved so well in life.
But even more interesting were the other objects buried with this Moujik [Moche] woman. There was a hand loom with a strip of cloth half finished upon it, and there was a work basket filled with needles, woolen and cotton thread, yarn and a leather thimble, showing quite clearly that even if she were a leader of fashion she was no drone, no idle rich, but an industrious young lady. Still she must have been as vain as any woman of today and as careful of her personal appearance, for two beautifully woven and decorated pouches or "vanity bags" contained her toilet accessories and her cosmetics—practically exact counterparts of those carried by every girl and woman today. There was a mirror of polished marcasite set in a carved and painted wooden frame, a comb made from palm wood, a powder box formed from a gourd and a powder puff of soft feathers; there were bronze pincers for removing superfluous hair, a bronze knife for paring her finger nails, a little gourd phial containing cinnabar paste with a silver spatula for applying it to the lips, several pins, a cuticle stick much like the modern ones of orange wood; a dainty spoon—perhaps the owner was squeamish and preferred an individual spoon when taking her maté tea. There were also various other articles that may be found in almost any woman's purse, ancient or modern.
The discovery of such interesting and scientifically valuable mummies is, however, a matter of luck and nothing more. To be sure, certain localities contain a larger proportion of richly clad, richly decorated mummies than others, yet as a whole I should say that not one in five hundred mummy-bundles contains gold, silver, or other valuables, and that not one in fifty contains anything other than the commonest textiles, the most ordinary utensils and the plainest pottery. Luck may have no standing in the realm of science, it may be impossible to prove—either by logic or by any known scientific formula—that such a thing or condition exists, yet it enters very largely into all or nearly all scientific discoveries and achievements.
Especially is this the case with such branches of science as archaeology and ethnology. I have known competent, trained archaeologists to delve and dig for months without notable results, and then along comes some amateur at the game and, at the first spadeful of earth, he turns up priceless archaeological treasures. In the many years I have devoted to ethnology and archaeology in South and Central America, luck has ever been my strongest ally and it proved faithful to me in Peru.
For nearly six years I had delved in prehistoric ruins that were teeming cities a thousand or more years before Christ was born. I had resurrected pottery, weapons, tools, and textiles from tombs that had been sealed in the days when Ur was at its zenith. I had mined mummies in the desert sands, had burrowed into immense burial-mounds, and had dug into strange, bottle-shaped graves on rock-strewn punos.
Scores of mummies had been brought to light. I had been very lucky, I had secured feather robes and ornate headdresses from the shrivelled, desiccated bodies of long-dead Moujik chieftains; marvellous ceramics from the immense mummy-bundles of the mysterious Nascans; beautiful pottery from the cell-like niches wherein the Chimus placed their dead; copper, bronze, and silver ornaments with here and there a bit of gold. I had obtained carved woodwork and objects rich with mosaics; beads of lapis, of turquoise, of semi-precious stones; I had found the mummy of an ancient medicine-man, the lace-wrapped mummy of a prehistoric debutante—in fact nearly every object known to or used by the Incan and pre-Incan races.
But never had I discovered the mummy of an Inca. By that I do not mean the mummy of one of the Incan people. On the contrary, having been the most recent of Peruvian aboriginal cultures—barely six hundred years of age—that of the Incans left the most abundant of all remains. And as the Incan people as a whole were woefully lacking in worldly goods, as they were a most efficiently utilitarian race who rather neglected the arts for art's sake only, and who considered neither gold, silver, nor precious stones intrinsically valuable, and as practically every museum in the world possesses large collections of Incan culture artifacts, I had, as a rule, passed by their mounds and burials and had confined my work to more promising and less known graves and tombs of the Incans' predecessors. So when I say I had never found the mummy of an lnca I mean the mummy of a person of royal blood—a reigning Inca, a noble, a prince, a governor of a province; and for that matter I never dreamed of finding one.
Mining for mummies is an expensive business—or pastime—and I had found by experience that mining Incan mummies was a waste of time and money.
Neither is mining for mummies pleasant work. It is a hot, tiresome, and exceedingly dirty occupation. The light dust of ages; the mingled sand, disintegrated animal matter, decayed outer textiles of the mummy-bundles, and portions of bodies which have failed to dry up, surrounds one in a cloud, and one literally breathes mummies. It is bad enough digging under such conditions where the chances are even if not in favor of finding something scientifically worth while. But it is heartbreaking labor thrown away when the chances are all on the side of finding little or nothing.
Still, somewhere, buried in some tomb, or grave, or mound, there must be mummies of Incan nobility—even the bodies of the supreme reigning Incas themselves. And as the Incan nobility—which included the priests, the lawmakers, the provincial rulers, the generals, and practically all Incan officials, were gloriously arrayed and adorned with the finest products of Incan looms, with ceremonial paraphernalia, with insignia, and with ornaments of precious metals, their mummies must, I knew, be veritable archaeological treasure-troves.
No one, as far as known, had ever found one of them, however, and hence there was little real first-hand knowledge of just how the Incas and their nobles were attired, for the reports of the old Spanish conquerors do not agree on these matters. Why no one had ever found a royal mummy was something of a mystery. Perhaps, I thought, they were most carefully secreted to insure that they would never be disturbed. Perhaps the old Dons tortured those who knew of their burial-places until the unfortunates revealed where the royal mummies might be found and stripped of their valuables by the conquerors. Or again there was the rather remote possibility that the Incas were not interred with their riches but were buried in ordinary clothes and wrappings like those of their subjects.
At all events it would have been a hopeless task to have dug all or even a small portion of Incan graves in the faint hopes of finding the body of an Inca. And I did not trust sufficiently to my proverbial good luck to use me to feel that I might dig at random in any one spot and be rewarded by coming upon the mummy of one of those "golden ears" as the Spaniards called the Incan nobles, because of the gold shells or ear-coverings worn by them.
This custom, by the way, according to tradition, had a most curious and interesting origin. One of the sons of the Inca, Pacha-Kutik [Pachacutec or Pachacuti], lost an ear in battle, and to hide the mutilation he wore oval golden coverings over his ears. Then, in order that he might not be conspicuous—as well as to commemorate his bravery—the Incan princes all followed his example and wore the huancos which in time became the recognized insignia of royalty.
But that I should ever find a mummy with the golden ears never entered my head. And then "Lady Luck" stepped in and played her little joke.
I had long intended to try digging in a very small, very inconspicuous mound which, somehow, seemed different from the others in the vicinity. I had taken my medicine-man with his hundred odd implements and articles from another small mound, and I had begun to have a "hunch" that small mounds might prove richer fields for excavations than the larger ones. At any rate they were easier to dig and could be excavated more thoroughly. Moreover, this particular mound contained very little adobe brickwork but was mainly composed of loose gravel and earth. So at last, selecting a spot that appeared to be promising, I started work. Dust flew in clouds, under the blazing sun perspiration ran in streams, but presently a human skull was unearthed. There was no sign of a mummy or even a wrapping; evidently the cranium had fallen from some body that had been buried near the surface and had weathered out in the course of centuries. Then a bed of sticks and leaves was disclosed—sure indications of a burial beneath. Carefully this was removed, revealing a few fragments of animals' skeletons, some bits of textiles, and two or three pottery jars. Then two more skulls—one a woman's, the other an infant's—and a few bones. I was, as the children say in Hunt the Thimble, "getting warm." Somewhere below that thick layer of tightly packed leaves and trash was a mummy; but whether that of some humble farmer or a man or woman of high station was impossible to guess.
To go farther with the pick and shovel would have been to court disaster, so on hands and knees I commenced digging carefully with a trowel. Presently I came upon a small, tightly wrapped bundle of basketry containing the mummified body of a little Incan dog. The next moment my trowel struck wood, and most carefully scraping away the sand and dust I discovered four upright stakes. They were lashed together with fibre ropes to form a quadrangle and the intervening space was packed with fine dry fibres.
My interest and excitement now ran high. Never had I found a burial of this sort, and with the utmost care I lifted the fibre. A cry of amazement and delight came from my lips. Brilliant yellow and scarlet feathers were revealed, and very gently I lifted a gorgeous crown from the mass of brownish hair that covered the skull beneath. It was a regal affair and in a perfect state of preservation. But more surprises were in store. Beside one of the upright posts was a wooden shield; beside another a bronze-headed spear with palm-wood staff, and a magnificent bronze axe was beside the third stake. Little by little I withdrew the masses of fibre that filled the grave, until at last the mummy could be seen, a shapeless bundle wrapped in heavy striped cloth. But it scarcely could be called a mummy. Little of the body remained except the bones. Scarcely a trace of skin adhered to the skeleton, and though every care was used the bones dropped apart when the bundle was lifted from the grave. But the wrappings were intact and as I commenced unwrapping the bundle I scarcely could believe my own eyes. Never had I seen such a mummy. There were textiles of the rarest and finest weaves and patterns; ornate pouches, bundles of quipos, woven sashes and belts. And as each strip of cloth or each garment was removed more and finer objects were disclosed. There were implements of bronze and wood, charms or amulets, a carved wooden sceptre or staff tipped and ornamented with gold. About the bony wrists were golden bands with raised figures of birds and the Sun-god. Below the knees were golden bands from which hung little metal ornaments tipped with scarlet feathers. Upon the skeleton's chest were three golden disks each embossed with the tiger-head image of Inti. And at the front of the headdress, above the exquisite llautu or head-band about the painted wooden false face, was the golden symbol of the rainbow—the royal Incan standard—topped by a pompom of scarlet and black feathers with a little gold sun hanging over the forehead. All or any of these alone would have proved the mummy that of a royal personage, for only Incan nobility was permitted to wear the rainbow symbol and the golden Sun-gods. But best of all there were the golden huancos that in life had covered the ears of the deceased. Their presence left no doubt of my tremendous luck. I had unearthed the mummy of an Inca!
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138 CONQUISTADORS WITHOUT SWORDS
In 1924 when A. Hyatt Verrill was in Panama collecting ethnological specimens for the Museum of the American Indian (Heye Foundation) in New York, natives brought him prehistoric vases strikingly different from any hitherto found in Panama. He was directed to Cocle province, near the Pacific coast. There he came across monuments hitherto un-reported, which he cleared in part and excavated. The site appeared to be a vast place of worship, covered by rows on rows of monolithic idols and phallic columns. While he did not find any gold objects to speak of, or burials, he recovered a number of multicolored ceramic pieces of far greater refinement than the stone sculptures. Several effigy vessels of humans and animals reminded him of the vases of coastal Peru.
Even before Verrill, at the beginning of the century, a river south-east of the Panama Canal had changed its course and shining objects were sighted by natives at its new eastern bank. At last the Peabody Museum of Harvard University, which had acquired some objects through trade channels, got wind of this site and launched three consecutive campaigns from 1930 onward. In 1933-34, Dr. Samuel Kirkland Lothrop was in charge when the most substantial discoveries were made. He was assisted by his second wife, Eleanor Bachman. Aside from the amusing, if not irreverent, tone, her intimate version of life as a helpmate is above all an engrossing account of what was—certainly materially—one of the great bonanzas in the annals of American archaeology.
Lothrop's excavations at Sitio Conte along the Rio Grande de Cocle n the Pacific watershed of Cocle province brought Panama into focus the site of flourishing, though probably not very ancient, American cultures. A series of superimposed graves pointed to a stratified sequence. Yet the largest and some of the most recent burials could also be the deepest. One sumptuous grave contained as many as twenty bodies of women and retainers laid out flat around their seated master. Implements exhibited high craftsmanship and luster. They included golden breastplates, helmets, nose rings, and greaves. Archaeologically and artistically as intriguing was the polychrome ceramic ware "painted in black, red, orange, grey, blue, and purple upon a cream base." Apart from highly original abstract patterns, its zoomorphic designs showed Peruvian and other South American motifs, while the technique of painting seemed to be indebted to the Chorotega of Nicaragua. An ethologically interesting detail was the fact that some of the Panamanian skeletons belonged to men who, quite unusually for aboriginal Americans, must have attained in life a height of six feet and more. Samuel Kirkland Lothrop was at the time of his death in 1965 one of the few men who had a sovereign first-hand command of the whole range of American archaeology, equaled perhaps only by John Alden Mason, who in 1940 continued excavations at Sitio Conte for the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania, with similar success. The Harvard-trained New Englander had begun his active fieldwork at Pecos in New Mexico. Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Yucatan, Chile, a Tierra del Fuego in southernmost South America were way stations in his productive career. In 1925, passing through Peru from excavations in Argentina, he made the acquaintance of Dr. Julio Tello and proposed to him that they use his remaining funds on an archaeological junket of the latter's choosing. Tello opted for a place south of Lima an isolated peninsula, which, because of its inaccessibility, had been little disturbed by huaqueros. The brief visit led to the discovery in subterranean crypts of the all-important Paracas culture. Central American ceramics and South American metallurgy received Lothrop's special attention, interests happily joined in his various Panamanian campaigns. In later years Lothrop turned to writing comprehensive studies of American art. It was to this subject that he devoted his last work, Treasures of Ancient America (1964).

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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.