Samuel K. Lothrop

Samuel K. Lothrop

Archaeologist and ethnologist. Samuel Kirkland Lothrop is widely considered one of the most important researchers in the Americas for leading significant excavations in a wide range of archaeological settings in North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean islands.

He was born in Massachusetts in 1892. At an early age, he moved with his family to Puerto Rico. He later returned to the United States and, after completing his undergraduate studies at Harvard University in the 1920s, he returned to Puerto Rico to conduct research supported by the Peabody Museum at Harvard, where he was also pursuing his doctoral studies.

During his time on the island, he conducted an inventory of archaeological sites. With the help of local researchers and amateurs, he did exhaustive studies of sites such as Los Indios (Santa Isabel), Cayito (Santa Isabel) and Punta Ostiones (Cabo Rojo). Kirkland also conducted important research on the remains of pottery documented by his studies and in private collections. He also focused on stone artifacts that were used in rituals, such as stone collars.

During the 1910s, he worked in the necropolis at Chiriquí in Panama, where he identified considerable quantities of gold and gold alloys in burial settings, one of the most notable findings of that period. He later conducted important studies in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Based on an analysis of ceramic implements documented in those two countries, he wrote his dissertation, titled The Ceramics of Northern Costa Rica and Western Nicaragua.

He also conducted important research at the Mayan site of Tulum in Belize and at other Mayan sites in Guatemala, as part of the Carnegie Institute’s History Division. He also led both archaeological and ethnological research of lasting importance in other countries such as Argentina, Chile and El Salvador. His research also led him to work at Coclé in Panama, where he recovered numerous gold, shell and stone funeral offerings.

Samuel Kirkland Lothrop died in 1965.

Author: Reniel Rodríguez Ramos
Published: May 08, 2012.

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