Article ID: CBB084064255

Arthur Posnansky, the Czar of Tiwanaku Archaeology (2019)


Arthur Posnansky was the illustrious pioneer of Tiwanaku archaeology, remembered as a quixotic, flamboyant, and swashbuckling character. He was a naval officer, a businessman, and a scholar. He dedicated nearly fifty years of his life to the study of the Andean past, which resonates through the history of Bolivian archaeology. While clearly not the field’s father, his commanding presence and outsized legacy could make him the czar of Tiwanaku archaeology. He developed a hyperbolic narrative of Tiwanaku as the ’cradle of American man’ and tirelessly promoted it in Europe and the Americas. Like many pioneers, he was not trained as an archaeologist. His theories were based on little concrete information but he defended them with enviable passion. His ideas were strongly influenced by intellectual trends he lived though and participated in, including racist anthropology. This has led some to dismiss him as a misguided, self-appointed champion of Tiwanaku. However, I suggest that Posnansky’s life and times are very relevant to both understanding popular views and scholarly interpretations of the site.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Book Rosemary Lévy Zumwalt; (2019)
Franz Boas: The Emergence of the Anthropologist (/isis/citation/CBB468285066/)

Article Debbie Challis; (2016)
Skull Triangles: Flinders Petrie, Race Theory and Biometrics (/isis/citation/CBB984096390/)

Book Livio Sansone; (2022)
La Galassia Lombroso (/isis/citation/CBB789501643/)

Article Ramsey, Jason D.; (2004)
Petrie and the Intriguing Indosyncracies of Racism (/isis/citation/CBB000931101/)

Book Reynaud Paligot, Carole; (2006)
La république raciale: paradigme racial et idéologie républicaine, 1860--1930 (/isis/citation/CBB000772831/)

Article Browman, David L.; (2005)
Carlos Ponce Sangines, Godfather of Bolivian Archaeology (/isis/citation/CBB000931107/)

Article Ellen, Roy Frank; (2011)
The Eolith Debate, Evolutionist Anthropology and the Oxford Connection between 1880 and 1940 (/isis/citation/CBB001212979/)

Book Santos, Marco Steinert; (2009)
Virchow: medicina, ciência e sociedade no seu tempo (/isis/citation/CBB001020496/)

Article Bennett, Tony; Dibley, Ben; Harrison, Rodney; (2014)
Introduction: Anthropology, Collecting and Colonial Governmentalities (/isis/citation/CBB001201581/)

Article Perry, Sara; Challis, Debbie; (2013)
Flinders Petrie and the Curation of Heads (/isis/citation/CBB001201230/)

Book Gosden, Chris; Larson, Frances; Petch, Alison; (2007)
Knowing Things: Exploring the Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum, 1884--1945 (/isis/citation/CBB000830510/)

Article Francis, Patricia; (2015)
Philip Brookes Mason (1842–1903): Surgeon, General Practitioner and Naturalist (/isis/citation/CBB001500444/)

Book Gerber, Albrecht; (2010)
Deissmann the Philologist (/isis/citation/CBB001035939/)

Book Browman, David L.; Williams, Stephen; (2012)
Anthropology at Harvard: A Biographical History, 1790--1940 (/isis/citation/CBB001450670/)

Book Evans, Andrew D.; (2010)
Anthropology at War: World War I and the Science of Race in Germany (/isis/citation/CBB001023150/)

Authors & Contributors
McMahon, Richard
Challis, Debbie
Browman, David L.
Livio Sansone
Zumwalt, Rosemary Lévy
Francis, Patricia
Bulletin of the History of Archaeology
History and Anthropology
Nuncius: Annali di Storia della Scienza
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
History of the Human Sciences
Archives of Natural History
University of Nebraska Press
University of Chicago Press
Temple University
Walter de Gruyter
Presses Universitaires de France
Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
Science and race
Science and politics
Petrie, William Matthew Flinders
Jacobs, Joseph
Virchow, Rudolf Carl
Ponce Sanginés, Carlos
Pearson, Karl
Lombroso, Cesare
Time Periods
20th century, early
19th century
20th century, late
18th century
Great Britain
Middle and Near East
Pitt Rivers Museum (University of Oxford)
Oxford University
Columbia University
Harvard University
American Museum of Natural History, New York

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment