|Carl V. Hartman and the Costa Rica Collections
Costa Rica Collections at Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Costa Rica's archaeological
heritage has suffered greatly at the hands of looters who have plundered
its villages and cemeteries for artifacts of jade, pottery, and stone.
From the nineteenth century to the present, artifacts have been dug up
and hoarded by huaqueros (plunderers) with little regard to their scientific
importance. Either contracted by individual collectors or working on
their own, huaqueros make their living selling these plundered artifacts.
As a result of this
looting, a large amount of Costa Rican objects are contained in private
collections and museums, yet only a small percentage has been obtained
through formal archaeological excavation. Because huaqueros kept little
or no records of their finds, these objects reveal less than those
collected under more scientific conditions. Sites looted and objects
stolen by huaqueros are of limited use to archaeologists.
During his 1903 expedition,
Carl V. Hartman obtained about 12,000 Costa
Rican objects for Carnegie Museum. Approximately one fourth of
the artifacts were acquired through his own field excavations and the
remainder were purchased from individuals in Costa Rica.
The collection obtained
through Hartman's exacting and systematic
field work provide a great deal of reliable information regarding
the context and provenience (exact location within the site) of the
artifacts. Because such documentation is missing in most large Costa
Rican collections, the artifacts excavated by Hartman are of particular
interest to archaeologists.
In addition to the
information surrounding Hartman's excavated collection, photographic
documentation of some of his digs have proved invaluable to today's
archaeologists. In fact, these photographs have made it possible for
present-day researchers to locate Hartman's dig sites and reconstruct
the sequence and process of his excavations.
collection and the carefully documented records of his excavations
have enabled today's researchers to relate the excavated materials
to local and regional prehistory.