Anthropology

Curator Emeritus David R. Watters

WattersD@carnegiemnh.org
412.665.2605
412.665.2751 (fax)

Dave Watters is Curator Emeritus of Anthropology at Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, PA. Watters received his PhD in 1980 from the University of Pittsburgh and his Master of Arts in 1976 from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Watters’ research focuses extensively on the Caribbean region, including Afro-Caribbean archaeology and the historic sites of Barbuda. He is interested in the onset and attributes of the colonization of the Lesser Antilles by ceramic-producing Amerindians originating in South America as well as the forms, materials, distribution, and production of prehistoric stone beads and their social implications (trade, craft specialization, prestige goods, etc.) in the Caribbean. He has also researched archaeofaunas and biogeography, such as the implications of vertebrate and invertebrate remains from archaeological contexts for island biogeographic issues (extinctions and extirpations, endemism, introduction of alien species, ranges, etc.). Watters has facilitated several publications by Cuban archaeologists and museologists in order to make important scholarly research in Cuba available to a wider audience.

A major project which Watters has undertaken is the analysis of the research and collections of Carl V. Hartman, an early Curator of Ethnology and Archaeology at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Even in light of the advances in archaeological technology and technique that have taken place in the past 100 years, scientists still incorporate many of the methods that Hartman was testing in 1903. His approach was scientific, meticulous, and more detailed than that of other archaeologists of the time. The surveying techniques he utilized were similar to those found in civil engineering procedures that archaeologists would soon adopt worldwide. His work was so meticulous that some scholars have given him the title "Father of Costa Rican archaeology." The data Watters is exploring offers today's scientists a unique perspective on the archaeology of northwestern and central Costa Rica.

Recently, Dr. Watters has begun to investigate the Kay-Rial expeditions of Carnegie Museum to San Juan County, Utah, in the 1940s. Watters, working with Utah archaeologists, has been able to relocate archaeological sites visited sixty years ago, and has re-photographed them from the same orientations, making use of the print and slide images from the earlier fieldwork. The extent of damage to the sites in the intervening years (or conversely their degree of preservation) is readily apparent in these matching images.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, is ranked as one of the top five natural history museums in the country. The museum maintains, preserves, and interprets an extraordinary collection of 22 million objects and scientific specimens used to broaden understanding of evolution, conservation, and biodiversity. More information is available at www.CarnegieMNH.org.

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