Precolumbian Latin America
The Latin American archaeology collection represents artifacts dating before the time of European contact from sites spanning from Mexico south to Honduras (Mesoamerica), the intermediate area (Costa Rica south to Colombia and Venezuela), and the Andes of South America. These collections are predominantly ceramics and ceramic sherds (fragments), but also include artifacts of wood, shell, jade, metal and textiles. Highlights selected from the Museum’s pre-Columbian collection are available for viewing in our online exhibition.
The most significant collections are those excavated by archaeologists, providing invaluable scientific data about context and chronology.
In the 1960s, James Ford excavated sites in Veracruz dating between 800-250 B.C., and his middle pre-classic collection is now housed in the Museum, along with Veracruz figurines dating from 250 B.C. to A.D. 600.
Maya Collection from Cerros, Belize
The coastal Maya site was occupied primarily in the late pre-classic (350 B.C.-A.D. 150), but also had brief occupations in the early classic and terminal classic (A.D. 800-1000). Pilgrims in the late post-classic period (A.D. 1300-1500) made offerings of effigy censers. The collection, excavated by David Freidel in the 1970s, is online.
Petén Maya Collection
This group of artifacts, excavated by William Bullard in the 1960s in the central Petén Lakes region of Guatemala, between the terminal classic and late post-classic periods (ca. A.D. 850-1450). Type collections may be viewed online.
The Florida Museum collection from the intermediate area, extending south from Honduras to Colombia, Venezuela and coastal Ecuador, includes some 5,000 sherds from various sites in Honduras that were systematically collected in 1929-1930.
The Andean collection spans a long period of time – from around 500 B.C. to A.D. 1550. It includes numerous ceramics and textile fragments from major Andean cultures of Peru and Bolivia, such as Wari (Huari), Tiwanaku and Chancay.