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Betty Jane Meggers [b. 1921]

American Archaeologist and South Americanist


American archaeologist Betty Meggers is probably best known for her extensive work conducted in association with her husband Clifford Evans in the South American continent, including Marajo Island, Brazil, at Rio Napo in Ecuador and on the island of Guyana (then British Guiana).

Meggers was trained at Columbia University and is currently Director of the Latin American Archaeology Program at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution.

Meggers published extensive overviews of topics and monographs with much primary data. She was among the first to look at environmental effects on cultural societies.

Her most controversial publications have suggested a trans-pacific cultural connection between east Asia and South America during prehistory, looking in particular at ceramic decorations and body form of Japanese Middle Jomon and the Valdivia site in Ecuador, both dated between 2000 and 3000 B.C.

Important Publications

Estrada, Emilio, Betty J. Meggers, and Clifford Evans. 1962. Possible Transpacific Contact on the Coast of Ecuador. Science 135(3501):,371-372

Evans, Clifford and Betty J. Meggers. 1960. Archeological investigations in British Guiana. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1960.

--- 1968. Archaeological Investigations on the Rio Napo, Eastern Ecuador. Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology 6.

--- 1967. Archaeological Investigations at the Mouth of the Amazon, Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 167, Washington

--- 1960. Archaeological Investigations in British Guiana, Sibae Bulletin 177.

--- 1959. Cultura Valdivia. Guayaquil, Ecuador: Museo Víctor Emilio Estrada. 1959.

Meggers, Betty J. 1994. Archeological evidence for the impact of mega-Niño events on Amazonia during the past two millennia. Climate Change 28(4):321-338.

---. 1979. Prehistoric America: an ecological perspective. New York: Aldine Pub. Co.

---. 1975. The Transpacific Origin of Mesoamerican Civilization: A Preliminary Review of the Evidence and Its Theoretical Implications. American Anthropologist 77(1):1-27.

---. 1971. Amazonia: Man in a Counterfeit Paradise. Chicago: Aldine-Atherton.

---. 1966. Ecuador, Praeger Publishers.

---. 1965. Early Formative Period of Coastal Ecuador: The Valdivia and Machalilla Phases. Smithsonian Institution: Washington DC.

---. 1954. Environmental Limitation on the Development of Culture. American Anthropologist 56(5, part 1):801-824.

Meggers, Betty J, Clifford Evans and Emilio Estrada. 1965 Early Formative Period of Coastal Ecuador: the Valdivia and Machalilla Phases, Smithsonian Contributions To Anthropology 1, Washington

Thanks to Richard Diehl for additional bibliographic suggestions.

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