The Caribbean archaeological collections in the Division of Anthropology number over 130,000 catalog entries, making them the largest and most comprehensive in the world.
A set of study collections, illustrating the local sequence of cultural periods throughout the Caribbean culture areas, is used by students and scholars from many other institutions. Through a grant from the National Science Foundation (SBR-9308128), the Division has transferred its paper-based catalog records to its collections database systems, available online.
Holdings in Caribbean objects at the Yale Peabody Museum include large collections of archaeological material from Antigua, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Trinidad, the Dominican Republic and other islands, as well as from northern South America. There are also many ethnographic objects among the Division’s Caribbean holdings.
Most of the Caribbean archaeological material in our collections was excavated by Professor and Curator Emeritus (Ben) Irving Rouse. Professor Rouse completed his doctorate at Yale in the 1930s and conducted research in the Caribbean and adjacent regions for nearly 70 years. His research, which documented the movement of native peoples from the lower Orinoco River in Venezuela across the islands of the Caribbean, combines the classic archaeological research approaches of studying culture change through time with the movement of people across broad geographic regions.
For more on Ben Rouse, see “Passing of a Pioneer Researcher in Caribbean Archaeology,” by Dr. Basil Reid, March 12, 2006, in UWIToday, a monthly magazine produced by the Office of the Campus Principal of the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine.
Research on Caribbean materials by Dr. Rouse and others has been published by the Museum in its Yale University Publications in Anthropology series.
The Yale Peabody Museum’s collections are available to legitimate researchers for scholarly use. Loans are issued to responsible individuals at established institutions. Loans and access to the collection can be arranged through the Collections Manager.
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Study of the collections is restricted to students and scholars working on formal research projects who have obtained authorization from a divisional curator. This is necessitated by the limited available study space and the requirement that staff supervise visitors at all times. Scholars are strongly encouraged to view the collections at the Museum. Ongoing inventory of objects may restrict access to some collections.