The Yale Peabody Museum began collecting pre-Columbian artifacts in the 19th century, when O.C. Marsh purchased two major Aztec sculptures: a calendar stone (ANT.019231) and a youthful male figure (ANT.008525).
Mesoamerican donations to the Division of Anthropology
include the Albers gift, which is rich in figurines and pottery from
the Tlatilco and Chupicuaro Formative cultures; a representative
collection of ceramic tomb figures from West Mexico; and the Wray gift
of polychrome ceramics and other objects from the Classic Maya
The Museum has significant collections from the Intermediate Area, including a donation from Charles Woram of Costa Rican ceramics, jades and carvings. Another group of accessions comprise a major collection from Chiriqui, Panama, with a representative sample of the very early Scarified Ware as well as a fine group of gold objects from the latest pre-Spanish horizon. There is also an extensive array of polychrome ceramics from the Veraguas and Cocle regions of Panama.
The Division has transferred (National Science Foundation grant no. SBR-9409028) its Mesoamerican and South American archaeological collections records to its internal database systems: All Mesoamerican, Intermediate Area and South American archaeological collections are in this database, much of it publicly accessible. In addition, digital images for 11,834 of the 53,386 objects with catalog data are available online (National Endowment for the Humanities grant no. NEH PH-20726-95).
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.