Geoffrey W. Conrad


American Association for the Advancement of Science (1994)
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Indiana University Bloomington
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Anthropology


Professor of Anthropology Geoffrey W. Conrad serves as Director, Mathers Museum of World Cultures and an affiliate of the Center for Archaeology in the Public Interest. He earned his BA and PhD, both in anthropology, from Harvard University. His research focuses on Caribbean Archaeology; Peruvian (Central Andean) Archaeology; Comparative Ancient Civilizations; and Museum Anthropology.

In 1997, after more than a quarter-century of work devoted to Central Andean cultures, Professor Conrad began excavating in the Dominican Republic on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola (also known as Santo Domingo ). He is studying the development of the Taíno chiefdoms encountered by Christopher Columbus and the early Spanish explorers of the Caribbean. In addition to being an example of the pristine development of complex chiefdoms, the Taínos were the first American Indians to undergo conquest by Europeans, and many of the practices that characterized the Spanish conquests of Mexico and Peru were first employed in the Caribbean.

Professor Conrad is concentrating on roughly the last 500 years before the arrival of Columbus and the first few centuries thereafter. He uses both archaeological data and written records dating to the early colonial era. Dr. Conrad is trying to determine how practices and institutions described by early European observers like Bartolomé de Las Casas and Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés are reflected in the ground (and in some cases why the archaeological data seem to contradict the written records). He is increasingly convinced that the traditional interpretation-namely that the Taínos were extinct by 1535, the victims of warfare, overwork and disease-is overly simplistic. Recently he has become very interested in trying to trace the post-1492 development of Taíno culture archaeologically.