For Immediate Release

New Director at the Peabody Museum

(Cambridge, June 5, 2012) The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University is pleased to announce Prof. Jeffrey Quilter will be the next William and Muriel Seabury Howells Director of the Peabody Museum as of July 1, 2012. The Howells Director is appointed by the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences from among the faculty.

“I’m extremely honored and pleased,” said Quilter. “This is a wonderful opportunity to lead a remarkable museum with committed staff in fulfilling its mission to serve Harvard University in its educational and research roles.”

Quilter has been the Peabody Museum’s deputy director for curatorial affairs, curator for intermediate area archaeology, and a senior lecturer in the Department of Anthropology, Harvard, since 2005. Prior to his arrival at the Peabody, he spent ten years as director of pre-Columbian studies and curator of the pre-Columbian collection at Dumbarton Oaks, in Washington, D.C. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1981. He has taught at the University of Maryland, George Washington University, Yale University, and Ripon College, Wisconsin, where he served on the faculty for 15 years.

Quilter has conducted archaeological field investigations in several U.S. states, but his special interest has focused on the Intermediate area (the region between Mesoamerica and South America), specifically Costa Rica. In Costa Rica he excavated the Rivas Site, and while in Peru, he has worked at the El Brujo archaeological complex, and currently the associated colonial-period site of Magdalena Cao Viejo since 2002. His work has been supported by the National Geographic Society, the National Science Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Quilter is best known for his team’s discovery of a lost language; a Spaniard had written a trace of on a small piece of paper 400 years ago and it was later excavated at the Magdalena Cao Viejo site. The discovery made international news.

Quilter is the author of four books and over 40 articles. He has served as editor of four scholarly compilations, is Series Editor for Case Studies in Archaeology (Wadsworth), and has published numerous major articles in peer-reviewed journals.

2010 The Moche of Ancient Peru: Media and Messages. Peabody Museum Collections Series.
2005 Treasures of the Andes. Duncan Baird Publishers, London (Also published in Spanish, French, and German editions). Republished by Duncan Baird as a paperback and re-titled as Treasures of the Incas in 2011.
2004 Cobble Circles and Standing Stones: Archaeology at the Rivas Site, Costa Rica. University of Iowa Press.
1989 Life and Death at Paloma, Society and Mortuary Practices in a Preceramic Peruvian Village. University of Iowa Press.


About the Peabody Museum
The Peabody Museum is among the oldest archaeological and ethnographic museums in the world with one of the finest collections of human cultural history found anywhere. It is home to superb materials from Africa, ancient Europe, North America, Mesoamerica, Oceania, and South America in particular. In addition to its archaeological and ethnographic holdings, the Museum’s photographic archives, one of the largest of its kind, hold more than 500,000 historical photographs, dating from the mid-nineteenth century to the present and chronicling anthropology, archaeology, and world culture.

Hours and location: 9 A.M. to 5 P.M., seven days a week. The Museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for students and seniors, $6 for children, 3–18. Free with Harvard ID or Museum membership. The Museum is free to Massachusetts residents Sundays, 9 A.M. to noon, year round, and Wednesdays from 3 P.M. to 5 P.M. (September to May). Admission includes admission to the Harvard Museum of Natural History. For more information call 617-496-1027 or go online to: The Peabody Museum is located at 11 Divinity Avenue in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Museum is a short walk from the Harvard Square MBTA station.

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Media Contact:


Faith Sutter
Communications Coordinator
Peabody Museum
Tel: 617-495-3397


Dr. Jeffrey Quilter becomes William and Muriel Seabury Howells Director, Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology on July 1, 2012.

High resolution image available on request.