Photograph by Johan Reinhard
Photograph courtesy Johan Reinhard
High-altitude archaeologist Johan Reinhard is currently a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. He is also a senior research fellow at The Mountain Institute, Washington, D.C.; a visiting professor at Catholic University, Salta (Argentina); and an honorary professor of Catholic University, Arequipa (Peru).
Born in Illinois, he began his undergraduate studies in anthropology at the University of Arizona before going on to receive his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Vienna, Austria. Much of Reinhard's current research focuses on the sacred beliefs and cultural practices of mountain peoples, especially in the Andes and the Himalaya.
Since 1980 Reinhard has conducted anthropological field research in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Ecuador. His investigations have led him to develop new theories to explain the mysteries of pre-Hispanic ceremonial sites on mountain summits, the Nazca Lines (giant desert drawings), and the ancient ceremonial centers of Machu Picchu, Chavin, and Tiahuanaco. During 1989-92 he directed the first Andean underwater archaeological research project in Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake.
In later research, Reinhard recovered the Inca Ice Maiden mummy on Peru's Mount Ampato, a discovery chosen by Time magazine as one of the world's ten most important scientific discoveries of 1995. His expeditions in the Andes during 1996-99 led to the discovery of 14 more Inca human sacrifices on five mountains higher than 18,000 feet (5,490 meters), including three remarkably preserved mummies on Argentina's Mount Llullaillaco, the world's highest archaeological site. That discovery was the cover story of the November 1999 issue of National Geographic.
Reinhard also has undertaken years of anthropological research in the Himalaya, primarily in Nepal, but also in Tibet, Bhutan, and India. Elsewhere in Asia he has studied Muslim camel herders in Rajasthan and Muslim fishermen in the Maldive Islands. While in Nepal, he directed Peace Corps Training Projects, was a member of teams that made some of the first rafting descents of Himalayan rivers, and was a member of the successful 1976 American Everest Expedition.
Reinhard has served as a cinematographer for the BBC, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Scientific Film Institute of Germany, and his research has been featured in several TV documentaries, including National Geographic's Explorer, and on the BBC, NOVA, and PBS. He speaks Spanish, Nepali, German, and Raji, a tribal language of Nepal, and found and analyzed Kusunda, one of the world's rarest languages.
Reinhard has authored more than 70 publications, including six books, and is a member of several organizations, including the American Anthropological Association, the American Alpine Club, the Institute of Andean Studies, the Explorers Club, and the Royal Geographical Society. Three museums have been built to exhibit the archeological finds made during his expeditions: the Museum of High Mountain Sanctuaries in Arequipa, Peru; the Museum of High Mountain Archaeology in Salta, Argentina; and a site museum in the village of Challapampa, Island of the Sun, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
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