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Anna Curtenius Roosevelt

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Anna Roosevelt

Quentin Roosevelt II


Anna Curtenius Roosevelt httpsstaticlasuiceduimagesbiophotosamazo
Moundbuilders of the Amazon, Parmana

Columbia University, Stanford University

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., Eleanor Butler Alexander-Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt, Edith Roosevelt

Similar People
Quentin Roosevelt II, Susan Roosevelt Weld, Theodore Roosevelt - Jr

Anna Curtenius Roosevelt is an American archaeologist and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She studies human evolution and long-term human-environment interaction. She is one of the leading American archeologists studying Paleoindians in the Amazon basin. Her field research has included significant findings at Marajo Island and Caverna da Pedra Pintada in Brazil. She does field work in the Congo Basin. She is the great-granddaughter of United States President Theodore Roosevelt.


Education and career

Roosevelt recalls that, inspired by her mother, reading, and a trip to Mesa Verde, she became interested in archaeology at the age of nine. She graduated from Stanford University in 1968 as a Bachelor of Arts in History, Classics, and Anthropology. In 1977, she earned a Ph.D. degree in anthropology from Columbia University.

From 1975 to 1985, she worked as a curator at the Museum of the American Indian. Roosevelt was a guest curator at the American Museum of Natural History from 1985 to 1989. She was later a curator of archaeology at the Field Museum of Natural History. Her early field work took her to the Andes mountains of Peru, and then to Mexico and Venezuela. She is currently a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Marajo Island

In 1991, Roosevelt published, Moundbuilders of the Amazon: Geophysical Archaeology on Marajo Island, Brazil, which detailed her work throughout the 1980s on pre-Columbian Marajoara culture. Her research team employed remote sensing geophysical surveys, together with excavation. The Marajo Island lies near the mouth of the Amazon River and contains evidence of pre-Columbian settlement.

In this work, Roosevelt challenged the theory that the pre-Columbian Amazon was a "counterfeit paradise" unable to sustain increasingly complex human culture. Roosevelt posited that this pre-Columbian society was "one of the outstanding indigenous cultural achievements," with a high population and territory, intensive subsistence agriculture, as well as public works. These findings and arguments have led to continuing debates in South American archaeology and anthropology. Meanwhile, they have led others to follow up and build upon her work.

Painted Rock Cave

From 1990 to 1992, Roosevelt led the excavation of the Painted Rock Cave (Caverna da Pedra Pintada) near Monte Alegra in the State of Para, Brazil. The Monte Alegre rock art contains many examples of ancient rock paintings, including handprints, as well as human and animal figures and geometrics. Dating of these painting suggests they are among the oldest art in the Western Hemisphere. Roosevelt's investigation found evidence for human habitation in the Amazon much older than previously known, perhaps twice as old.

Over a 1000 year period, about 10,000-11,000 years ago, humans used the cave and left behind unique projectile points, as well as evidence that they had transported plant seeds from far away to the site. They lived in a different way than the cultures of the earliest-known, Western Hemisphere big-game-hunters, relying instead on the rivers and forest. Also suggesting a later human reoccupation at the site and along the nearby riverbank was evidence of 7,500-year-old pottery, which would make it the oldest, or among the oldest pottery found in the Americas. Roosevelt's findings suggested that the study of migration of humans into the Americas, as well as the development of civilization in the Amazon, needed to be revisited.


Roosevelt continues field work at various sites in Brazil, most recently at underwater sites in the middle Xingu, to look at the activities of Paleoindians in the interfluves of Amazonia. In addition, she has expanded her research focus to the African Congo Basin. Her archaeological work in the Congo basin has centered on preceramic sites the Bayanga in the southwestern Central African Republic.


Roosevelt has been elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Royal Geographical Society. She has been awarded the Explorers Medal and the Society of Women Geographers' Gold Medal. Brazil has awarded her the Order of Rio Branco and the Bettendorf Medal. In 1988, she received a five year fellowship from the MacArthur Fellows Program. She has received honorary doctorates from Mount Holyoke and Northeastern University. Her research has been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fulbright Commission, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the University of Illinois.


She is the daughter of Quentin Roosevelt II, and Frances Blanche Webb, and granddaughter of Gen. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. Her great grandfather was United States President Theodore Roosevelt. Her sisters are Susan Roosevelt Weld, and Alexandra Roosevelt Dworkin.


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  • References

    Anna Curtenius Roosevelt Wikipedia

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