Thursday, August 18, 2005

Death of James Petersen

International Association for Caribbean Archaeology
Association Internationale D’Archaeologie De La Caraibe
Asociación Internacional De Arqueología Del Caribe

Office of the President: Dr Jay Haviser

Secretary and Press & Public Relations (London): Quetta Kaye, 5 Little Brownings, SE23 3XJ
Tel: 020 8699 2115, e-mail: or


The archaeological world was shocked to learn of the murder on Saturday, 13 August 2005, of Dr James Petersen, Associate Professor and Chair of the Anthropology Department at the University of Vermont in Maine (UVM). Dr Petersen, who was on a research trip in the rainforest with colleagues, was shot after being robbed while in a restaurant in the small town of Iranduba, near the Amazon River, in the Manaus region of Brazil. He died shortly afterwards.

Before joining UVM, Petersen founded the Archaeology Research Center at the University of Maine at Farmington, where he was also a professor from 1983 to 1997. He was also a graduate school professor at the University of Maine in Orono.

Petersen had graduated from UVM in 1979 and completed his doctoral studies at the University of Pittsburgh. He then returned to the University of Vermont as a visiting professor and it was one of his students, Michael Heckenberger, now an assistant professor at the University of Florida, who introduced Petersen to work in the Amazon.

A generous and popular teacher, whose resumé includes dozens of papers, articles, book chapters and presentations, Dr Petersen had worked extensively in the Caribbean region, including archaeological investigations in Montserrat before the volcanic eruptions and latterly in Anguilla and was visiting Brazil to assess ongoing research relating to prehistoric agricultural practices. He had recently been re-elected to the Board of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology (IACA) at the 21st Congress meeting in Trinidad on 27th July.

Dr Jay Haviser, President of the IACA, commenting on the death of Dr Petersen, said:

“Jim was a dear personal friend and truly loyal to IACA and our goals; always there to help, both as a Board member and for his colleagues, he was a kind and generous man. Our hearts feel the pain, but his memory will never fade from our minds nor will his contributions to Caribbean Archaeology. Our deepest sympathies are extended to his family at their tragic loss.”

London, 18 August 2005


Anonymous said...

There's no such thing as "the University of Vermont in Maine."

You may be shocked to learn that Vermont and Maine are different states. UVM is the University of Vermont.

Maximilian C. Forte said...

Though I did not author this post, I will interject that I am not nearly as shocked to learn that someone might confuse Vermont and Maine as I am shocked by the great number of Americans who think Iran is in South America, or that China is the continent of Australia.