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Courtesy of the University of
Pennsylvania Museum

George Ernest Hasemann


Boyd Dixon

George Hasemann, head of the Archaeology Section of the Instituto Hondureño de Antro-pología e Historia (IHAH), died in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on October 8, 1998, after a five-year struggle with cancer. Born in New York City on January 16, 1944, Hasemann studied English literature at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, earning his B.A. in 1968.

He taught English and French literature at the Asheville School in North Carolina. While guiding students through Mexico in 1972, his interest in the prehistory of Latin America was kindled. He was offered a scholarship to pursue graduate studies in anthropology at Florida State University (FSU), moving with his first wife and daughter to Tallahassee in 1973. Hasemann attended the archaeological field school at the Contact Period indigenous site of Ulmore Cove in northwest Florida, and then assisted in analyzing its ceramics. He later became a part-time conservation assistant at the Southeast Archaeological Center of the National Park Service.

Hasemann's first exposure to Honduras was in 1974, when he was involved in an IHAH-authorized archaeological survey of Utila in the Bay Islands. Enamored with the people and culture of the islands, he returned in 1975 to conduct further surveys. By 1976, Hasemann decided to move to Utila. He attempted to stay employed on the island, working as a diver, captain of a shrimp boat, and on IHAH archaeological projects. In 1977, Hasemann was awarded his M.A. in anthropology, with a minor in Latin American history, from FSU.

Hasemann moved to mainland Honduras with his second wife and their daughter to conduct excavations for IHAH at Colonial Period sites. During this period, he broadened his prehistoric field experience, directing excavations at Travesia, Curruste, and El Níspero. In 1978, Hasemann began his involvement in the El Cajón archaeological project (1989, The El Cajón Archaeological Investigation and Salvage Project, Vol. 1, Prehistoric Cultural Ecology, coeditor with K. Hirth and G. Lara Pinto). He supervised the regional survey of this hydroelectric dam and 94 km2 reservoir, which eventually culminated in several publications (e.g., 1987, "Late Classic Settlement on the Sulaco River, Central Honduras" in Chiefdoms in the Americas, edited by R. Drennan and C. Uribe) and his Ph.D. dissertation.

Hasemann settled in Tegucigalpa in 1982 with his third wife and colleague Gloria Lara Pinto, to become a permanent IHAH staff archaeologist and help raise their two children. For 16 years, he served indefatigably as interim head of the Department of Anthropological Investigations and then as the head of the Archaeology Section, personally directing and/or coordinating numerous multidisciplinary field projects in the central highlands, in the jungles of the Mosquita, on the search. Developing the site for interpretation to the public, the Jamestown archaeological project continued Jean C. Harrington's pioneering work of the 1930s and 1940s and was a phenomenal success as a showpiece of Jamestown's 35th anniversary celebration in 1957. Cotter's report, "Archaeological Excavations at Jamestown, Virginia," (1958, Archaeological Research Series No. 4, National Park Service, Washington), was a landmark in the reporting of archaeological investigations at historic sites. Long out of print but still in demand, it was reprinted in 1994 by the Archaeological Society of Virginia.

Cotter's work at Jamestown immersed him deeply into the methods and nuances of the emergent historical archaeology in the 1950s. He became so captivated by it that thereafter he turned his scholarly energies almost entirely to the development of the subdiscipline.

Leaving Jamestown in 1957, Jack was stationed in Philadelphia as regional archaeologist for the NPS Northeast Region until 1970, when he was transferred to the NPS Eastern Service Center in Washington. Although he retired in 1972, he continued to work for the NPS as a rehired annuitant until final retirement in 1977.

Cotter was adjunct professor in the Department of American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania (1960­1979) and curator for American Historical Archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania Museum (1972­1980). As curator emeritus he maintained an office at the museum and worked there regularly until 10 days before his death. Cotter authored or coauthored several books and more than 200 journal articles and reviews. His best-known publications are "Archaeological Excavations at Jamestown, Virginia," and The Buried Past: An Archaeological History of Philadelphia (1992, with coauthors D. G. Roberts and M. Parrington, University of Pennsylvania Press). His final book, Clovis Revisited, written with A. T. Boldurian, was in press at the time of his death. It looks back at his early work on Paleoindians and puts it into context with current Paleoindian research.

Cotter received numerous awards, including the J. C. Harrington Medal in Historical Archaeology (Society for Historical Archaeology), and the David E. Finley Award for Outstanding Achievement in Historic Preservation (National Trust for Historic Preservation).

At the University of Pennsylvania, Cotter taught the first university course in historical (nonclassical) archaeology and inspired a generation of students. He was one of the cofounders of the Society for Historical Archaeology, served as its first president, and edited the first volume of its journal, Historical Archaeology. Staunch activist for historic preservation, respected mentor, versatile scholar, and capable Park Service administrator, Jack Cotter will be long remembered for his many contributions to both historic and prehistoric archaeology. ·

Edward B. Jelks is retired and lives in Normal, Illinois.

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