Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut
Preussischer Kulturbesitz

Three gables

Uhle, Max (1856-1944)

Max Uhle was a German archaeologist and linguist. From 1892 to 1894 he went on an expedition to Argentina and Bolivia for Berlin Royal Museum of Ethnology (today’s Ethnological Museum – Berlin State Museums). On this trip he collected numerous artefacts, kept a record of ethnographic and linguistic observations and documented the geography and history of Argentina and Bolivia. He also took part in archaeological excavations (mostly small-scale digs). From 1895 to 1898 he carried out excavations for the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (US) at the site of the temple of Pachacámac, south of Lima (Peru). From 1899 to 1905 Uhle did archaeological field work in Peru for the University of California in Berkeley (US); he worked at various locations, such as Moche, Nasca, Marca Huamachuco, the Chincha Valley, the Ica Valley, Pueblo Nuevo, the Pisco Valley and in Huaitará. Uhle’s collection of over 9,300 archaeological artefacts laid the foundation for the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology in Berkeley (US). In 1906 the Peruvian government appointed Uhle director of the archaeological section at the newly opened Museo de Historia Nacional in Lima and later made him its overall director. He held this post until 1911. From 1912 to 1915 he helped establish the Museo de Etnología y Antropología in Santiago de Chile. At the invitation of the independent academic and politician Jacinto Jijón y Caamaño (1890-1950), Uhle conducted excavations in Ecuador from 1919 to 1924. In 1925 he was awarded the newly established chair in Ecuadorian archaeology at the Universidad Central in Quito. Max Uhle is viewed as the father of Peruvian archaeology and the founder of systematic archaeology in South America. He was the first archaeologist to introduce scientific methods, such as stratigraphic analysis, into the study of archaeological cultures. Uhle led the way in this area, conducting systematically documented excavations which resulted in the first pre-Spanish chronology of archaeological cultures in Peru’s coastal area. Apart from minor alterations, his classification is still generally valid today. Max Uhle also carried out ethnographic and ethnolinguistic research, collecting important data on indigenous languages (Aymara, Uru, Chipaya, Quechua) in Bolivia and southern Peru.


  • 157 manuscripts
  • 92 manuscripts of lectures and talks
  • 175 notebooks
  • 27 compilations of notes
  • 834 sheets of drawings and sketches (in 34 theme-based compilations)
  • 96 plans
  • 2,157 letters to a total of 593 different people
  • 16 sets of personal papers
  • 5,207 photos and 2,014 negatives (in 79 theme-based compilations)
  • 20 compilations of various collections (e.g. newspaper clippings, postcards, and other items)

Keywords: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, archaeology, ethnolinguistics, ethnology, history of photography, institutions, travelogues, history of science

Miradas Alemanas

Max Uhle in the Digital Collections IAI

See examples for online-catalogue entries:

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