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Department of Anthropology

Jane Walsh and crystal skull
Jane Walsh in her office


Jane Walsh, Ph.D.

Anthropologist Emeritus

Division: Archaeology

Area of Specialization:
Pre-Columbian Mexican archaeology and ethnohistory

Fax:  202-357-2208
E-mail Address:

Department of Anthropology Mailing Address


Ph.D. (1993), The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
M.A. (1971), University of the Americas, Mexico City, Mexico
B.A. (1968), University of the Americas, Mexico City, Mexico

Research Interests/Profile:

My principal research interest is the archaeology and ethnohistory of pre-Columbian Mexican cultures.  This specialization began quite early during high school years spent in Mexico City, and continues today with the study Pre-Columbian Mexican archaeological collections in the Smithsonian collections, as well as other national museums.  As a result of my work with crystal skulls, I have developed a specialty in pre-Columbian lapidary technology; and additionally employ ethnohistorical archives to document the cultural practices and technological advancements of ancient cultures.  I am also interested in fake artifacts that have found their way into important national collections.  I think fakes are creatures of their time, and as such have important stories to tell us about our own history, in addition to the evolving states of our knowledge.

Selected Publications:

2008  Walsh, Jane M. and Margaret Sax, I.C. Freestone, A.H. Rankin, N.D., Meeks. The origin of two purportedly pre-Columbian Mexican quartz crystal skulls in The Journal of Archaeological Science, pp.2751-2760.
2008  Walsh, Jane M.,The Dumbarton Oaks Tlazolteotl: Looking Beneath the Surface in Journal de la Société des Americanistes, 94-1.
2008 Legend of the Crystal Skull in Archaeology Magazine; Volume 61, No. 3 May/June -
2006 Falsificando la historia, Los falsos objetos prehispánicos in Arqueología Mexicana; vol. XIV, No. 82.
2005 What Is Real? A New Look at Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Collections in Anthronotes, Vol. 26,No. 1, Spring.
2004 La Vasija Obsidiana de Texcoco in Arqueología Mexicana, vol. XII, No.70.
2004 From the Ends of the Earth – The Extraordinary Collections of the U.S. Exploring Expedition in the Smithsonian Institution Libraries website, The United States Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842.
2003 Máscaras Teotihuacanas; De Teotihuacan a Filadelphia en 1830 in Araqueología Mexicana, Teotihuacan Ciudad de Misterios; Vol. XI, Num. 64.
2002 The Smithsonian Water Goddess; An Aztec Sculpture Rediscovered. In West by Nonwest, RES, Vol. 42, Autumn. Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Cambridge.
2002 Collections as Currency in Anthropology in History, and American Indians: Essays in Honor of William Curtis Sturtevant, Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology, Number 44, SI Press, Washington, D.C.
2001 Smithsonian Expeditions: A Museum Partnership in AnthroNotes - Museum of Natural History Publication for Educators; Volume 22, No. 3, Fall.
1998 John Peabody Harrington, a biographical sketch, in  American National Biography; Oxford University Press.
1997  Crystal Skulls and Other Problems in Exhibiting Dilemmas; Issues of Representation at the Smithsonian. edited by Henderson & Kaeppler. 

Electronic Publications:

2008 Natural History Highlight:  “Ancient Mexico, Hollywood land the French Connection:  The Hype, The History, The Reality."
2007 Smithsonian Olmec Legacy. A bi-lingual virtual exhibition with a database of 800 field  photographs and a second database containing 700 photographs of Olmec artifacts. Walsh, J.M. with Pamela Henson and Margaret Dittemore.
1999 Smithsonian Expeditions: 150 Years of Research in Latin America

Selected Exhibitions:

2007 Smithsonian Treasure from Mexico; Smithsonian Institution.
2006 xico a través de los Ojos de Edward Nelson, 1892 – 1906 - An exhibit of at the Museo Universitario in Malinalco, Estado de Mexico & Universidad Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas
1999 Smithsonian Expeditions: Exploring Latin America and the Caribbean. Miami Museum of Science.
1996  Expeditions - 150 Years of Smithsonian Research in Latin
. Cultural Center Gallery of the Interamerican Development Bank.
1991 Seeds of Change -National Museum of Natural History.
1985 Magnificent Voyagers - The U.S. Exploring Expedition 1838-1842.  National Museum of Natural History.  Also traveling exhibition.
1978  Treasures of Mexico.  Sponsored by the Armand Hammer Foundation.  National Museum of Natural History

Fellowships and Grants:

2003 Women’s International Science Collaboration Program,
American Association for the Advancement of Science grant to fund Scanning Electron Microscope study of Pre-Columbian carved stone artifacts at British Museum
2002 Smithsonian Institution Latino Initiative for Smithsonian Olmec Legacy project
2001 Miami Museum of Science grant for series of teleconferences on Expeditions
2000 Special grant for series of three teleconferences on Expeditions exhibit, MMS
1999 Special grant for exhibition, Smithsonian Institution, Latino Initiative
1999 Special Grant for exhibition, Miami Museum of Science
1999 U.S.I.A., Fulbright -  U.S. Speaker and Specialist Grant in El Salvador
1998 U.S.I.A. U.S. Speaker and Specialist Grant in El Salvador
1997 Research Opportunity Fund, Smithsonian Institution
1996 Smithsonian Institution Latino Initiative Allocation Fund
1995 H. John Heinz III Charitable Trust grant
1995 Research Opportunity Fund, Smithsonian Institution
1994 Research Resources Program Grant, Smithsonian Institution
1988 Research Opportunity Fund, Smithsonian Institution
1987 Suzanne Liebers Erickson Danish Exchange Program grant for research


2005  Reconocimiento; Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México
2004 Certificate of Award, Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program
2001 Certificate of Award, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of
Natural History
2000 Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History
Exemplary Service Award
1999 Award of Appreciation, Institute of Maya Studies, Miami Museum of Science
1994 Smithsonian Institution Personal Recognition and Excellence Award
1992 National Museum of Natural History: Director's Award for
Meritorious Service
1987 Print Casebooks 8: Design Excellence Award -  Magnificent Voyagers: The United States Exploring Expedition 1938-1842
1986 National Museum of Natural History: Director's Exceptional Service
1978 National Museum of Natural History: Director's Superior Performance Award

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