The Department of Anthropology curates 1,600 objects from Lower Central America (Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama), including 1,130 items in the Museum’s archaeological collections. The nucleus (approximately half) of the archaeological Lower Central American collections originated from the Chicago World Columbian Exposition and shortly after. Other collections were donated and received in exchange from other museums, most likely as a result of the Columbian Exposition and the foundation of the Museum. These collections have been expanded and strengthened by donations from private collectors in more recent years.
The collection is comprised of more than 752 whole ceramic vessels and 270 stone objects, including approximately 100 artifacts made of green stone. Other ceramic objects include whistles, figurines, roll stamps, and spindle whorls. The stone artifacts include objects made of basalt such as several metates or stools and shamanistic figures, objects made of green stone such as jadeite such as beads, celts, pendant ornaments, necklaces, and ear plugs, and other various ground stones, axe heads, and arrow / spear points. A few gold objects are also included in the collections. The majority of these artifacts in the Museum’s Lower Central American archaeological Collection are from the Guetar, Chorotega, Nicarao, and Cocle cultures, with artifacts having been excavated at important sites or regions including Las Huacas del Irazu, Costa Rica,