Craig Morris, an archaeologist who helped transform modern knowledge of the Inca civilization and a leader of research and exhibitions at the American Museum of Natural History, died Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 66 and lived in Greenwich Village.
The cause was complications of heart surgery performed on Monday at NewYork-Presbyterian/ Columbia hospital, the museum announced.
Dr. Morris was a towering figure in pre-Columbian archaeology, colleagues said. His research on the Inca culture took him on expeditions to the heights of the Andes and down to the valleys of the Pacific coast for years of vigorous excavations.
One of his most intensive expeditions explored ruins of Huánuco Pampa, the huge Inca city at an elevation of 12,000 feet in the Andes. In the 1970's and 80's, he excavated more than 300 of the sites and some 4,000 crumbling buildings.
Other archaeologists said Dr. Morris's excavations and interpretations transformed understanding of Inca urban life before the Spanish conquest in the early 16th century. His more recent research concentrated on the architecture and ceramics of coastal Peru as a reflection of Inca political and economic structure. He also incorporated aerial and declassified satellite photography in his latest work.
For 10 years, until 2004, Dr. Morris was dean of science at the American Museum, overseeing the staff of curators and coordinating their work on public exhibitions. "He was a pillar of our community personally and intellectually," said Ellen V. Futter, the museum president.
Michael J. Novacek, senior vice president and provost of the museum, said that Dr. Morris had a major role in the renaissance of the scientific exhibitions at the museum in recent years. He took a direct hand in curating several temporary and permanent exhibits, including one on the royal tombs of Sipán in Peru.
But it was Dr. Morris's own research that dominated his 31 years at the museum, where at his death he was a senior vice president and curator of anthropology. His expertise in Inca culture and his scholarly publications earned him membership in the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
He was also vice president of the Institute of Andean Research, treasurer of the Peruvian-American Research Foundation and an adjunct professor of anthropology at Columbia ...
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