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Vínculos Journal Celebrates 30th Anniversary

October 28, 2005

VÍNCULOS, the Costa Rican archaeologyjournal that represents the scientificoverhaul of the largely ignored and somewhatmystic version of archaeology in CostaRica before the 1970s, turned 30 this year –perhaps along with the rigorous pursuit ofknowledge of prehistoric people in CostaRica. It is the longest running peer-reviewjournal of its kind in Central America.“I gave it the name ‘Vínculos’(‘Links’) because it would fill the emptylagoon of scientific information on archaeology(here),” said its founder, U.S.archaeologist Michael Snarskis.Snarskis holds a doctorate in the fieldfrom New York’s Columbia University andhas lived in Costa Rica for more than 30years. In that time he has been the drivingforce behind the reformation of the country’sarchaeological pursuits, beginningwith the National Museum’s almostnonexistent operation.“There was one archaeologist and hissecretary when I arrived,” he said at thejournal’s anniversary celebration, latertelling The Tico Times that the archaeologist,Hector Gamboa, was a self-taughtgovernment overseer of anthropologicaland archaeological activities in the countryat a time when the pre-Columbian artifactshawked on street corners weren’t the fakesthey are today – they were looted fromancient graves.Snarskis himself became interested inarchaeology while working here as aPeace Corps volunteer. He began collectingpieces he bought from grave robbers(called guaceros). Inspired, he returned tothe United States to study archaeology.“Only during the Ph.D. program didthe scales fall from my eyes and I realizedwhat scientific archaeology was. I realizedthere was virtually nothing written onarchaeology in the Atlantic watershed inCosta Rica,” he said.Since then, he has relentlessly weededout rumors of aliens and Pacific Oceancrossings, along with unrealisticallyadvanced technology theories, from thepopular body of knowledge on the region’sprehistoric roots. He managed all the firstexcavations in the country using part of agrant from the U.S. National ScienceFoundation he had been given for his doctoraldissertation, then began sharing theresponsibility with two other archaeologists,one of whom, Ricardo Vásquez, hasdirected Vínculos for the past 10 years.“We learned along the way about editingarticles, graphics, reviewing the workof archaeologists,” Vásquez said.The anniversary coincides with the IVCosta Rican Archaeology Congress, whichwill be held Dec. 6-8 at the StateUniversity at a Distance (UNED), and willfeature presentations from archaeologystudents and professionals.

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