Bob Benfer

Bob A Benfer

Primary Field
Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of Missouri, Department of Anthropology
Knowledge / Expertise
Interest/Specialty Areas Bioarchaeology and archaeoastronomy

A.A. degree as a chemistry major, B.A. as a psychology major, Ph.D. in physical anthropology/archaeology with a minor in educational psychology, really multivariate statistics in 1968. First large project was the Tula, Hidalgo, Mexico project, C.P.I. with Dick Diehl. Next project, also NSF funded, was with Frederic Engel, Alice Benfer, and Glendon Weir. We excavated the Middle Preceramic site of Paloma with an emphasis on the bioarchaeology. Two small excavations in the Andes, Tres Ventanas and Antibal, were followed by some years of cultural anthropology in the southern Andes with my wife, Louanna Furbee. The terrorist organization, Sendero Luminoso, controlled much of the middle and northern Andes and coast during that time and ran us out of an excavation in a coastal valley just north of Lima.  I directed the forensics lab at the department and, with Bill Maples, identified the remains of Don Francisco Pizarro. I continued to give workshops and classes in forensics in Mexico and Peru.

More recently, excavations at the site of Buena Vista, Chill∂ón Valley, discovered the earliest three-dimensional sculptures in the Americas and a gallery of astronomical alignments, a surprise. Although I had made a telescope as a teen ager, I had the typical North American archaeologist skepeticism about alignments, but there became too many with a +/-1º alignment to ignore. I was very much helped by an astronomer friend, Larry Adkins.

With Louanna Furbee, we published multivariate and Expert System studies. The last years as a professor were spent in applied artificial intelligence, expert systems, in which I learned my last computer languagae, Prolog.  in the 1990s I went to China four times, the first two for Expert Systems conferences as a guest of the the People's Republic, the last two, to study bioarchaeology of the Early to Middle Neolthic transition.  My most recent work has been truthing and studying giant Late Preceramic effigy mounds on the central coast of Perú. Three videos by Discovery and the Smithsonian have popularized some of the archaeoastronomy work. Most recently, our team discovered another 10,000 year old domestic structure in the Chilca Valley at the site of Quipa. Still in the field every year with the exception of the pandemic year. So I stay busy.

Along the way, I have had the pleasure to learn with some incredible graduate students whose theses ranged from Mesoamerica to Perú to forensics. I miss them.

Read More Read Less
Curriculum Vitae
Download CV DOCX81KB