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Zakład Archeologii Nowego Świata

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Chair of New World Archaeology

The Department of New Word Archaeology is a research and teaching unit of the Institute of Archaeology of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow founded in 2008. Nevertheless, the tradition of research into American archaeology in Krakow and at the Institute of Archaeology of the Jagiellonian University reaches back to the 1970s. At  that time archaeological excavations of pre-ceramic sites in Cuba and Santo Domingo began conducted by Janusz K. Kozłowski. Moreover, systematic expeditions were undertaken to the Peruvian Andes, headed by Andrzej Krzanowski (former Director of the Department of Latin American Studies of the Jagiellonian University). The effect of these investigations were a number of monographs and reports, among others in the Alto Chicama Basin of Peru (Krzanowski 1984, 2006), as well as synthetic work on pre-ceramic cultures of the Carribean by Janusz K. Kozłowski (1974) which still remains a fundamental work dealing with the first settlement of the Antilles.

The Department of New World Archaeology cooperates with the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences participating in an international project of the International Union of the Academies: Corpus Antiquitatum Americanensium ( which aims to publish the collections of pre-Columbian (pre-Hispanic) artifacts from museums all over the world (M. Wasilewski is the Chief Editor of CAA Poland from 2016). Additionally, reports and results of research carried out by the Department members and other scholars from around the world are published, jointly by the  Jagiellonian University and the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences, in a series (journal) entitled: Contributions in New World Archaeology (previously: Polish Contributions in New World Archaeology).

Moreover, permanent cooperation has been maintained with the universities and research institutions of North America (universities in Boulder, Philadelphia, and Tucson), Central America (Guatemala, Mexico) and South America (Lima, Buenos Aires and Bogota), as well as with European institutions, notably with museums that store pre-Columbian collections (such as: Quai Branly Museum in Paris and Ethnological Museum in Barcelona).

The research carried out by the Department of New World Archaeology concentrates on four subject areas:

  • peopling of the Americas and beginnings of settlement in the New World (Janusz K. Kozłowski)
  • research on Ancestral Pueblo culture (settlement and social changes, rock art studies) in the U.S. Southwest (R. Palonka)
  • ethnoarchaeological and ethnohistorical research on Native American societies of the North American Southwest (R. Palonka with the team)
  • the rise, development and fall of the Maya culture (J. Źrałka, W. Koszkul)
  • studies on Colonial period in the Highland Guatemala (with special focus on wall paintings from the Ixil region),
  • Pre-Hispanic cultures of South America (M. Wasilewski, Ł. Majchrzak)

The first subject area covers research into the cultures of the Early (pre-Clovis) Horizon in the territory of North and Central America and their relation to north-east Asia, as well as studies of the origins of the Paleoindian Clovis-Folsom cultures. Moreover, comparative studies were carried out of Paleoindian hunting strategies and settlement structures in the territory of North America and those of the Upper and Late Palaeolithic in Europe.

The second subject area is research on the pre-Columbian cultures of Mesoamerica. Since 1999 the archaeologists from the Department have participated in several projects in Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize at sites such as Nakum, Yaxha, Lamanai, Caracol, and in the state of Veracruz. In 2006 the Nakum Archaeological Project  was commenced in Guatemala. The project, directed by Jarosław Źrałka, Ph.D., and Wiesław Koszkul, M.A., is the first Polish archaeological venture realized in the Maya area. The investigations have been made possible thanks to the permission of the Guatemalan Institute of Anthropology and History (IDAEH) and the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Guatemala. The primary objective of the Polish project has been the exploration of the ancient Maya city of Nakum situated in the northeastern part of Guatemala. The results so far have been spectacular: first of all the discovery of, unplundered, royal tombs and a unique water drain or canal whose function was both ritual and practical. Moreover, a number of carved monuments were also found,  that shed new light on the history of Nakum itself and the surrounding region. Since 2012 the excavations within the Nakum Project have been extended to the site of Poza Maya situated to the south of Nakum. Recently the project has covered with its investigations western and central part of the Triangle Park studying peripheries between Nakum and Yaxha. For more information on Polish excavations at Nakum click here:

The third subject area dealing with archaeology of North America comprises – among others – projects investigating the social and settlement organization of the Mississippian Tradition (Moundbuilders culture) in the eastern part of the present day United States. This project involved the participation in the excavations of the largest site of this cultural tradition, i.e. the Cahokia Mounds UNESCO Heritage site in Illinois in 2002-2003 by Radoslaw Palonka. Moreover, research into the past and modern Native American communities in the Southwest of the United States and the borderland with Mexico is also within the focus of interest of the Department. Since 2011 the Sand Canyon–Castle Rock Community Archaeological Project, has been carried out and directed by Dr. Radosław Palonka in the southwestern part of Colorado in the central Mesa Verde region. The investigations focus on the analysis of settlement structure and socio-cultural changes in the Pueblo culture sites located in several canyons in the Mesa Verde region – within the legally protected area of the Canyons of the Ancient National Monument. The documentation and analysis of Ancestral Pueblo and historic Ute and Navajo rock art (pictographs and petroglyphs) are also one of the main subjects of the project investigations; that led, among other things, to discovery large panels (galleries) with rock art from different time periods, previously unknown for scientists. The project is realized in cooperation with American institutions, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, several US universities and representatives of modern Pueblo communities from Arizona (Hopi tribe) and New Mexico (Jemez, Zuni) to enable analysis of native oral traditions. The project has also the support of the Consulate General of the United States in Krakow.

The fourth subject area embraces studies of pre-Columbian Indian cultures of South America. Among others, Michał Wasilewski, Ph.D. participates in the Polish Scientific Expedition to Peru, which collected and work out the documentation for UNESCO GEOPARK „Colca Canyon and Valley of Volcanoes” (project: Scientific Base for a future Volcanoes Valley National Park). The Expedition has been nominated and honoured with plate in the Avenue of Fame of Travelers, Discoverers and Conquerors Explorers Club Poland, Stanisława Lema str., Kraków. Dr. Wasilewski has published the results of his own research on obsidian exploitation in the pre-Inca cultures, on traditional mineral medicaments in the Andes. Lastly Wasilewski has started investigations into pre-Hispanic cultures in the territory of present day Colombia, continuing cooperation with Peruvian scientists, which also enables student professional trips.

The Department of New World Archaeology conducts courses - in Polish and English - on pre-Hispanic cultures of the New World including the problems of the peopling and first settlement of the Americas, Archaic and Paleoindian cultures, and comparative studies on prehistoric art and symbolic culture, the high civilizations of Mesoamerica (including the Olmecs, the Maya and the Aztecs), native cultures of North America (including the Mississippian and Pueblo highly developed farming cultures as well as hunter-gatherer societies), and of South America (the Moche, the Incas, and the Amazon cultures).


  • Kozłowski Janusz Krzysztof 1974. Preceramic Cultures in the Caribbean. Zeszyty Naukowe UJ 386, Prace Archeologiczne 20, Warszawa-Kraków.
  • Krzanowski, Andrzej 1984. The Prehistory of an Andean Valley. The study of pre-hispanic settlement in the Alto Chicama tributory in the Northern Andes, Peru. Ossolineum, Wrocław-Warszawa-Kraków-Gdańsk-Łódź. ISBN 83-04-01646-X [in Polish]
  • Krzanowski, Andrzej (ed.) 1991.Estudios sobre la cultura Chancay, Peru. Uniwersytet Jagielloński, Kraków.
  • Krzanowski, Andrzej 2006. Sitios arqueológicos en la región de Alto Chicama, Peru. Corpus Antiquitatum Americanensium – Pologne III, pp. 317. Academie Polonaise des Sciences et des Lettres, Kraków. ISBN 83-60183-20-1

Struktura organizacyjna
Adiunkt Dr hab. Radosław Palonka
Adiunkt Dr Michał Wasilewski
Asystent badawczy Dr Victor Castillo
Asystent badawczy Dr Katarzyna Radnicka
Contact Information

Address: Gołębia 11, 31-007 Kraków

Phone: 12 663 15 95

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