Information to clarify the communication about the “Norte Chico Archaeological Project” (link)
- Jonathan Haas and Winifred Creamer say:
“We write this note to our colleagues with some sadness. We have no desire to get into a public debate with Dr. Ruth Shady Solís about the recognized discoveries in the Norte Chico region of the Peruvian coast.”
Haas and Creamer are trying to put on an emotional plane the justification for their criticizable attitude, but this evaluation should be made in strictly objective terms.
Since Haas and Creamer have taken over for themselves all the results of our research, they could hardly get into a public debate, the more so when they do not recognize our authorship of these results.
They have tried to take advantage not only of the image or prestige of Caral, but also of the interpretations we have made about the theory of the development of complex societies, based on ten years of extensive excavations in the mentioned sites and comparison with others in the north-central area, in the Americas, and in the world.
- Haas and Creamer say:
“To begin with, we explicitly state that Dr. Shady is fully responsible for all the excavations conducted at the site of Caral. Almost all her work at the site was published in a compendium that came out in 2003, entitled “The Sacred City of Caral-Supe: the Origins of the Andean Civilization and the Formation of the Pristine State in Ancient Peru.” Dr. Shady deserves full credit for all the work carried out at Caral. We have not requested, nor do we deserve, any responsibility for the work performed at Caral.”
The results obtained from our investigations in Caral and another three settlements of the same age, Chupacigarro, Miraya, and Lurihuasi, in the Supe Valley, in the economic, social, political, and ideological aspects do not derive exclusively from – neither can they be reduced merely to – the Sacred City of Caral.
In the 32 articles published from 1997 onward in books, magazines, and newsletters of ample circulation, some of which were compiled and extended in a book in 2003, the different contributions of our research may be appreciated.
- Haas and Creamer say:
“Our first meeting with Dr. Shady took place in April 1999, when Haas invited her to present a paper at a conference on the biological and cultural aspects of the El Niño Phenomenon held at the Field Museum. We had heard about Dr. Shady’s work through colleagues in the United States and we were very excited about the research (...) We went to Peru for two weeks and stayed with Dr. Shady in her home. We visited Caral briefly, for two days, and got to know other early sites along the coast with her and her students”
In fact, ever since Haas and Creamer heard about our investigations in Caral, they planned to claim the results for themselves. An example is the news included in a press release from the Northern Illinois University, dated April 10, 2000 (link), where it is announced that Creamer “will begin a project this summer in Peru [July 2000], investigating the historical relationship between the El Niño phenomenon and the growth of complex society in Caral, a village about 100 miles north of Lima where pyramids were built 4,000 years ago” Once they were in Lima, they offered small amounts of help for radiocarbon dates, which would enable them to propose themselves subsequently as co-authors of the article in Science, based on the results of seven years of investigations made by us, and with the promise that this would make it possible to obtain funds for the Caral Archaeological Project in their country. Following the publication of the article in Science, Haas and Creamer began the misappropriation now known to all.
- Haas and Creamer say:
“In 2000, Haas came to Peru, in May, and was invited by Dr. Shady to spend the season in the house she had built in Caral, with her students and her team. He also wanted to visit other sites in the Supe Valley and see whether there were more early sites in the neighboring valleys of Huaura, Pativilca, and Fortaleza. To accompany him in his field trips, Dr. Shady introduced him to the archaeologist Álvaro Ruiz (...) At the end of July 2000, Haas and Creamer went to the field with Dr. Shady and her assistant, Marco Machacuay, to take a series of fresh samples (...) We have many photographs that show Haas and Creamer working with Shady during the two days of the taking of samples for radiocarbon testing.”
In effect, I asked Álvaro Ruiz–who in 1999, as my student in the undergraduate investigation workshop in archaeology, had become linked with the Caral Archaeological Project–to go with Haas, warning Ruiz to be discreet in his comments about our investigations, since I was still evaluating their cooperation proposal. A short time afterwards, I was told by a journalist in the province of Barranca that Ruiz was the new assistant of Haas. They had not had the ethical attitude of letting me know about this.
In July 2000 Haas stayed one week, not a season, in the house of the Caral archaeologists. At the end of that week we proceeded to collect the samples from the places already excavated and selected by us, so that he and his wife could take them to the United States for the radiocarbon testing. The affirmation made by Haas and Creamer now leads us to think that their help at that time, and the photographic record they made, were premeditated.
- Haas and Creamer say:
“The results of the testing were known in December 2000, and gave datings that confirmed that Caral was occupied in the third millennium B.C. It was during this time that Haas and Creamer were informed of the existence of the datings of previous samples. All the data were consistent and confirmed a continuous occupation from the years 2600 to 2000 B.C.”
In 1997 we requested the cooperation of our colleague Henning Bischof to run 11 dates. Shortly afterwards we made the same request to Betty Meggers, to whom we gave six samples. When Haas and Creamer arrived at Caral as tourists we did not yet have the results of these tests, and neither was there any reason to tell them that they were under way. Only when the article was written for Science did we include the dates which we had received by then. We might do well to contrast the disinterested and practically anonymous contributions of Bischof and Meggers with the pretension of Haas and Creamer, who, on the strength of their cooperation with twelve dates, wanted to claim the results of our investigation as their own.
- Haas and Creamer say:
“With the full cooperation of Dr. Shady, Haas prepared the draft of an article to send to the scientific magazine Science (...) It was then that the source of the present problems arose. Much of the publicity in the United States (although not all, see Newsweek, April 2001) cited Haas and/or Creamer as the main researchers. For reasons of her own, Dr. Shady declined to give interviews to different reports. We were consternated and disgusted with the publicity and at that time we sent a public apology and clarification, which were amply distributed, explaining our very minor role in any work done at Caral. The press release cited by Dr. Shady was the initial launching on the article in Science magazine effected by the Field Museum. This was formally corrected as soon as possible. At that time we expected Dr. Shady to send her press release through her office, but this did not happen.”
Haas prepared one draft, and I wrote another one. My final version of the article was translated by him and published under my authorship and theirs, following Haas’s argument that in this way, as a binational work, it would facilitate access to the funds of the National Science Foundation. I hereby place on record, in honor of the truth, that neither Haas nor Creamer had worked in Caral or in any other site of the Supe Valley or of the north-central area. I admit that I was deceived by them. This is my responsibility for being unwary.
I got to know the printed final version of the article by fax, sent to me by the AAAS, publishing firm of Science Magazine, on April 24, three days before the publication. On verifying the institutional affiliation of the authors, we noted that only the name of Haas had a footnote with his e-mail address. We found that strange, but we did not attach any great importance to it. Since the fax had been stamped with the warning “Embargoed. Hold for release: April 27, 2001,” we decided to wait until that date to present the publication to the local press.
Haas and Creamer, however, had prepared for the news release in advance. It is now obvious that the mention of Haas’s e-mail in the article made him accessible in real time to the reporters and investigators interested in the topic, and that the absence of our e-mail address relegated us to a second plane. Haas’s Field Museum launched a web site one day earlier with a press release; and Creamer’s Northern Illinois University dedicated a whole web site to the topic.
Even though Haas and Creamer are determined to let it be thought that the matter of the authorship of the investigations was a misunderstanding on the part of the reporters, the evidence contradicts them. The web sites of the Field Museum and of Northern Illinois University mentioned Haas and Creamer as the principal investigators and failed to mention the existence of Caral Archaeological Project. They have responsibility in that mistake, since they were the main informants of their institutions.
The web site of the Field Museum published a press release entitled “Field Museum anthropologists establish date and importance of the Americas' oldest city” (link, véase la fuente). In the press release mention is made of Caral, its location and former dating, and immediately afterwards Haas is quoted. Any reader or journalist would assume that he was the site researcher. The more so if throughout the release his name appears several times with his comments–and those of Creamer–while the Peruvian archaeological project is not mentioned anywhere. Finally, the press release shows two photographs, one of the Sacred City of Caral and the other of the irrigation canals in the Supe Valley, with Haas’s credit. In response to our complaint to Haas, the press release was modified (link), but not sufficiently to repair the distortion caused.
It was the same story with the web site of Northern Illinois University, where Creamer works, which all the time offers the image of Creamer–and that of Haas–while it relegates me to a minor role and fails to mention the Caral Archaeological Project. The home page, under the title “Archaeologists say Peru was home to the Americas' earliest known urban settlements and pyramids, dating as far back as 2627 B.C (link) presents Creamer’s picture only. Also, on the following page (link) there appears a press release entitled “Archaeologists say Peru was home to the Americas' oldest pyramids, cities”, the second paragraph of which mentions the husband-and-wife team of archaeologists (Haas and Creamer) who have determined the age of the pyramids of the Sacred City of Caral. As in the previous case, Creamer is amply quoted, and there are some quotes from Haas, but no reference at all is made to the Caral Archaeological Project.
On the third page of the web site of Creamer’s Northern Illinois University, under the link (photos of the researchers” (link) four photographs are offered for downloading: in the first we see Creamer posing behind some pottery fragments and books on Peruvian themes, in front of a map of Peru. The second photo is a close-up of the first. The third shows Creamer in an archaeology office. The fourth is a picture of Haas, posing with some pottery from the northern coastal region. The set is arranged to show themselves working on Peru, when they had not yet started work in the “Norte Chico”.
On the fourth page of the web site of Creamer’s Northern Illinois University, (link) photos are given of the Sacred City of Caral and of the Supe Valley, indicating that the credits of the photographer, Haas, must be respected. In these six photos there are three panoramas of the Sacred City of Caral, one excavated sector in Caral, one modern quincha (wattle-and-daub) house, and the present irrigation canals in the valley. These last two photos have the following captions: “According to NIU archaeologist Winifred Creamer, this contemporary example of a cane-and-mud structure is similar to the lower-class dwellings used by ancient Peruvians at Caral”, and “According to NIU archaeologist Winifred Creamer, this contemporary example of a simple irrigation system in the Supe Valley near Caral is probably very similar to the system used by ancient Peruvians.” Doubtless all these quotations are aimed at reinforcing the image of Creamer as a researcher of the Sacred City of Caral. I repeat that neither she nor her husband ever did any excavation in the Sacred City of Caral.
Then, on the fifth and sixth pages of the web site of Creamer’s Northern Illinois University (link and link), there are drawings of the Sacred City of Caral and its location. The credits for these drawings are: Mariano Spizzirri, NIU Media Production – Imaging, and Jennifer Ringberg, Field Museum. Neither Spizzirri nor Ringberg worked with us, but the original graphic material they used for the illustrations must have come from the Caral Archaeological Project. Haas and Creamer obviously gave them that information for the drawings without bothering to cite the source of their data.
On the seventh page of the web site of Creamer’s Northern Illinois University (link) a video of Creamer may be seen, in which she speaks about the Sacred City of Caral. Behind her are clearly seen the same map of Peru as is shown in one of the photographs, and an advertising poster of the Sacred City of Caral printed by Caral Archaeological Project for one of its museographic exhibitions, which Haas and Creamer received when they were visiting Lima. On the video Creamer does not mention the Caral Archaeological Project.
All this self-aggrandizement, which omits references to us, leaves no room for doubt about the intention of Haas and Creamer, even if they say the opposite and attribute all the responsibility to the journalists. Only Newsweek published a truthful article because one of its foreign correspondents happened to be in Lima when the news was released, and was able to interview us. All the media whose only source of information was Haas and Creamer attributed the credit for the research erroneously. The rectification campaign, therefore, did not correspond to us but to Haas and Creamer.
Any reader or journalist who had found the web resources set up by the institutions of Haas and Creamer would have believed that they were the researchers of the matter in question. What is more, if anybody today interested in the topic uses Internet search engines to find information on Caral, he or she will find these sites, which continue to position Haas and Creamer as the Caral researchers. Haas and Creamer’s blaming of the press is an easy way of dodging their responsibility. So many erroneous news items about Haas and Creamer cannot be coincidental. For example, an institution belonging to the community of Haas and Creamer, the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, presents on the cover of its brochure entitled “IMSA Presentation day–April 28, 2004” (link) a photograph that Haas must have taken in the Huaura, Pativilca or Fortaleza valley with the following caption on the next page: “Front Cover: - Photograph by Dr. Jonathan Haas. Kasia Szremski (IMSA '01) and Lyra Haas (IMSA '05) at archaeological site in Caral, Peru. Caral, the oldest known urban center in the Americas, was discovered by IMSA mentors Dr. Winifred Creamer and Dr. Jonathan Haas”.
- Haas and Creamer say:
“Have we disseminated our last article published in Nature? Yes, we believe that 95 new radiocarbon datings of 13 sites that had not previously been examined and that show a sound range of datings from 3000 to 1800 B.C. deserve attention.”
Haas and Creamer should have pointed out in their latest presentation in Nature that their dates ratified ours–of which we now have 42–because we are a project that continues researching and publishing. We must insist, however, that the matter of the credits is not limited merely to the Sacred City of Caral and the Supe Valley, but to our determinations regarding the growth of the complex society in the Andes, its characterization, and what this knowledge contributes to the general theory of the formation of civlization. Haas and Creamer appropriate our proposals, which they present as if they were theirs, without mentioning our publications.
- Haas and Creamer say:
“The latest article in Nature describes the work of our project in the valleys of Pativilca and Fortaleza. Dr. Shady had no participation in this work. In terms of assigning credits for previous research in the Norte Chico region, we recognize that the first radiocarbon datings in sites of the Late Archaic were published by Elzbieta Zechenter, a Polish archaeologist, who wrote her thesis on the Supe Valley in 1988. The explorations in the Supe Valley were carried out by two Peruvians, Carlos Williams and Manuel Merino and published in manuscript form in 1979 (...) Michael Moseley wrote about Áspero in the 1970s, and his graduate student Robert Feldman published articles based on his thesis on research in Áspero in the early 1980s. Al these investigations are cited in our article in Nature. Shady’s research in Caral is explicitly cited in the first paragraph of the article and appears in references five times in different parts of the article.”
It is true that there were other researchers on the north-central coast before us, and we have recognized this; our merit, however, was to demonstrate with our results the location in time of the civilizing development in the Late Archaic or Preceramic period. As Michael Moseley, with professional ethics, admits, he “had had this intuition also, but did not dare to put it forward.”
Also, it becomes evident for those who have read our publications, that in order to make news based on survey carried out in the Pativilca and Fortaleza valleys, adjacent to Supe, Haas and Creamer have had recourse, without citing the source, to our results, data, and theoretical interpretations about the formation of civilization in Peru and its comparison with others in the Americas and the world. We repeat that Haas and Creamer do not attempt merely to manage the results of the research applied to the Sacred City of Caral and the Supe Valley, but to the social theory itself.
- Haas and Creamer say:
“We use the term ‘Norte Chico’ to describe the area that includes the valleys of Huaura, Supe, Pativilca, and Fortaleza because this is the term used locally. We also think that it is a representation that extends beyond one single valley and site.”
Since Haas and Creamer have brought up the term of “Norte Chico”, we should make it clear that, in the context at hand, its use is not appropriate. Archaeologically speaking, for the coast of that zone of the Andean area, the term used is north-central coast. We have always used the term north-central coast as the area of the emergence of civilization in the Andes to include not only the coastal valleys from Chancay to the Santa River, but also the Andean highlands and their western slopes, with the Marañón and Huallaga river basins. The use of the term “Norte Chico”, a current convention for the valleys located north of–and under the influence of–the modern city of Lima, for the emergence of civilization in the Andes is a reducing term, without any scientific basis.
In addition, with the term Norte Chico, applied as an umbrella over the geographic area of our work–the Supe Valley–Haas and Creamer are able to make use of the advances of our investigations in that area mentioning them as if they were of public knowledge, without the need to specify our name or that of our project.
- Haas and Creamer say:
“In the course of our project, we have tried hard to develop ample cooperation with many Peruvian institutions and archaeologists. We understand that we are foreigners in Peru and we feel a strong obligation to make positive contributions to the archaeological community in Peru and to the small towns in the Norte Chico. Creamer spent five months in Peru teaching in Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia and she has given a series of public lectures, with other members of the project, in universities of Lima, in the Norte Chico, and in the Peruvian Archaeologists’ Association.”
Haas and Creamer’s project started formally in 2002, in the context of the misappropriation we have described. This situation led them to seek ties with the community and institutions uninvolved in their problem and, taking advantage of the competition that arose between the valleys adjacent to the Supe Valley, they have offered the authorities results comparable to those of the Sacred City of Caral. However, these ties do not remove their liability for their performance in the scientific area.
- Haas and Creamer say:
“To give support to the archaeological community at large, we set up a scholarship program which enables Peruvian students to travel to perform their postgraduate archaeology studies. Currently there are four Peruvian students with these scholarships. It is true that one of these scholarships was recently obtained by the assistant director of the project, Álvaro Ruiz, but the scholarship funds have also been awarded to another three Peruvian students who are not directly linked with our project.”
Several of the archaeology students who have worked with Haas and Creamer have done so out of economic need. Some of them have also been unaware of the anti-ethical conduct of Haas and Creamer. In a country with serious economic problems like Peru, offers of employment and scholarships are attractive to those who wish to build a professional career for themselves.
- Haas and Creamer say:
“We are disillusioned with Dr. Shady´s recent statements about our project. We respect Dr. Shady and what she has done at Caral. At the same time, we believe that it is important to recognize that there is a large number of sites with monumental architecture in the Norte Chico region, and we are only just starting to understand the full significance of this unique cultural system that originated more than 5,000 years ago on the Peruvian coast. We have always openly admitted that other researchers – Uhle, Kosok, Engel, Williams and Merino, Zechenter, Moseley, Feldman, Fung, Silva, Vega-Centeno, and Shady have, all of them, made great contributions to our understanding of the early occupations in the Norte Chico region. These scholars provide the basis on which we are constructing our present project. We could not do what we have been doing without the works of our predecessors. Our immediate contribution to the archaeology of the Norte Chico is to provide a sound chronology for the occupation of the Late Archaic in the region, and to place this occupation in an ample chronological, regional, and global context.”
We share the emotion expressed by Haas and Creamer in their writing, but say that we have been disillusioned with them since April 2001. Since then, nevertheless, despite what they have done, we have not reported them as we are doing now. This time we have done so because it has seemed to us unacceptable the way they have appropriated to themselves the results of our research on the origins of civilization and their characterization in the north-central area of Peru.
Haas and Creamer should admit that if our research had not existed, they would at present be battling to demonstrate their proposals to the scientific community based on archaeological prospecting. With the methodology they use, it would be very difficult for them to do so. Neither could they make such detailed assertions about the economy and social organization. Haas and Creamer should explicitly recognize that they are carrying out their work in the framework of a theory already established by us, which we are still researching in the north-central area.
Haas and Creamer say:
“Those interested in our work on the Norte Chico Archaeological Project, please visit the web site of the project at www.fieldmuseum.org/panc. Our reports to the Instituto Nacional de Cultura (Peru’s National Institute of Culture) are posted on this site, as well as our applications for funding, and photographs of the sites we have researched. We encourage those interested to examine our latest proposal submitted to the National Science Foundation where the work of Dr. Shady is discussed at length.”
We, too, invite those interested to see for themselves on the web site they mention how the project of Haas and Creamer appropriates, without citing them, the proposals that we have produced in ten years of research on the formation of civilization in Peru.
Since they mention one of the institutions that finances them, we should add that in April 2003, Dr. Mary Overbey of the American Anthropological Association, made a statement in favor of the assignation of a budget for the National Science Foundation, before the House of Representatives of the United States (link). Explicitly, she said: “In the search for the origins of human civilization, Winifred Creamer and Jonathan Haas at Northern Illinois University and the Field Museum, respectively, have discovered a complex society on the coast of Peru that predates the Inca and other forms of civilization in the Western Hemisphere. Working in the north-central coast of Peru, Creamer and Haas have identified 25 major yet previously undocumented archaeological sites in three adjoining valleys all dating to 3000 and 1800 BC – the same time the pyramids of Egypt were being constructed. The related sites, referred to as the Norte Chico complex, appears to be the earliest centralized, hierarchical complex (civilization) in the Americas. Among these is the site of Caral, dated to 2627 BC, that appears to be the oldest city in the New World. The sites all share enormous platform mounds, round ceremonial plazas, and extensive areas of socially stratified residences”. An official statement of this type made before a body of government, could not have come from journalistic misinformation.
This is all I have to say, in honor of the truth.
Dr. Ruth Shady Solís
Special Archaeological Project Caral-Supe
Lima, January 14, 2005.