Research in Venezuela

By: Vincent Petrullo

Originally Published in 1934

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MR. VINCENZO PETRULLO, the Museum’s field director for South American Research , was sent to Venezuela in July, 1933 to survey and study the ethnological and archaeological problems and opportunities offered by the country, and to carry out field research if the conditions permitted. Mr. Petrullo returned from Venezuela in April, after an absence of nine months.

Scientific research in Venezuela, Mr. Petrullo reports, is receiving the enthusiastic support of the government and the people at large at the present time. Favored with the kindest cooperation of the Venezuelan authorities, scientists, and the people as a whole, Mr. Petrullo was able to carry out his program successfully. At the end of the rainy season, following the suggestion of Dr. Alfredo Jahn, he made a field study of a tribe of Indians called the Yaruros, a tribe known by name but never before studied.

We present below Mr. Petrullo’s personal account of his experiences and discoveries while living with these people who are nomads, roaming over the extensive open plains of Apure in search of roots, seeds, and game; wandering up and down the rivers in search of fish, crocodiles, turtles, and their eggs. A series of extraordinary events led to his acceptance by these people as one of themselves but in some way related to their Gods. The breaking down of the suspicious reserve generally existing toward strangers and all civilized peoples made it possible to observe and study intimately their religion and social organization. They addressed him as ‘elder brother,’ placing him in the same category as one of their Gods who appears in their legends as a culture hero and their Prometheus.

Mr. Petrullo brought back a representative collection of objects made and used by the Yaruros in their daily life and ceremonial occasions. Some of these objects are now on exhibition on the lower floor of the Museum.

Cite This Article

Petrullo, Vincent. "Research in Venezuela." Museum Bulletin V, no. 3 (May, 1934): 65-66. Accessed July 15, 2024.

This digitized article is presented here as a historical reference and may not reflect the current views of the Penn Museum.

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