Adolph Francis Alphonse Bandelier (1840–1914) was an American anthropologist and documentary historian whose field was the Indian cultures of the southwestern United States, Mexico, and the Andean highlands. He was born in Berne, Switzerland, but his family emigrated to the United States in 1848 and settled in Highland, Illinois. As a young man in Highland he engaged in business enterprises, which he disliked exceedingly; his spare time was passionately devoted to the study of the Spanish documentary history of Mexico. In 1873 he met Lewis H. Morgan and became Morgan’s ardent disciple. To support Morgan’s thesis that Aztec society was essentially like that of the democratic Iroquois, Bandelier published three heavily documented papers in the annual reports of the Peabody Museum: “On the Art of War and Mode of Warfare of the Ancient Mexicans” (1877), “On the Distribution and Tenure of Lands and the Customs With Respect to Inheritance Among the Ancient Mexicans” (1878), and “On the Social Organization and Mode of Government of the Ancient Mexicans” (1879).
In 1880, Bandelier left the world of business and thereafter devoted himself to scholarship. That year he went to New Mexico, where, with the exception of 14 months during which he made an archeological tour of Mexico, he remained until 1892, engaging in archeological, ethnological, and documentary studies of the region. His principal works of this period were Final Report of Investigations Among the Indians of the Southwestern United States (1890-1892) and an ethnological novel, The Delight Makers (1890). In 1892 he went to Peru and Bolivia, where he made archeological, ethnological, and documentary studies; The Islands of Titicaca and Koati (1910) was the principal publication of this period. After his return to New York, in 1903, he was successively associated with the American Museum of Natural History, Columbia University, the Hispanic Society of America, and the Carnegie Institution of Washington. He went to Spain in 1913 to continue his documentary researches on the Pueblo Indians and died in Seville, where he was buried.
Bandelier’s studies of the Indians of the South-west are still of value to the scholar today, although they are not easy to use. His reports on his researches in Peru and Bolivia are also substantial. His three monographs on the ancient Mexicans, however, possess little more than historical significance; although these studies were undertaken in order to substantiate Morgan’s thesis of Pan-American Indian democracy, the data contained in them invalidate that thesis.
Leslie A. White
1877 On the Art of War and Mode of Warfare of the Ancient Mexicans. Volume 2, pages 95–161 in Harvard University, Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Annual Report, 10th. Cambridge, Mass.: The Museum. → Also published as a separate pamphlet.
1878 On the Distribution and Tenure of Lands and the Customs With Respect to Inheritance Among the Ancient Mexicans. Volume 2, pages 385–448 in Harvard University, Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Annual Report, llth. Cambridge, Mass.: The Museum.
1879 On the Social Organization and Mode of Government of the Ancient Mexicans. Volume 2, pages 557-699 in Harvard University, Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Annual Report, 12th. Cambridge, Mass.: The Museum. → Also published as a separate pamphlet.
(1890) 1954 The Delight Makers. New York: Dodd.
1890–1892 Final Report of Investigations Among the Indians of the Southwestern United States, Carried on Mainly in the Years From 1880 to 1885. 2 vols. Papers of the Archaeological Institute of America, American Series, Nos. 3 and 4. Cambridge, Mass.: Wilson.
1910 The Islands of Titicaca and Koati. New York: Hispanic Society of America. 1940 Pioneers in American Anthropology: The Bandelier-Morgan Letters, 1873–1883. 2 vols. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press.
1960 Correspondencia de Adolfo F. Bandelier. Serie Historia, No. 4. Mexico City: Institute Nacional de Antropología e Historia.
Hodge, F. W. 1932 Biographical Sketch and Bibliography of Adolphe Francis Alphonse Bandelier. New Mexico Historical Review 7:353–370.
Kidder, A. V. 1928 Adolph F. Bandelier. Volume 1, pages 571–572 in Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Scribner.