Dr. Johan Reinhard was an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society during 1999-2013 & 1997. He is currently (2016) affiliated as an Explorer with NGS, a Senior Research Fellow at The Mountain Institute, Washington, D.C., a Visiting Professor at Catholic University, Salta (Argentina), and an Honorary Professor of Catholic University, Arequipa (Peru). Born in Illinois, he began his undergraduate studies in anthropology at the University of Arizona, before going on to receive his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Vienna, Austria (1974). Much of his research has focused on the sacred beliefs and cultural practices of mountain peoples, especially in the Andes and the Himalayas, and on preserving the cultural patrimony of indigenous peoples. Since 1980 Dr. Reinhard has conducted anthropological field research primarily in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Ecuador. His investigations have led him to present new theories to explain the mystery of pre-Hispanic ceremonial sites on mountain summits up to 6,739 m (22,109 ft), the Nazca Lines (giant desert drawings), and the ancient ceremonial centers of Machu Picchu, Chavín de Huantar, and Tiahuanaco. During 1989-92 he directed the first Andean underwater archaeological research project in Lake Titicaca, at 3,812 m (12,506 ft) the world’s highest navigable lake. In 1982-83 he and his colleagues conducted underwater archaeological investigations in two crater lakes, one on the summit of Licancabur at 5,850 m (19,192 ft) and the other at 5,800 m (19,029 ft) below the summit of Paniri (5,946 m/19,508 ft).
While making over 200 ascents over 5,200 m (17,060 ft) in the Andes, he led expeditions resulting in the discovery of more than 60 high-altitude Inca ritual sites. He directed teams that recovered four Inca human sacrifices on Ampato (6,312 m/20,708 ft). His expeditions in the Andes during 1996-1999 led to the discovery of fourteen more Inca human sacrifices on five mountains above 5,500 m (18,044 ft), including three perfectly preserved mummies at 6,739 m (22,109 ft) on Llullaillaco, the world’s highest archaeological site. In 1995 and 1999 Time selected Dr. Reinhard's finds as among “the world's ten most important scientific discoveries” for each of those years--making him one of the few scientists to have had his research chosen twice for this recognition.
He has lived more than ten years in the Himalayas, conducting anthropological research primarily in Nepal, in addition to having undertaken investigations in Tibet, Bhutan, Sikkim, and the Garhwal Himalaya. His studies included: Himalayan shamanism (traditional religious practitioners); the role of sacred mountains in Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism; the sacred "hidden lands" of Tibetan Buddhism (seven of which he has explored); and culture change from nomadic hunting-gathering to settled agriculture among the Raji. In the late 1960s he was the first to contact and study two of the world's last nomadic hunting and gathering tribes, the Raute and the Kusunda (speakers of one of the world's rarest languages), and to identify a Dravidian language (Dhangar) in Nepal. While in Nepal, he also directed Peace Corps Training Projects. Elsewhere in Asia he has conducted ethnographic research on Muslim fishermen in the Maldive Islands (Indian Ocean) (1977) and traditional religious practices in Mongolia (2012), and Bali (Indonesia) (2007), Israel (2012), and Turkey (2015).
While living in Europe, Dr. Reinhard participated in Austria's first underwater archaeological project (a Neolithic site at Mondsee) (1972). He was also a member of teams which undertook nautical archaeological research of Roman shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea off southern Italy (1965 & 1967) and of an Iron Age Villanovan village (1965) in an Italian lake (Lago di Bolsena). He has investigated sacred mountains and traditional religion in Greece (2002). In Mexico he was a member of underwater archaeological investigations (2007 & 2010) of sacred lakes of the Aztecs at 4,216 m (13,832 ft) on Mt. Toluca. In 2009 he participated on underwater archaeological research in Ecuador in the mountain lake of Culebrillas (3,915 m/12,844 ft) and off the coast of Bahia de Caráquez. Research on traditional religious practices was carried out in Venezuela (2012) and Guatemala (2014). Underwater archaeological sites in Lake Issyk Kul in Kyrgyzstan in 2010.
Land & Sea Explorations: In 1977 he participated in one of the first camel crossings by westerners of the Great Indian (Thar) Desert. In 1980 he and his companion made one of the few land crossings of Tierra del Fuego in Chile. That same year he was a member of a team that made a crossing of the Llanganatis mountain range in Ecuador to reach the Amazon. He has explored much of the Himalayan range, including isolated regions in the Hindu Kush, Garhwal (NW India), western Tibet, Bhutan, and Nepal (including around Chamlang in 1977 and a solo trip through inner Dolpo in 1971). He has been three times to Antarctica, and also undertaken expeditions into the jungles of southern Nepal, Ecuador, and Peru.
*More about his background can be found in the "FAQs and Further Resources" section. For his CV and further information with regard to employment and field research, please contact Johan Reinhard directly.
Top Photo by Molly Roberts