History and Prehistory of the Panama Canal Zone Revealed by the Current Canal Expansion Program

Author(s): Emlen Myers; Tomas Mendizabal

Year: 2015


A wide array of archaeological resources has been identified by the Panama Canal Expansion, a civil construction effort that began in 2008 and will end late in 2015. Over 40 separate cultural resource studies have been contracted by the Panama Canal Authority since the start of the project. Located at the narrowest point of the Central American isthmus, the project area has been an environmentally rich and strategically important location since Pre-Hispanic times. Pre-construction survey and construction-phase finds have yielded artifacts and information from ca. 700 B.C. through to the mid-20th century. The pre-Hispanic data are of scientific interest. The majority of the finds, however, are Historic period sites and artifacts, which are unique, providing a rich and varied record of both the French (1881-1904) and U.S. (1904-1914) construction periods; and the U.S. Operation Period (1914-1999). This data set is further enriched by the copious primary and secondary records maintained by the Panama Canal Authority, and other sources. The presentation focuses on historic period finds including construction camps, abandoned construction equipment, numerous cemeteries, and early operational infrastructure. Themes addressed by the data include, Central American and Afro-Caribbean labor history, industrial history and U.S. military history.

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Cite this Record

History and Prehistory of the Panama Canal Zone Revealed by the Current Canal Expansion Program. Emlen Myers, Tomas Mendizabal. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397801)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.702; min lat: 6.665 ; max long: -76.685; max lat: 18.813 ;