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Archaeologist studies human skeletons

Dr. Haagen Klaus graduated from Plattsburgh State and now spends much of his time studying human remains around the world.

Dr. Haagen Klaus graduated from Plattsburgh State and now spends much of his time studying human remains around the world. Photo by Stephen Bartlett.

— A calm overtakes Dr. Haagen Klaus when he measures teeth.

“It is very systematic,” Klaus said.

Through the study of skeletons, he can learn the totality of the lives he is investigating.

The globetrotting archaeologist has had much success since graduating from Plattsburgh State. He said some of the foundation of who he is today was laid at Plattsburgh State.

“The education I received here is something I carry with me every day of my life,” he said, speaking to students, faculty and the community at Plattsburgh State.

He returned to the campus to present “Tombs, Mummies and Treasures: A Retrospective on 15 years of Archeological Adventures from SUNY Plattsburgh to South America.”

Klaus didn’t always want to be an archeologist.

At 10, he was sitting in the back of the car as his father drove through Long Island when an F14 Tomcat tore open the sky.

“I was hooked and knew I was going to be a pilot,” Klaus said.

But his eyes weren’t good enough, and later in life, on a whim, he applied to Plattsburgh State.

Klaus tried half a dozen majors, but nothing clicked. He was close to dropping out of college and joining the military when he tried an archeological field school.

“Within the first five minutes of bots on the ground and being on site, it clicked that this is what I wanted to do,” he said.

Eventually, he ended up studying human bones in Peru.

“The amount of information you can read in human bones is so compelling,” Klaus said.

Klaus graduated from Plattsburgh State in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and a double minor in archeology and studio art.

He went on to earn his master’s degree at Southern Illinois University.

He would again find himself in Peru.

“There are 12,000 years of complex culture before the Inca,” Klaus said.

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