Dr. Clifford Evans, 60, curator of Latin American archeology for the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of Natural History and a leading U.S. authority in his field, died Monday at George Washington University Hospital after a heart attack.
Dr. Evans was stricken while on his way to Dulles International Airport to appraise a suspect shipment of Peruvian antiquities for U.S. Customs officials. He was credited with successful efforts to obtain U.S. approval of an agreement between nations to curb the illicit worldwide traffic in stolen antiquities.
He was a pioneer in studies of the prehistoric past of the Amazonian forest and lowlands and conducted archeological field work throughout South America and in the Pacific Islands. His work documenting stylistic links between Ecuadoran and Japanese pottery, conducted with his archeologist wife, Betty Meggers, in Collaboration with Emilio Estrada, an Ecuadoran colleague, suggested that Japanese sailing vessels had crossed the South Pacific and reached coastal Ecuador as early as 3,000 B.C.
In 1966, as a result of their Amazonian Work, Dr. Evans and his wife, a Smithsonian research associate, were invited by the Brazilian government to train a nucleus of Brazilian scientists in the techniques of modern scientific archeology. This project developed into a cooperative Smithsonian Brazilian National Research Council program that expanded what is known about the spread of Brazil's prehistoric people and the role of the Amazonian environment in shaping their cultures.
Similar projects on a smaller scale were organized by Dr. Evans in Peru, Ecuador and Chile.
A former instructor in archeology and anthropology, Dr. Evans joined the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History as a curator in 1951. He played a prominent role in the modernization of the museum's anthropological exhibits and served as chairman of the Department of Anthropology and the Senate of Scientists.
Dr. Evans was the author of one of the basic texts on the Archeology of the state of Virginia. He and his wife collaborated on more than 100 scientific articles and monographs in their field and were the authors of books on the archeology of the mouth of the amazon and on British Guiana (Guyana), Ecuador and South America.
Born in Dallas, Dr. Evans grew up in California and graduated from the University of Southern California in 1941. He served in the Army Air Force in World War II, spending the last 18 months of the war in a prison camp after his plane was shot down during a bombing mission over Germany. He was awarded the Air Medal with cluster.
After the war, he earned a doctorate at Columbia University.
Dr. Evans' honors included the Washington Academy of Sciences Award for Scientific Achievement, the 37th International Congress of Americanists Gold Medal and the Order of Merit from the Government of Ecuador.
His professional memberships included the American Anthropology Association, the Anthropological Society of Washingon and the Society of American Archeology.
Besides his wife, of Washington, survivors include a brother, William, also of Washington.