Johan Reinhard is one of the world’s foremost high-altitude archeologists and has spent a lifetime studying ancient civilizations, religions, and cultures. An author, educator, and extreme explorer, Reinhard’s expeditions have led him to the peaks of the Andes and Himalayas to unlock secrets about the sacred beliefs and cultural practices of mountain peoples, and resulted in the discovery of perfectly preserved human remains. His finds have earned him accolades twice from Time Magazine for numbering among “the world’s 10 most important scientific discoveries” and Outside Magazine honored him as one of “today’s 25 most extraordinary adventurers, outdoor athletes, and explorers.” Ford Motor Co. chose him as one of 12 “Heroes for the Planet.”
A National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and a Senior Research Fellow at The Mountain Institute in Washington, D.C., Reinhard has conducted anthropological field research in the Andean countries of Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Ecuador. His investigations have led him to present new theories to explain the mysteries of some of the Andes’ most important pre-Hispanic ceremonial sites, including those found on mountain summits surpassing 22,000 feet.
While making over 200 ascents above 17,000 feet in the Andes, he led expeditions resulting in the discovery of more than 40 high-altitude Inca ritual sites. Among these discoveries were three perfectly preserved mummies at 22,109 feet in Llullaillaco, the world’s highest archeological site. Named to the list of “The Best of 1999” by Popular Science Magazine, his finds have created entire new museums in South America, including one preserving the amazing “Ice Maiden,” which grabbed international headlines.
Reinhard lived for more than a decade in the Himalayas, conducting anthropological research in Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, Sikkim, and the Indian Himalayan states of Garhwal and Sikkim. His studies included Himalayan shamanism, one of the world’s last nomadic hunting and gathering tribes, the role of sacred mountains in Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism, and the sacred “hidden lands” of Tibetan Buddhism.
However, Reinhard’s endeavors have also taken him to many other “firsts.” He directed the first Andean underwater archeological research project in Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake. He participated in some of the first rafting descents of Himalayan rivers, and he was a member of the successful 1976 American Everest Expedition. He has also studied Muslim fishermen in the Maldives Islands, Roman shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea, traditional religious practices associated with sacred volcanoes in Bali, and sacred mountains in Greece, among others.
An observer of climate change, Reinhard discusses how the melting of glaciers and snow peaks around the world and, the desertification in other regions, are rapidly revealing previously undiscovered archeological remains. While this has allowed scientists to find more discoveries, it also exposes sacred sites to looting and decomposition.
The author of over 70 publications and six books, including the best-selling The Ice Maiden: Inca Mummies, Mountain Gods and Sacred Sites in the Andes and Machu Picchu: Exploring an Ancient Sacred Center. Reinhard’s adventures have been covered by the BBC, the Smithsonian Institution, National Geographic Explorer, the Scientific Film Institute of Germany, PBS, Discovery, and NOVA. Reinhard has received the Rolex Award for Enterprise in the field of exploration, twice been noted in the Guinness Book of World Records, and has received the prestigious Explorers Medal from the Explorers Club of New York.
He began his undergraduate studies at the University of Arizona and received his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Vienna, Austria. Dr. Reinhard lives in Franklin, West Virginia.