The Archaeology of a Search: An Archaeological Search; The History of the Finding of “Che” Guevara’s Remains

Part of the Contributions To Global Historical Archaeology book series (CGHA)


1997 became a milestone in the history of the cultural meanings associated with the figure of Ernesto “Che” Guevara and his guerrilla partners. The well-known picture where his tough image was brilliantly captured by the Cuban photographer Alberto Kords turned him into a symbol of fight for many generations, not only in Latin America but also throughout the world. Without a doubt, the image of this Cuban-Argentinean guerrilla-man and his ideas became tangible when people heard his remains were finally found.

Archaeology, as a means of reconstructing past memory and recent past, was a useful methodological tool for searching the remains of the guerrilla men who died during the Bolivian internal conflict in 1967.

As it was expected, the time and silence surrounding the location of “Che” Guevara’s remains required a particular approach to the search process. Therefore, it was necessary to develop an archaeological proposal to overcome these limitations. The main goal of this chapter is to describe this proposal. Although it is not the only possible alternative, it represents a suitable model, with a remarkable degree of generalization, for other case studies with similar characteristics. The methods, the analytical tools and the results obtained in this research prove their validity and applicability, even in dissimilar burial contexts. These methods and tools could be adopted as part of the “philosophy” (that is to say, the conditions and the objectives of the archaeological search) used to approach particular case studies.


Mass Grave Human Remains Archaeological Excavation Geophysical Technique Archaeological Survey 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author wants to thank María del Carmen Ariet (from the Centro de Estudios Che Guevara – Che Guevara Study Center) for the revision of the manuscript and her wise suggestions and Daily Pérez Guillén (from the Che Guevara Study Center) for her help with the bibliography. He would also like to thank geophysical engineer Noel Pérez for the georadar image that illustrates this chapter.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Museo Antropológico Montané, Universidad de la Habana (Montané Anthopological Museum, University of La Habana)La HabanaCuba

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