Thomas van der Hammen

Last updated

Thomas van der Hammen
Thomas van der Hammen - 20030504 Colombia 08.jpg
Born(1924-09-27)27 September 1924
Died12 March 2010(2010-03-12) (aged 85)
Nationality Dutch
Alma mater Leiden University
Known forGeology, palaeontology
SpouseAnita Malo
ChildrenCornelis, María Clara
AwardsPremio a la vida y obra, fondo para la protección del medio ambiente, 1995
Scientific career
Fields Geology, palaeontology of Colombia
Thesis Late-glacial flora and periglacial phenomena in the Netherlands  (1951)
The Bogota savanna, where Van der Hammen did a lot of his work SabanaBogota.jpg
The Bogotá savanna, where Van der Hammen did a lot of his work
Map of the Thomas van der Hammen Reserve in the north of Bogota Mapa de Reserva van der Hammen en Bogota.png
Map of the Thomas van der Hammen Reserve in the north of Bogotá

Thomas van der Hammen (Schiedam, Netherlands, 27 September 1924 - Chía, Colombia, 12 March 2010) was a Dutch palaeontologist, botanist and geologist. [1] He had published more than 160 works in five languages. [2]



Thomas van der Hammen was born in the city of Schiedam in South Holland, western The Netherlands and studied botany and palaeontology at Leiden University from 1944 to 1949. He was a deeply religious man. [3]

After his studies and years of research at the University of Amsterdam, Van der Hammen arrived in Bogotá in 1951. [3]

Thomas van der Hammen analysed the Bogotá savanna and concluded a great lake (Lake Humboldt) was present there around 60,000 years BP, covering present-day Bogotá, Soacha, Funza, Mosquera, Madrid, Cota, Chía and Cajicá. [4] Van der Hammen has contributed greatly to the understanding of the geology of the Bogotá savanna and surrounding areas. He has worked with Gonzalo Correal Urrego towards an understanding of the prehistoric sites, as El Abra, Tequendama and Tibitó in central Colombia and has defined and described various geological formations, such as the Marichuela, [5] Tunjuelo, [6] and Subachoque Formations. [7] His paleobotanical background proved valuable in dating the continental Cacho Formation. [8]

In 2000, a natural reserve in the north of Bogotá bordering Chía and Cota, Thomas van der Hammen Natural Reserve, was named after the naturalist. The mayor of Bogotá, Enrique Peñalosa who ran twice for the Green Party, allowed for the construction of homes in the reserve, leading to protests of the people. [9] [10]

In 2003, Dr. van der Hammen granted a wide-ranging interview to Radio Netherlands about his work and his life. [11]


This list is a selection. [1] [2] [12]



The standard author abbreviation Hammen is used to indicate this person as the author when citing a botanical name. [13]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Altiplano Cundiboyacense</span> Plateau in the Columbian Andes

The Altiplano Cundiboyacense is a high plateau located in the Eastern Cordillera of the Colombian Andes covering parts of the departments of Cundinamarca and Boyacá. The altiplano corresponds to the ancient territory of the Muisca. The Altiplano Cundiboyacense comprises three distinctive flat regions; the Bogotá savanna, the valleys of Ubaté and Chiquinquirá, and the valleys of Duitama and Sogamoso. The average altitude of the altiplano is about 2,600 metres (8,500 ft) above sea level but ranges from roughly 2,500 metres (8,200 ft) to 4,000 metres (13,000 ft).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nemocón</span> Place in Cundinamarca, Colombia

Nemocón is a municipality and town of Colombia in the Central Savanna Province, part of the department of Cundinamarca. Nemocón, famous for its salt mine, was an important village in the Muisca Confederation, the country in the central Colombian Andes before the arrival of the Spanish. The municipality is situated in the northern part of the Bogotá savanna, part of the Altiplano Cundiboyacense with its urban centre at an altitude of 2,585 metres (8,481 ft) and 65 kilometres (40 mi) from the capital Bogotá. Nemocón is the northeasternmost municipality of the Metropolitan Area of Bogotá and the Bogotá River originates close to Nemocón. The median temperature of Nemocón is 12.8 °C. The municipality borders Tausa in the north, Suesca and Gachancipá in the east, Tocancipá and Zipaquirá in the south and in the west the rivers Checua and Neusa and the municipality of Cogua.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">El Abra</span> Archeological site

El Abra is the name given to an extensive archeological site, located in the valley of the same name. El Abra is situated in the east of the municipality Zipaquirá extending to the westernmost part of Tocancipá in the department of Cundinamarca, Colombia. The several hundred metres long series of rock shelters is in the north of the Bogotá savanna on the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, Eastern Ranges of the Colombian Andes at an altitude of 2,570 metres (8,430 ft). The rock shelter and cave system is one of the first evidences of human settlement in the Americas, dated at 12,400 ± 160 years BP. The site was used by the hunter-gatherers of the Late Pleistocene epoch.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bogotá savanna</span> Motane savanna in Altiplano Cundiboyacense

The Bogotá savanna is a montane savanna, located in the southwestern part of the Altiplano Cundiboyacense in the center of Colombia. The Bogotá savanna has an extent of 4,251.6 square kilometres (1,641.6 sq mi) and an average altitude of 2,650 metres (8,690 ft). The savanna is situated in the Eastern Ranges of the Colombian Andes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Piedras del Tunjo Archaeological Park</span> Archaeological park

Piedras del Tunjo is an important archaeological park established on a natural rock shelter 40 kilometres (25 mi) west of Bogotá in the municipality of Facatativá.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bacatá</span> Area on the Bogotá Savannah

Bacatá is the name given to the main settlement of the Muisca Confederation on the Bogotá savanna. It mostly refers to an area, rather than an individual village, although the name is also found in texts referring to the modern settlement of Funza, in the centre of the savanna. Bacatá was the main seat of the zipa, the ruler of the Bogotá savanna and adjacent areas. The name of the Colombian capital, Bogotá, is derived from Bacatá, but founded as Santafe de Bogotá in the western foothills of the Eastern Hills in a different location than the original settlement Bacatá, west of the Bogotá River, eventually named after Bacatá as well.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gonzalo Correal Urrego</span>

Gonzalo Correal Urrego is a Colombian anthropologist, palaeontologist and archaeologist. He has been contributing to the knowledge of prehistoric Colombia for over forty years and has published in Spanish and English. Correal Urrego is considered one of the most important anthropologists of Colombia. He has collaborated with many other anthropologists and archaeologists, among others Thomas van der Hammen and Ana María Groot.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Herrera Period</span> Period of Colombian history

The Herrera Period is a phase in the history of Colombia. It is part of the Andean preceramic and ceramic, time equivalent of the North American pre-Columbian formative and classic stages and age dated by various archaeologists. The Herrera Period predates the age of the Muisca, who inhabited the Altiplano Cundiboyacense before the Spanish conquest of the Muisca and postdates the prehistory of the region in Colombia. The Herrera Period is usually defined as ranging from 800 BCE to 800 CE, although some scholars date it as early as 1500 BCE.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tequendama</span> Archaeological site in Columbia

Tequendama is a preceramic and ceramic archaeological site located southeast of Soacha, Cundinamarca, Colombia, a couple of kilometers east of Tequendama Falls. It consists of multiple evidences of late Pleistocene to middle Holocene population of the Bogotá savanna, the high plateau in the Colombian Andes. Tequendama was inhabited from around 11,000 years BP, and continuing into the prehistorical, Herrera and Muisca periods, making it the oldest site of Colombia, together with El Abra, located north of Zipaquirá. Younger evidences also from the Herrera Period have been found close to the site of Tequendama in Soacha, at the construction site of a new electrical plant. They are dated at around 900 BCE to 900 AD.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Muisca agriculture</span>

The Muisca agriculture describes the agriculture of the Muisca, the advanced civilisation that was present in the times before the Spanish conquest on the high plateau in the Colombian Andes; the Altiplano Cundiboyacense. The Muisca were a predominantly agricultural society with small-scale farmfields, part of more extensive terrains. To diversify their diet, they traded mantles, gold, emeralds and salt for fruits, vegetables, coca, yopo and cotton cultivated in lower altitude warmer terrains populated by their neighbours, the Muzo, Panche, Guane, Guayupe, Lache, Sutagao and U'wa. Trade of products grown farther away happened with the Calima, Pijao and Caribbean coastal communities around the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Muisca architecture</span>

This article describes the architecture of the Muisca. The Muisca, inhabiting the central highlands of the Colombian Andes, were one of the four great civilizations of the Americas. Unlike the three civilizations in present-day Mexico and Peru, they did not construct grand architecture of solid materials. While specialising in agriculture and gold-working, cloths and ceramics, their architecture was rather modest and made of non-permanent materials as wood and clay.

Lake Herrera is a small lake located at 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from the urban centre of Mosquera and about 20 kilometres (12 mi) west of the capital Bogotá in Cundinamarca, Colombia. The Andean lake has made its name in the Herrera Period, the period in the history of central Colombia before the Muisca Period, after archaeologist Sylvia Broadbent excavated ceramics around Lake Herrera in 1971.

Aguazuque is a pre-Columbian archaeological site located in the western part of the municipality Soacha, close to the municipalities Mosquera and San Antonio del Tequendama in Cundinamarca, Colombia. It exists of evidences of human settlement of hunter-gatherers and in the ultimate phase primitive farmers. The site is situated on the Bogotá savanna, the relatively flat highland of the Altiplano Cundiboyacense close to the present-day course of the Bogotá River at an altitude of 2,600 metres (8,500 ft) above sea level. Aguazuque is just north of another Andean preceramic archaeological site; the rock shelter Tequendama and a few kilometres south of Lake Herrera. The artefacts found mostly belong to the preceramic period, and have been dated to 5025 to 2725 BP. Thus, the younger finds also pertain to the later ceramic Herrera Period. There were some difficulties in dating of the uppermost layer due to modern agricultural activity in the area; the sediments of the shallower parts were disturbed.

Tibitó is the second-oldest dated archaeological site on the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, Colombia. The rock shelter is located in the municipality Tocancipá, Cundinamarca, Colombia, in the northern part of the Bogotá savanna. At Tibitó, bone and stone tools and carbon have been found. Bones from Haplomastodon, Cuvieronius, Cerdocyon and white tailed deer from the deepest human trace containing layer of the site is carbon dated to be 11,740 ± 110 years old. The oldest dated sediments are lacustrine clays from an ancient Pleistocene lake.

Checua is a preceramic open area archaeological site in Nemocón, Cundinamarca, Colombia. The site is located 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) north of the town centre. At Checua, thousands of stone and bone tools, stone flakes and human remains have been found, indicating human occupation from around 8500 to 3000 years BP.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tunjuelo Formation</span>

The Tunjuelo Formation, Río Tunjuelo or Río Tunjuelito Formation is a geological formation of the Bogotá savanna, Altiplano Cundiboyacense, Eastern Ranges of the Colombian Andes. The formation consists mainly of conglomerates with intercalating shales and sandstones. The Tunjuelo Formation dates to the Quaternary period; covering the complete Pleistocene epoch, and has a maximum thickness of 150 metres (490 ft). It is a formation of the lacustrine and fluvio-glacial sediments of Lake Humboldt.

The Río Frío is a river on the Bogotá savanna and a right tributary of the Bogotá River. The river, in a basin of 6,008.69 hectares (23.1997 sq mi), originates on the Páramo de Guerrero in Zipaquirá at an altitude of 3,700 metres (12,100 ft). It flows through the municipalities Tabio and Cajicá and into the Bogotá River in the south of Chía, at 2,650 metres (8,690 ft) above sea level.

The Tilatá Formation is a geological formation of the Bogotá savanna, Altiplano Cundiboyacense, Eastern Ranges of the Colombian Andes. The formation consists of coarse to very coarse conglomerates and sandstones. The Tilatá Formation dates to the Neogene period; Early to Late Pliocene epoch, and has a maximum thickness of 83 metres (272 ft). The formation underlies the Quaternary sequence of alluvial, lacustrine and fluvial sediments of Lake Humboldt.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sabana Formation</span> Geological formation in the Colombian Andes

The Sabana Formation is a geological formation of the Bogotá savanna, Altiplano Cundiboyacense, Eastern Ranges of the Colombian Andes. The formation consists mainly of shales with at the edges of the Bogotá savanna lignites and sandstones. The Sabana Formation dates to the Quaternary period; Middle to Late Pleistocene epoch, and has a maximum thickness of 320 metres (1,050 ft), varying greatly across the savanna. It is the uppermost formation of the lacustrine and fluvio-glacial sediments of paleolake Humboldt, that existed at the edge of the Eastern Hills until the latest Pleistocene.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pre-Columbian cultures of Colombia</span>

The pre-Columbian cultures of Colombia refers to the ancient cultures and civilizations that inhabited Colombia before the Spanish Conquest in the 16th century.


  1. 1 2 (in Spanish) Curriculum Vitae Thomas van der Hammen
  2. 1 2 List of publications by Thomas van der Hammen - WorldCat
  3. 1 2 (in Spanish) Van der Hammen, the last great naturalist - El Espectador
  4. (in Spanish) Lake Humboldt on the Bogotá savanna around 60,000 years BP
  5. Montoya & Reyes, 2005, p.65
  6. Montoya & Reyes, 2005, p.71
  7. Montoya & Reyes, 2005, p.69
  8. Montoya & Reyes, 2005, p.57
  9. (in Spanish) Thomas van der Hammen Reserve and Enrique Peñalosa
  10. (in Spanish) Van der Hammen Reserve
  11. "Under Foreign Skies - Thomas van der Hammen", Radio Netherlands Archives, 20 November 2003
  12. Overview of publications by Thomas van der Hammen Archived 1 July 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  13. International Plant Names Index.  Hammen.


Notable works by Van der Hammen