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The Day Roraima Expedition

Identifier: Film Collection no. 170

Scope and Contents

Filmed during the AMNH Day Roraima Expedition to Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana, 1927. George Henry Hamilton Tate, AMNH associate in mammalogy, his brother Geoffrey Tate, and T. Donald Carter, AMNH assistant curator of mammalogy, headed this expedition, the object of which was to bring a list of the region's flora and fauna as near to completion as possible. Lee Garnett Day, sponsor of the expedition, was an AMNH patron. Tate's expedition joined up with that of General Cńdido Mariano da Silva Rondon, chief of the Brazilian Indian Service, who traveled with about 300 Indians and a herd of cattle. The two expeditions traveled together as far as the base of Mount Roraima. In his notes, Tate discusses the difficulty of moving such an enormous group of people. This is obvious in the sequences which show pitching camp, grooming, cooking, eating, bathing, and herding the cattle. Tate gives Indians farinha, or manioc flour, as his part of the bargain: Rondon provides the protein, Tate the carbohydrates. The film is edited out of sequence. There are many shots of the expedition party fording rivers and traveling by mule. The Arecuna Indians bring Geoffrey Tate some birds (although he was mammalogist, he served this expedition by collecting birds). The Indians use an eight-foot blowgun, build a wattleand-daub structure, and process manioc; a woman digs for, and then consumes termites; boys catch grasshoppers with sticks and cane bean shooters and, after removing the legs, eat them with delight. Summit Camp was established on the sandstone plateau of Mount Roraima, 8,600 feet above sea-level. Many shots are taken of the sheer precipices, craggy terrain and endless clouds engulfing the top of the mountain. Mount Roraima was used as the setting in which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle placed broods of dinosaurs and pterodactyls in his novel Lost World. Occasionally, Kukenaam, the sister mountain of Mount Roraima in the Serra Pacaraima range, is seen. The last sequence of the film shows the journey back down along the Rio Essequibo, through British Guiana (now Guyana). It includes footage of a gold panning camp, the Kaieteur Falls, and pitch being processed for export at the seaport of Georgetown.


  • 1927

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Not available through interlibrary loan. Contact AMNH Library Special Collections for terms of access.


1 Film Reel (67 minutes) : silent, black and white ; 16 mm.

1 Videocassette (U-Matic (67 minutes)) : silent, black and white ; 3/4 in.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

3/4 in., U-Matic, viewing copy


Original format: 16 mm. print; incomplete.


The Day Roraima Expedition, 1927
Iris Lee
Language of description
Script of description
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Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
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