Pre-Columbian Society of Washington DC

The Pre-Columbian Society of Washington, D.C. (PCSWDC), is an educational organization dedicated to furthering knowledge and understanding of the peoples of the Americas before the time of Columbus. Founded in 1993, the Society provides a forum for the exchange of information regarding these pre-Columbian cultures between academic professionals and interested members of the public.

Aug
3
6:45 PM18:45

AUGUST MEMBERSHIP MEETING

Living Color: Tonalli in Nahua Featherwork Production by Allison Caplan, Ittelson Fellow at CASVA and PhD Candidate at Tulane University

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.

 Coyote Shield. Feathers, gold, cotton, leather, pigments, reeds. Early 16th c. 34.5 cm (radius). Acc. no. 43,380. Weltmuseum, Vienna

Coyote Shield. Feathers, gold, cotton, leather, pigments, reeds. Early 16th c. 34.5 cm (radius). Acc. no. 43,380. Weltmuseum, Vienna

Previous studies have suggested that Late Postclassic and early colonial Nahua viewers experienced specific artistic creations as animate, particularly in ritual contexts. This talk advances our understanding of Nahua featherworks’ animacy by examining producers’ responsiveness in their production practices to particular feathers’ containment of tonalli, a solar-derived animating force or soul. I first examine an aesthetic and value-laden distinction in the sixteenth-century Florentine Codex between tlazoh (beloved) and macehual (commoner) feathers. This distinction registers feathers’ differential ability to contain tonalli, which made tlazoh feathers living beings and macehual feathers inanimate materials. Nahuatl writings on the various stages of production—bird-hunting, dyeing and selling feathers, and mosaic construction—call attention to feathers’ relative and precarious animacy. I argue that producers’ care to preserve specific feathers’ tonalli represented a major artistic and commercial concern that ultimately enabled finished featherworks’ displays of animacy.

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Allison Caplan is the Ittleson Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts and a Ph.D. candidate in Art History and Latin American Studies at Tulane University. Her dissertation, “Their Flickering Creations: Value, Appearance, and Surface in Nahua Precious Art,” examines Nahua aesthetics and conceptions of materiality in multimedia works that combine feathers, precious stones, shell, metals, and other valued materials. Allison received her M.A. in Art History and Latin American Studies from Tulane in 2014 and graduated summa cum laude from Columbia University in 2011 with a B.A. in Comparative Literature and Society and a minor in Art History. Allison has organized conference sessions on human-bird interactions in the Americas and on indigenous concepts of value for the American Society for Ethnohistory and is currently organizing a session on indigenous languages and the language of Art History for the College Art Association. She has held internships at the Smithsonian, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Getty Research Institute, and the New Orleans Museum of Art. In the fall, Allison will join the Met’s Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas as the Sylvan C. Coleman and Pam Coleman Memorial Fund Post-Doctoral Fellow for 2018–2019.

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Jul
6
6:45 PM18:45

JULY MEMBERSHIP MEETING

Fiery Mountains and Flaming Gods: Volcanoes in Ancient Mesoamerican Belief by Lucia R. Henderson, PhD 

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.

This talk explores the impact of volcanic landscapes on the art and religious beliefs of ancient Mesoamerican cultures. Capped with lightning storms, puffing smoke, and regularly erupting in fire and ash, volcanoes would have been viewed as some of the most dramatic and imposing inhabitants of the Pre-Columbian living landscape. More cataclysmic eruptions periodically destroyed regions, displaced populations, devastated agricultural production, and interrupted trade routes. This talk will discuss a broad swath of imagery related to volcanoes, from Central Mexico to the Tuxtla Mountains of Veracruz, through the Guatemalan highlands and South Coast, and into western El Salvador. We will explore the idea that these volcanic zones created interconnected ideologies, or “Communities of Landscape,” a phenomenon that was expressed through a remarkably consistent set of iconographic features that spanned vast geographies and lasted through the course of millennia.

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Lucia Henderson is a specialist in the early art of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and a trained archaeological illustrator. Lucia’s scholarly work encompasses wide-ranging subjects, including sculptural iconography, cave art, hydraulic systems, volcanoes, pilgrimage, Teotihuacan-style art, and the ideology and symbolism of emergent authority. Her published work covers two millennia, from the 8th century BC through the 16th century AD, and covers cultures as diverse as the Maya, the Aztecs, and the Hopi of the American Southwest. She has held fellowships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum, and most recently worked as a Curatorial Consultant for the Dumbarton Oaks Museum. She is currently an independent scholar, living in Washington, D.C.

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Jun
1
6:45 PM18:45

JUNE MEMBERSHIP MEETING

Life and Death in an Andean River: The Making of Ancestors on a Lambayeque Vessel by Andrew Hamilton, PhD, Princeton University.

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.

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One of the most iconographically rich objects in all of Pre-Columbian Andean art is a repoussé-chased silver vessel from the Lambayeque culture. The beaker is covered in dense scenes that shed light on the complex worldviews of people living on the north coast of Peru during the 1300s. But, since the cup first entered the collection of the Denver Art Museum, it has likely been incorrectly assembled. How should the pieces actually fit together? And, how does this new configuration reshape our understanding of the cup’s narrative? This masterpiece of Andean silverwork was featured in the landmark exhibition Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

 

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Andrew Hamilton is a scholar of the art and architecture of the ancient and colonial Americas, specializing in the Andes. His work is invested in analyzing objects, how they were made, used, and eventually disused, in order to understand why they were created and what cultural meanings they bore. He is a practicing artist and frequently illustrates his own publications. He is currently a lecturer in the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University and has recently been awarded a Getty/ACLS Fellowship in the History of Art for the 2018-2019 academic year.

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MAY MEMBERSHIP MEETING
May
4
6:45 PM18:45

MAY MEMBERSHIP MEETING

Tracing the Moche Spectacles of Death: Performance, Corporeality, and Political Power in Ancient Peru. A View from Huaca La Capilla, San Jose de Moro (AD 650-850) by Luis Muro Ynoñán, PhD candidate, Stanford University.

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.

This talk explores the relationships between death, rituals, and political power in pre-modern states. It investigates the large-scale funerary performances orchestrated by the ancient Moche who thrived in the desert coast of northern Peru from the 2nd to the 9th centuries AD. While Moche elite vessels depict lavish funerary performances involving large audiences, coffins being paraded, and individuals impersonating Moche deities, the physical locations where these performances took place have not been archaeologically documented. Huaca La Capilla is a monumental structure located within the Moche elite cemetery of San José de Moro. Based on long-term archaeological excavations there, it is suggested that Huaca La Capilla constituted the locus of these performances: the sacred space where the corpses of the elite individuals were physically and symbolically prepared for their journey to the afterlife. Moreover, it is argued that the spectacularity of these performances had a significant impact not only on the religious life of the ancient Moche, but also, and very critically, on the socio-political organization of this pristine state of the Andes.

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Luis Muro Ynoñán is a PhD Candidate in Archaeology at Stanford University and a Junior Fellow in Pre-Columbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks. He holds a Bachelor and Licenciatura in Archaeology from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. Luis has been the director of the San José de Moro Archaeological Program from 2014 to 2017. He has also directed archaeological investigations in various sites in Peru, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of “The Lines and Geoglyphs of Nazca”. In parallel to his dissertation research, Luis has conducted ethnographic investigations in northern Peru exploring the disjunctions between the rhetoric of heritage conservation, the recognition of local populations, and human rights. He is currently a member of The Peruvian Committee of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS-Peru) and an associate member of The Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage (IPinCH) project (Simon Fraser University, Canada.

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Apr
6
6:45 PM18:45

APRIL MEMBERSHIP MEETING

The Sican City: Urban Organization on the North Coast of Peru by Gabriela Cervantes, PhD candidate, University of Pittsburgh.

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.

Cities that are capitals of large states provide unique information on the sociopolitical political organization and the nature of power and rulership, as they are home to a society’s leaders and central institutions. A capital city may be dominated by a centralized single governing institution, or may contain several, suggesting a more segmented form of rulership. This presentation will discuss recent work showing that the capital of the Sican State (800-1375 AD) on the North Coast of Peru presents a dispersed urban pattern with several nuclei. The city has a monumental core for political-religious activities and a dispersed urban pattern with several public and residential architecture complexes. 

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Gabriela Cervantes is a PhD Candidate in Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh and a Junior Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks. She is a Peruvian Archaeologist with a BA and a Licenciatura from the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru. Her research focuses on ancient cities and urban layout, as well as the daily life of city residents and their social and economic organization. Her investigation takes place in the Pre-Columbian city of Sican, Peru where she conducted archaeological survey and mapping of the monumental and domestic architecture of the city. The urban layout resembles a garden city previously studied in the Maya area and in Southeast Asia, but never found in South America. Her research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation. She has been engaged in public outreach, as a committee member of an online journal and translating three archaeology books from English to Spanish.

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Mar
2
6:45 PM18:45

MARCH MEMBERSHIP MEETING

The Context of Hieroglyphic Monuments at the Later Classic Maya Court of La Corona by Maxime Lamoureux-St-Hilaire, PhD candidate, Tulane University.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    TONIGHT'S MEETING WILL BE HELD AS PLANNED. THE SUMNER SCHOOL IS OPEN.

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm

The study of Classic Maya civilization is now historical archaeology. Ideologically-rich texts from media such as carved monuments and painted vases contain fascinating data that have become crucial in broadening our understanding of the Classic Maya. Yet, the study of the content of texts consistently takes precedence over the study of their context. Reading these ideological texts at face value can easily lead to biased views of Classic Maya society and political history. By critically analyzing context, we may better understand the political roles of textual artifacts, or the motivations behind their use and display.

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This paper adopts an archaeological perspective to several hieroglyphic monuments found in distinct contexts in the regal palace of La Corona, Guatemala. Some monuments were found in situ inside prominent buildings, others in the backrest of exterior benches, while others came from a looted hieroglyphic staircase. Interestingly, this assemblage of hieroglyphic monuments – all displayed contemporaneously – was comprised of pieces crafted centuries apart. The resulting dialogue between archaeological and epigraphic data addresses changing strategies of royal sovereignty, shifts in political regimes, and the collapse of Classic Maya divine kingship.

Maxime Lamoureux-St-Hilaire currently is a PhD candidate in anthropology at Tulane University and a Junior Research Fellow at the Dumbarton Oaks. His dissertation research focuses on the political institution of the Classic Maya royal court. Mr. Lamoureux-St-Hilaire investigates this topic by excavating the regal palace of La Corona in Guatemala and by researching the comparative literature. He has excavated and surveyed in Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, Honduras, and Québec, Canada.

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FEBRUARY MEMBERSHIP MEETING
Feb
2
6:45 PM18:45

FEBRUARY MEMBERSHIP MEETING

Tlaloc, Sotuknangu, and the Origins of the Gods in Ancient Americ: The Case of Barrier Canyon Rock Art by by James Farmer, PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University.

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm

Rock art imagery constitutes one of the oldest and most widespread forms of artistic expression in human history, including the Ancient Americas. Yet Precolumbian art historical scholarship has routinely marginalized or separated critical consideration of rock art from so-called mainstream art historical analysis. In 1971, Polly Schaafsma defined the Barrier Canyon Anthropomorphic Style (aka. BCS) of painted or pictographic rock art images as one of the more significant styles of early Ancient American painting, centered in the modern American Southwest. Schaafsma based her initial study on only 19 documented BCS style sites, but in 1992, the BCS Project was initiated to locate and record additional BCS style rock art sites throughout the region. As of 2016, over 400 additional BCS sites have been recorded. This vastly expanded catalog of images now permits more critically focused analysis of the BCS style, including understanding the creation of early rock art imagery within a broader context of early Mesoamerican and Ancient Puebloan ideologies. Through the presentation of a number of related BCS compositions, and in consideration of historic Puebloan ethnographic sources, I argue that early, painted BCS rock art imagery presents the iconographic origins of a complex of gods and beliefs associated with later Puebloan creator gods (Hopi Sotuknangu) and Mesoamerican rain god equivalents (Aztec Tlaloc).

James Farmer joined the department of anthropology faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1992. His general areas of specialization include Precolumbian and North American Indian art, with secondary interests in modern and contemporary Native and Latin American art. His specific research interests are divided between the ancient Archaic and Puebloan traditions of the American Southwest and the middle Formative and Late Horizon traditions of Ecuador and Peru. He has participated in archeological excavations in Colorado and Ecuador, and has conducted study abroad classes in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru and the Southwest. He has chaired numerous conference sessions at the College Art Association and Southeastern College Art Conferences, and presented numerous papers and lectures nationwide and in Latin America on a variety of Precolumbian-related topics. He has served as a guest curator, collection consultant and exhibition catalog contributor to several major museums, including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Chrysler Museum, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Chicago Art Institute, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Dr. Farmer’s publications span a wide range of issues and subjects related to ancient American art and architecture, such as astronomy and women’s rituals in ancient Puebloan architectural design, symbolism in Maya textiles, early painting in rock art from the American Southwest, and early Andean ceramics and sculpture in highland Ecuador. His most recent publication is a co-authored book just released by University of Texas Press entitled Art and Archaeology of Challuabamba, Ecuador. ”My approach to Precolumbian art history stresses both the deep antiquity of technically complex and artistically sophisticated ancient American styles, as well as the nature of long range influence and interaction between the major traditions and styles”. He holds a BFA in studio art and a PhD in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin.

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JANUARY MEMBERSHIP MEETING
Jan
5
6:45 PM18:45

JANUARY MEMBERSHIP MEETING

The Evolutionary Genomic Dynamics of Peruvians Before, During, and After the Inca Empire by Daniel Harris, PhD candidate, Graduate Program in Molecular Medicine, Institute for Genome Sciences, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm

The Andean region of Peru experienced a dynamic pre-Columbian history which culminated with the Inca Empire. Following the Inca, Spanish conquerors ruled Peru for nearly 300 years until Peruvian Independence (1821). The Spanish and early Native American empires greatly impacted modern Peruvian demography and recently genomics provided further insights to these processes.

In this research project, 150 genomes from Native and mestizo populations in Peru were sequenced and an additional 130 were genotyped. The majority of these samples possessed greater than 90% Native American ancestry. Demographic modeling indicates these populations diverged early in Peruvian history, supporting the hypothesis that the New World was peopled rapidly.

Following the initial peopling, Native American populations remained relatively isolated while mestizo populations have evidence of admixture between multiple Native American populations in addition to their Old World admixture. During the Inca Empire, the center of genetic relatedness was based in the Andes but shifted toward toward the coast during Spanish rule.  The majority of migration in Peru was in descent of the Andes towards the Amazon and coast. evidence of the Inca and other Andean Empires’ influence on Peru and/or reflective of negative selection pressures on new migrants to the high altitude environment in the Andes

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Daniel Harris is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Molecular Medicine Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Dr. Timothy O’Connor’s lab at the Institute for Genome Sciences. The major goal of his research is to apply evolutionary biology and population genetics theory to the study human history, specifically, the peopling of geographic regions and human migration/admixture patterns.

He also studies human history through ancient DNA analysis, which includes the archaic hominins, Neanderthals and Denisovans, as well as more recent anatomically modern human samples. In addition to human history, and the application of Precision Medicine to populations worldwide. He focuses on genetically understudied populations, such as Native Americans, but also works with the Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine Program (TOPMed), which consists of the largest sequenced human data set to date.

Mr. Harris has presented his work at the American Society for Human Genetics, Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution, and the Evolutionary Demography Society. In addition, he presented at the first Annual Molecular Medicine Research Retreat where he won the award for best oral presentation, 

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DECEMBER MEMBERSHIP MEETING
Dec
1
6:45 PM18:45

DECEMBER MEMBERSHIP MEETING

Complex Connections: A Reexamination of Early Horizon Interaction from the Ceremonial Center of Atalla, Huancavelica, Peru by Michelle Young, PhD candidate, Yale University.

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.

This presentation will offer results from three seasons of investigations at the virtually unknown site of Atalla, located in the remote highlands of Huancavelica, Peru. Boasting monumental temple construction, a village-sized settlement, and personal adornments used in social differentiation, the site offers the earliest evidence for incipient social complexity in the region of Huancavelica. Past research has understood Atalla’s development through a core-periphery approach, positing that the formation of Atalla was stimulated by interaction with Chavín de Huántar in the Early Horizon (800-200 B.C.). Recent investigations at Atalla have revised our previous understanding of its occupational history, verifying a local domestic occupation, monumental construction, and long-distance interaction in the late Initial Period (1000-800BC). This talk will present evidence for the economic, sociopolitical, cultural, and religious transformations involved in the foundation and development of Atalla. This research underscores the importance of characterizing late Initial Period developments in the Peruvian highlands in order to properly contextualize subsequent patterns observed in the Early Horizon.

Michelle E. Young is a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University in the department of Anthropology. She received her B.A. from the University of Virginia in 2009 with a double major in the History of Art and Anthropology. She has conducted archaeological field and lab work in the United States, Belize, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Madagascar and has held internships at the Museo Larco in Lima, Peru, and at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC. Since 2014, she has directed the Proyecto de Investigación Arqueológica Atalla, a collaborative research project that carried out mapping, survey, excavation, sample collection, and laboratory analysis of materials in tandem with a program of community outreach and education. Her dissertation project aims to understand the relationship between long-distance interaction and the emergence of new forms of social behavior in the early first millennium BC at the site of Atalla, located in the remote highlands of Huancavelica, Peru. Her research has been supported by generous funding from Yale University, the National Science Foundation, Fulbright, and the Rust Family Foundation

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NOVEMBER MEMBERSHIP MEETING
Nov
3
6:45 PM18:45

NOVEMBER MEMBERSHIP MEETING

Unravelling the Wari World: Colored Cords, Patterned Wrapping, and Knots Probably Helped Manage South America’s First Empire by Jeffrey Splistoser, PhD, George Washington University

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.

The Wari created the first South American empire, ca. 600–1000 CE, and they ran it with an incredible invention: the khipu. Wari khipus are devices made of wrapped and knotted cords that were used to store and record information we presume was vital to administer their state. Like their later, more famous, Inka counterparts, Wari-style khipus likely carried and conveyed information using color and knots. Wari khipus differ from Inka khipus, however, in many respects including their use of colorful wrapping. Beginning with an overview of the Wari and their empire, this richly illustrated talk will present findings from Splitstoser’s recent study of the Wari khipu corpus, which consists of some 40 specimens that are changing our understanding of how the Wari ran their empire.
 

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Dr. Jeffrey C. Splitstoser is an Assistant Research Professor of Anthropology at George Washington University. He is currently the textile and khipus specialist for the El Castillo de Huarmey Archaeological Project, where he is studying a group of the textiles and khipus recently excavated from a Wari royal mausoleum (see the June 2014 issue of National Geographic Magazine). Splitstoser is also the textile specialist for the Huaca Prieta Archaeological Project, directed by Dr. Tom Dillehay, where he studied 6,200 year old cotton textiles that are colored with the world’s earliest known use of indigo. Splitstoser is the Vice President of the Boundary End Archaeology Research Center and the editor (with Dr. David Stuart) of its peer-reviewed journals, Ancient America and the Research Reports on Ancient Maya Writing. He is a research associate of the Institute of Andean Studies, Berkeley, and a Cosmos Club scholar. Splitstoser was a Junior Fellow at the Dumbarton Oaks (2005‒2006). He received his Master’s degree (1999) and Ph.D. (2009) in anthropology from The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. His dissertation is a study of the Early Paracas textiles from Cerrillos in the Ica Valley of Peru.
 

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OCTOBER MEMBERSHIP MEETING
Oct
13
6:45 PM18:45

OCTOBER MEMBERSHIP MEETING

Incidence of Travel: Recent Journeys in Ancient South America by Jerry D. Moore, PhD, California State University Dominguez Hills.

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.

Archaeological literature originates with travel narratives—accounts by natural historians and engaged travelers—but today narrative is largely absent in the articles, reports, and monographs we archaeologists produce. In my new book, I argue that there is room within our scholarship for the reincorporation of narrative, particularly as a manner of engaging with a broader reading audience. During my research on cultural landscapes in South America, the intersection of my journeys and my archaeological studies of sites has profoundly deepened my understanding of how spaces become meaningful places. To illustrate this, I will discuss my 2015 journey to the Fiesta of Qollyur R’iti in the southern Peruvian Andes and its implications for understanding dynamics of sacred space in archaeological sites.

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Jerry D. Moore, PhD, is professor of anthropology at California State University Dominguez Hills. His research focuses on the archaeology of cultural landscapes in Peru and Baja California. His archaeological fieldwork has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the Center for Pre-Columbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, and other agencies and foundations. Currently Moore is a fellow in pre-Columbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, where he previously was a fellow in 1992-93. He has also held fellowships at the Sainsbury Centre for the Arts, University of East Anglia (1994), the Getty Research Institute (2001-2002), and the Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University (2013). He is currently editor of Ñawpa Pacha: Journal of Andean Archaeology. His books include Architecture and Power in the Prehispanic Andes: The Archaeology of Public Buildings (1996, Cambridge), Visions of Culture: An Introduction to Anthropological Theories and Theorists (2012, Rowman and Littlefield,4th edition),  Cultural Landscapes in the Prehispanic Andes: Archaeologies of Place (2005, Florida), The Prehistory of Home (2012, California; 2014 Society for American Archaeology Book Award), A Prehistory of South America: Ancient Cultural Diversity of the Least Known Continent (2014, Colorado), Incidence of Travel: Recent Journeys in Ancient South America (2017, Colorado), in addition to articles, book chapters, and reviews.

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AUGUST MEMBERSHIP MEETING
Aug
4
6:45 PM18:45

AUGUST MEMBERSHIP MEETING

The Fall of the Aztecs: Uncovering the True Story by Matthew Restall, PhD, Pennsylvania State University.

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.

For an empire that existed half a millennium ago, and whose written records were almost entirely destroyed, we have a remarkably clear sense of what brought the Aztecs down.  We assume the Aztec Empire was doomed from the start, because theirs was a doom-and-gloom culture.  But what if we have it all wrong?  What if Aztec civilization was not defined by a fatalistic obsession with human sacrifice?  What if we have been misled by conquistador propaganda for five centuries — lulled by the narcotic of a ripping good yarn?  Drawing from his forthcoming new book, When Montezuma Met Cortés, Professor Matthew Restall argues that to better understand the fall of the Aztecs and Spain’s conquistadors, we must view Aztec culture, the empire, and the emperor, very differently.

Matthew Restall was born and educated in England, but lived in Spain and Latin America as a child, developing a lasting fascination with Pre-Columbian and Spanish American history.  He is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Latin American History and Anthroplogy, and Director of Latin American Studies, at the Pennsylvania State University, and the author of some twenty books on topics such as Maya Conquistador and Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest.  This summer and fall he is a Kislak Fellow at the Library of Congress’s Kluge Center and a Capitol Fellow at the U.S. Capitol Historical Society.

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JULY MEMBERSHIP MEETING
Jul
7
6:45 PM18:45

JULY MEMBERSHIP MEETING

Evaluating Maya Expansionary and Integrative Strategies: What Can Be Learned from the Copan Polity's Interactions with its Non-Maya Neighbors by Erlend Johnson, PhD candidate, Tulane University.

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.

Scholarship on the ancient lowland Maya has tended to develop black-box models describing the Classic period "polity". This presentation attempts to open up this black-box in order investigate the dynamic processes by which lowland Maya polities functioned. It focuses on one aspect of Maya statecraft: the integrative strategies employed by Maya rulers as they expanded their polities. The Classic period Maya polity of Copan provides an ideal place to study these processes because of its position at the edge of the Maya world. The Copan polity was surrounded by non-Maya neighbors with distinct cultures and political structures; evidence for both material links and structural transformations instigated by the Copan polity are more visible there than at contemporary sites in the Maya heartland. This presentation examines both the timing and degree of political changes during the Classic period (AD 100-900) in the Cucuyagua and Sensenti valleys located 25km and 50km southeast of Copan, respectively.  Results from survey and excavation data suggest that a Maya lowland style political hierarchy was adopted in the Cucuyagua valley by the Late Classic period (AD 600-900), suggesting that it was integrated into the Copan polity. Evidence of a fragmentary, heterarchical political system in the Sensenti valley during the Late Classic period suggests that this area remained outside of Copan’s political hegemony. 

Erlend Johnson is a doctoral candidate at Tulane University and is affiliated with the Mesoamerican Research Institute. Erlend’s research, which is directed by Marcello Canuto, focuses on the integrative strategies employed by the rulers of Maya polities as they expanded into and absorbed surrounding populations. Research for his dissertation has occurred in the Cucuyagua and Sensenti valleys located southeast of the Classic Maya polity of Copan. Erlend has participated in research projects in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Louisiana in addition to current and past research in Honduras.  He received an Mphil in Archaeology at the University of Leiden in 2009 and his BA at Kenyon College in 2007. Erlend is a Summer Fellow in Pre-Columbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks.

 

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GEORGE E. STUART LECTURE AND ANNUAL MEETING
Jun
2
6:30 PM18:30

GEORGE E. STUART LECTURE AND ANNUAL MEETING

To Bee or Not to Bee: Exploring the Maya Literary Tradition from the Perspective of the George E. Stuart Collection by Gabrielle Vail, PhD

This meeting will be held in the Hurlbut Memorial Hall on the 3rd Floor of the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The format is:        6:30 pm   Refreshments

                              7:10 pm    Annual meeting & lecture

                              8:20 pm    Dessert, wine and cheese

Maya screenfold books, or codices, offer a fascinating glimpse of the daily life, rituals, and beliefs of prehispanic Maya cultures in the centuries leading up to the Spanish conquest of the Yucatán Peninsula in the early 16th century. Of special interest are almanacs focusing on the ceremonies and activities associated with beekeeping with the stingless bee native to Mexico; astronomical tables that integrate events from primordial time with those from the time period when they were written; and depictions of ceremonies inaugurating the new year. Using facsimiles and documents from the George E. Stuart collection (currently housed at UNC-Chapel Hill), this presentation brings the pre-Columbian past of the Yucatán Peninsula to life and explores the relevance of the almanacs and texts recorded in the screenfold manuscripts to the Yucatec Maya living there today.  

Our speaker Gabrielle Vail received her PhD in anthropology from Tulane University, with a specialization in Maya archaeology.  Her research emphasizes prehispanic Maya ritual and religion, as well as calendrical and astronomical texts, as documented in the Maya screenfold codices.  Her work is highlighted in over sixty publications, as well as the online Maya Codices Database (www.mayacodices.org), a collaborative project undertaken with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Her publications include Códice de Madrid (Universidad Mesoamericana, 2013), Re-Creating Primordial Time: Foundation Rituals and Mythology in the Postclassic Maya Codices with Christine Hernández (University Press of Colorado, 2013), and a chapter in Cosmology, Calendars, and Horizon-Based Astronomy in Ancient Mesoamerica (University of Colorado Press, 2015).  Dr. Vail is Program Director for InHerit: Indigenous Heritage Passed and Present, based in the Research Labs of Archaeology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and an affiliated faculty member of the Department of Anthropology. Her most recent project involved coordinating an exchange trip between high school students of Maya descent in western North Carolina and Yucatec Maya students at the Universidad de Oriente in Valladolid, Mexico.

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MAY MONTHLY MEETING
May
5
6:45 PM18:45

MAY MONTHLY MEETING

Talking Trash: Refuse and Ritual in Maya Archaeology by Sarah Newman, PhD, James Madison University.

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.

Archaeology is often describe (by archaeologists themselves) as "the discipline that tries to understand garbage." In this talk, Dr. Newman turns this perspective on its head. She explores how objects that have long been assumed to be simply ancient trash--broken pots, bone fragments, worn-out tools, crafting debris--may have held different meanings in the past. Drawing on evidence from archaeological artifacts, historic documents, and ethnographic observations in Mesoamerica, Dr. Newman shows how extending the modern concepts of rubbish to the past is not only anachronistic but actively limiting to our capacity for understanding of archaeological assemblages.

Sarah Newman received her BA at Yale University (2007) , her PhD from Brown University (2015), and is currently Assistant Professor of Archaeology at James Madison University. She has conducted archaeological and zooarchaeological research in Mesoamerica since 2006, with a current field project at the site of Topoxte, Guatemala, and is a co-author of Temple of the Nigh Sun: A Royal Tomb at El Diablo (2015). Her work has been supported by several grants and fellowships, including the US Department of State Fulbright Program, the National Science Foundation, the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Foundation, the John Carter Brown Library, and most recently, a 2017-2018 Richard Carley Hunt Fellowhsip from the Wenner-Gren Foundation to support the writing of her manuscript book..

 

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APRIL MONTHLY MEETING
Apr
7
6:45 PM18:45

APRIL MONTHLY MEETING

History and Histories of the Popol Wuj: A Reappraisal of the Origin and Purpose of a Mesoamerican Literary Masterpiece by Frauke Sachse, PhD

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm. 

The Popol Wuj is widely acknowledged to be the most significant colonial document that was ever written in a Mayan language. The text describes the creation mythology and origin of the K'iche' people and can be regarded pivotal for our understanding of Prehispanic religious traditions and the perception of history. This talk will explore the Precolumbian origin of the Popol Wuj, analyzing Classic Maya antecedents as well as Central Mexican narrative traditions, and will suggest that the document as we know it today was composed in response to Christianization. Our speaker will discuss the impact of missionary evangelization in sixteenth-century Highland Guatemala and show that the text is a literary masterpiece of written indigenous resistance.

Frauke Sachse is Assistant Professor of Precolumbian Studies and Anthropology at the University of Bonn. She holds a PhD in Linguistics from Leiden University and a MA degree in Anthropology/Precolumbian Studies, Archaeology and English from the University of Bonn. Her research interests concern the languages, linguistics, and ethnohistory of Mesoamerica, with a current focus on aspects of translation and the understanding of cultural concepts in indigenous as well as doctrinal sources from Highland Guatemala. She has authored, co-authored, and edited several volumes including Reconstructive Description of Eighteenth-Century Xinka Grammar (2010), Maya Daykeeping (with John M. Weeks and Christian Prager, 2009), and Maya Ethnicity: The Construction of Ethnic Identity from Preclassic to Modern Times (2006). She has held fellowships at the Library of Congress (2016-17) and the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library (2012-13) in Washington as well as at the Princeton University Library (2007), and received research support from the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD, and the Deutsche Altamerika Stiftung. Between 2005-2016, she was president of the European Association of Mayanists (WAYEB).

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MARCH MONTHLY MEETING
Mar
3
6:45 PM18:45

MARCH MONTHLY MEETING

Transformation by Fire: Mexica Funerary Cremation Rituals by Ximena Chavez-Balderas, PhD Candidate, Tulane University.

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.

The Great Temple of Tenochtitlan was the final resting place for certain elite individuals. Their bodies were cremated and their remains were deposited in urns. The archaeological excavations of the Templo Mayor Project recovered seven urns containing cremated bones from five individuals, along with numerous burial goods. These findings revealed that funerary rituals were more complex than what the historical sources described, depending on the identity, social status, and cause of death of the deceased, as well as body symbolism. In this talk, Chavez Balderas will explore these findings; present the different types of cremation rituals and activity areas associated with the practice; discuss the meaning of fire as a transforming element; address the symbolism of bones; and note the possible use of cremated remains as relics for consecrating ritual space. In addition, she will discuss the symbolism and the extraordinary diversity of associated funerary goods.

Ximena Chavez Balderas is a bioarchaeologist with the Templo Mayor Project. She specializes in funerary archaeology, sacrificial practices, mortuary treatments, and archaeozoology. She earned her BA from the Escuela Nacional de Antropolgia e Historia. Her MPhil was awarded by the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico and her MA is from Tulane University. She was the primary curator of the Templo Mayor Museum between 2001 an 2007. She has received three INAH national awards, has presented more that 50 lectures and papers, and has published thirty-plus articles. Currently, she is a Dumbarton Oaks Junior Fellow.

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FEBRUARY MONTHLY MEETING
Feb
3
6:45 PM18:45

FEBRUARY MONTHLY MEETING

Recent Advances in Cultural Astronomy in the Broader Southwest by Ray F. Williamson, PhD

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.   

The study of cultural astronomy in the Southwest U.S. has had a mixed reception among SW archaeologists, especially archaeoastronomy, the element of the field that deals with archaeological remains. Over the past decade or so, the archaeology community has become more receptive to some of the results of cultural astronomy and a few archaeologists have begun to see it as a useful tool in the effort to understand the lives of the peoples who left us so many puzzling southwestern architectural structures. This talk reviews some of the more interesting and exciting recent research in cultural astronomy and its connections to modern archaeological research, especially the persistent questions of how and why the Ancient Puebloans left the northern Southwest and where the different groups ended up. It also examines the question of putative prehstoric lunar observations and their possible manifestations in archaeological remain. 

Ray A. Williamson is retired from Secure World Foundation, where he served as Executive Director between 2007 and 2012 and as Senior Advisor until 2014. Previously, he was Research Professor of Space Policy and International Affairs in the Space Policy Institute, The George Washington University. From 1979 to 1995, he served first as Senior Analyst and later as Senior Associate for the U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment (OTA). Prior to employment with OTA. Dr. Williamson was Assistant Dean at St. Joan's College, Annapolis, MD. Dr. Williamson is a Board Member of the Society for Cultural Astronomy in the American Southwest and Willowtail.org, an organization promoting the development of the arts in the Four Corners region. He is the author or editor of ten books on space policy, historic preservation, and the astronomical knowledge and ritual of the American Indian. is books include: Living the Sky: The Cosmos of the American Indian; They Dance in the Sky (with Jean Guard Monroe); and Cowboys and Cave Dwellers (with Fred. M. Blackburn).

Dr. Williamson received his BA in physics from the John Hopkins University and his PhD in astronomy from the University of Maryland..

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JANUARY MEMBERSHIP MEETING
Jan
6
6:45 PM18:45

JANUARY MEMBERSHIP MEETING

Expansion of the Aztec Empire and Changes to Visual Representations of Religious Imagery in the Basin of Mexico by Angel Gonzalez-Lopez, PhD Candidate, University of California, Riverside.

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.

This talk explores how the expansion of the Aztec Empire caused changes to the visual representation of religious imagery associated with a new political power. By collecting, analyzing, and interpreting the symbolic narratives carved on stone in the Basin of Mexico, during the Postclassic period (1300-1521 AD), our speaker attempts to understand the nature of the interactions between several city-states in the Basin of Mexico and the imperial capitals of Tenochtitlan, Tetzcoco and Tlacopan. The evidence for this research is the volcanic stone, andesite and basalt blocks that were transformed into reliefs and three-dimensional sculptures, in both monumental and portable formats. His project addresses the main question of identifying and discussing whether or not several small groups of elites, or social agents, associated with specific political institutions, promoted the practice of sculpting stone. Did a few individuals with a particular set of ideological and symbolic narratives recruited and trained personnel with special skills, such as sculptors, into specific institutional roles? The talk will address production activities, the political organization, circulation, and consumption of sculpted stones; as well as the group of people involved in making them, the set of sponsors, artists present in workshops, places of display, and their audiences. The talk will draw on different lines of evidence such as archaeological contexts, ethnohistory, and the discourses depicted in the stone images.

Angel Gonzalez-Lopez is a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Riverside, specializing in Aztec iconography. For 10 years prior to beginning his graduate studies, Gonzalez was a member of the Proyecto Templo Mayor and was involved in the ongoing excavations of the Aztec Main Temple of Tenochtitlan in Mexico City. His research focuses on Postclassic Central Mexico, although he also has worked at Teotihuacan, Cuicuilco, Cholula, the Sierra de las Navajas in Hidalgo, the Sierra Gorda in Queretaro, the central valleys of Oaxaca, and southern Quintana Roo. His most recent book is Imagenes Sagradas: Iconografia en Esculturas de Piedra del Recinto Sagrado de Tenochtitlan y el Museo Etnografico published by the Instituto Nacional de Antropologia (INAH) Press.

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DECEMBER MEMBERSHIP MEETING
Dec
2
6:45 PM18:45

DECEMBER MEMBERSHIP MEETING

A Community and Its Temple: Community Impact at A Public Monumental Space at the Ancient Maya Site of La Milpa, Northwest Belize by Debora Trein, PhD

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.   

The scholarly literature on ancient Maya public architecture shows that the terms "monumental" and "elite" are often used interchangeably to describe these spaces. This suggests that monumental spaces represent extensions of a privileged social class. Although this perspective has been useful in showing how ruling groups harnessed built spaces for their own political goals such an emphasis between monumental architecture and the elite largely disregarded the importance of the rest of the ancient Maya population. Non-elite groups may have interacted with monumental architecture in their own distinct, nuanced ways, thus shaping and defining the functions of these spaces.

This talk explores how all members of the ancient Maya community of La Milpa may have used, accessed, and impacted the large pyramidal temple, Structure 3, between the Late Preclassic (ca. 400 BCE - 250 CE) to Terminal Classic period (ca. 780/850 – 900 CE). Research conducted over seven field seasons indicates that the variety of activities taking place around Structure 3 increased dramatically over time, even when little architectural variation was observed in the building and that the most drastic changes coincided with a marked rise in the local population and sociopolitical prominence of La Milpa. This suggests that public monumental spaces were adaptable to the changing needs of all community members alike, both elites and non-elites.  

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Dr. Debora Trein is a Maya archaeologist who has worked in archaeological sites in Guatemala and Belize, as well as in the UK and US. She joined the Programme for Belize Archaeological Project in 2007, and has been directing excavations there since 2009. Her research interests include landscape archaeology, archaeological theory, and issues in cultural heritage management. Debora Trein is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Archaeological and Tropical Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is also the co-executive director of SAFE, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of the traffic in illicit antiquities world-wide. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband Nathan.

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NOVEMBER MEMBERSHIP MEETING
Nov
4
6:45 PM18:45

NOVEMBER MEMBERSHIP MEETING

Merchants and Markets in the Maya Realm: The Classic Maya City of Chunchucmil - a review and retrospective in honor of Bruce H. Dahlin by David R. Hixson PhD

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.      

Northwest Yucatan, and specifically the archaeological site of Chunchucmil, puzzled and captivated Bruce Dahlin for more than 20 years to the end of his life.  How did such a densely settled city survive - apparently even thrive - within one of the poorest regions for agriculture? There were no documented carved monuments, no indications of a divine king, and the quadrangular architecture was not what one would expect from an Early Classic Maya capital.  What commodity, what economic system, and what political system made this city function? Was this even a Maya site?  These questions launched a multidisciplinary project that stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the Puuc hills, and has continued to inspire research to this day.  This paper will present the results of Dahlin's final project, demonstrating that interregional trade, market exchange, and resource diversification were likely at the core of Chunchucmil's location and prosperity.  

Dr. David R. Hixson received his Ph.D. in anthropology and archaeology from Tulane University and is currently an adjunct professor of anthropology, archaeology, and cultural geography at multiple universities within the greater D.C. area (Shepherd University, Hood College, and Frederick Community College).  While pursuing educational and archaeological studies in the greater Washington, D.C. area, David has maintained his research focus upon remote-sensing and GIS in archaeological survey methods, and continues to publish the results of his studies in NW Yucatan.  He has recently entered the arena of “drone archaeology” and intends, upon returning to the Chunchucmil region soon, to test this new technology in the low scrub forest of NW Yucatan to evaluate and verify the settlement patterns he will discuss in this talk.

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OCTOBER MEMBERSHIP MEETING
Oct
7
6:45 PM18:45

OCTOBER MEMBERSHIP MEETING

Maya Market, Merchants, and the Muddle of our Models by Eleanor King, PhD

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.      

Until recently, most  archaeologists doubted that the prehispanic Maya had markets prior to the Postclassic (C.E. 900-1500), very late in their history, just before the Spanish arrived. This scholarly position was shaped in part by a perception of the Maya lowland environment as a monotonous jungle that lacked variability. It was also shaped by the longstanding notion that Maya sites were not true cities and could rely on the provisions provided by their immediate hinterland. These views changed slowly over time as discoveries about the size, density, and complexity of Maya settlements and the diversity of rainforest environments accumulated, but scholars were still reluctant to contemplate markets in the Maya area, for two reasons. First, dominant economic theories in anthropology stated markets did not exist in pre-capitalist societies. Second, markets are often ephemeral events that leave few traces in the archaeological record. They are therefore very difficult to document. New theoretical perspectives, coupled with recent breakthroughs in the identification of markets on the ground, have radically altered our views and suggest that markets date to the Late Classic (C.E. 600-900), and probably before. Using ethnographic, ethnohistorical, and archaeological evidence, we can now develop new models of how Maya markets worked, and begin repopulating the prehispanic Maya world with the actors who interacted within them—the merchants and their customers. 

Eleanor M. King is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Howard University. She is the Director of the Maax Na Archaeology Project in Belize, where she investigates the prehispanic Maya, and of  the Warriors Project Archaeology program in the Southwest U.S., where she studies the historic interaction between the Apache and the African-American Buffalo Soldiers. She also works on educational programming in archaeology and cultural heritage. Her Maya research has focused on social complexity and economic structure, and she recently published an edited book on Maya markets. She received her PhD in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2000.  

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SEPTEMBER MEMBERSHIP MEETING
Sep
1
6:45 PM18:45

SEPTEMBER MEMBERSHIP MEETING

Creating Communal Places: Ritual Practices at Early Platform Mounds in the Deep South by Megan Kassabaum, PhD

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.

Note: This meeting will be held the first THURSDAY rather than Friday.  

Moundbuilding has a long history in the American South, possibly beginning as early as 5000 BC. Around AD 700, an important shift in moundbuilding practices took place. This shift to the construction of platform mounds is often assumed to be associated with parallel shifts in the economic, social, and political realms of the mound building communities. Recent research at two mound centers--Feltus Mounds and Smith Creek Mounds, MS--constructed during this time has suggested that the relationship between these various changes is more complicated than often assumed and that it was negotiated through communal ritual practices.

Megan Kassabaum is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and Assistant Curator in the American Section of the Penn Museum. She completed her PhD in anthropology at the University of North Carolina in 2014 and her BA in anthropology and philosophy at Beloit College in 2005. Her research focuses on prehistoric American Indian communities in the Lower Mississippi Valley, where she has been conducting excavations since 2006. Her interests in the Native communities living along the Mississippi River developed during her childhood in St. Louis, Missouri. She has been running the Smith Creek Archaeological Project, located in southwestern Mississippi, since 2015 and has recently completed her second season of fieldwork at the site.

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AUGUST MEMBERSHIP MEETING
Aug
5
6:45 PM18:45

AUGUST MEMBERSHIP MEETING

The Musee du Quai Branly's Pre-Columbian Collections: History and Insights into Contemporary Displays by Paz Nunez-Regueiro, Curator Americas Section

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.  

The Musée du Quaily Branly in Paris opened in June 2006, with the mission to ensure the enhancement of the French national collections pertaining to Oceania, Asia, Africa and the Americas and to promote the dialogue between cultures. The Musée holds over 106,000 objects from the New World, inherited from the former Musée de l’Homme. The archaeological material, which accounts for 70% of the collection, was gathered mainly in the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The holdings are mostly from Mesoamerica and the Andean region. Its collection is mainly a result of exploration by French adventurers, travelers, and people living abroad and, more rarely, from scientific expeditions. The complete history of these intricate networks of collections and exchanges is still to be written.

Paz Núñez-Regueiro joined the Musée du Quai Branly in 2005, as a curator in the Americas Section, to oversee the reinstallation of the American collection in a newly constructed building near the Eiffel Tower. In the past 11 years, she has participated in numerous research projects and symposia on Andean material culture and museum studies, with a particular interest in Patagonian collections. Her most recent project has been an exhibition on the Conquest of Peru, The Inca and the Conquistador (2015). She is presently benefiting from a Summer Fellowship at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.

 

 

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JULY MEMBERSHIP MEETING
Jul
8
6:45 PM18:45

JULY MEMBERSHIP MEETING

The Archaeology of Washington, D.C. by Ruth Trocolli, PhD

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm. 

What kind of archaeological resources can be found in a densely populated urban environment? Sites and artifacts from every period from early paleoindian through the plantation era to the Civil War and on to the present are found here in the District of Columbia! This talk will provide an overview of the prehistoric and historic archaeology of the District of Columbia, and the challenges of locating traces of former landscapes before they are totally destroyed. Some of the tools and tricks of the trade will be described as well as the results of recent work, including among others, the Yarrow Mamout Archaeological Project.

Dr. Ruth Trocolli is the City Archaeologist for the District of Columbia. A 2015 winner of the Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Award for Distinguished DC Government Employees and a 2016 Society for Historical Archaeology Award of Merit, Dr. Trocolli has worked tirelessly over the last few years to identify, record, and protect the District's archaeological resources. As the City Archaeologist, her duties include reviewing federal and local projects, maintaining the archaeological sites files and GIS data, and conducting public outreach. She received her doctorate from the University of Florida in 2006 where her dissertation research examined the lives of Native American women chiefs among southeastern American Indian groups.

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GEORGE STUART MEMORIAL LECTURE AND ANNUAL MEETING
Jun
10
6:15 PM18:15

GEORGE STUART MEMORIAL LECTURE AND ANNUAL MEETING

George Stuart and the Archaeological Site of Etowah, GA: The Imagery of Ritual and Symbolism in Mississippian Art.

This meeting will be held in the Hurlbut Memorial Hall of the Charles Sumner School and Archive, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

This event honoring the late George Stuart will begin with light refreshments at 6:15 pm. The annual Society's business meeting will precede F. Kent Reilly's talk at 7:00 pm. Dessert, wine, and cheese will follow.  

George Stuart began his career as an archaeologist when, as a high school student, he explored the Mississippian Period Mounds that surrounded his home in South Carolina. George's first real archaeological job was when he was hired by Lewis Larson to be both artist and compiler of the burial books for Larson's 1950s excavations at the multi-mound site of Etowah, GA. George's work at Etowah prepared him, both as a scholar and as an artist, for his better known work among the Maya sites of Mexico and Central America. Also, it was at Etowah that George met his wife Jean, who became his partner in many of his explorations of the vanished Classic Maya World. Since George's work at Etowah, iconographic investigations of art from various other Mississippian stylistic regions, combined with archaeological and ethnographic analyses of objects recently recovered at Etowah, reveal dramatic evidence of certain shared Mississippian ideological cults. Several spectacular works of art depict iconographically specific--and perhaps identifiable--supernatural entities as gods or heroes. Current ethnographic investigations have revealed the power-imbued stories that explain the origin of these shared Mississippian cults. Archaeological evidence of the heirlooming, bundling, and ultimate burial deposition of such art objects further link elite office holders and their descent groups with entities and episodes from these ancient and originary stories. Before his death, George was well aware of the current work at Etowah and he encouraged the recent field work in every way.

F. Kent Reilly III, PhD, identifies himself as a pre-historian whose interests converge around the religion, art, and visual validation of elite authority in New World chiefdoms and early states. Much of his research centers on the art and symbols of the ancient Olmec (1200-400 BC) and Classic Maya (AD 200-900) cultures. In 1995 he served as guest curator for Princeton University's "The Olmec World: Art, Ritual, and Rulership." His current interests include the art and iconography of the prehistoric Mississippian Period in the Southeastern United States. Dr. Reilly was a member of the advisory board and a catalog contributor to the 2004 exhibit, "Hero, Hawk, and Open Hand: Ancient Native American Art of the Midwest and South" held at the Art Institute of Chicago. Most recently, Dr. Reilly was selected by the Muscogee Nation of Florida to serve as the field anthropologist consultant to assist them with the final phase of their attempt to win federal recognition. He was selected because of his extensive knowledge of Muscogee government ceremonial cycles and traditions.

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MAY MEMBERSHIP MEETING
May
6
6:45 PM18:45

MAY MEMBERSHIP MEETING

Ritual Killing on the North Coast of Peru: New Discoveries and a Synthesis of Sacrifice in the Andean World by Haagen Klaus, PhD

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.  

Over the last 30 years, discoveries of an increasing number of settings of ancient ritual killing on the north coast of Peru revolutionized elements of Andean art history, archaeology, and bioarchaeology. Much of this work has been focused on the Moche culture.  There remain many questions about the spatial variation of sacrifice, its change over time, and ritual diversity. A series of discoveries since 2002 by different groups of scholars not only deepens the picture of Moche ritual violence and society, but for the very first time also reconstructs a broader sequence of sacrifice on the north coast over the last 1,800 years. In this talk, these discoveries will be synthesized to demonstrate the development of multiple traditions of ritual killing beginning around 200 AD. 

 From Matrix 101

From Matrix 101

Ritual killing evolved beyond the collapse of the Moche culture into new and unprecedented forms and scales during the Middle Sicán, Chimú, and provincial Inka eras. Topics to be covered include a near-bewildering diversity of Moche rituals including victim strangulation, mutilation, and dismemberment; the origins of child and female sacrifice in the Late Intermediate period; entanglements between politics and ritual violence; and the recognition of continua of human, animal, and object sacrifices. The talk concludes with new questions and an outline of a possible agenda for the next two decades of archaeological and bioarchaeological research on ritual violence on the north coast of Peru. 

Haagen D. Klaus is an assistant professor of anthropology at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He is the director of the Lambayeque Valley Biohistory Project, launched in 2003, and is an associate investigator at the Sicán National Museum and the Brüning National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in Peru. His research spans human biology and microevolution, paleopathology, mortuary archaeology, and cultural history in the pre-Hispanic and Colonial Central Peru. 

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Apr
1
6:30 PM18:30

APRIL MEMBERSHIP MEETING

New Insights into the Classic Maya Collapse: Episodes of Political Disruption at Ceibal, Guatemala by Takeshi Inomata, PhD

This meeting will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.  

In the study of the Classic Maya Collapse (c. the 9th century AD), scholars tend to emphasize a gradual process that took place over a century. Recent results of archaeological investigations based on a refined chronology, combined with epigraphic data, however, suggest that this process was punctuated by waves of collapse, or a series of rapid political disruptions that affected wide areas simultaneously. The lowland Maya center of Ceibal, Guatemala, has figured prominently in the study of the Classic Maya collapse since the pioneering research by Harvard University in the 1960s. After 40 years, we returned to this important site to further investigate this issue. Although researchers have thought that Ceibal thrived through the period of the Maya collapse, the results of our research show that Ceibal, like other centers, also suffered from multiple episodes of political crisis.  

Takeshi Inomata is Professor and Agnese Nelms Haury Chair in Environment and Social Justice in the School of Anthropology, University of Arizona. He has been conducting archaeological investigations at the Maya sites of Aguateca and Ceibal, Guatemala, to examine social changes in Maya civilization. His publications include The Classic Maya (2009, Cambridge University Press), “Early Ceremonial Constructions at Ceibal, Guatemala, and the Origins of Lowland Maya Civilization” (2013, Science), and “The Development of Sedentary Communities in the Maya Lowlands: Co-Existing Mobile Groups and Public Ceremonies at Ceibal, Guatemala” (2015, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). 

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February Membership Meeting
Feb
5
6:45 PM18:45

February Membership Meeting

 

The Original Performance Piece: Shaft Tomb (?) Figures of West Mexico by Christopher Beekman, PhD

This meeting will be held at The Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.  

Anthropomorphic ceramic figures have been looted from shaft and chamber tombs in western Mexico for well over a century, and literally thousands of them exist today in museum collections, not to mention those in the hands of private collectors. This has led to a broader interpretation of these figures as “mortuary art,” objects produced with the express intention of accompanying the dead. They have been seen as representations of the deceased, representations of servants accompanying the deceased into the beyond, or representations of the underworld itself. Similar interpretations in the 1960s were made of Maya codex vessels, which were seen. as a Maya “Book of the Dead." 

Recently, however, scholars have noted the evidence of usewear on those figures found in museum collections. Also, fragments and whole figures have been excavated from household and ritual contexts. This lecture will detail those finds and their implications for interpretations of the figures. The shaft tomb figures are interpreted here as mobile art used on multiple occasions before interment with the dead, and many correspond in subject matter to better known forms of storytelling from Mesoamerican art,

Christopher Beekman is an archaeologist who specializes in the prehistory of western Mexico. He has directed excavation and survey projects in the region since 1993 with a focus on the Late Formative and Early Classic periods. His research interests lie primarily in ancient political and social organization. He received his PhD in Anthropology from Vanderbilt University. He teaches at the University of Colorado Denver, and this year he is a Fellow in Precolumbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks. 

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October Membership Meeting
Oct
2
6:45 PM18:45

October Membership Meeting

On the Turquoise Trail in Mexico by Colin McEwan PhD

This meeting will be held at The Charles Sumner School, 17th & M Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.

The meeting starts with refreshments at 6:45 pm and the lecture begins at 7:15 pm.  

Turquoise has a fascinating history in Mexico. Wherever it could be wrested from the earth, this precious blue-green gemstone was highly prized for its compelling range of colors and attractive textures and is still much sought after today.  This lecture will explain how the scientific study of finely wrought turquoise on Prehispanic mosaics offers key insights into its cultural meanings and uses. The significance and status of turquoise in the Aztec world is reflected in the masterpieces that were fashioned by skilled artisans serving in the Royal Court of the Emperor Moctezuma.

 Dr. Colin McEwan is Director of Pre-Columbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.  He specializes in the art and archaeology of the Pre-Columbian Americas and has carried out fieldwork in diverse settings including the Peruvian Highlands, Upper Amazon, coastal Ecuador, and Patagonia. From 1979-1991 he directed the Agua Blanca Archaeological Project focused on a major Manteño settlement in the Machalilla National Park, coastal Ecuador. He was formerly head of the Americas Section at the British Museum, London, where he authored or co-edited exhibition publications including ‘Ancient Mexico in the British Museum’ (1994); 'Patagonia: Natural History, Prehistory and Ethnography at the Uttermost End of the Earth' (1997); 'Pre-Columbian Gold: Technology, Style and Iconography' (2000); 'Unknown Amazon: Culture in Nature in Ancient Brazil' (2001); 'Turquoise Mosaics from Mexico' (2006);  'El Caribe Pre-Colombino' (2008); Ancient American Art in Detail (2009); and 'Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler' (2009). He is particularly interested in reconstructing and interpreting the roles that objects play in prehistoric cultural landscapes, including why certain materials were valued, how they were procured and deployed, and the archaeological contexts in which they are found.  

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