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.

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.


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.

 

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.

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..

 

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).

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.

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..

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.

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.  

Trein_0683crop).jpg

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.

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.

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.  

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.

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.

 

 

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.

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.

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. 

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). 

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. 

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.  

August Membership Meeting
Aug
7
6:45 pm18:45

August Membership Meeting

Title of Talk: Preparing and Installing the Great Inka Road Exhibit: A Conservator's Perspective

Speaker:   Emily Kaplan

Date: August 7, 2015

Time:  Refreshments 6:45 pm Lecture 7:15 pm

This presentation provides a  glimpse behind the scenes of the exhibit "The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire" from the conservation perspective. I will give an overview of the exhibit process focusing on the work of exhibit team members including conservation, collections management, and exhibit production. The NMAI conservation team spent a year spent researching and conserving the collections selected by curator Ramiro Matos for exhibition. We consulted with experts in Andean metallurgy, pottery, textiles, spondylus and ethnography; carried out scientific analyses and spent many hours doing conservation treatments. I will highlight some of our favorite objects, treatments, and challenges.  The exhibit opened June 26 at the NMAI Mall Museum, for a three year run.

Emily Kaplan has been an objects conservator at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian since 1996. She works on exhibit preparation at the museum’s New York and Washington DC facilities and specializes in collaborative technical studies of pre-Columbian and colonial Andean objects, particularly drinking vessels known as qeros. Recent publications on qeros include a sidebar in the Inka Road publication, a co-authored chapter “Tradition and Innovation, Cochineal and Andean Keros”, in the book “A Red Like No Other: How Cochineal Colored the World” and a co-authored article in the Journal of the American Institute for Conservation. “Mopa mopa: scientific analysis and history of an unusual South American resin used by the Inka and artisans in Pasto, Colombia.”  Emily is currently co-editing a book on qeros; contributions include perspectives from colleagues in archaeology, art history, ethnohistory, botany, chemistry and conservation.

July Membership Meeting
Jul
10
6:45 pm18:45

July Membership Meeting

Title of Talk: Rewilding the Amazon: a Counterpoint to Historical Ecology

Speaker:   Robert Langstroth, PhD

Date: July 10, 2015

Time:  Refreshments 6:45 pm Lecture 7:15 pm

Academic and popular visions of the nature and people in Amazonia have undergone dramatic transformations over the past 50 years.  From a pristine wilderness inhabited by noble savages to an inhospitable Counterfeit Paradise where culture is limited by environmental constraints to a Domesticated Landscape engineered and managed by high densities of pre-Columbian peoples, the relative roles of people and nature in shaping the landscape, biodiversity, and culture have changed radically as new archaeological and paleo-environmental data have been uncovered.  Based largely on work in the Llanos de Moxos savannas of Amazonian Bolivia, geographer Robert Langstroth has perspectives on Amazonia very different from those of archaeologists working in the area.  Dr. Langstroth will discuss recent developments and insights that suggest that the extent of landscape transformation and significantly. The anthropogenic environments and biodiversity may be much more limited than popularized by proponents of Historical Ecology, over the past decade. 

Dr. Robert Langstroth is a Neotropical biogeographer with a PhD in People-Environment Geography from the University of Wisconsin where he studied under William Denevan and researched the origins and ecology of forest islands in the Llanos de Moxos savannas of Amazonian Bolivia.  He has been travelling and studying people-environment interactions in Amazonia, the Altiplano, and other regions of South America since 1979. He is also a specialist in South American reptiles and amphibians with a focus on Liolaemus lizards. Since 2001, Dr. Langstroth has worked as an international environmental consultant with a focus on Latin America and projects financed by the International Finance Corporation, the Inter-American Development Bank, and Equator Principles Financial Institutions.  He currently is Technical Director at ERM in Washington, DC.

 

June Membership Meeting
Jun
5
6:30 pm18:30

June Membership Meeting

Title of Talk: The Cross Group Temples at Palenque: New Readings and Interpretations

Speaker:   David Stuart, PhD

Date: June 5, 2015

Time:  Reception begins at 6:30 pm in the 3rd Floor Huribut Memorial Hall of the Sumner School.

In June, the Pre-Columbian Society will inaugurate an occasional lecture series honoring the life of the late George Stuart, the archaeologist and pre-Columbian enthusiast who was an inspirational guiding force when the Society was launched 22 years ago. Our 2015 speaker will be David Stuart, PhD.

 

David Stuart says, “My lecture will present a new look at the famous triadic temples of Palenque, Mexico, known as the Cross Group. Using an integrated approach to the architectural complex, I aim to show how its hieroglyphic inscriptions and iconography worked together to present a tightly interwoven narrative that bridges mythology and history, highlighting the status and ceremonial power of king K’inch Kan Bahlam, who dedicated the shrine complex early in his reign in 682 A.D. I will explore symbolic aspects of the temples' physical setting near a sacred mountain and spring, as well as discuss new decipherments and readings from the temples' texts and imagery.”

 

Bio:   Son of the late George Stuart, David Stuart's interests in the traditional cultures of Mesoamerica are wide-ranging, but his primary research focuses is the archaeology and epigraphy of ancient Maya civilization.  He received his PhD in Anthropology from Vanderbilt University and taught at Harvard University before arriving at the UT Austin in 2004, where he teaches in the Department of Art and Art History. Dr. Stuart regularly conducts field research at numerous archaeological sites in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, mostly focusing on the documentation and study of Maya sculpture and inscriptions. His major research focus of late is on the art and epigraphy at Copan (Honduras), Palenque (Mexico), Piedras Negras, La Corona, and San Bartolo (Guatemala). Dr. Stuart's early work on the decipherment of Maya hieroglyphs led to a MacArthur Fellowship in 1984. His publications include Ten Phonetic Syllables (1987), which laid much of the groundwork for the now-accepted methodology of Maya hieroglyphic decipherment. In 2003 he published a volume in the ongoing Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions series (Peabody Museum, Harvard University), devoted to drawings and photographs of sculpture from Piedras Negras, Guatemala. His most recent book is The Order of Days: The Maya World and the Truth about 2012 (Random House).


Dr. Stuart's research and contributions to Maya studies were recently featured in the award-winning PBS documentary "Cracking the Maya Code" (NightFire Films, 2008). Dr. Stuart is the Director of The Mesoamerica Center at the University of Texas at Austin, which fosters multi-disciplinary studies on ancient American art and culture. He also oversees the activities of the newly established Casa Herrera, UT's academic research center in Antigua, Guatemala, devoted to studies in the art, archaeology and culture of Mesoamerica. Dr. Stuart is the Linda and David Schele Professor in the Art and Writing of Mesoamerica.

 

May  Membership Meeting
May
1
6:45 pm18:45

May Membership Meeting

Unwrapping Khipu History: Using Structural Analysis to Trace the Development of Inka Khipus By: Jeffrey C. Splitstoser, PhD

Prior to contact with the Old World, the peoples of the New World—other than the Maya—did not write, at least not in the way Westerners think of writing where signs (letters) represent speech. The Inkas, who ruled much of South America at the time of conquest, did not write, but they had khipus, knotted-string devices that served as their primary recordkeeping tool. The Inkas ran an empire using khipus. Unfortunately, there is no guide to reading khipus, no khipu “Rosetta Stone,” no dictionary. What we know comes primarily from ethnohistorical sources (Spanish chroniclers), court documents, and archaeology.

Recent research, including ongoing excavations at El Castillo de Huarmey, has confirmed the existence of Middle Horizon (ca. AD 500–1000) Wari (Peru’s first empire) khipus, proving that the khipu was not invented by the Inka. They represent the culmination of thousands of years of technological development whose origins might be found as early as Late Paracas times (ca. 500–200 BC), where excavations at the Ica Valley site of Cerrillos revealed khipu-like objects made ca. 350‒300 BC. Using original research, this talk will discuss the development of Inka khipus from their possible origins in Late Paracas wrapped cords through their antecedents in intricately wrapped and knotted Middle Horizon Wari khipus.

Dr. Jeffrey C. Splitstoser is currently an Assistant Research Professor of Anthropology at George Washington University. He received his Master’s degree (1999) and PhD (2009) in anthropology from The Catholic University of America, Washington, D. C. Splitstoser’s dissertation research focused on textile practices and culture at Cerrillos, an Early Paracas site in the Ica Valley in Peru. He is currently researching at El Castillo de Huarmey, studying textiles and khipus recently excavated from the tombs of three Wari queens (ca. AD 700–1000).[1] Splitstoser is also the textile specialist for the Huaca Prieta Archaeological Project (Tom Dillehay, principal investigator), studying 6,200-year-old cotton textiles, some colored blue and representing the earliest known use of indigo dye in the world. Splitstoser is a research associate of the Institute of Andean Studies, Berkeley. He is also Vice President of the Boundary End Archaeology Research Center in Barnardsville, North Carolina, and the editor (with Dr. David Stuart) of its peer-reviewed journals, Ancient America and Research Reports on Ancient Maya Writing. He also provides consultation on Andean textiles for the National Museum of the American Indian. Splitstoser was a Junior Fellow at the Dumbarton Oaks (2005‒2006). He is a Cosmos Club scholar.

[1] “Peru’s Royal Wari Tomb,” http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/06/peru-tomb/pringle-text

 

April Membership Meeting
Apr
10
6:45 pm18:45

April Membership Meeting

When They Were Young: Children’s Lives and Burials in Provincial Tiwanaku Society by: Sarah Baitzel

Archaeological excavations inform us that children accounted for a large portion of populations in the past. Yet we know very little about the experiences, social roles, and contributions of children to the family and the community in the ancient Andes. This talk will present archaeological evidence from more than 100 children’s burials at the provincial Tiwanaku center of Omo M10, Moquegua, Peru, to reconstruct notions of childhood and the process of coming of age in ancient Tiwanaku society (AD 500–1000). Drawing on ethnographic and ethnohistorical parallels from Aymara and Inca sources, this talk will explain how children were socialized into becoming productive members of society through playful acts that imitated adult life. Upon death, children’s burials completed their socialization by incorporating the child into the community of ancestors. Status, ethnicity, and gender were closely linked to the experience of childhood, and they materialized in the funerary treatments, dress, and offerings of Tiwanaku children.

Sarah Baitzel is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at UC San Diego. She received her BA from UC Santa Barbara in 2004 and her MA from UC San Diego in 2006. Currently a Junior Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks, she is completing her dissertation on the mortuary rituals and social identities of provincial Tiwanaku communities at the site of Omo M10, Moquegua, Peru. She has excavated in Peru for more than 10 years. In 2010 and 2011, she directed the excavation of more than 200 burials at the Omo M10 site, the results of which have been published in several book chapters and articles. Her publications include articles and book chapters in the United States  and Peru on paleodemography and migration, mortuary practices, social identity, and dress in the Tiwanaku state.

February Membership Meeting
Feb
6
6:45 pm18:45

February Membership Meeting

Animals and Sacred Mountains: Ritualized Performance and Teotihuacan's State Ideology by Nawa Sugiyama 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.  

Humans have always been fascinated by wild carnivores. This has led to a unique interaction with these beasts, one in which these key figures played an important role as main icons in state imperialism and domination. At the Classic period site of Teotihuacan, Mexico (AD 1–550), this was no exception as nearly 200 beasts were sacrificed and deposited as associated offerings in large-scale dedicatory rituals at the Pyramid of the Moon. This talk will construct a narrative—bringing individual animal biographies to life through meticulous zooarchaeological and isotopic data—of how wild carnivores directly converted a large pyramidal mound into a sacred mountain. The talk will ask (1) How were the social identities of these animals constructed as symbols of the Teotihuacan state? and (2) How did they directly contribute to the reification of a hierarchical social landscape? Certainly, the selection of the most prominent carnivores (jaguars, pumas, wolves, eagles, and rattlesnakes) was not accidental. Paradigms between nature/culture and wild/domestic are considered, as pathological indicators suggest that many of the animals sacrificed in the offering had been tamed and kept in captivity.

Nawa Sugiyama is currently a Peter Buck Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Museum of Natural History examining zooarchaeological and isotopic remains from the Maya site of Copán, Honduras. She received her PhD from Harvard University. Her dissertation, on the faunal remains from Teotihuacan, Mexico, was funded by various fellowships and grants including the William R. Tyler Fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, the National Science Foundation Doctorate Dissertation Improvement Grant, and the Fulbright Hays Dissertation Research Abroad Program. 

January Membership Meeting
Jan
9
6:30 pm18:30

January Membership Meeting

Dogs From Sitio Conte, Panama: Finding the Story Behind the Bling by Katherine Moore

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 site of Sitio Conte in western Panama is famous for its chiefly tombs dating from the period AD 450–900. The imagery from the burial offerings shows fabulous animals in beautiful designs on ceramic vessels and gold plaques. The offerings also include remarkable richness in animal bones, teeth, and other “scary” parts of animals such as sharks and rays. As part of an upcoming exhibit at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, “Beneath the Surface: Life, Death, and Gold in Ancient Panama,” the animal remains from Burial groups 11 and 12 were reexamined for the first time since they were excavated in the 1940s. Dr. Moore examined the relationship between dogs and people at this time, and asked what it would take to produce this piece of jewelry and what it might have meant.

Katherine Moore, PhD is an archaeologist who has worked on animal bones from across the Americas, the Middle East, and Africa. She is the Mainwaring Teaching Specialist in the Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and lectures in archaeology for the University of Pennsylvania Department of Anthropology. Her major research work concerns the transition from animal hunting to herding in the Andes of Peru and Bolivia. She also has worked on the archaeology of bone tool production in Bolivia.

NOTE: The originally scheduled January talk had to be postponed and will be rescheduled later in 2015.

December Membership Meeting
Dec
5
6:45 pm18:45

December Membership Meeting

Contribution to World Heritage by the PERU LNG Project, Gregory D. Lockard, 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 will present the results of the PERU LNG Archaeological Project (the Project). The PERU LNG Project involved construction of a natural gas pipeline, a liquefaction plant, and a marine terminal. The pipeline extends from the eastern slopes of the Andes to the Pacific coast. The PERU LNG Archaeological Project was required before construction permits could be secured from the Instituto National de Cultural (INC), Peru's cultural resources regulator at the time. As one of the largest archaeological investigations in the history of Peru, the Project included surveys, sites evaluations, and rescue (i.e., data recovery) excavations--all in compliance with an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment and Peru's law and regulations. Also a robust, INC-approved archaeological monitoring program was implemented during construction. A total of 137 archaeological sites were rescued and an additional 140 sites were investigated as chance finds (i.e., inadvertent discoveries) under the Monitoring Plan. Sites ranged from major archaeological complexes to very small artifact scatters. The talk will focus on the four major complexes that were investigated: Pumapuquio, a highland Wari residential and administrative center; Corpas, a highland Warpa/Wari agricultural, residential, and ritual center; Rumajasa, a highland Cari/Chanka funerary site; and Bernales, a coastal Chincha site associated with a small adobe platform mound. Because every site discovered in the affected area was fully excavatedregardless of its size, integrity, or significancethe Project produced a complete archaeological picture of the ancient cultural landscape of the affected area and the results have contributed significantly to our understanding of Peru's past.    

Greg Lockard received his PhD in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico in 2005. His graduate studies focused on the Moche and Chimu cultures of the north coast of Peru. His dissertation was titled "Political Power and Economy at the Archaeological Site of Galindo, Moche Valley, Peru." From 2011 to 2014, he led a multidisciplinary team providing all cultural resources support for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Archaeological surveys conducted during the project identified 115 new sites and revisited 447 previously recorded sites. The project also involved a detailed investigation and assessment of Fort Livingston, a Civil War era fort. From 2008 to 2011, Greg served as the lead archaeologist for the PERU LNG Project. He is currently a Senior Consultant at Environmental Resources Management (ERM) in Washington, D.C.

November Membership Meeting
Nov
7
6:45 pm18:45

November Membership Meeting

The Grolier Codex – An Authentic 13th-century Maya Divinatory Venus Almanac: New Revelations on the Oldest Surviving Book on Paper from the Ancient Americas by John B. Carlson, PhD

Meeting is located 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 fourth known pre-Columbian Maya codex, the only one discovered in the 20th century, was found by looters in the mid-1960s. First exhibited in New York in 1971, what has come to be known as the Grolier Codex is half of a hybrid-style 20-page, 104-year Mesoamerican divinatory Venus Almanac. With new radiocarbon dates that place it in the 13th century CE, it is likely to be the oldest surviving book on paper from the Americas as well as being the only ancient Maya codex now residing in Mexico. Although most Mayanists have accepted it as authentic, based in part on the author’s forty years of research – see < umd.academia.edu/JohnBCarlson> – it remains an unacknowledged Mexican national treasure, as it has never been officially recognized except in the State of Chiapas. Mesoamerican Venus Almanacs were widely used in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica to regulate practices of sacred warfare and ritual sacrifice, the goal of which was to obtain captives whose blood was shed to invoke the personified forces of rain and fertility. The Grolier Codex offers unique images of ten of the twenty manifestations of Venus (named in the Maya Dresden Codex), greatly enriching our knowledge of these traditions documented in four other pre-Columbian codices as well as numerous archaeological and ethnohistoric sources. The present study offers a brief history of accounts of the discovery of the Codex and allegedly associated artifacts; presents a documented photographic history; outlines the author’s comprehensive program of research, including several new scientific discoveries leading to an interpretation of the Grolier Codex–based on the Dresden Codex and other sources–; and offers a new Latinized name that recognizes that the “Codex Mayano-Mexicanus” is an authentic ancient book deriving from the Maya culture and now properly residing in Mexico.

John B. Carlson, PhD, a physicist and radio and extragalactic astronomer by training, is the Director of the Center for Archaeoastronomy, a non-profit institute for research and education related to interdisciplinary studies of the astronomical practices, celestial lore, religions and world-views of ancient civilizations and the contemporary indigenous cultures of the world. In this capacity,  Dr. Carlson is an expert on Native American astronomy specializing in studies of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica (including the U.S. Southwest), and is the Editor of the ARCHAEOASTRONOMY journal, published by the University of Texas Press.  His photographic essay on “America’s Ancient Skywatchers” was published in the March 1990 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE. The art, iconography, calendar systems, and hieroglyphic writing of the Maya and Highland Mexican civilizations are particular interests, and he has published and lectured extensively in these fields. Dr. Carlson is Senior Lecturer in the University Honors College, University of Maryland - College Park - where he teaches courses in Astronomy, Anthropology, the History of Science and Religion, and Apocalypticism.

October Membership Meeting
Oct
3
6:45 pm18:45

October Membership Meeting

  • Sumner School

Society and Politics at the Center of the Cosmos: The Archaeological Project of the Ceremonial Center of Tibes, Ponce, Puerto Rico by L. Antonio Curet, PhD 

Meeting is located 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 over 15 years the Archaeological Project of the Ceremonial Center of Tibes in Ponce, Puerto Rico has been studying the changes, processes, and conditions for the development of social stratification in the region. Located in southern Puerto Rico, Tibes is, to date, the oldest civic ceremonial site on the island. Research suggests that the site may have began as a small settlement and around AD 900-1000 experienced a change in the use of space that included the construction of multiple ballcourts and plazas. Because of these changes, Tibes was selected for study as it appeared to be the ideal place to study social changes and the development of stratification. From its inception, the project has successfully developed a multi-stage, multi-disciplinary, and multi-scalar approach that has led to a better, but still incomplete, understanding of the social and political conditions of pre-contact societies of the region.  This presentation will begin with a general overview of the ancient history of Puerto Rico, will continue with a summary of the project’s aims, goals, strategies, and finds, and will end with a discussion of our interpretations of the evidence at hand.

L. Antonio Curet is a Curator of the National Museum of the American Indian. He was born in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico and attended the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras where he obtained his BA and MA in Chemistry. Curet received his PhD in 1992 from Arizona State University.  His research focuses on cultural and social change in the ancient Caribbean, but he has participated also in archaeological projects in Arizona and Veracruz, Mexico. He has directed several projects including excavations at La Gallera, Ceiba, Puerto Rico and the Archaeological Project of the Valley of Maunabo.  Since 1995 he has conducted excavations at the Ceremonial Center of Tibes, Ponce, Puerto Rico and in 2013 began co-directing a regional project in the Valley of Añasco in Western Puerto Rico. Curet has published multiple articles in national and international journals, a book on Caribbean paleodemography, and has edited volumes on Cuban archaeology, the archaeology of Tibes, Puerto Rico, and long-distance interaction in the Caribbean. 

21st Annual PCSWDC Symposium
Sep
20
8:15 am08:15

21st Annual PCSWDC Symposium

  • U.S. Navy Memorial and Naval Heritage Center

It has been argued one reason that the pre-Columbian American Southwest has been viewed as a culture area distinct from Mesoamerica is the existence of the modern international border that separates the United Stated from Mexico. Some note that nationalism and different languages, on both sides of the border, have contributed to independent academic development. But what was the relationship among ancient people living between Durango, Colorado in the north and Durango, Mexico, in the south? How do recent discoveries challenge our traditional thinking about this area? Were these people only casual trading partners or did they share more substantial and important cultural connections as well? 

Our esteemed panel of Southwest and Mesoamerican scholars will re-examine the relationship between these two culture areas, with their acknowledged differences and many important similarities. Join us while we peel away modern political boundaries to reveal how Pre-Hispanic societies interacted across this vast territory during their extensive prehistory.

September Membership Meeting
Sep
5
7:00 pm19:00

September Membership Meeting

  • 17th and M Streets Washington DC USA

Join us to hear Bryan Just of Princeton University Museum discuss his latest research into the manufacture and meaning of Rio Blanco pottery and its relationship to other Mesoamerica ceramic traditions.

Note: This meeting will be held on July 11, 2014, due to the Fourth of July holiday.

Copyright Pre-Columbian Society of Washington D.C. All Rights Reserved.