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PCSNY September Lecture – Oswaldo Chinchilla

September 12, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

American Pompeii:
A Collection at the AMNH and the Archaeology of the Antigua Guatemala Valley

Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos
Associate Professor of Anthropology, Yale University

Figure of Woman and Child, from Finca Pompeya, Guatemala, cat. no. 30/5573.
American Museum of Natural History, New York. Photograph by Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos.


1898 has been called “the greatest year” of New York City, marked by the unification of the boroughs and a generalized expansion. The American Museum of Natural History was also in the middle of a golden age, with new building expansions underway, and rapidly expanding collections. That year, the museum acquired one half of a collection that originated from the“American Pompeii,” a site in the Antigua Guatemala valley. Following common practice at the time, the other half went to the Museum of Ethnology in Berlin, Germany, while some pieces remained scattered in Guatemala. Despite the initial interest, the site and the collection were soon forgotten and relegated to obscurity, to the point that the origins of the artifacts are sometimes regarded as dubious. In this talk, I trace the origins of the collection using textual and photographic sources from the time of the initial discovery. Despite the incomplete documentation, these sources demonstrate the integrity of the collection and provide some details about its original context. In the light of recent research, the collection becomes relevant for the study of Classic communities in the Antigua valley and their relationship with the great city of Cotzumalhuapa in the Pacific coast.

Thursday, September 12, 2019
6 PM in the Lecture Hall
The Institute of Fine Arts
1 East 78th Street

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Registration link coming soon!

Followed by a reception with wine and cheese in the Loeb Room


September 12, 2019
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Pre-Columbian Society of New York, Inc.
View Organizer Website


Institute of Fine Arts–NYU
1 East 78th Street
New York, New York 10075
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