Announcing the 2017–2018 PCSNY lecture schedule

It is our great pleasure to share with you the full schedule for the 2017–2018 Pre Columbian Society of New York lecture series:

Sep. 14, 2017Andrew D. Turner, Postdoctoral Associate in the Art of the Ancient Americas, Yale University Art Gallery

Oct. 26, 2017Terence N. D’Altroy, Loubat Professor of American Archaeology and Director of the Center for Archaeology, Columbia University

Nov. 9, 2017Megan O’Neil, Associate Curator in the Art of the Ancient Americas, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Dec. 13, 2017Lawrence Waldron, Assistant Adjunct Professor, City University of New York
NOTE: This lecture takes place on a Wednesday evening

Feb. 15, 2018Joanne Pillsbury, Andrall E. Pearson Curator of Ancient American Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Mar. 8, 2018Simon Martin, Senior Research Specialist, University of Pennsylvania Museum

Apr. 12, 2018Sarahh Scher, Visiting Lecturer, Salem State University

With their publications and research efforts spanning the arts and culture of ancient Mesoamerica, the Andes, and Lesser Antilles, these seven scholars offer a formidable and enduring contribution to the study of the pre-Columbian world. The members of the PCSNY Board hope you are as excited as we are to host such a varied slate of guest speakers this year. This season will be one of our best seasons yet!

NOTE: All lectures take place at the Institute of Fine Arts–NYU, 1 East 78th Street, New York City

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THE AMERICAS AT THE MET—Friday, May 5, 2017 (10:00 a.m.)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art presents
The Spring Fellows ColloquiaThe Americas at The Met
Friday, May 5, 2017 (10:00 am–1:30 pm)

SESSION 1   10:00 A.M.

Moche Metals at The Met: Ideology, Iconography, and Technology
Alicia Boswell, Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Cultures of Conservation, sponsored by the Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture, and hosted by Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

“Sounding out” the Technology and Performance of Bells and Other Metals from Central America and Colombia
Bryan Cockrell, Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Research Fellow, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

In Enemy Hands: Bodies and Power in Ancient Mesoamerican Art
Caitlin Earley, Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

SESSION 2   11:30 A.M.

Peruvian Textiles and Their Colonial Records, 1600–1750
Julia McHugh, Douglass Foundation Fellow, The American Wing

Picturing Atlantic Slavery and Liberty in the Early United States
Emily Casey, Sylvan C. Coleman and Pam Coleman Memorial Fund Fellow, The American Wing

Deconstructing the Visual Networks of A Negra: The Racial Ideology of Paulista Modernism
Maria Castro, Leonard A. Lauder Fellow, Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art

Moderator: Joanne Pillsbury, Andrall E. Pearson Curator, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

All sessions are held in the Bonnie J. Sacerdote Lecture Hall, Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education, Ground Floor. Assistive listening devices are available from the ushers.
About the Spring Fellows Colloquia:
The Met’s Fellowship Program is the nexus of museology, academia, archaeology, education, and scientific research. The Museum is uniquely positioned to draw together leading and emerging international scholars and practitioners from diverse fields to engage in ongoing discourse.
During a series of eleven Friday colloquia this spring, our current fellows present brief papers on their research and explore related scholarly questions.
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Sarah Clayton–NYC AIA Lecture on Teotihuacan

April 26, 6:30 PM

“The End of Teotihuacan:

Perspectives on Urban Life, Collapse, and Regeneration from beyond the Ancient Metropolis”

Sarah Clayton


The first millennium CE witnessed the growth and decline of Teotihuacan, one of North America’s earliest major cities and the capital of an unprecedentedly powerful state with far-reaching political influence. Teotihuacan flourished for several centuries before collapsing, by the CE 600s, for reasons that remain enigmatic. Although its monumental center has benefited from more than a century of archaeological research, investigations of daily life and social change in surrounding communities are rare by comparison. In this talk I discuss the archaeological reconstruction of household and community organization in the Basin of Mexico, beyond the margins of the capital city. I consider the process of urban decay and the ultimate political collapse of Teotihuacan from the vantage of its rural settlements, emphasizing the results of recent fieldwork at the site of Chicoloapan, 40km south of the capital. Chicoloapan evidently prospered in the generations following Teotihuacan’s collapse; its population was augmented by the arrival of immigrants from other areas, perhaps including refugees from the capital. Archaeological research at Chicoloapan significantly advances our understanding of both the timing and nature of Teotihuacan’s decline and the impact of these changes on members of its regional population.

Goldman Library, The Dalton School, 108 East 89th Street
NY City

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Jeffrey Splitstoser, Pre-Columbian Society of the University of Pennsylvania Museum

“Twisted Records: Wari-style Khipus and What We Might Know about Them

Jeffrey Splitstoser, PhD, The George Washington University

April 8, 1:30 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. This presentation will provide an overview of preliminary findings from a study of all-known Wari-style khipus.

Dr. Jeffrey C. Splitstoser is an Assistant Research Professor of Anthropology at George Washington University. His current field research is a study of the textiles and khipus at the Wari site of El Castillo de Huarmey (see the June 2014 issue of National Geographic Magazine). Splitstoser was 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 in 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.

Room 345
Univ. of Pennsylvania Museum
3260 South Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Yale Archaeology Brown Bag–Rob Rosenswig

Friday, April 7th, at 12:00 P.M. A joint Maya Series and Archaeology Brown Bag Lecture. The lecture will take place in 51 Hillhouse Ave., Rm 101, Yale University.

Robert Rosenswig,

Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University at Albany–SUNY, will present

“The Rise and Fall of the Izapa Kingdom.”

(See description and short biography below.)

Mesoamerica is one of the cradles of civilization where the first kingdoms and states emerged during the latter part of the first millennium BCE. Recent lidar mapping and pedestrian survey documents the extent and internal political structure of the Izapa kingdom from its emergence at 700 BCE through its collapse after 100 BCE. At its peak, a four-tiered political hierarchy maintained internal cohesion and the distribution of large centers around the kingdom’s perimeter established external sovereignty. The largest of a network of early kingdoms on the Pacific coast of southern Mesoamerica, the Izapa polity provides insight to the origins of urban life and hierarchical political relations.

Short Bio:
Dr. Rosenswig is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University at Albany – SUNY and currently Director of the Institute for Mesoamerican Studies. He has directed research in Mexico, Belize and Costa Rica investigating the origins of agriculture and the development of political complexity. His publications include over three dozen journal articles as well as the book The Beginnings of Mesoamerican Civilization: Inter-Regional Interaction and the Olmec (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and two co-authored books published with the University Press of Florida: Early New World Monumentality (with Richard Burger in 2012) and Modes of Production and Archaeology (with Jerimy Cunningham in 2017).

Refreshments and food will be served.

The Yale Maya Series is supported through the MacMillan Center’s Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Memorial Fund, the Council on Latin American & Iberian Studies, and the Department of Anthropology.

We look forward to seeing you there.

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Pre-Columbian Society of DC April Lecture

“History and Histories of the Popol Wuj:

A Reappraisal of the Origin and Purpose of a Mesoamerican Literary Masterpiece”

Frauke Sachse, PhD, University of Bonn

April 7, 6:45 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 as 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. Dr. Sachse 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 an M.A. 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.

Lecture Hall, 1st Floor
Sumner School
17th & M Streets, N.W.
Washington DC

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PCSNY April Lecture—Mary E. Miller

The Pre-Columbian Society of New York invites you to join us for our April lecture:

Were They Enslaved? Maya Figurines from Jaina and Beyond

Mary E. Miller, Sterling Professor of History of Art and Senior Director of the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Yale University

Figurines from the island of Jaina, long admired for their lifelike, poignant, and sometimes-amusing characteristics, reveal a complexity of Maya social life, especially for women, rarely seen in other media, such as painted ceramics or monumental sculpture. Who are these weavers, these amorous women, these faithful companions of the dead? Although long assumed to be elite women or moon goddesses, female figurines may open a window onto more disturbing Maya practices, particularly enslavement, and the culture of Jaina Island itself. The figurines can be seen through a variety of lenses: recent archaeology has provided rich new contexts for consideration and extensive examination of hundreds of examples in Mexico, Europe, and the United States makes it possible to see previously unrecognized roles and rituals. Additionally, identification of patterns of costume and accouterment offers fresh insights into this elegant figurine tradition.

Thursday, April 13, 2017
6 PM in the Lecture Hall
The Institute of Fine Arts
1 East 78th Street

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. RSVP Institute of Fine Arts

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

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PCSNY March Lecture—Jeffrey Quilter

The Pre-Columbian Society of New York invites you to join us for our March lecture:

Tales of the Moche Kings and Queens: The Lords and Ladies of the Northern Deserts of Peru

Jeffrey Quilter, William and Muriel Seabury Howells Director, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University

For some years now, Dr. Jeff Quilter has argued that it is inappropriate and misguided to use concepts such as “the state” and “government” in discussing the Moche of the North Coast of Peru. Indeed, he suggests that this is the case for many archaeological cultures that are modern creations, not prehistoric realities. In this talk, Quilter will explore these themes further and attempt to suggest how we might better interpret the phenomenon known today as “Moche.” For, after all, there is an apparent artistic and cultural integrity to Moche that ultimately is linked to what we think of as “politics.” The challenge for us is to find the best way to understand these linkages and concepts and language that will allow us to best express those understandings. Examples of how we might approach these issues will be provided through discussion of research on the North Coast of Peru with special attention to the El Brujo Archaeological complex, San José de Moro and the Huacas de Moche, among others.

Thursday, March 9, 2017
6 PM in the Lecture Hall
The Institute of Fine Arts
1 East 78th Street

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. RSVP Institute of Fine Arts

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

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Simon Martin February 9th Lecture cancelled

Due to unforeseen circumstances we are cancelling tonight’s presentation by Simon Martin. Please stay warm and safe.

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PCSNY February Lecture—Simon Martin

Entangled Tesserae: Looking at Classic Maya Political Society
Simon Martin
University of Pennsylvania Museum

For almost five decades Mayanists have sought an answer to one of the most important but elusive of questions in the field: how were the great cities of the Classic Maya organized politically? Although many of the disagreements have now been put to rest, every advance in our understanding has only brought us fresh challenges, as we seek to know not just the where, when, and who, but the how and why. Thus, progress is to be measured not in the accumulation of historical particulars, but in how well we can use that data to divine the principles of a political philosophy.

Thursday, February 9, 2017—6 PM in the Lecture Hall
The Institute of Fine Arts–NYU
1 East 78th Street, New York City

Lecture will be followed by a reception in the Loeb Room

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