Tyler Fellows in Residence
This year, two of the four Tyler Fellows in residence are working on the preliminary stages of making two outstanding Pre-Columbian archives accessible to researchers at Dumbarton Oaks. Dylan Clark (Anthropology, Harvard) will be inventorying the Maya Vase Archive assembled by Justin and Barbara Kerr, in preparation for this promised gift’s eventual acquisition by Dumbarton Oaks. Lisa Trever (History of Art and Architecture, Harvard) will focus on an assessment of Christopher Donnan’s Moche Archive, which will facilitate the future archival processing of this recently acquired collection and its eventual availability for scholarly study. Both fellows will be supervised by the Pre-Columbian Studies Department and the Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives during their residential fellowship year, 2012-2013.
As a Tyler fellow in Pre-Columbian Studies in residence at Dumbarton Oaks for the academic year, I am looking forward to the final stages of writing my dissertation on the late Moche (c. 600–850 CE) mural paintings of Pañamarca, Peru. This year I am also collaborating with Dumbarton Oaks staff to process the Moche Archive, which has recently been given to the institute by Christopher B. Donnan, professor emeritus at UCLA. My project involves researching the photographic archive’s history, assessing its physical needs, and working toward the creation of a finding aid to assist researchers interested in this incomparable resource on ancient Andean art. The combination of this particular institutional project with my own research is particularly harmonious. Familiarity with the Moche Archive will inform my analyses of the iconography, style, and composition of the Pañamarca mural paintings and—vice versa—my background in Moche art and archaeology will facilitate this important first phase of work with the Moche Archive at Dumbarton Oaks.
I am a doctoral candidate in Mesoamerican Archaeology in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University. This year, I have the privilege of being in residence at Dumbarton Oaks as a William R. Tyler Fellow in Pre-Columbian Studies (2011-2013). My dissertation project, entitled Living on the Edge, explores the daily life, social organization and community dynamics of an ancient Maya coastal port through the archaeological excavation of domestic spaces. This site is called Isla Cerritos and is located on a small island in the Gulf of Mexico just off the north coast of Yucatán, Mexico.
This year I also have the opportunity to assist with a fascinating project involving a new addition to the Dumbarton Oaks archival collection. In 1972, photographer Justin Kerr revolutionized the study of Maya pottery by modifying existing camera technology to more easily take rollout photographs of cylindrical objects. This allowed scholars to study Maya polychrome painting and incising styles, images, colors, and hieroglyphic texts on the surface of ceramic vessels in more detail because their scenes and designs could be viewed as one would a horizontal panoramic photograph. For many years, Justin and Barbara Kerr traveled widely, visually documenting pre-Columbian art, artifacts, and sites through photography, making these images and, whenever possible, scholarly analysis of them available to all researchers through Mayavase.com. Last year, the Kerrs donated their archive to Dumbarton Oaks, and I am very excited to be assisting with the transition of this important collection to its new home here in Washington, D.C. over the course of the next several months.