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Colin McEwan

Director of Pre-Columbian Studies

Colin McEwan

Colin McEwan is Director of Pre-Columbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks. He holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and specializes in the art and archaeology of the Pre-Columbian Americas. He has carried out fieldwork in diverse settings including coastal Ecuador, the Andean Highlands of Peru, Colombian Amazonas, and Patagonia. At Dumbarton Oaks, he oversees a fellowship program, annual symposium, and lecture series, as well as workshops and colloquia. He also serves as the series editor for the symposium publications and the Dumbarton Oaks Studies in Pre-Columbian Art and Archaeology series.

From 1979 to 1991, McEwan directed the Agua Blanca Archaeological Project, focused on the principal town of the Manteño Señorio of Salangome in the Machalilla National Park, Ecuador. He has worked on exhibition projects in the World Heritage Museum at the University of Illinois, the Art Institute of Chicago, and at the Agua Blanca, Ecuador, community site museum. He was formerly head of the Americas Section at the British Museum, where he curated exhibitions and authored or coedited publications including Ancient Mexico in the British Museum (British Museum Press, 1994); Patagonia: Natural History, Prehistory and Ethnography at the Uttermost End of the Earth (Princeton University Press, 1997); Pre-Columbian Gold: Technology, Style and Iconography (British Museum Press, 2000); Unknown Amazon: Culture in Nature in Ancient Brazil (British Museum Press, 2001); Turquoise Mosaics from Mexico (Duke University Press, 2006);  El Caribe Pre-Colombino (Ministerio de Culture, Madrid, 2008); Ancient American Art in Detail (Harvard University Press, 2009); Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler (British Museum Press, 2009); Turquoise in Mexico and North America (Archetype Books, 2012); Inca Sacred Space: Landscape, Site and Symbol in the Andes (Archetype Books, 2014); and the definitive two-volume catalogue Pre-Columbian Art from Central America and Colombia (Dumbarton Oaks, forthcoming 2019). He is particularly interested in exploring alternate ontologies and in reconstructing and interpreting the roles that objects play in prehistoric cultural landscapes.