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Scholarly Activities in Pre-Columbian Studies

Symposia and Colloquia Proposals

Dumbarton Oaks invites proposals for scholarly conferences in the three programs of study that we support: Byzantine Studies, Pre-Columbian Studies, and Garden and Landscape Studies. For more information about provision for events, eligibility, and selection criteria, please refer here.

For instructions on how to submit a proposal, please contact the Director of Pre-Columbian Studies or the program at

Awards for Students

Advanced undergraduate and graduate students may apply for Bliss Symposium Awards to support attendance at the annual symposium.

Upcoming Events


Sep 28, 2023

Spatial Grammars: Meaning in the Two-Dimensional Field of the Painted Books of Aztec Mexico

Elizabeth Hill Boone explores the interface of art and writing through the use of space in Mexican codices.

Annual Pre-Columbian Symposium

October 6–7, 2023 | Tom D. Dillehay and Eduardo Neves, Organizers

Past Events



Missionary Manuscripts in Mesoamerican Languages

June 5–16, 2023 | Pre-Columbian Workshop, in collaboration with Princeton University Library and Library of Congress

Opening Up the Eastern Andes: New Perspectives on Regional Identities and Inter-Cultural Engagements

April 28, 2023 | Pre-Columbian Roundtable; Anna Guengerich and Tamara L. Bray, Organizers

Letters from the Ancients of Water (Huarochirí, Peru)

March 16, 2023 | Pre-Columbian Public Lecture, Frank Salomon


Rulers from the West: Teotihuacan in Maya History and Politics

December 1, 2022 | Pre-Columbian Public Lecture, David Stuart

Beyond Representation: Ancient Indigenous Visual Culture

October 7–8, 2022 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Tamara L. Bray and Carolyn Dean, Symposiarchs

Tenochtitlan: Imperial Ideologies on Display

April 8–9, 2022 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Leonardo López Luján, Barbara E. Mundy, and Elizabeth H. Boone, Symposiarchs

Heads, Skulls, and Sacred Racks

April 21, 2022 | Pre-Columbian Public Lecture, Vera Tiesler


Water, Copper, Wak’as, and Empire: Late Prehispanic Political Ecology in the High-Altitude Atacama Desert

November 4, 2021 | Pre-Columbian Public Lecture, Frances Hayashida

Special Lecture Series: Hidden Landscapes of the Past: Uncovering the Ancient World through LiDAR
June 16–July 28, 2021 | Interdisciplinary Summer Lecture Series

Taking the High Ground: A Model for Lowland Maya Settlement Patterns as Seen through LiDAR

July 28, 2021 | Hidden Landscapes of the Past | Interdisciplinary Lecture, Marcello Canuto

Visualizing Bomarzo: LiDAR and the Interpretation of an Enigmatic Renaissance Landscape

July 21, 2021 | Hidden Landscapes of the Past | Interdisciplinary Lecture, Luke Morgan and John Garton

Bathed in Light: Revealing Ohio’s Ancient Monuments with LiDAR

July 14, 2021 | Hidden Landscapes of the Past | Interdisciplinary Lecture, Jarrod Burks

New Light under the Amazon Forest

July 7, 2021 | Hidden Landscapes of the Past | Interdisciplinary Lecture, José Iriarte

Lasers below the Clouds: Mapping Kuelap with Drone-Mounted and Terrestrial LiDAR

June 30, 2021 | Hidden Landscapes of the Past | Interdisciplinary Lecture, Parker VanValkenburgh

The Garden City of Greater Angkor: Insights from Remote Sensing

June 23, 2021 | Hidden Landscapes of the Past | Interdisciplinary Lecture, Roland Fletcher

Olmec and Maya Ceremonial Landscape Revealed through LiDAR

June 16, 2021 | Hidden Landscapes of the Past | Interdisciplinary Lecture, Takeshi Inomata

The Empire of the Ancestors: The Wari of the Middle Horizon

May 7–8, 2021 | Pre-Columbian Colloquium, Mary Glowacki and Anita Cook, Organizers

Celebrating the Life of Colin McEwan

March 28, 2021 | Virtual Celebration

Faces of Rulership in the Maya Region

March 26–27, 2021 | Pre-Columbian Symposium


Heritage and Its Missions

December 11, 2020 | Pre-Columbian Colloquium, Cristóbal Gnecco and Adriana Dias, Organizers

When Cortés Met Malinche, and Montezuma Met Cortés: Alternative Facts and Disturbing Truths

November 4, 2020 | Pre-Columbian Public Lecture, Matthew Restall



Waves of Influence: Revisiting Coastal Connections between Pre-Columbian Northwest South America and Mesoamerica

October 11–12, 2019 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Christopher S. Beekman and Colin McEwan, Symposiarchs

Keys to the Empire: Wari Religion and Politics in City and Country

April 25, 2019 | Pre-Columbian Public Lecture, Anita G. Cook

Mesoamerican Codices: New Discoveries and New Directions

March 12–13, 2019 | Pre-Columbian Colloquium, Diana Magaloni Kerpel and Barbara E. Mundy, Organizers


Reconsidering the Chavín Phenomenon in the 21st Century

October 5–6, 2018 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Richard L. Burger and Jason Nesbitt, Symposiarchs

Looking Ahead to the Past: An Ethnographer’s Perspective on Archaeology in the Andes

April 12, 2018 | Pre-Columbian Public Lecture, Catherine Allen, George Washington University


Imaginary Aztec: Three Views of Mesoamerica’s Central Places

December 1, 2017 | Pre-Columbian Public Lecture, Davíd Carrasco, Harvard University

Teotihuacan: The World beyond the City

October 6–7, 2017 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Barbara Arroyo, Kenneth Hirth, and David Carballo, Symposiarchs

Everything That Shines Is Gold . . . but Does It Matter? The Conceptual Relevance of Amazonian Archaeology

March 16, 2017 | Pre-Columbian Public Lecture, Eduardo Neves, University of São Paulo

Mirrored Reflections: Spanish Iconoclasm in the New World and Its Reverberations in the Old

February 16, 2017 | Director’s Office Public Lecture, Thomas B. F. Cummins, Harvard University


Interpreting Pre-Hispanic Peru through Its Textiles

December 1, 2016 | Pre-Columbian Public Lecture, Ann Pollard Rowe, The Textile Museum

Sacred Matter: Animism and Authority in Pre-Columbian America

October 7–8, 2016 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Steven Kosiba, John Janusek, and Thomas Cummins, Symposiarchs

Rethinking the Inka Empire: The View from Kollasuyu”

May 18 to 20, 2016 | Pre-Columbian Workshop co-hosted by Chilean Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica and the Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile


A Crack in the Mirror: Desires for Pre-Columbian and American-Made Colonial Art, Then and Now

December 4, 2015 | Pre-Columbian Public Lecture, Thomas B. F. Cummins, Harvard University

Smoke, Flames, and the Human Body in Mesoamerican Ritual Practice

October 9–10, 2015 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Vera Tiesler and Andrew Scherer, Symposiarchs

The Art and Archaeology of Central America and Colombia

January 26–29, 2015 | Pre-Columbian Workshop cohosted by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama City


The Mayo Chinchipe-Marañón Culture: Pandora's Box in the Upper Amazon

December 4, 2014 | Pre-Columbian Public Lecture, Francisco Valdez

Processions in the Ancient Americas: Approaches and Perspectives

October 10–11, 2014 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Susan Toby Evans and Stella Nair, Symposiarchs

Pre-Wari, Wari, and Inka Khipus: An Investigation of General Andean Cord Recording Principles & Technologies

April 11 and 12, 2014 | Pre-Columbian Workshop

Bringing the Pre-Columbian World to Life: The Scholar’s Role in Entertainment Media

February 6, 2014 | Pre-Columbian Public Lecture, John Pohl, UCLA

Ancient Central American and Colombian Art at Dumbarton Oaks

January 12 to 19, 2014 | Pre-Columbian Workshop


To Write or Knot: Recent Advances in the Study of Andean Knotted Cord Records

December 5, 2013 | Pre-Columbian Public Lecture, Gary Urton, Harvard University

Making Value, Making Meaning: Techné in the Pre-Columbian World

October 11–12, 2013 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Cathy L. Costin, Symposiarch

Wrinkle Face and Iguana: Companions to a Moche Epic

May 16, 2013 | Pre-Columbian Public Lecture, Christopher Donnan, University of California—Los Angeles

Theorizing the Wari Collapse

April 18, 2013 | Pre-Columbian Tertulia

Sacrificial Blood, Death and Rebirth in Pre-Columbian Mural Painting

March 15, 2013 | María Teresa Uriarte, Universidad Nacional Autonóma de México


The Measure and Meaning of Time in the Americas

October 5–6, 2012 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Anthony Aveni, Symposiarch


Conflict, Conquest, and the Performance of War in Pre-Columbian America

October 14–15, 2011 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Andrew Scherer and John Verano, Symposiarchs


Merchants, Trade, and Exchange in the Pre-Columbian World

October 8–9, 2010 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Kenneth G. Hirth, Symposiarch



Past Presented: A Symposium on the History of Archaeological Illustration

October 9–10, 2009 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Joanne Pillsbury, Symposiarch


Scripts, Signs, and Notational Systems in Pre-Columbian America

October 11–12, 2008 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Elizabeth Boone and Gary Urton, Symposiarchs


The Place of Sculpture in Mesoamerica’s Preclassic Transition: Context, Use, and Meaning

October 5–7, 2007 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, John Clark, Julia Guernsey, and Barbara Arroyo, Symposiarchs


Astronomers, Scribes, and Priests: Intellectual Interchange between the Northern Maya Lowlands and Highland Mexico in the Late Postclassic Period

October 6–7, 2006 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Gabrielle Vail and Christine Hernández, Symposiarchs


The Art of Urbanism: How Mesoamerican Cities Represented Themselves in Architecture and Imagery

October 7–8, 2005 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, William L. Fash and Leonardo López Luján, Symposiarchs


New Perspectives on Moche Political Organization

August 6–8, 2004 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Jeffrey Quilter, Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, and Andrés Alvarez Calderón Larco, Symposiarchs


Classic Veracruz: Cultural Currents in the Ancient Gulf Lowlands

October 11–12, 2003 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Philip Arnold Ⅲ, Christopher Pool, and Richard Diehl, Symposiarchs


En Niño, Catastrophism, and Culture Change in Ancient America

October 12–13, 2002 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Daniel H. Sandweiss and Jeffrey Quilter, Symposiarchs


A Pre-Columbian World: Searching for a Unitary Vision of Ancient America

October 6–7, 2001 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Mary Ellen Miller and Jeffrey Quilter, Symposiarchs


Pilgrimage and Ritual Landscape in America

October 7–8, 2000 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, John B. Carlson, Symposiarch



Gold and Power in Ancient Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia

October 9–10, 1999 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Jeffrey Quilter and John Hoopes, Symposiarchs


Ancient Palaces of the New World: Form, Function, and Meaning

October 10–11, 1998 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Susan T. Evans and Joanne Pillsbury, Symposiarchs


Variations in the Expression of Inka Power

October 18–19, 1997 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Ramiro Matos, Craig Morris, and Richard Burger, Symposiarchs


Recovering Gender in Pre-Hispanic America

October 12–13, 1996 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Cecilia Klein, Symposiarch


Archaeology of Formative Ecuador

October 7–8, 1995 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Richard Burger and J. Scott Raymond, Symposiarchs


Function and Meaning in Classic Maya Architecture

October 8–9, 1994 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Stephen Houston, Symposiarch


Social Identity, Ceremony, and Cosmology in Pre-Classic Mesoamerica

October 9–10, 1993 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, David Grove and Rosemary Joyce, Symposiarchs


Native Traditions in the Post-Conquest World

October 2–3, 1992 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Elizabeth Boone and Tom Cummins, Symposiarchs


Tombs for the Living: Andean Mortuary Practices

October 12–13, 1991 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Tom Dillehay, Symposiarch


Collecting the Pre-Columbian Past

October 6–7, 1990 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Elizabeth Boone, Symposiarch



On the Eve of the Collapse: Ancient Maya Societies in the Eighth Century, A.D.

October 7–8, 1989 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Jeremy Sabloff and John Henderson, Symposiarchs


Art, Polity, and the City of Teotihuacan

October 8–9, 1988 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Janet Berlo, Symposiarch


Wealth and Hierarchy in the Intermediate Area

October 10–11, 1987 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Frederick Lange, Symposiarch


Latin American Horizons

October 11–12, 1986 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Don Rice, Symposiarch


The Northern Dynasties: Kingship and Statecraft in Chimor

October 12–13, 1985 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Maria Rostworoski and Michael Moseley, Symposiarchs


The Southeastern Classic Maya Zone

October 6–7, 1984 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Gordon Willey, Symposiarch


The Aztec Templo Mayor

October 8–9, 1983 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, George Kubler and Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, Symposiarchs


Early Ceremonial Architecture in the Andes

October 8–9, 1982 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Christopher Donnan, Symposiarch


Painted Architecture and Polychrome Monumental Sculpture in Mesoamerica

October 10–11, 1981 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Donald Robertson and Elizabeth Boone, Symposiarchs


Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Mesoamerican Highland-Lowland Interaction

October 18–19, 1980 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Arthur Miller, Symposiarch



Ritual Sacrifice in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica

October 13–14, 1979 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Elizabeth P. Benson, Organizer


Falsifications and Misreconstructions of Pre-Columbian Art

October 14–15, 1978 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Elizabeth P. Benson, Director of Pre-Columbian Studies, Organizer


Art and Iconography of Late Post-Classic Central Mexico

October 22–23, 1977 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Elizabeth P. Benson, Director of Pre-Columbian Studies, Organizer, in collaboration with Elizabeth H. Boone


Mesoamerican Sites and World Views

October 16–17, 1976 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Elizabeth P. Benson, Director of Pre-Columbian Studies, Organizer


Pre-Columbian Metallurgy of South America

October 18–19, 1975 | Pre-Columbian  Symposium, Elizabeth P. Benson, Director of Pre-Columbian Studies, Organizer


The Sea in the Pre-Columbian World

October 26–27, 1974 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Elizabeth P. Benson, Director of Pre-Columbian Studies, Organizer


Death and the Afterlife in Pre-Columbian America

October 27–28, 1973 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Elizabeth P. Benson, Director of Pre-Columbian Studies, Organizer

The Junius B. Bird Conference on Pre-Columbian Textiles

May 19–20, 1973 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, given jointly with the Textile Museum, Elizabeth P. Benson, Director of Pre-Columbian Studies, Organizer, in collaboration with Ann Pollard Rowe and Anne-Louise Schaffer


Mesoamerican Writing Systems

October 30–31, 1971 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Elizabeth P. Benson, Director of Pre-Columbian Studies, Organizer


The Cult of the Feline: A Conference in Pre-Columbian Iconography

October 31–November 1, 1970 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Elizabeth P. Benson, Director of Pre-Columbian Studies, Organizer



Conference on Chavín

October 26–27, 1968 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Elizabeth P. Benson, Director of Pre-Columbian Studies, Organizer


Conference on the Olmec

October 28–29, 1967 | Pre-Columbian Symposium, Elizabeth P. Benson, Director of Pre-Columbian Studies, Organizer