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Scholarly Activities in Pre-Columbian Studies

Awards for Students

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

Upcoming Events

Missionary Manuscripts Summer Workshop

June 3-14, 2024 | Princeton University Library, Dumbarton Oaks, and Library of Congress

Pre-Columbian Symposium

October 4–5, 2024 | Alicia Boswell, Gabriel Prieto, and Lisa Trever, Organizers

Past Events



Royal Inca Tunic: A Biography of an Ancient Andean Masterpiece

May 2, 2024 | Pre-Columbian Public Lecture with Andrew Hamilton

The Social Domains of Maya Ceramic Texts

March 1–2, 2024 | Pre-Columbian Studies Roundtable; Joanne Baron and Frauke Sachse, Organizers


Elegant in Life, Ambiguous in Death: A High-Status Mummy from Northern Coastal Peru

December 7, 2023 | Pre-Columbian Public Lecture with John Verano

Out of the Shadows: The Beginnings of South American Civilization

October 6–7, 2023 | Pre-Columbian Symposium; Tom D. Dillehay and Eduardo Neves, Organizers

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

September 28, 2023 | Pre-Columbian Public Lecture with Elizabeth Hill Boone

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 with Frank Salomon


Rulers from the West: Teotihuacan in Maya History and Politics

December 1, 2022 | Pre-Columbian Public Lecture with 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 with 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 with 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 with Marcello Canuto

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

July 21, 2021 | Hidden Landscapes of the Past | Interdisciplinary Lecture with 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 with Jarrod Burks

New Light under the Amazon Forest

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

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

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

The Garden City of Greater Angkor: Insights from Remote Sensing

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

Olmec and Maya Ceremonial Landscape Revealed through LiDAR

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