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Richard Fraser Townsend

Oral History Phone Interview with Richard Fraser Townsend, undertaken by telephone by Alyce de Carteret on August 24, 2010. At Dumbarton Oaks, Richard Townsend was a Bliss Fellow (1978–1979) and a Senior Fellow (1989–1994) of Pre-Columbian Studies.

AC: Good afternoon, I’m Alyce de Carteret; today is Tuesday August 24th, 2010. And, I have the pleasure of speaking with Richard Townsend, joining me today by phone from Chicago. Dr. Townsend is currently chairman of the Department of African Art and Indian Art of the Americas at the Art Institute of Chicago and was formerly a Bliss Fellow and Senior Fellow in Pre-Columbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks. Thank you so much for joining me today.

RT: I’m delighted. I’m delighted to participate.

AC: Thank you so much. So just to begin, how did you first come to know about Dumbarton Oaks, and what were your initial impressions of the institution?

RT: Well, I came to know it while in graduate school at Harvard actually, and it was just suggested that I go there for a period of research. Eventually, I had finished a dissertation in 1975, then was teaching in the University of Texas, and so after three years of teaching I decided to take them up on that thought. The initial impressions of the institution were that it was really quite wonderful, with all kinds of resources, etc. And of course the Museum was very inspiring to walk around. So all in all, it was very positive and also quite wonderful to meet all the different scholars, not only in pre-Columbian art, but in the landscape and classical fields as well, Byzantine Studies that is.

AC: And so there was a lot of interaction between the different groups when you were there as a Fellow?

RT: I think so. I certainly got some very good information from one of the Byzantine Fellows that was very valuable in dealing with an issue that I was trying to solve in describing the structure of ideologies and characterizing that of the pre-Columbian world versus the Christian medieval world. And so, I read some of his material and had a chance to talk to him. And I believe prior to that I’d also before the year at Dumbarton Oaks met John Row, but I think that’s an issue we’ll come to a little bit later, right?

AC: Right. So you were actually one of the earlier fellows to take residence at Dumbarton Oaks in Pre-Columbian Studies. What was it like being a fellow at Dumbarton Oaks in those earlier days?

RT: Well everything – well it was totally enjoyable of course, and I shared a desk or a large table with Alan Kolata, who was just finishing up some early fieldwork in Peru. I had not known him at graduate school, but we became friends and colleagues. So that was a very positive aspect of the work. And it was very enabling to begin to get a greater sense of an underlying structure of ideas or worldviews that is very similar in the Andean and Mesoamerican and North American fields. It’s a theme that I’ve continued to work with in various ways. Taking into account of course that there’s so many different variants and that each kind of culture has its own iconography, it’s own imagery, but they appear to share something very old and very ancient at the base of it all.

AC: And so Alan Kolata works in Andean Studies –?

RT: In Andean Studies. He is at the University of Chicago, so we’ve remained colleagues ever since.

The physical facilities in those early days were a bit cramped. Perhaps they still are. Nevertheless, they had everything there that I certainly needed. And so it was a very, very positive experience.

AC: And you were working – was that down in the basement those days?

RT: Yes it was in the basement. So it was very much a basement that – it was adapted. I was used to that because the Peabody at Harvard was kind of like that too if not more antiquated still. Anyway, I expect things are much more ordered in these days.

Betty Benson was heading the department at that time and she was of course was very helpful and very supportive – and was instrumental in getting the thesis that I had written back in 1975 and submitted to Dumbarton Oaks actually published in that year, 1979 I believe it was.

AC: Was that The State and Cosmos?

RT: State and Cosmos, yes. It had been written before I actually went there, but it was published that year. And the research that I did at Dumbarton Oaks involved another mayor site called Ritual Hill of Texcotzingo and related sites in the valley of Mexico, Aztec sites for which there is a lot of documentation.

AC: Well, Joanne Pillsbury mentioned to me today actually that your State and Cosmos volume is still one of the best selling books that Dumbarton Oaks has published, and I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit more about that project and how you came to publish it with Dumbarton Oaks.

RT: Well it originated – the core of the idea originated in the only lecture course that the celebrated Tatiana Proskuriakova gave as a lecture at the Fogg Art Museum, although she was really associated with the Peabody. But she came over to the Fogg, and I was an art history student with an interest of course, special interest in pre-Columbian art. And they were taking a chance on me at the Fogg at that time, as they’d never had anything quite as rarified or anomalous as that in their regular program. But I had a very good sponsor – his name was John Rosenfield who said, “Look, come study at the Fogg, take all the courses you can, study as broadly as you can, and then go over to the Peabody and see how that applies,” since in those days there were only one or two other art historians in the United States who really dealt with it. Everything else was straight anthropology, and nobody really did iconography or stylistic studies or anything like that. So anyway, Proskuriakova came over there, and she gave a course called Cosmic Themes in Mesoamerican Art. And I was very taken with that idea because it kind of broke a whole new field – looking at the integration of society and nature in the pre-Columbian world as a basic idea – and it kind of had the implications that one should be looking more at landscape and the natural cycle and the deification of those forces and phenomena rather than gods in a kind of more anthropomorphic sense, if you know what I mean. So based on that I chose to go to the Aztec sources, which of course are very ample – an extraordinary amount of documentation. And so, then began to work out how this theory might really apply. It might actually be expressed in the iconographic and stylistic systems of the Aztecs, using all their written sources and so forth. So that was the project, and I went to Mexico spent a year looking at the various sculptures, hung out at the museum, traveling around, and so forth. And so, I came back and wrote the thesis, which resulted in that book that you just mentioned. But it was kind of innovative at that time and sort of set out a new course of inquiry for scholars interested in these kinds of matters.

AC: And how did that come to be a Dumbarton Oaks volume?

RT: Well, I believe it was after I had written the thesis and it was all accepted and packaged. By that time I was teaching at the University of Texas, but she said and Gordon Willey concurred that it should be submitted to Dumbarton Oaks as a volume, as a possible publication. But, they didn’t get around to really editing it or looking at it until some three or four years later when I actually turned up there as a scholar. Things were kind of backed up; there wasn’t much of a support staff.

AC: Jumping back a little bit to your time as a fellow. Can you tell me a little bit about what the academic and social life of a fellow was like? Were you going to dinners? Were you attending talks?

RT: Social life was kind of toned down and modest. But, I think I did make, as I mentioned – Alan Kolata and I believe Flora Clancy was there too at the same time. I made some friends and really did enjoy talking to the Byzatinists and even a couple of the Landscape people, certainly attending their annual programs where each department in those days had its own annual meeting. I guess that still goes on. That was very instructive and certainly, it was a very a positive experience, very convivial. And in the months that it was possible to use the pool that was also a great gathering place and a source of relaxation – just informal talking with people that helped to make a kind of relaxed form of communication. Not too many people were just talking footnotes to each other all the time, if you know what I mean.

AC: So, moving to the more formal aspect of Dumbarton Oaks. How would you characterize the experience of attending a Dumbarton Oaks symposium, and were there any symposia that you found successful or unsuccessful?

RT: Well the symposia were all really very interesting. I actually remember a symposium in which the mechanism of a PowerPoint was first displayed as a novelty and as this thing of the future. Everyone was, I guess, not really quite understanding what its sole potential would be, but I think there was some disappointment in the quality of the image – the images seemed a little bit more reduced and a little bit less ample and a colorful than the old dual slide comparison. But all of that is a mere technical footnote since everything is now PowerPoint – that’s all gone.

The three symposia that I attended – and I attended others from time to time, although there’s been some time since I’ve been back there – are always immensely interesting. Although at times a little bit too technical archeologically than maybe would be to my personal tastes. I’d like to see a little bit – I suggested it at one point – and I’ve forgotten who was in charge then, I guess it was by the time Elizabeth Boone, who had already become the Director there – I suggested why don’t we branch out and have an occasional symposium that deals with North America, the Southwest, or the Midwest, or even the Amazon basin.  But I think that the general consensus of scholars working there is the thought that that was getting to far afield and that all of those fields had their own symposia and so we ought to really keep it to Mesoamerica and the Andes, largely speaking. But I still think, I’m absolutely convinced that, – as my researches have taken up the old Mississippian and the Hopewellian cultures of North America and the Southwest and their corollary out in the Great Planes and so forth – I really think that from time to time to enlighten scholars from these other areas would be adventurous and very beneficial. Because as I mentioned in the early part of our interview here, there is so much of a shared underpinning, it’s really quite remarkable. And I believe that it would lead to some more adventurous scholarship. So that’s a continued recommendation from yours truly here.

AC: Elizabeth Boone was also responsible for taking some symposia into the Colonial Period, especially the symposium in 1992 for the quincentennial.  Is that something that you also think Dumbarton Oaks should be expanding into, into the Colonial Period?

RT: Well, I think so. I think that would be a vey important thing to do, again from time to time. Since we do deal with continuities and discontinuities and the ethnographic record already since the time I was there – what with Evon Vogt’s discoveries down in Chiapas and Zinacantan and Sebastian’s book The Mountain of the Condor in South America – already you could see that there was a great deal more that came through the Colonial Period than was imagined at the time. It was imagined that everything had been pretty well thoroughly Christianized, although there would be this and that that had survived here and there, but lo and behold massive amounts of it, of the ancient world, still abound – that goes for North America certainly as well. So yes, I think a little bit of that would free up the curriculum there, and would help people’s imagination to not only reach out to different areas but to go deeper in time in order to account for some of these contra similarities and correspondences that are so striking through up and down the continents. And that, by the way, have some very striking continuities or relationships with old Asia, pre-Buddhist Asia.

AC: Where you able to attend any of the off-site symposia, in Mexico City for example?

RT: Say the name again?

AC: The symposia that took place away from Dumbarton Oaks.

RT: No, I was not able to do that. I didn’t attend that one, unfortunately. Since coming to the Museum – I’ll tell you, the pace of obligations here and the travel budgets are such that it’s not quite as regular and customary for everyone to go to the academic symposia as when one is teaching on the university level. Since we have to do a lot of traveling in putting together exhibitions – viewing collections public and private, and interviewing people, getting other scholars to participate in these exhibitions and so forth – that attending symposia, academic symposia in a kind of religious and regular way as one would do normally in a teaching situation, it just really isn’t possible from a financial point of view and from the point of view of just work time in view of the kind of press of obligations that one has at a place like this. We don’t even get, you know, the customary three months off during the summer either, so you have to carry on your research and writing and so forth at the same time as performing a lot of academic and a lot of administrative duties. It’s kind of a bit of a different world.

AC: Back when you were here in the late eighties you – I read some correspondence between you and Elizabeth Boone about the possibility of Dumbarton Oaks sponsoring some fieldwork. And, I think this was the Mount Tlaloc Temple survey project? I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about this.

RT: I had very much become interested in Mount Tlaloc as an extension of the landscape and symbol theme that had developed out of the State and Cosmos book. And so I was very much interested in mapping the site, having already done some fieldwork at the Ritual Hill of Texcotzingo. And all of this was to try to deepen the idea and understanding of how the features of the landscape where perceived and deified to some degree and how the cycle of the seasons were addressed ritually. And all that transpired in engaging the ceremonial cycle and therefore the economic cycle to the natural environment. And so, I corresponded to try to get some funds to carry out the mapping project, and I’d hoped to do an excavation project as a result of that. In any rate, we did do a mapping project with Felipe Solis and others, members INA in Mexico City. Felipe Solis being – now, unfortunately just died – the Director of the National Museum of Anthropology – he was not the director at the time we went up to Mount Tlaloc. We went there. Mapped it, but then it turned out that Felipe didn’t really want to publish that map until I could finance a mayor excavation project out there, which is something that I could not manage to do here at the Art Institute due to all kinds of projects and reasons. I discussed it with our formal director James Wood, but he thought that that was really outside the bounds of what the museum could legitimately fund. And so the project languished, the map was made, but I could never get Felipe to actually publish it, and so it was never published. And so it remains a kind of open project although I was able to sketch the idea of the place and to use some areal photographs that I took in a Thames and Hudson book on the Aztecs that’s now, I think, in the third edition. So it has not altogether vanished as a project. But I think it would be a wonderful thing to be able to actually excavate that some day because I think that it’s a much older temple than the Aztecs and the cult of that place goes back to Teotihuacán and even earlier based on some pot shards that turned up just in surface gatherings when we were up there. So it’s remained an inconclusive aspect of my work in Mexico.

AC: And where in Mexico is that Mount Tlaloc?

RT: Mount Tlaloc is in the same mountain range – east of the Valley of Mexico, it defines the eastern borders of the Valley of Mexico – where the two famous volcanoes are Popocatepetl on the southernmost reaches, then Iztaccihuatl, you know, The White Woman. And the range continues due north, pointing towards the arm of the Valley of Mexico that has Teotihuacán. So this is the mountain range where all the great thunderstorms form during the summer season, and Mt. Tlaloc is just in that stretch between Iztaccihualt and where the range eventually peters out, and its about 13,000 feet or something like that maybe twelve. And up on top of that is the precinct of the temples of Tlaloc were the Aztec emperors and other allied kings of the valley would go every year at the height of the dry season to make offerings and prayers and sacrifices and so forth and to call forth water from within the mountain. And of course within a month or so that actually begins to happen due to the shift of warm air in early June that begins to come in, flow in from the gulf of Mexico or from the Pacific. And that air when it reaches the highlands, it begins to – sort of rises during the day, in the heat of the day, and then it condenses at the top of the high peaks. So it looks like the mountains themselves are generating these colossal thunderstorms that by mid-afternoon sweep down across the valley everything turns green within a couple of weeks at the beginning of the rainy season. So it’s a major sign of seasonal change.

AC: And what kind of role did Dumbarton Oaks have in this project? Was it simply funding or did they have some control over it?

RT: It was really funding, I guess. And of course the idea was to try to get it published there once finished. But I believe that Felipe wanted something much more ambitious to take place. And so I wasn’t in a position to raise such money or to get the time to do it, and so it languished. I haven’t heard of any further action in Mexico to resume that project although I thought I was a great one because it would have really pointed to the antiquity of that whole custom in central highland Mexico.

AC: At Dumbarton – oh, I’m sorry where you –?

RT: No that’s about it. So, I sketched it in a more popular book as I mentioned a moment ago, The Aztecs, but the deep-seated realization of it all with excavations and all that, is something that remains to be done.

AC: I’ve heard that Dumbarton Oaks has some funding for salvage archeology projects, but other than that doesn’t really fund fieldwork. Was this more common back in the 1980s, for Dumbarton Oaks to be funding fieldwork?

RT: No, I think it was – it was just applied for and discussed under the existing regime. I don’t know. Since it didn’t really reach that point of being anything other than a survey, you know, a mapping expedition, it didn’t reach a point of mayor debate. Am I clear? Am I speaking clearly on that? Does Dumbarton Oaks still do funds for savage work and things like that?

AC: I believe so, but other than that I’ve heard there’s practically no funding for fieldwork.

RT: Yes, I think that was largely the case then, but I thought I’d give it a try.

AC: So, you’ve mentioned both working with Betty Benson and Elizabeth Boone, and I was wondering if you could tell me a little about how the different directors and curators of the pre-Columbian program impacted the programe, and how would you characterize their directorships.

RT: Well, Betty was still there from ancient times and had always the most courteous and well-intentioned attitude towards everyone – and worked as best she could, but she had, I think, fairly limited help. And so, she did all the administrative stuff plus edit and plus the publications back in those days. She was already I think considering retiring. So, she’s remained a friend. Elizabeth Boone, whom I had known at the University of Texas – she was still a graduate student when I was down there teaching with all my radical ideas about landscape. She already had a thesis adviser, so I was never a thesis adviser, but she took some courses and we were friends and continued to be friends. But when Betty eventually retired, Elizabeth applied for the job – I think I was in Peru that year – and Gordon Willey, who was then the chairman of the Anthropology Department at Harvard, was very taken with her general preparation and her ability and her willingness to, I would say, work with him and the senior staff at the Peabody without getting off unto an ideological limb of her own. Alan Kolata had also interviewed for the job. And actually, as I remember now, I had interviewed for the job too, I was just still teaching at the University of Texas. But, she was the best choice, and I don’t know who else they interviewed. But she had all the poise and charm and also spoke Spanish very well and of course is an accomplished scholar. I think that she had a much deeper preparation in the field than Betty had to begin with. So she was a very good choice in the end.

AC: Did you have to apply for that position? Or is that something where the Senior Advisory Committee came up with a few names?

RT: You know, I can’t quite remember. I do remember talking to Gordon Willey in his office about it and Alan was also being interviewed that same day; we were kind of competing with each other so to speak. But I don’t really quite remember how it all came about or how they had asked us to be interviewed. So I can’t accurately reconstruct it to tell you the truth and I don’t know who else, besides us and Elizabeth, they interviewed. I believe they had maybe two or a couple of others at least. But they were trying to get someone who had an art history background and who wouldn’t be just a field archeologist. I believe that was one of the main issues that they were trying for. They wanted to keep it in a field so it would not just become another archeology symposium.

AC: So, let’s bring this to your time here as a Senior Fellow? What were your responsibilities as a Senior Fellow and how would you describe the atmosphere of those meetings?

RT: Yes, that year – wait a minute maybe it was more than one year. I think maybe it was two years obligation, am I right on that?

AC: As a Senior Fellow?

RT: Yes.

AC: I think they elect for three –

RT: Maybe it was three years, OK. That was very instructive and I hope I made the kind of contributions that I should have there. Anyway, we would come – I remember getting a pile of about fifty papers to read through and sorting through them with outright rejects and then a smaller pile of about twenty possibles and another out of which we had to select ten and then ultimately boil it down to about six in our meetings. So, it was very tough doing all of that. But in the end, I thought that everyone who participated in those discussions, the other scholars who came to evaluate the applications, were all very conscientious and willing to hear other people’s ideas and evaluations, and ready to give someone a break who was not exactly in their field and they may not have understood the implications of their argument and so forth. So it was – Richard Burger I remember particularly was very, very good and very fair in his evaluations, and John Rowe also – he was there, I believe, for one, possibly two of the years – in assessing these applications from a very common sense and broadly educated point of view. So, I thought that was a very positive experience. And people did try to make an effort at getting the right type of balance in applications between more or less straight archeologists, who nevertheless were the preponderant body of applications, and others who were more art historically inclined.

AC: Were there any memorable sessions or decisions that were made while you were on the board that stick out in your memory?

RT: I can’t really think of anything that was to my mind going to critically change the field, if you see what I mean. But all very good, there was a lot of work being done in the Maya area, and the Olmec area, also the Andes. So much of it was really new to me, so that the discussions of the other scholars, especially in those fields, was very illuminating. Many of them I just didn’t have that much of a background to evaluate how original or how thorough the proposals really were. But, I did always have the impression of – this we alluded to a moment when we were just beginning the interview here – while the tendency to get deeper and deeper into a specific site or a group of sites was always very strong and dominant, I always felt the urge to find someone who’d be willing to carve out new territory, i.e., look at the Amazon, or look at the South West, or look at the Ancient Midwest, or something like that. So, that was always a factor in my imagination and continues to be.

AC: Elizabeth Boone I think stepped down close to when you were finishing your term on the Senior Fellows Committee. Did the committee discuss at all her replacement or have any sort of process for figuring who would succeed her? Were you there when the decision was happening?

RT: I think Elizabeth Boone stepped down quite a bit after I was there on the evaluation committee. Can you remember what the date was when she stepped down?

AC: I think she announced she would resign around 1994.

RT: I don’t recall ever having anything to do with who would replace her at all. Was that your question?

AC: Yes, I was just wondering if that had come up while you were at the committee or not.

RT: No, no. I think she was really going strong and had been there for some time. How long had she been there? A decade, twelve years, something like that?

AC: Yes, close to fourteen years.

RT: Fourteen, yes. But I had nothing really to do with what has evolved since then.

AC: And so, you mentioned earlier getting to know people like John H. Rowe for example, who is unfortunately no longer here and cannot take part in this project. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about him if you know about his involvement with Dumbarton Oaks at all?

RT: Well, I assumed that his involvement with Dumbarton Oaks really just simply came about as a result of his immanence in the Andean field and just simply the need of Dumbarton Oaks to call on immanent scholars – particularly someone like John Rowe – who would help to further the aims of the institution. I had become somewhat familiar with his work because of spending a year in Peru in 1964 and had read a number of his articles during that year of work and travel, particularly in the highlands around the Cuzco area. I was very much interested in regional dress at that time – what all the Indian communities wore and how different it was in different parts of the highlands, and what kind of composite of costume it really was from colonial times to more recent times. So, that involved beginning to get to know something about the very long and distinguished history of weaving and textiles in Peru, and so that lead me to some of the work of John Rowe. So, I was very much looking forward to meeting him during the year I was there. He was ever courteous and very helpful. And I think I mentioned in our conversation earlier, he was very fair and extremely anxious to help younger scholars in the field and so forth. So my experience with John Rowe was of a scholar with all kinds of this wonderful fieldwork and background and history and depth in the field. And also someone who had an enlightened attitude towards fellow scholars and younger people and he was not at all, how should I say, a dictator or some tyrannical character. Like many of the senior scholars that I’ve met either at Harvard or Dumbarton Oaks, and some from Yale, and other people who came from other institutions, the whole thing was immensely positive and contributed a very great deal.

AC: You mentioned earlier Gordon Willey and Tatiana Proskuriakova. Did you get to know them at all in the context of Dumbarton Oaks or ever hear about their involvement with the institution?

RT: No, my involvement with them was prior to going to Dumbarton Oaks, and it was they who steered me to go to Dumbarton Oaks. They made me aware of it, as a place of some kind of future research, scholarship for me somewhere down the line. And it was Tatiana Proskuriakova who recommended that the dissertation that I wrote be published at Dumbarton Oaks, so it all came from them to Dumbarton Oaks. Other people who were very helpful were Evon Vogt, whom I had taken a couple of courses with. He had done his work not only in the Southwest in the Maya area – and at the Fogg people like John Rosenflied also Mr. Ackerman and Oleg Grabar in the Islamic field, were – Grabar and Ackerman were more distantly aware of Dumbarton Oaks, but all in all the collegiality of these people was very helpful to me and in understanding my kind of place in these kinds of academic adventures. I don’t know if that expresses anything?

AC: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

RT: They were all very, I think, anxious to find people who maybe hadn’t come from utterly orthodox sources and backgrounds, such as I did from our project in Mexico. And so many of my fellow students, graduate students – and this continued at Dumbarton Oaks – were people that had spent a year or couple of years traveling to Mongolia or Afghanistan, you know before the troubles, and various parts of the world like that. Although there were plenty who’d come straight up the latter of mayor universities and were very adept players in that world too. But it was very interesting to get this kind of support from people who could see other possibilities of the imagination.

AC: And while you were at Dumbarton Oaks, did you have a chance to get to know some of the overall directors like Giles Constable and Robert Thomson?

RT: Well, Constable was the only one that I really remember. He was a very enthusiastic character and very positive and wanting to get at that time Dumbarton Oaks – there was some sort of an attitude that it had drifted off into a self-sufficient world of its own, away from the main line faculty at Harvard, and that it was time to kind of reign things back in somehow and get along more established, I suppose, administrative lines. And so, Giles Constable was brought in, although he was not, I don’t think, from any one of the fields of Dumbarton Oaks, he was an adept administrator and a very positive character. He did a great deal to try to bring an antiquated administrative body – still somewhat anchored in the old days of the Blisses – more in line with what Harvard required. He was a very agreeable guy, very positive and had us all come to his house and give ideas and have discussions from time to time. And so, there was nothing at all remote about him.

AC: And you didn’t get to know Angeliki Laiou or Robert Thompson later when you were a Senior Fellow?

RT: Angeliki, a little bit, yeah. She also seemed a more, you know, a very enlightened person. I don’t remember the third person that you mentioned. But Angeliki brought all that knowledge of the Mediterranean world to the floor. I suppose the pre-Columbianists are always a little bit worried that they are going to get short-changed, being somewhat of a – in art historical circles – always subordinated to the Old World. But I think she did her best to be as fair as possible. She was another attractive and very positive person certainly. Rather different from Giles, obviously, but I had no reason to view her administration in anything other than but positive terms.

AC: So, I guess we are getting ready to rap up, and I just have some final questions so that I don’t take up too much of your time. The first of these broader, final questions is how do you think the field of Pre-Columbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks has grown and changed since you were first became involved with the institution?

RT: I think it’s just become much more inclusive. Back then, there was the debate as to whether it should be opened out more towards standard archeologists or not, if you can believe that. Feeling that they would dominate it excessively, I think it’s largely successful in embracing a number of, sort of, sub-disciplines that we’ve talked about in this interview. But I would like to see a little bit more adventure in both North and South in related fields from time to time as well as the Colonial fields that you touched on. I think that would engender some more global thinking and perhaps trace out historical relationships between these areas and very deep historical ones going all the way back to migration times.

AC: And you just touched on this a little bit, but my second broader question was what role would you like to see Dumbarton Oaks play in the future or where should it expand, what should it do?

RT: I think this is central to the point that I just made a moment ago. Just be a little less concentrated in one area, although there are many scholars now in each of these areas. But I think, just from time to time, something that would bring together people who do work – people who may have a background in Mesoamerica or the Andes but have also reached out or had conversations with scholars in these other areas of the continent and to bring them into conferences. I believe that would lead to some very interesting breakthroughs.

AC: Is there anything you’d like to add before we finish up or any stories you’d like to tell.

RT: [Laughs] Well, I look upon it as a really great place and one can think of endless anecdotes and stories, but I think I’ll pass for now. All in all, I have great hopes that it will go in some of the directions that we’ve discussed here.

AC: Well thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with us today.

RT: I’m delighted to do so and will be delighted to continue to be of help if that’s ever an issue. So don’t hesitate to call up.

AC: Thank you.

RT: You’re very welcome.