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Pre-Columbian Studies

The Pre-Columbian Studies program at Dumbarton Oaks was founded in 1963 to support the study of the art and archaeology of the ancient Americas. This research encompasses cultures that thrived in the western hemisphere from northern Mexico to southern South America, from the earliest times to the sixteenth century.

Scholarly Activities

Pre-Columbian Studies offers a range of scholarly programming, including annual symposia and colloquia, public lectures, and workshops. View upcoming and past activities, and watch recordings of selected recent 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


Fellowships and Awards

Support comes in many forms through a variety of our programs, tailored to fit the individual needs of senior scholars, midcareer researchers, dissertation writers, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates.

Fellowship Opportunities

Research Fellowships are available to scholars with a terminal degree (Fellowships); to degree candidates who have fulfilled all preliminary requirements for a terminal degree (Junior Fellowships); or to scholars beyond the first year of graduate school (Summer Fellowships). The Flora Clancy Summer Fellowship in Maya Studies for Latin American Researchers is for scholars on any level of advancement beyond the first year of graduate study (post-Licenciatura) who are academically based in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, or El Salvador. Apply by November 1.

Short-Term Opportunities

Several opportunities are available to students and scholars at all levels, ranging from symposia travel awards, 2–4 week predoctoral residencies, and one-month research awards.

Project Grants

Project grants primarily support archaeological investigation, as well as for the recovery, recording, and analysis of materials that would otherwise be lost. Pre-Columbian project awards are intended only to survey, excavate, and/or document sites, landscapes, or objects that are in imminent danger. Apply by November 1.

Resources for Pre-Columbianists

View AllResources for Pre-Columbianists

Olmec Art at Dumbarton Oaks

Originally published in 2004, Olmec Art at Dumbarton Oaks presents the Olmec portion of the Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art. This revised digital edition features new object photography, four new catalogue entries, an expanded introductory essay, and an updated bibliography.

Moche Iconography

The Moche Archive has formed the basis of a body of scholarly work that, in combination with the archaeological record, advances an understanding of the Moche world, including the rites, rituals, flora, fauna, foodways, and practices of this ancient Peruvian culture.

Pre-Columbian Online Exhibits

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Apr 29, 2015

Capturing Warfare: Enemies and Allies in the Pre-Columbian World

This exhibition highlights two representations of warfare in pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica and the Andes, Moche fineline drawings and Lienzo de Quauhquechollan, cartographic histories recounting the conquest of Guatemala.
Jul 16, 2015

Past and Present: Views of Maya Monuments

This interactive exhibition matches ten lithographed plates of Maya monuments from Frederick Catherwood’s 1844 “Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan” with contemporary photographs by Jay A. Frogel to show the passage of time.
Oct 03, 2012

The Ancient Future: Mesoamerican and Andean Timekeeping

The Aztec, Maya, and Inca civilizations used complex and multiple timekeeping systems for purposes of agriculture, worship, and political authority. This exhibition shares information on the calendars of each of these cultures.