August 9, 2005 Symposium on Writing and Iconography in Pre-Columbian World to Be Held on Sept. 10

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Special Events Office (202) 707-5218

Noted scholars will participate in a symposium on “Writing and Iconography in the Pre-Columbian World” from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10, in the Whittall Pavilion on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.

The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited and must be reserved up to 48 hours in advance by calling the Special Events Office, (202) 707-5218, or writing Please request Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodations and sign-language interpretation five days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or

The conference explores nonverbal communication among the indigenous peoples of the Americas prior to European contact in 1492. The The Hispanic Division, the John W. Kluge Center, The Rare Books and Special Collections Division, and the Interpretative Programs Office are sponsoring the symposium, which will include a tour of “The Cultures and History of the Americas” exhibit led by curator Arthur Dunkelman. The exhibition highlights treasures of the Jay I. Kislak Collection, and is scheduled to close on Sept. 24.

The morning session will examine interpretations of Pre-Columbian codices, Peruvian pottery and Maya inscriptions. Participants will include John Pohl, the Peter Jay Sharp curator and lecturer in the art of the ancient Americas, University Art Museum, Princeton University; Joanne Pillsbury, director of the Pre-Columbian Studies Program, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collections, Harvard University; and Bryan Just, Department of Art History, Tulane University.

Following the lunch break, Arthur Dunkelman will lead a special curator’s tour of “The Cultures and History of the Americas.” The exhibition features 50 highlights from the more than 4,000 rare books, maps, documents, paintings, prints and artifacts that comprise the Jay I. Kislak Collection at the Library of Congress.

The afternoon session will examine interpretations of ceramic inscriptions in both Peru and Mexico and the knotted cords known as quipu during the Inca Empire in South America. Participants will include Anita Cook, Department of Anthropology, Catholic University; John Carlson, director, Center for Archaeoastronomy, University of Maryland, and Kislak Fellow in American Studies, Library of Congress; and William Conklin, research associate, Textile Museum.

Elizabeth P. Benson, Institute of Andean Studies, University of California, Berkeley, and former director of Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, will close the symposium with her summation of the day’s contributions.


PR 05-169
ISSN 0731-3527