March 7, 2006 John Carlson, Kislak Fellow in American Studies, to Speak on March 16

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Robert Saladini (202) 707-2692

John Carlson, Kislak Fellow in American Studies, will give a lecture titled “Ancient Maya Flasks and Miniature Vessels: The Message on the Bottle,” at the Library of Congress at 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 16, in Room 119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.

The event, which is sponsored by the Library’s John W. Kluge Center, is free and open to the public; no reservations are required.

According to Carlson, archaeologists have occasionally found small, fine, decorated clay bottles and miniature vessels that have often been imaginatively called “poison bottles” or “pilgrim flasks” all across the ancient Maya region. The bottles come in a wide variety of shapes and decorations with previously undeciphered hieroglyphic inscriptions and images ranging from warfare, sacrifice, Maya ball games, and other scenes. Never studied before as a group, the objects have remained a persistent mystery, until some recent discoveries in the field.

In his presentation, Carlson will share the findings of his research on these ancient bottles that he conducted while using the Library’s Jay I. Kislak Foundation collection, an important repository of books, manuscripts, historic documents, maps and art of the Americas.

Carlson, director of the Center for Archaeoastronomy in College Park, Md., is the first Kislak Fellow to be named at the Library of Congress. Both the endowment of the Kislak Fellowship and the gift of the Jay I. Kislak Collection were made possible in 2004 by the Jay I. Kislak Foundation of Miami Lakes, Fla. For more information about the Kislak Fellowship visit the Web at

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000. The center brings leading scholars together with key Washington policymakers to discuss important world issues, drawing on the Library’s incomparable national and international collections. For information about the fellowships, grants and programs offered by the Kluge Center, visit


PR 06-055
ISSN 0731-3527