April 2, 2009 Michael D. Coe To Present Biennial Kislak Lecture on April 29

Press Contact: Erin Allen (202) 707-7302
Public Contact: Barbara A. Tenenbaum (202) 707-4298

Anthropologist Michael D. Coe, one of the foremost experts in Mesoamerican archaeology, will deliver the third biennial Jay I. Kislak lecture titled “The Kislak Oyohualli Pendant—Eroticism and War Among the Toltecs” at the Library of Congress on Wednesday, April 29, at 7 p.m., in the Coolidge Auditorium on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St., S.E., Washington, D.C.

Sponsored by the Library’s John W. Kluge Center, Hispanic Division and Rare Book and Special Collections Division, the lecture is free and open to the public. No tickets or reservations are required.

In his lecture, Coe will explain why the Toltecs incised a beautiful scene of marching warriors on this largest example of a known Toltec shell pendant or oyohualli, a symbol usually associated with eroticism and the arts. He will also examine how such a strange mixture of war themes and sexuality is also found at Chichen Itza in Yucatan, recently named “one of the seven wonders of the Modern World.”

Coe holds the chair of Charles J. MacCurdy Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus, at Yale University, and is curator emeritus of the anthropology collection of the Peabody Museum of Natural History, where he was curator from 1968 to 1994. His book, “Breaking the Maya Code” (1992), was the basis for a PBS documentary of the same name.

His other books include “The Maya” (now in its seventh edition), “In the Land of the Olmecs” with Richard A. Diehl (1980), “The Art of the Maya Scribe” with Justin Kerr (1998), “The True History of Chocolate” with his late wife Sophie D. Coe (1996), “Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs” (now in its sixth edition) and “Angkor and the Khmer Civilization” (2003).

Coe is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has received the Tatiana Proskouriakoff Award from Harvard University, the Order of Quetzal from the Republic of Guatemala and the Orden del Pop from the Museo Popol Vuh, at the Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala City.

The third Kislak lecture is a component of the Kislak American Studies Program established at the Library of Congress in 2004 by the Jay. I. Kislak Foundation. The first Kislak lecture, titled “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,” was given by Jared Diamond. The second lecture, titled “Re-Thinking Conquest: Spanish and Native Experiences in the Americas,” was given by Felipe Fernández-Armesto.

In addition to the biennial lecture series, the Kislak gift includes an important collection of books, manuscripts, historic documents, maps and art of the Americas. It contains some of the earliest records of indigenous peoples in North America, as well as superb objects from the discovery, contact and colonial periods, especially for the areas of Florida, the Caribbean and Mesoamerica. A permanent rotating exhibit of the Kislak Collection, "Exploring the Early Americas,” opened in December 2007. Currently featured in the exhibition is the shell pendant. For more information, visit myloc.gov/Exhibitions/EarlyAmericas/.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, is the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may also be accessed through the Library’s Web site at www.loc.gov and via interactive exhibitions on a new, personalized Web site at myLOC.gov.


PR 09-064
ISSN 0731-3527