August 28, 2018 Indigenous Inca, Taíno, Maya & Nahua Legacies Featured in Gallery Talks

Press Contact: Benny Seda-Galarza (202) 707-8732
Public Contact: John Hessler (202) 707-7223
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This fall, the Library of Congress will present a series of four gallery talks in the exhibit “Exploring the Early Americas.” The talks will focus on the everyday lives of the indigenous people of the ancient Americas and the newly developing connection between archaeology and neuroscience.

Starting in September, lectures will be held monthly through December on Wednesdays from noon to 1 p.m. in the gallery of the exhibition on the second floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E. The talks are free and open to the public. The series will be presented by John Hessler, curator of the Jay I. Kislak Collection of Archaeology of the Early Americas.  

Considering the limited information that has survived in the archaeological record, Hessler will look at the challenges of understanding the daily lives of the pre-Columbian peoples of the Taino, Inca, Nahua and the Maya.

Using artifacts from the collections of the Library of Congress, Hessler will discuss what utilitarian objects say about these cultures as they went about their daily routines, and highlight how these ancient people engaged both physically and mentally with the natural and social worlds they inhabited.

Hessler, who also is a university lecturer, teaching cognitive archaeology and neuroscience, will also discuss how our historical immersion in a world of objects has shaped our perceptions of living.

Additionally, he will expand on what the new research in neuroscience is telling us about how our day-to-day engagement with things deeply informs how we think and perceive the world around us.

Gallery Talks Schedule
Located in the Exploring the Americas Gallery on the second floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building at noon.

September 12
Of Stones and Feathers: Everyday Lives of the Inca
The Incas were originally a small tribe in the southern highlands of Peru. In less than a century, during the 1400s, they built one of the largest, most tightly controlled empires the world has ever known. Hessler will discuss select artifacts, from both the Inca and Wari cultures, focusing on the textiles in the collection and how they illuminate the daily lives of the people of South America before European contact.

October 10
First Contact: Everyday Lives of the Taíno
The Taíno were the most numerous indigenous people of the Caribbean at the time of first European contact. In the late 15th century, they were the principal inhabitants of most of Cuba, Trinidad, Jamaica, Hispaniola (which today is made up of Haiti and the Dominican Republic) and Puerto Rico. Hessler will discuss the Taíno’s complex religious, political and social systems, and how their arts inform what we know about their everyday lives.

November 14
The Feel of Jade: Everyday Lives of the Maya
The richest source of pre-Columbian historical information comes from the ancient Maya, who developed the most sophisticated writing system in the Americas. Hessler will discuss select artifacts on the Maya relationship with plants and how their complex system of ethnobotany illuminates their daily interaction with the jungle environment in which they lived.

December 5
Deciphering Nature: Everyday Lives of the Nahua
The Nahua, also known as the Aztecs, had a complex metaphysical system of thought that informed everyday activities like weaving, farming and food preparation. Hessler will discuss select artifacts in the collection that illuminate the philosophy of the Nahua and show how it entered into the symbolism found in domestic work and crafts.

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PR 18-107
ISSN 0731-3527