Skip to main content

Kislak Chair for the Study of the History and Cultures of the Early Americas

Previous Kislak Chair

Stephen Houston

Stephen Houston. Photo courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. External

The Library of Congress appointed Stephen Houston, an anthropologist, archaeologist and epigrapher, as the inaugural Jay I. Kislak Chair for the Study of the History and Cultures of the Early Americas at the John W. Kluge Center.

He began his tenure on September 2018 and worked on a project titled “Classic Choreography: The Meaning of Ancient Maya Movement.”

Stephen Houston is the Dupee Family Professor of Social Science and a professor in the Department of Anthropology at Brown University. He has worked on the excavations of several major Mayan cities, most recently the ancient city of El Zotz in Guatemala and on collaborative advances in mapping with lidar technology. His interpretations of stylized representations of the human body reveal the concepts that underlie ancient Maya existence and his research on writing around the world reconstructs how early scripts begin, flourish and die. A major participant in the decipherment of Maya script, Houston draws on inscriptions and figural art to reconstruct the political and social structure of Mayan civilization, including the dynamics of royal court life and the role of religion.

Learn More About Stephen Houston

Stephen Houston delivers the Kislak Lecture titled "Flint, Shield, and Fire: Exploring Ancient Maya Warfare". Drawing on recent explorations, Houston showcased the Lidar technology now revolutionizing the study of Pre-Columbian civilizations.

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.

The following posts appeared in the Library of Congress blog—Insights: the Scholarly Work of the John W. Kluge Center. This blog shares the knowledge gleaned from the research of top scholars in the humanities and social sciences in residence at the Library of Congress. Links to digital content are provided when available.

The following item appeared in News from the Library of Congress, a service of the Library's Office of Communications.

The following links feature presentations by Stephen Houston available on the external site YouTube.