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

Simon Martin is the second Jay I. Kislak Chair, appointed by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. This guide provides access to selected print and online resources related to Martin’s work as well as for the previous chair Stephen Houston.


The Jay I. Kislak Chair for the Study of the History and Cultures of the Early Americas helps nourish a wide conversation ranging from the technical aspects of archaeological discovery to issues of interest in the current cultural conversation. By encouraging broad interdisciplinary inquiry, the Kislak Chair aims to generate broad public engagement with themes related to the early history of the Americas.

Current Kislak Chair - Simon Martin

Simon Martin, 2019-2020 Jay I. Kislak Chair for the Study of the History and Cultures of the Early Americas. Photo by Thomas Stanley, Penn Museum.

The Library of Congress appointed Simon Martin, an anthropologist and specialist in Maya hieroglyphic writing, as the 2019-2020 Kislak ​Chair.

Simon Martin will be in residence from September 2019 to May 2020 at the John W. Kluge Center to further his work on the “articulations of power” among the Classic Maya (150-900 CE). This historical period, as Martin explains, “left an astonishingly rich material and textual record, which only comprehensive archaeological surveys and, critically, the decipherment of their script has made truly accessible. Yet the interpretation of that rich body of combined data remains in its infancy and leaves important questions unresolved.” With the help of the Library’s resources on political science and political anthropology, and a close study of archaeological artifacts in the Kislak Collection, Simon Martin plans to examine how the political is both a “state of mind” and something that can be transformed into material things that have value, meaning, and power.

Learn More About Simon Martin

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

The following links feature presentations by Simon Martin available on the external site YouTube and an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer.