Lisa Trever

Lisa and Bernard Selz Associate Professor in Pre-Columbian Art History and Archaeology

Pre-Columbian and Latin American Art
PhD., Harvard University, 2013

Contact Information

Phone: (212) 854-8901
Office: 912 Schermerhorn Hall
Office Hours: Tuesdays 2–4


Lisa Trever is a specialist in Pre-Columbian art history and archaeology, with a research focus on the art and architecture of the ancient Andes. Her current research project is an interdisciplinary study of ancient mural art on the coast of Peru, in particular at the late Moche monumental center of Pañamarca (ca. 600–800 CE). This work has been featured in Archaeology magazine and is the subject of her 2017 book The Archaeology of Mural Painting at Pañamarca, Peru. That book consists of two interrelated parts: a critical history of archaeology and archaeological image-making at Pañamarca, which examines the shifting dynamics between art and science in the study of the ancient American past since the mid-nineteenth century, and a heavily illustrated account of her team’s recent discoveries of an important corpus of wall paintings within the monumental core of the site.

Presently she is completing the manuscript of a second book project entitled Image Encounters: Moche Murals and Archaeo Art History. In that project, Trever takes panoramic perspectives on the emergence of figural art-making in ancient South America; changing relationships between image, medium, and architecture; and the physical traces of lived experiences of images in ancient settings without scribal textual traditions. She is also co-editing the volume Arte antes de la historia: Para una historia del arte andino antiguo (with Marco Curatola Petrocchi, Cécile Michaud, and Joanne Pillsbury) to be published in Lima. A future book project examines the reception and interpretation of Pre-Columbian art in latter-day settings of science, medicine, political history, and contemporary activism. Her work has been supported by grants from the Rust Family Foundation, the Hellman Family Fund, the University of California Humanities Research Institute, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, and the Fulbright-Hays program.

Trever welcomes interest from undergraduate and graduate students in all areas of Pre-Columbian art history and archaeology, as well as later topics of collection, reception, and engagement with the art and visual culture of the ancient Americas.

Selected Publications

“A Moche Riddle in Clay: Object Knowledge and Art Work in Ancient Peru,” The Art Bulletin (forthcoming 2019).

“Pre-Columbian Art History in the Age of the Wall,” invited essay in the “Dialogues” section edited by Cecelia Klein, Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture (forthcoming 2019).

The Archaeology of Mural Painting at Pañamarca, Peru (with contributions by Jorge Gamboa, Ricardo Toribio, and Ricardo Morales) (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Trustees for Harvard University, 2017).

"Las pinturas del centro olvidado de Pañamarca," in El Top Anual de los Grandes Descubrimientos del Perú, ed. Jorge Sánchez (Lima: Ministerio de Cultura and Perú Explorer, 2017), 422–431. 

“Criminal Lines, Indian Colours, and the Creation of a Black Legend: The Photographs of ‘Los Bandidos de la Halancha’, Bolivia,” History of Photography 40, no. 4 (2016): 369–387. 

“La pintura mural mochica y la ortodoxia pictórica en Pañamarca,” in Moche y sus vecinos. Reconstruyendo identitades, ed. Cecilia Pardo and Julio Rucabado (Lima: Museo de Arte de Lima, 2016), 160–163, 230–231.

“The Artistry of Moche Mural Painting and the Ephemerality of Monuments,” in Making Value, Making Meaning: Techné in the Pre-Columbian World, ed. Cathy L. Costin (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2016), 253–279.

“A Moche Feathered Shield from the Painted Temples of Pañamarca, Peru” (with Jorge Gamboa Velásquez, Ricardo Toribio Rodríguez, and Flannery Surette), Ñawpa Pacha; Journal of Andean Archaeology 33, no. 1 (2013): 103–118.

“The Uncanny Tombs in Martínez Compañón’s Trujillo del Perú,” in Past Presented: Archaeological Illustration and the Ancient Americas, ed. Joanne Pillsbury (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2012), 106–140.

“Idols, Mountains, and Metaphysics in Guaman Poma’s Pictures of Huacas,” Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics 59/60 (2011): 39–59.

“Martínez Compañón and his Illustrated ‘Museum’” (with Joanne Pillsbury), in Collecting across Cultures: Material Exchanges in the Early Modern Atlantic World, ed. Daniela Bleichmar and Peter Mancall (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), 236–253, 325–332.

“The King, the Bishop, and the Creation of an American Antiquity” (with Joanne Pillsbury), Ñawpa Pacha: Journal of Andean Archaeology 29 (2008): 191–219