{ subscribe_url:'//loc.gov/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/geography-and-maps.php', }

John Hessler

When not climbing in the Alps, mountain biking through some jungle, or searching through ruins in Central America, John W. Hessler is the Curator of the Jay I. Kislak Collection of the Archaeology and History of the Early Americas and a Specialist in Geographic Information Science at the Library of Congress. Formerly of the Smithsonian Institutions National Museum of Natural History, his current research focuses on the linguistics and ethnobotany of medicinal plants amongst the ancient Nahau and Maya and on the traditional plant classification schemes in the Amazon. His work has concentrated on the Arawak family of languages including Mawayana, Baniwa, Tariana, Cabiyari and Yucuna, along with language isolates along the Rio Negro. He is also interested in linguistic recursion in Amazonian languages, especially Piraha. He has participated in archaeological investigations of ancient plant materials, including the recent study of the remains of ancient agave. Hessler is also interested the linguistics of color, in ancient plant based pigments and dyes, and in the structure of nano-materials like Maya Blue. The author of more than one hundred books and articles, including the New York Times bestseller, MAP: Exploring the World, his work has been featured in many national media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, Discover Magazine, WIRED, the Atlantic’s CITYLAB, the BBC, CBS News and most recently on NPR’s All Things Considered. An avid mountaineer and alpinist, Hessler is also an occasional contributor to Alpinist Magazine, and is finishing up a book called, Collecting for a New World: treasures of the early Americas that will be published in the US and UK in Fall 2019. Hessler gave the 2019 Nancy Brownell Lecture in the History of the Book called A Blue as No Other: the science and philosophy of color in the Mesoamerican Codex and blogs about archaeology and cartography for the Library of Congress blog, Worlds Revealed.

Most Recent Posts