@Dumbarton Oaks

Collection PH.PC.001 - Christopher B. Donnan and Donna McClelland Moche Archive, 1963-2011

Identity area

Reference code



Christopher B. Donnan and Donna McClelland Moche Archive, 1963-2011


  • 1963-2011 (Creation)
  • Bulk: 1963-2004 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

Approximately 116,000 items, including:
53 boxes of photographic material
24 boxes of slides
20 boxes of negatives
15 binders of reproductions of fineline drawings
Approximately 1000 original drawings on acetate

Context area

Name of creator

Donnan, Christopher B. (born 1940)

Biographical history

Donnan is an archaeologist whose work focuses on the art and iconography of the Moche, an ancient South American culture that inhabited river valleys in the arid coastal plain of northern Peru ca. 100-850 CE. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley in 1968 with advisor John H. Rowe. Donnan then became a faculty member at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and started a program on Andean archaeology. Currently, he is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Anthropology and Director Emeritus of the Fowler Museum at UCLA. While at UCLA, Donnan created the Moche Archive, gathering photographic documentation of Moche ceramics and developing a photographic method of documenting all parts of a vessel, at a set focal distance, in order to capture its iconographic detail. For more than 35 years, he collaborated with research associate Donna McClelland, who created the fineline drawings that document the complex iconography of Moche vessels. Donnan was a Senior Fellow (1977-1984) and a Visiting Scholar of Pre-Columbian Studies (2009) at Dumbarton Oaks.

Name of creator

McClelland, Donna (1932-2004)

Biographical history

Research associate for the Moche Archive created by Christopher B. Donnan at the University of California, Los Angeles. McClelland collaborated with Donnan for more than 35 years, creating the fineline drawings that document the complex iconography of Moche ceramic vessels.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Upon his retirement as Professor Emeritus in the Department of Anthropology and Director Emeritus of the Fowler Museum at the University of California, Los Angeles, Christopher B. Donnan donated the Moche Archive to Dumbarton Oaks in two parts, in 2011 and in 2013. Joanne Pillsbury, former Director of Pre-Columbian Studies (2005-2012), was responsible for arranging the donation in 2009-2010. The transfer to Dumbarton Oaks was originally handled in 2011-2012 by Juan Antonio Murro, Assistant Curator of the Pre-Columbian Collection in the Dumbarton Oaks Museum. In March 2011, Dumbarton Oaks received 10 boxes of subject board contact prints, 20 boxes of negatives, 15 binders of fineline drawings, and 34 boxes of photographic material related to the fineline drawings. Material transferred in 2012 included: boxes of medium size photographic prints, large photographic material, and files of slides.

The Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (ICFA) assumed responsibility for the collection in September 2012. In September 2013, ICFA acquired the digital component to the fineline drawings, donated by Donald McClelland.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Christopher B. Donnan created the Moche Archive as a graduate student and, over a period of almost 50 years, developed it into a major research collection. This archive documents the art and iconography of the Moche, an ancient South American culture that inhabited river valleys in the arid coastal plain of northern Peru ca. 100-850 CE. Comprised of two (2) subgroups, the Moche Archive consists of various types of photographic material and fineline drawings. The bulk of its subject matter are mold-made, painted ceramic vessels. Other media, such as metalwork, textiles, wood sculpture, mural painting, and architecture, are also represented. Elements of the Moche Archive are arranged by iconographic category, archival source codes, and/or drawing number. Reflecting Donnan’s research needs, the Moche Archive grew organically between 1963 and 2011 and Donnan continued to develop it through his academic collaborations with the McClellands (Donna and her husband Donald) and many others.

Subgroup 1 contains photographic material that makes up the bulk of the collection: 35mm black-and-white contact prints; black-and-white and color photographic prints in various sizes; 35mm color slides; and black-and-white and color negatives. These materials document Moche art found in a vast array of European and North and South American museums, private collections, archaeological collections, and publications. Most of the photographic materials were produced or collected by Christopher B. Donnan for the Archive.

Subgroup 2 relates to fineline drawings of Moche iconography from painted ceramic vessels. Materials include photographic prints, reprographic prints, and original drawings. Occasionally, other kinds of objects and techniques are also documented. Most of the fineline drawings were created by Donna McClelland, though some drawings were created by other illustrators or were photocopied from published sources.

It is important to note that the Moche Archive is not a comprehensive collection of visual examples of Moche ceramic art. Rather, it is a selective sample of known types, as originally arranged by Christopher Donnan and Donna McClelland. Special strengths are in the recording of Moche “portrait vessels” (referred to as “Human Heads” or “Specific Individuals” within the Archive), and iconographic representations such as the “Burial Theme” and the “Presentation Theme” or “Sacrifice Ceremony.”

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

This collection contains a variety of photographic material such as photographic prints and reprographic prints of vessels and fineline drawings of Moche iconography. For a comprehensive list of material types, please see Index Terms.

Collection items are usually marked with identifiers such as a drawing number, an archive source code, or an iconographic category. These various identifiers link images of vessels to fineline drawings within the collection. For example:
• Numbers 0001-0819: Subgroup 1, Subseries 1 links to Subgroup 2, Series 1.
• Numbers 1000-1999: Subgroup 1, Subseries 2 links to Subgroup 2, Series1.
• Numbers 2000-2990 and 7000-7990 only correspond to the photographic prints in Subgroup 1, Subseries 2 and 3.
• Numbers 3000-3999 in Subgroup 2, Subseries 1 are fineline drawings that have no corresponding prints of vessels in the collection.

Archive source codes are also evident on most items. These codes denote the location or source of a vessel, such as a museum, private collection, or an archeological site. For example, “AMO” stands for Museo Amano located in Lima, Peru. Some archive source codes also denote publications or authors’ last names. A number is often included in the archive source code, which links the image to a specific sheet of negatives in Subgroup 1, Series 6. For more information, see Subgroup 1, Series 7: Moche Archive Guide.

Note that information in quotation marks denotes the creators’ original terms and/or identifiers, while information in square brackets is description supplied by Lisa Trever and/or ICFA staff.

Lastly, some series are arranged by iconographic category. For a complete list, please see Appendix.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Access to the collection is unrestricted. It is available for research purposes only. Appointment is required for access because researcher space is limited: http://www.doaks.org/icfa-appointment-request-form. For research queries, contact the staff of Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (icfa@doaks.org).

Conditions governing reproduction

Duplication of materials in the collection may be governed by copyright and other restrictions.

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

For access to some materials (namely, Subgroup 1, Series 2 (35 mm contact prints); some material in Subgroup 1, Series 7 (Guides Created by Christopher Donnan); and Subgroup 2, Series 4 (Fineline Drawing Inventory Created by Donald McClelland), consult ICFA staff (icfa@doaks.org)

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Digital surrogates of over 700 of Donna McClelland's line drawings are available in Harvard's Hollis Images system.
See also the Moche Iconography page on the Dumbarton Oaks website.
Digital copies of subject boards (Subgroup 1, Series 2, 35 mm contact prints) are available - consult with ICFA staff.

Related units of description

Oral history interview transcript, Dumbarton Oaks Archives, April 20, 2009. http://www.doaks.org/library-archives/dumbarton-oaks-archives/oral-history-project/christopher-donnan.

Publication note

Donnan, Christopher B. “The Moche Occupation of the Santa Valley, Peru.” PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1968.

Donnan, Christopher B. “Moche-Huari Murals from Northern Peru.” Archaeology 25, no. 2 (1972): 85-95.

Donnan, Christopher B.Moche Occupation of the Santa Valley, Peru. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1973.

Donnan, Christopher B. “The Thematic Approach to Moche Iconography.” Journal of Latin American Lore 1, no. 2 (1975): 147-162.

Donnan, Christopher B.Moche Art and Iconography. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Latin American Center, University of California, 1976.

Donnan, Christopher B.Moche Art of Peru: Pre-Columbian Symbolic Communication. Los Angeles, CA: Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 1978.

Donnan, Christopher B. “Dance in Moche Art.” Ñawpa Pacha 20 (1982): 97-120.

Donnan, Christopher B. “Moche Ceramic Portraits.” In Moche Art and Archaeology in Ancient Peru, edited by Joanne Pillsbury, 126-139. Studies in the History of Art 63, Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts, Symposium Papers XL. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art,

Donnan, Christopher B. Moche Portraits from Ancient Peru. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2004.

Donnan, Christopher B. “Moche Masking Traditions.” In The Art and Archaeology of the Moche; An Ancient Andean Society on the Peruvian North Coast, edited by Steve Bourget and Kimberly L. Jones, 67-80. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2008.

Donnan, Christopher B. “Moche State Religion: A Unifying Force in Moche Political Organization.” In New Perspectives on Moche Political Organization, edited by Jeffrey Quilter and Luis Jaime Castillo, 47-69. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2010.

Donnan, Christopher B. “Moche Substyles: Keys to Understanding Moche Political Organization.” Boletín del Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino 16, no. 1 (2011): 105-118.

Donnan, Christopher B. and Donna McClelland. The Burial Theme in Moche Iconography.
Studies in Pre-Columbian Art and Archaeology 21 (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, 1979)

Donnan, Christopher B. Moche Fineline Painting: Its Evolution and its Artists. Los Angeles, CA: Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 1999.

McClelland, Donna. “Ulluchu: An Elusive Fruit.” In The Art and Archaeology of the Moche: An Ancient Andean Society on the Peruvian North Coast, edited by Steve Bourget and Kimberly L. Jones, 43-66. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2008.

McClelland, Donna. “The Moche Botanical Frog.” Arqueología Iberoamericana 10 (June 2011): 30-42. http://www.laiesken.net/arqueologia/archivo/2011/10/5.html.

McClelland, Donna, Donald McClelland, and Christopher B. Donnan. Moche Fineline Painting from San José de Moro. Los Angeles, CA: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, 2007.

Notes area


Also known as the Moche Archive.

Access points

Place access points

Name access points

Description control area

Description identifier


Institution identifier


Rules and/or conventions used

Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)



Level of detail





  • Alva, Walter and Christopher B. Donnan. Royal tombs of Sipán. Los Angeles, CA: Fowler Museum of Cultural History, University of California, 1993.
  • Anton, Ferdinand. The Art of Ancient Peru. New York: Putnam, 1972.
  • Baessler, Arthur. Ancient Peruvian Art; Contributions to the Archaeology of the Empire of the Incas. 4 vols. Berlin: A. Asher & Co., 1902-1903.
  • Bawden, Garth Lawry. “Galindo and the Nature of the Middle Horizon in Northern Coastal Peru.” PhD diss., Harvard University, 1977.
  • Benson, Elizabeth P. The Mochica: A Culture of Peru. New York: Praeger, 1972.
  • Bourget, Steve. Sex, Death and Sacrifice in Moche Religion and Visual Culture. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2006.
  • Calkin, Carlton Ivers. “Moche Figure Painted Pottery: The History of an Ancient Peruvian Art Style.” PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1953.
  • Cáceres Macedo, Justo. Perú prehispánico: cerámicas y tejidos. Lima: Justo Cáceres Macedo, 2005.
  • Castillo B., Luis Jaime. Personajes míticos, escenas y narraciones en la iconografía mochica. Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 1989.
  • Cole, Ethan Michael. “Moche Marks of Distinction: Time and Politics in Painted Pottery Substyles of the Moche Culture, North Coast, Peru AD 100-900.” PhD diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 2012.
  • Cordy-Collins, Alana. “The Moon is a Boat: A Study in Iconographic Methodology.” In Pre-Columbian Art History; Selected Readings, edited by Alana Cordy-Collins and Jean Stern, 421-434. Palo Alto: Peek Publications, 1977.
  • Cuesta Domingo, Mariano. Cultura y ceramic mochica. Madrid: Ministerio de Cultura, 1980.
  • Disselhoff, Hans Dietrich. Daily Life in Ancient Peru. Translated by Alisa Jaffa. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967.
  • Ford, James Alfred, and Gordon R. Willey. Surface Survey of the Virú Valley, Peru. 2 vols. Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History. New York, NY: American Museum of Natural History, 1949.
  • Fuhrmann, Ernst. Reich der Inka (Hagen i. W., Folkwang-Verlag g.m.b.h., 1922).
  • Golte, Jürgen. Iconos y narraciones: La reconstrucción de una secuencia de imágenes moche. Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 1994.
  • Golte, Jürgen. Moche cosmología y sociedad: Una Interpretación iconográfica. Cuzco: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos; Centro Bartolomé de las Casas, 2009.
  • Horkheimer, Hans. Historia del Perú, época prehispánica; Resumen del curso desarrollado por el catedrático dr. H. Horkheimer. Trujillo, Peru: Imprenta Gamarra 332, 1943.
  • Jackson, Margaret A. Moche Art and Visual Culture in Ancient Peru. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2008.
  • Jiménez Borja, Arturo. Cuadernos de dibujo indo-peruano. 2 vols. Lima, 1935.
  • Jiménez Borja, Arturo. La danza en el antiguo Perú: época pre-inca. Lima: CIP, 1955.
  • Joyce, Thomas Athol. South American Archaeology: An Introduction to the Archaeology of the South American Continent with Special Reference to the Early History of Peru. [One of three published editions], 1912.
  • Klein, Otto. La ceramic Mochica: caracteres estilísticos y conceptos. Valparaíso: Universidad Técnica "Federico Santa María", 1967.
  • Kosok, Paul. Life, Land, and Water in Ancient Peru. New York, NY: Long Island University Press, 1965.
  • Kroeber, Alfred L., The Uhle Pottery Collection from Moche. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1925.
  • Kutscher, Gerdt. Chimu; eine altindianische Hochkultur. Berlin, Gebr. Mann, 1950.
  • Kutscher, Gerdt. Nordperuanische Keramik, figürlich verziete Gefässe der früh-Chimu. Cerámica del Perú septentrional; Figuras ornamentales en vasijas de los chimúes antiguos. Monumenta Americana I. Berlin: Verlag Gebr. Mann, 1954.
  • Kutscher, Gerdt. Arte antiguo de la costa norte del Perú. Ancient art of the Peruvian North Coast. Berlin, Gebr. Mann, 1955.
  • Kutscher, Gerdt. Nordperuanische Gefässmalereien des Moche-Stils. Munich: C.H. Beck, 1983.
  • Larco Hoyle, Rafael. Los mochicas. Vol. 1. Lima: Casa Editora La Crónica y Variedades, 1938.
  • Larco Hoyle, Rafael. Los mochicas. Vol. 2. Lima: Empresa Editorial Rimac S.A., 1939.
  • Larco Hoyle, Rafael. Checan; Essay on Erotic Elements in Peruvian Art. Geneva, Paris, and Munich: Nagel, 1965.
  • Lavalle, José Antonio de. Culturas precolombinas; Moche. Lima: Banco de Crédito del Perú, 1988.
  • Lavallee, Danièle. Les représentations animales dans la céramique Mochica. Paris, Institut d'ethnologie, 1970.
  • Lehmann, Henri. Pre-Columbian Ceramics, translated by Galway Kinnell. New York: Viking Press, 1962.
  • Leicht, Hermann. Indianische Kunst und Kultur, ein Jahrtausend im Reiche der Chimu. Zurich: Orell Füssli, 1944.
  • Leicht, Hermann. Indianische Kunst und Kultur, ein Jahrtausend im Reiche des Mondkults. Zurich: O. Füssli, 1957.
  • Makowski, Krzysztof. Imágenes y mitos: Ensayos sobre las artes figurativas en los Andes prehispánicos. Lima: Australis, 1996.
  • Montell, Gösta. Dress and Ornaments in Ancient Peru: Archaeological and Historical Studies. Göteborg: Elanders boktryckeri aktiebolag, 1929.
  • Muelle, Jorge. Muestrario de art peruano precolombino. Lima: Instituto de Arte Peruano, Museo Nacional, 1938.
  • Proulx, Donald. An Archaeological Survey of the Nepeña Valley, Peru. Amherst, MA: Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, 1968.
  • Quilter, Jeffrey. “The Moche Revolt of the Objects.” Latin American Antiquity 1, no. 1 (1990): 42-65.
  • Quilter, Jeffrey. "The Narrative Approach to Moche Iconography." Latin American Antiquity 8, no. 2 (1997): 113-133.
  • Sawyer, Alan R. Ancient Peruvian Ceramics: The Nathan Cummings Collection. New York, NY: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1966. Schmidt, Max. Kunst und Kultur von Peru. Berlin: Propyläen-verlag, 1929.
  • Ubbelohde-Doering, Heinrich. On the Royals Highways of the Inca; Archaeological Treasures of Ancient Peru, trans. Margaret Brown. New York: Praeger, 1966.
  • Von Hagen, Victor Wolfgang. The Desert Kingdoms of Peru. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1965.
  • Wassermann-San Blás, Bruno John. Cerámicas del Antiguo Peru de la colección Wassermann-San Blás. Buenos Aires, 1938.
  • Wiener, Charles. Pérou et Bolivie. Récit de voyage… Paris: Hachette & cie, 1880.
  • Wilson, David J. Prehispanic Settlement Patterns in the Lower Santa Valley, Peru: A Regional Perspective on the Origins and Development of Complex North Coast Society. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1988.
  • Wiersema, Juliet. “The Architectural Vessels of the Moche of Peru (C.E. 200-850): Architecture for the Afterlife.” PhD diss., University of Maryland, College Park, 2010.

Archivist's note

In 2012-2013, Lisa Trever (William R. Tyler Fellow in Pre-Columbian Studies 2011-2013) completed preliminary research, a descriptive inventory, collection arrangement, initial processing, and a draft finding aid.

In 2013-2014, Ameena Mohammad, Pre-Columbian Archival Assistant conducted further collection assessment, arrangement and rehousing, final processing, and editing of the finding aid. This work included streamlining and editing the inventory to ensure consistency and accuracy, documenting the donors’ process creating the Moche Archive as much as possible, and adding Subgroup 1, Series 7, and Subgroup 2, Series 3.

Whenever possible, ICFA has retained the original category names and other descriptors devised by the creators, as well as the original order of the collection. Information in quotation marks serves to record the creators’ original terms and/or identifiers, while information in square brackets indicates description supplied by Lisa Trever and/or ICFA staff.

Slides and negatives originally arranged with photographic material have been rehoused and moved to ICFA’s cold storage for preservation purposes by ICFA Departmental Assistant Jessica Cebra. In October 2013, ICFA Byzantine Research Associate Fani Gargova and ICFA Research Assistant Megan Cook completed digitization of Subgroup 1, Series 2 (35mm contact prints) to provide better access to the images, since the subject boards are fragile and presented a preservation priority.

The finding aid was edited by ICFA Archivist Rona Razon, ICFA Manager Shalimar White, ICFA Byzantine Research Associate Fani Gargova, and Librarian for Pre-Columbian Studies Bridget Gazzo. It was finalized in August 2014.

Rights area

Related right





Start date

End date

Rights holder

Rights note(s)

Preferred Citation: Christopher B. Donnan and Donna McClelland Moche Archive, 1963-2011, PH.PC.001, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C.



Related right





Start date

End date

Rights holder

Rights note(s)

Copyright for Christopher Donnan and Donna McClelland materials belongs to Dumbarton Oaks. However, permission to publish materials created by others must be obtained from the copyright holder.



Copyright status

Under copyright

Copyright status date

Copyright jurisdiction

Copyright note

Digital object metadata



Media type





1.8 MiB


November 7, 2017 12:31 PM

Digital object (Master) rights area

Digital object (Reference) rights area

Digital object (Thumbnail) rights area

Accession area