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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)

Level of description


Extent and medium

Approximately 116,000 items, including:
copies (photographic prints) of fineline drawings

Context area

Name of creator

Donnan, Christopher B. (born 1940)

Biographical history

Donnan is an archaeologist whose work focuses on the Moche civilization of ancient Peru. 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

Christopher B. Donnan donated the Moche archive, which was previously housed at the University of California, Los Angeles, to Dumbarton Oaks in two parts (2011-2013).

Content and structure area

Scope and content

This collection documents Moche art and material culture from ancient Peru (ca. 200-850 CE). The bulk of its subject matter is painted and mold-made ceramic vessels, but other media, like metalwork, textiles, wood sculpture, mural painting, and architecture, are also represented. Photographic material, created by Christopher B. Donnan and other scholars between 1968 and 2010, make up the majority of the collection. These photographs document Moche art in a vast array of American, European, and South American museums, private collections, archaeological collections, and publications. Also included are materials related to fineline or rollout drawings created primarily by Donna McClelland using the photographs taken by Donnan, including copies (photographic prints) of the drawings, as well as some original drawings. McClelland's drawings document the iconography depicted on fineline painted ceramic vessels.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Most of the photographs, slides, subject boards, and copies (photographic prints) and photocopies of fineline drawings are arranged by iconographic category (1-99). The photographs used to create the fineline drawings are arranged by drawing number. The negatives are arranged by Archive Source code.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

This collection is currently being processed and a finding aid is in progress. For more information or for access to the collection, please consult ICFA staff.

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

Finding aids

An unpublished draft finding aid is available for consultation in the Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Digital copies of subject board contact prints are available by appointment. For access, consult ICFA staff.

Related units of description

Oral history interview transcript, Dumbarton Oaks Archives, April 20, 2009.

Notes area

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


Dates of creation revision deletion

This record was created by Shalimar White on January 30, 2014.




Archivist's note

Research, inventory, collection arrangement, initial processing, and a draft of the finding aid were carried out by Lisa Trever, former Tyler Fellow in Pre-Columbian Studies (2012-2013). Further collection assessment, arrangement, processing, and editing of the finding aid were conducted by Ameena Mohammad, ICFA Archival Assistant (Fall 2013-present). Additionally, Fani Gargova, ICFA Byzantine Research Associate, and Megan Cook, ICFA Research Assistant, completed digitization of the subject board contact prints in October 2013 to provide better access to the images.

Rights area

Related right





Start date

End date

Rights holder

Rights note(s)

Preferred Citation: Christopher B. Donnan and Donna McClelland Moche Archive, 1968-2011, 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

Accession area