Andrew J. Hamilton  Lecturer


Andrew J. Hamilton

LecturerArt of the Ancient and Colonial Americas


Ph.D., Harvard University, 2014

Andrew Hamilton is a scholar of the art and architecture of the ancient and colonial Americas, specializing in the Andes. His work is deeply invested in analyzing objects, how they were made, used, and eventually disused, in order to understand why they were created and what cultural meanings they bore. He is interested in artifacts of all media, but especially ones made from biological materials that trace the intersection of art history and natural history, including textiles. He is a practicing artist and frequently illustrates his own publications.

Hamilton was previously a Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Princeton University. Before that, he was a chercheur in the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale in the Collège de France in Paris, supported by the Fondation Fyssen. He has also been a fellow at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, a visiting fellow at the Sainsbury Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, a junior fellow at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC, and an Alianza-Mayer fellow at the Denver Art Museum. On a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship, he researched at the Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin and at archaeological sites and museums throughout the Andes. He first lived in Peru in 2005 working with highland weavers in the Cuzco region, supported by post-graduate fellowships from Yale University. 

Teaching Interests

At Princeton, Hamilton has taught a wide range of courses on ancient North, Central, and South American arts and cultures, as well as more theoretically oriented seminars on issues of scale. His classes heavily engage the collection of the Princeton University Art Museum, giving students the opportunity to handle and examine objects firsthand.

In the fall of 2017, he will lead ART 100 An Introduction to the History of Art: Meanings in the Visual Arts, the department’s flagship survey course. He will also teach ART 419 Theory, History, and Practice of Textiles: The Andes, a hands-on seminar that will examine Andean textiles in the Princeton University Art Museum and experiment with making textiles in Princeton’s StudioLab.

In the spring of 2018, he will teach ART 103 Arts of the Americas: The First 5,000 Years, a survey of North, Central, and South American art before the arrivals of Europeans. He will also teach ART 367 Inca Art and Architecture, which will include a spring break excursion to Peru. In order to make travel arrangements, the course will have advance enrollment by application. Students interested in taking this course are welcomed to write or meet during office hours for more information.

Current Research

Hamilton’s first book, Scale and the Incas, will be published by Princeton University Press in the spring of 2018. Although questions of form are fundamental to the study of art history, the issue of scale has been underexamined. This work analyzes the role of scale in Inca material culture, built environments, and worldviews, arguing that it was central tenet of their intellectual tradition and a fundamental way they perceived and expressed meaning. Scale and the Incas includes over seventy hand drawn and painted color plates that depict the scales of artifacts and archaeological sites alongside embedded scale markers, other objects, and silhouettes of hands and bodies.

He is presently writing his second book, The Emperor’s New Clothes: The Biography of a Royal Inca Tunic, which examines the most famous object of ancient Andean art, an intricately patterned tunic conserved at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC.