Abstract: Three Sites, Two New Museums, and an Interesting Indigenous Festival

Lecturer: James Kus

This talk focuses on several very interesting archaeological topics that go beyond the sphere of most tourist visits to Peru.  Given that most visitors to that country travel only to Lima, Cuzco, and Machu Picchu, this talk gives a brief introduction to some of the other sites that are currently under investigation to give a taste of the rich variety of archaeological treasures in Peru.

Three sites are discussed:  Puruchuco, San Jose de Moro, and the Huaca de la Luna.  The first, Puruchuco, was excavated by a team directed by Willy Cock.  It is an Inca administrative center and cemetery; the focus of the lecture is on some of the mummy bundles uncovered during salvage excavations at the site.  The second, Moro, is a Moche Period site (AD 0-800) that has been excavated by a team led by Luis Jaime Castillo of the Catholic University.  A brief overview of the site focuses on some of the very impressive burials uncovered by Castillo’s team as well as the evidence for ceremonial rituals that have been studied.  The third site, the Huaca de la Luna, is one of several Moche sites south of Moro that are currently under investigation by researchers from the Universidad Nacional de Trujillo.  Recent excavations at this site has revealed much information about the ceremonial rituals of the Moche culture, including human sacrifice.

Also discussed in this lecture are two new museums in the Lambayeque region in northern coastal Peru.  One museum houses the artifacts uncovered at the site of Sipan:  it is an absolutely amazing place – a spectacular design housing a magnificent collection of artifacts.  The other museum is also world-class, housing material belonging to the Sican culture that was uncovered by a team led by Dr. Izumi Shimada at the site of Pampa Grande.  Together, these two new museums make the Lambayeque region one of the premier archaeological destinations in Peru today.

Finally, this talk concludes with a brief look at one of the traditional festivals in Peru:  that of the Senor de Choquekillca in the town of Ollantaytambo (itself a World Heritage Center famous for the incomplete Inca temple above the town).  In contrast to the more famous Inti Raymi pagent in Cuzco that takes place in late June each year and which is primarily aimed at attracting tourists, the Choquekillca festival (which takes place seven weeks after Easter each year) remains an authentic example of traditional Andean culture.  The festival is illustrated with both slides and videos taken during several different years.

Note:  the excavations at the three coastal sites and the two new museums are being directed by either longtime friends or former students of Dr. Kus, and his god-daughter is a native of Ollantaytambo.  In each case, therefore, he as had “behind the scenes” access to these sites, museums, and festival.

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Elspeth Dusinberre (A.B. summa cum laude Harvard 1991, Ph.D. Michigan 1997) is interested in cultural interactions in Anatolia, particularly in the ways in which the Achaemenid Empire... Read More

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