By Greg Harris
ts priceless gold artifacts
have earned it the nickname “Tut’s
tomb of the Americas.” Now, organizers at the University of Calgary’s
Nickle Arts Museum have just under a year to prepare for the Canadian
debut of The Gold Exhibition – Royal Tombs of Ancient Peru.
Set to open
January 6, 2006, the exhibit cleared its last regulatory hurdle in
late 2004 when the Peruvian government overturned a five-year-old
law that prevented cultural artifacts from leaving the country.
It is very important that Peru showcase cultural treasures like
these around the world in order to help improve the country’s tourism
industry,” says Dr. Carlos Elera, the director of Peru’s
Sicán National Museum, where the Royal Tombs collection permanently
resides. “Although the law was initially designed to protect the
country’s heritage resources, we know now that it went too far.
We’re very pleased to be able to share with Calgarians about 250
objects from the Sicán tombs.”
in the exhibit are crowns, masks, ear spools, head-dresses, feather
ornaments and much more – all expertly crafted in gold
by the Sicán people, who date from about 900-1300 CE, before
the rise of the Incas.
is from Peru, obtained his PhD in archaeology at the University of
Calgary in 1999 but has been intimately
connected with Sicán excavations in northern Peru beginning in 1979, when he
was an undergraduate student at a Catholic university in Lima. Shortly
after he graduated from the U of C, he was hired by the Peruvian government
to oversee the establishment of Peru’s Sicán National Museum.
We are delighted to hold the exclusive Canadian rights to this
exhibition and can’t wait to show some of these objects to Calgarians,” says
Dr. Ann Davis, director of The Nickle Arts Museum. “There has been
a preoccupation with Egyptian antiquity but people forget there
were incredibly sophisticated civilizations elsewhere in the world.”
the Sicán people actually produced about 85 per cent
of Peru’s metal artifacts, contrary to the belief that it was the
Incas who produced most of it. He says the Sicán exhibition
is unique, since it is the only major burial site in Peru to
completely by archaeologists. Most of the Incan and pre-Incan
artifacts in museums around the world have suspicious origins
most are authentic, they have likely been looted from
burial sites, he says.
in 1991 worked with Dr. Izumi Shimada, the world’s foremost
expert on Sicán culture, moved to Calgary in 1992 because of the
university’s reputation for excellence in the field of archaeology
and Latin American studies. He divides his time between Peru and
Calgary, where his wife and two children live.
photos from the exhibition