Ancient Peru exhibit at U of C

I went to the Nickel Arts Museum on campus during lunch today, to explore the Ancient Peru Unearthed exhibit. It's a collection of the first archaologically recovered artifacts from northern Peru, from the Sicán era 900-1300 AD.

Ancient Peru UnearthedIt's a pretty cool story. Until this find, all previous artifacts from northern Peru were recovered through looting. Amateurs with shovels or even bulldozers. No concern for archaelological preservation or documentation. But, the groundwater level in the area was high enough to protect the tomb of the Sicán Lord as looters couldn't get past the groundwater. In the early '90s, the water level dropped low enough to allow excavation, and the team went to work properly documenting and carefully extracting a ton and a half of artifacts.

Because these artifacts are from the Sicán Lord, they are chock full of gold. And not just gold leaf, but actual sheet metal, uniformly 0.6mm thick and amazingly crafted.

The mask (pictured to the right) was found on the skull of the Sicán Lord. It's probably 6 feet tall, crafted with the gold sheet metal and encrusted with jewels. The curve of gold holding the "feathers" is a solid sheet band, 2 metres in length. The face has been shaped and detailed without tearing or creasing the gold sheet. The workmanship is amazing.

It's too bad I wasn't allowed to take pictures. There is a strict "No Photography Allowed" policy clearly posted all over the place. I'd brought my camera, but it stayed in the case for the duration. So, I sprung for the postcard (scanned above) and a poster.

Also, it's so cool to be able to drop by the on-campus museum. In my almost 20 years (!) on campus, this was my first time. The museum isn't optimal (but I've been rather spoiled) but when the new Campus Calgary Digital Library building opens, they'll be moving into new space (along with the TLC, Library, some of IT, etc...) Regardless - it's a great exhibit, well worth the price of admission. I'll go back again before it leaves town.

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