Ancient Treasures Unearthed | Event Review

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In light of explorer Thor Heyerdahl’s one-hundred-year anniversary and Kon-Tiki sea voyage from Peru to French Polynesia (on an ancient Peruvian-inspired raft), we found it to be adequately fitting to cover an event with an age-old focus in the land of the Incas.

On Saturday, October 4, the exclusive Peruvian Gold: Ancient Treasures Unearthed exhibit opened to guests at the Irving Arts Center in Irving, Texas. In collaboration with the National Geographic Society, the display showcases archaic gold and silver artifacts excavated from Peru’s renowned royal tombs. Presented in partnership with the National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C., the exhibit houses a value between $3.5 million and $5 million with its fascinating pre-Incan pieces of the likes of gold ceremonial and funerary masks, textiles, ceremonial ornaments, ceramics, and jewelry.

A standout in the collection is El Tocado, the biggest and most decorated pre-Columbian headdress ever uncovered. Dating back to the Middle Sican period (A.D. 900-1100), the “Peruvian Gold” exhibit marks the first time the gold garment has been shown to U.S. audiences since its discovery in 1991. “…El Tocado is almost the only artifact in the exhibition that had not been looted and returned to Peru,” the Washington Times notes. “As if to underscore the point, next to one of the masks in the show is a photo of Peruvian Ambassador to the U.S. Harold Forsyth receiving the artifact from the president of Italy. The mask had been excavated illegally and transported to Italy, where it was eventually tracked down by the Italian authorities.”

Various films are currently in conjunction with the showpiece like Disney’s playful The Emperor’s New Groove and Dreamwork SKG’s The Road to El Dorado, along with more serious works like newly released digitally remastered Werner Herzog’s 1972 Aguirre, the Wrath of God. Directed by Alan Stivelman, documentary Humano particularly sets itself apart from the rest of the featured pictures. The Irving Center states the film, “…follows a young man traveling to the Andean mountains on a search to understand the origin of man and the reason for his existence. The story is driven by two hundred questions, which will end up exposing an unknown world for him and the whole of humanity.”

Along with videos, the exhibit will include interesting lectures meant to educate and intrigue visitors. Opening day was met with a lecture from curator and National Geographic Archeology fellow, Dr. Fredrik Hiebert, on the history of the exhibition’s artifacts. Set to follow are upcoming lectures from Professor Aditi Samarth on shamanism, Professor Ana Lopez on metalworking techniques, Miguel Harth-Bedoya on music now and circa the time of Columbus, and many more.