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Road to Machu Picchu runs through L.A.(Inca exhibit in LA Natural History Museum)
San Bernardino Sun ^ | June 27, 2003 | Steven Rosen

Posted on 06/30/2003 8:04:23 PM PDT by FairOpinion

Machu Picchu Comes to L.A. Largest U.S. Exhibition of Inca Treasures Makes Only West Coast Stop at Natural History Museum ( . June 22 to September 7, 2003. This is the first stop on the exhibition’s national tour, after its debut at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. Following the Los Angeles presentation, the exhibit will travel to Pittsburgh, Denver, Houston and Chicago.

The enduring allure of Machu Picchu, the 15th-century Incan ruins nestled into Peru's Andes Mountains, is its mystery.

Why and how did the Incas build such an impressive estate -- a five-acre city, really, with 150 structures carved from granite -- in such a remote and rugged locale? And why did they abandon it in the early 1500s, letting it become so lost in overgrowth and hidden to the world that it wasn't rediscovered until 1911? With time, its legacy has become so spooky and sacred as to make its origins seem otherworldly.

The new "Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas' exhibit (at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County through Sept. 7) understands the power of that mystery. The short film you watch before entering the galleries uses such terms as "mists of time' and "abandoned in mystic clouds' in describing the site.

And when the film is over, a door behind the screen magically opens -- like a secret passage -- to lead you into a re-created "lost horizon.' Inside, there's even a replica of a wide, stone Incan roadway to follow on your journey.

Yet, at the same time, the exhibit resolves many questions about Machu Picchu's history without making the place seem mundane. For instance, Machu Picchu was not -- as widely believed -- exclusively meant as an inaccessible sacred site. Rather, the Incan ruling hierarchy used it as a country retreat, with a large resident staff that included farmers, servants and craftsmen. It was about four days by foot from Cuzco, their capital.

And it was not all that exotically remote -- for them, anyway. Built in a lush, verdant valley at about 8,000 feet above sea level, with views of surrounding mountains, it actually had better weather than Cuzco.

"Cuzco was cold with frost every day,' said Karen Wise, the museum's associate curator of anthropology. "You could go down to this beautiful lush area. It was like going from Washington to Camp David.'

Although the Spanish never sacked Machu Picchu, their conquest of the Incas in the 16th century hastened its abandonment. "Machu Picchu was subsidized,' said Richard Burger, the Yale University anthropologist who co-curated this show. (First staged at Yale, it travels to Pittsburgh, Denver, Houston and Chicago after L.A.)

"The minute the empire started being destroyed and taxation stopped, there were no subsidies,' he said. Those staying there left for Cuzco, taking many of their valuables with them. Their country retreat was a luxury no longer affordable.

To make sure the truth about Machu Picchu is as interesting to museum-goers as the myths, curators have designed some innovative interactive and audio-visual features, as well as painstakingly detailed dioramas and replicas of actual structures.

As a result, this is an exhibit that is entertaining and sometimes exciting. And to make visitors feel like they're actually in Peru rather than L.A., the gallery walls are lined with large, glossy, full-color panoramic photos of Machu Picchu.

"One of the challenges we had was that much of the glory had to do with the architecture and the environment, and in a museum you lose that,' Burger said. "So we sent photographers down to Machu Picchu to take panoramic photographs so you could see what it looks like.'

The exhibit also allows for serious contemplation of art for art's sake. With some 400 artifacts, including a rare royal "tocapu' tunic covered with geometric motifs and a large, cone-shaped ritual vessel decorated with clay spiny-oyster shells, this is the largest Incan exhibition ever displayed in the United States.

There isn't that much gold -- Spaniards plundered it after conquering the Inca Empire in the 1500s. But there is meticulously crafted metal jewelry such as shawl pins, stone carvings and effigies, and utensils and containers for the chewing of coca leaves.

Roughly 85 percent of those objects were excavated from Machu Picchu itself; most are from Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History, although some are from Peru and international collections.

The show also contains memorabilia from Yale archaeologist Hiram Bingham's famous 1912 excavation of Machu Picchu -- including his original cameras. Bingham discovered the site in 1911. For his follow-up 1912 expedition, National Geographic devoted an issue to Machu Picchu. George Eastman himself lent the Kodak cameras, and Abercrombie and Fitch provided clothing.

"That's why I think he's always looking so debonair in photographs,' Wise said of Bingham. "At the time, a Yale-sponsored scientific expedition to Peru was an exciting thing to participate in.'

Besides the artifacts and historical objects, two installations attract special attention. One is a large topographical map with light-up features that allows visitors to "see' the exact locations amid today's excavated ruins of specific buildings as they once were used.

The other consists of three computer stations -- plus one large screen -- that provide navigable, interactive virtual tours of Machu Picchu. Kids love this feature and are reluctant to leave.

This virtual tour was designed by George R. Miller, an anthropologist at California State University at Hayward, and his students. It was a seven-year project. The computers allow users to experience some 400 different panoramic views of Machu Picchu.

"To do this piece, we took over 6,000 digital photographs,' Miller said. "Each panorama is 18 photographs. The software stitches them together to be a seamless thing.'

As a visiting professor at Yale in 1994, where he first learned of Burger's plans, Miller analyzed animal bones deposited in Machu Picchu tombs. Because of that interest, he has embedded native animals -- as well as objects -- into the computer images.

A click on the animal icons brings up additional information, sometimes presented in unusual ways. For instance, clicking on a viscacha -- a member of the chinchilla family -- begins a cartoon with talking animal characters.

"That provides for a sense of uncovering mysteries and kids enjoy that,' Miller said. "And it taps into the more youthful part of all of us.'

TOPICS: Announcements; Culture/Society; Extended News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; US: California
KEYWORDS: archaeology; archeology; exhibit; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; inca; incas; machupicchu; museum; peru
Those in the LA area insterested in History and Archeology may want to check it out, or at least check the website, it looks really interesting.

1 posted on 06/30/2003 8:04:23 PM PDT by FairOpinion
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To: FairOpinion
Machu Picchu is one of the world's spectacular sites. We hiked in last year; it was beautiful. And Cuzco is one of the great dramatic settings for a town. Plus the people were friendly. Heavily traveled these days, but still amazing.
2 posted on 06/30/2003 8:17:03 PM PDT by speedy
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To: speedy
Great! I'd like to see it sometime for real, but in the meantime I'll go visit the exhibit.
3 posted on 06/30/2003 8:20:33 PM PDT by FairOpinion
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To: FairOpinion
The Natural History Museum admission is free the first Tuesday of each month. That's tomorrow, for anyone who doesn't have to work and doesn't mind the crowds on the free museum days, and it will save you $8/person (unless there's an extra charge for the special exhibition).
The Machu Picchu exhibition should be really interesting to see.
4 posted on 06/30/2003 8:33:12 PM PDT by heleny
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LA Museum free days (as of March 2003)

Arboretum -- 3rd Tuesday
Autry M of Western Heritage-- Thursdays 4-8PM, 2nd Tuesday
Craft and Folk Art M -- 1st Wed
Huntington Library, Art, and Gardens -- 1st Thursday
Japanese American National M-- Thursday 5-8PM, 3rd Thursday
Long Beach M of Art -- 1st Friday
LA County M of Art (LACMA) -- 2nd Tuesday
M of Contemorary Art (MOCA) -- Thursdays
Natural History M of LA County -- 1st Tuesday
Pacific Asia M -- 3rd Saturday
Page M at La Brea Tar Pits -- 1st Tuesday
UCLA Fowler M of Cultural History -- unsure: Thursdays, Thursdays & Sundays, or every day
UCLA Armand Hammer M -- Thursdays

Free everyday:
J. Paul Getty, if it's still open
Getty Center
CA Science Center
5 posted on 06/30/2003 9:02:12 PM PDT by heleny
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To: FairOpinion
HERE is the HTML-activated link:

6 posted on 06/30/2003 10:45:33 PM PDT by RonDog
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To: RonDog
It's great. I would really love to see it, but I guess I will have to wait until it gets to Houston. For now, I will settle for Egypt at the Kimball Art Museum in Fort Worth.
7 posted on 07/01/2003 3:05:16 PM PDT by msdrby (If you are not part of the solution, you are in the way. Get outta the way!)
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To: msdrby

Travel Schedule for Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas
After closing at the Peabody on May 4, 2003, the exhibition will travel to the following venues:

Natural History Museum of
Los Angeles County
Los Angeles, CA June 22, 2003
to September 7, 2003

Carnegie Museum
of Natural History
Pittsburgh, PA October 18, 2003
to January 4, 2004

Denver Museum
of Nature and Science
Denver, CO February 13, 2004
to May 9, 2004

The Houston Museum
of Natural Science
Houston, TX June 12, 2004
to August 29, 2004

The Field Museum
Chicago, IL October 8, 2004
to February 1, 2005

8 posted on 07/01/2003 6:09:58 PM PDT by Mugwumps
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To: FairOpinion
My grandfather, David Ford, was an undergraduate classmate of Hyram Bingham's at Dartmouth. Hyram asked him to be the Medical Doctor on the 1912 expidition. He is probably in some of the photos. He was 32 that year. He was tall and thin with a brown mustache and a stiff left leg.

I grew up with many of the same photos from the National Geographic on the walls of my grandparent's house. We have his camera from the expidition in our family room. He also took the camera to France during WWI (Royal Army Medical Corps) and then to China in the 20's (International Red Cross).

Garde la Foi, mes amis! Nous nous sommes les sauveurs de la République! Maintenant et Toujours!
(Keep the Faith, my friends! We are the saviors of the Republic! Now and Forever!)

LonePalm, le Républicain du verre cassé (The Broken Glass Republican)

9 posted on 07/01/2003 6:22:40 PM PDT by LonePalm (Commander and Chef)
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To: LonePalm
"My grandfather, David Ford, was an undergraduate classmate of Hyram Bingham's at Dartmouth. Hyram asked him to be the Medical Doctor on the 1912 expidition. He is probably in some of the photos. He was 32 that year. "


I'll look for him in the pictures when I go see the exhibit, probably in the next couple of weeks.
10 posted on 07/01/2003 6:27:12 PM PDT by FairOpinion
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To: FairOpinion
I like khipu.

Khipu on the Web and in Print: Links & Answers

11 posted on 07/02/2003 1:11:35 PM PDT by JohnnyZ (I barbeque with Sweet Baby Ray's)
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To: JohnnyZ
"I like khipu."

12 posted on 07/03/2003 1:36:29 PM PDT by FairOpinion
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Just updating the GGG information, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the
"Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list or GGG weekly digest
-- Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

13 posted on 01/03/2006 8:53:17 AM PST by SunkenCiv (
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To: FairOpinion

· GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother, and Ernest_at_the_Beach ·
· join list or digest · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · post a topic · subscribe ·

 Antiquity Journal
 & archive
 Archaeology Channel
 Bronze Age Forum
 Nat Geographic
 Science Daily
 Science News
 Texas AM
 Excerpt, or Link only?

Just updating the GGG info, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.

· History topic · history keyword · archaeology keyword · paleontology keyword ·
· Science topic · science keyword · Books/Literature topic · pages keyword ·

14 posted on 10/21/2010 5:43:19 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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