Event will attract a large number of
December 10, 2009. Source:
The Inca civilization, which flourished
for hundreds of years and left behind
priceless archeological artifacts, will be
revived in Seoul.
Dating from ancient Andes civilizations to
the Incan Empire, 351 Peruvian relics will
be exhibited at the National Museum of Korea
titled "The Great Myth and Mystery of
The relics are among rare items that are
hard to see even in Peru. These are
treasures that are scattered at nine
different museums throughout Peru including
the National Museum of Archaeology,
Anthropology and History of Peru and the
Lord of Sipan Museum.
The exhibition organized by the National
Museum, the Hankook Ilbo, the sister paper
of The Korea Times and SBS is the largest of
its kind that comprehensively shows the flow
of the birth, development and demise of the
Particularly, notable are treasures from the
tomb of the Lord of Sipan. The tomb located
in Chiclayo, northern Peru belonged to King
Moche who ruled some 1,700 years ago. Other
fascinating exhibits include artifacts from
the mystical Nazca lines and Machu Picchu,
also known as the castle in the air.
The exhibition consists of three sections:
The Legend of the Andes Civilization; the
Development of Civilization; and the Empire
of Gold, Inca.
Precious relics of an ancient civilization
Exhibition traces the lost culture of the Inca
December 16, 2009. Source:
The Incans called their capital Cusco,
meaning “belly button of the universe.” The
Inca Empire collapsed in the early 16th
century but Cusco, located 3,399 meters
(11,151 feet) above sea level in Peru, still
contains many relics from what was one of
the earliest civilizations in the world.
The exhibition “The Great Myth and Mystery
of Peruvian Civilization: Inca,” which began
Friday at the National Museum of Korea in
Seoul, provides a glimpse into this lost
culture by showcasing the Inca Empire’s
development from over 20 ancient Andean
civilizations. The exhibit also commemorates
the 100th anniversary of the museum as well
as the 20th anniversary of Korea-Peru
bilateral cultural relations.
It is known that the Inca ruled an
empire based in the central Andes from 1430
to 1532, when they were conquered by the
Spanish army. By that time, the civilization
had been in existence for nearly 5,000
years, and encompassed many minor
civilizations, including the mysterious
Nazca culture, which is famous for the
Nazcan Lines, a series of geoglyphs in the
Nazca Desert in Peru.
The 351 artifacts on display - including
mummies, jars, ornaments, weapons, textiles,
ceramics and sculptures from nine museums in
Peru - paint a portrait of the Inca Empire
and the Inca civilization that preceded it.
Some of the items on display show just how
advanced the Inca were. Human skulls with
holes show that the Inca used highly
sophisticated medical techniques and were
able to perform brain surgeries.
“People who had brain surgery continued to
live after surgery,” said Choi Hyung-sun,
assistant curator of the museum.
Choi also pointed out another feature of the
exhibition - the mummies.
The oldest mummies in the world come from
the Inca civilization, not from Egypt, Choi
The mummy in this exhibit is from the
Chiribaya period (900-1440). The area has
dry soil that contains a high amount of
salt, which helped dry the body. Unlike
Egyptian mummies, which are mummified in a
supine position, the Inca mummified their
dead in the seated position. Some mummies
had their organs taken out and replaced by
coca leaves or llama hairs. Often, animals
were buried with their human counterparts.
Two such animals, a mummified dog and a
monkey, are displayed in this exhibit.
The exhibition is divided into three
sections showing the Inca Empire; the
civilizations that preceded the empire,
including the Nazca, Moche and Chimu; and
the ancient Andean culture and myths of the
One of the notable relics here is the
sculpture of a “Feline Figure” produced in
the Moche period (100-700). Made of gilt
bronze, the piece was found in the pyramid
of King Sipan. The crown is shaped like a
snake and has a jaguar head on both ends. In
the Andean civilizations, the bird, jaguar
and snake symbolized the power of the sky,
land and underground, respectively. Its
menacing shape makes it quite intimidating.
Yet another piece of interest is the
sacrificial knife, known as a tumi, from the
Lambayeque period (750-1375). The tumi is a
semi-circular knife that was used in
sacrificial ceremonies. Blood from the
sacrifice was then poured into a cup that
was presented to the god.
The Inca Empire came to an end in 1532, and
historians have speculated that there are
several reasons for its demise: the Spanish
invasion, long-standing tribal wars and a
The empire was rich with gold but when the
Spanish arrived and conquered the Inca, they
took their gold artifacts as war trophies,
melted them and shipped them to Europe. All
of the golden artifacts in this exhibit are
“The relics are significant because they not
only show the lost culture [of the Inca] but
also reveal something about the society of
the civilization,” Marcela Lopez Bravo,
Peruvian Ambassador to Korea, said in a
press conference at the opening of the
The exhibition continues through March 28,
2010. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; 9 a.m. to 9
pm. on Wednesdays and Saturdays; 9 a.m. to 7
p.m. on Sundays. Closed on Mondays.
Admission costs 5,000 won ($4.30) to 10,000
won. Go to Ichon Station, line No. 4, exit
2. For more information, call 1588-7862 or
visit www.museum.go.kr .