The path
to Peru

Turn right at the abandoned Jeep and don’t let the howling monkeys scare you. The Empires of Mystery has plenty to teach about the Incas and their ancestors, but Florida International Museum plans to make visitors feel like they’re on an expedition to the most remote corners of Peru -- or in an Indiana Jones movie. In fact, the voice of actor John Rhys-Davies , whom you may remember from The Last Crusade, will guide the tour, and staffers will wear safari vests. After a brief introductory film, museum goers will enter a darkened area and emerge on a path simulating ancient pavement that winds past heavy tropical foliage and dappled light of jungle netting, listening to the sounds of wild animals and earth tremors. It will lead to surprising places: from a Miami customs warehouse to mountaintop Machu Picchu, aerial views of the Nazca lines, into tombs and temples, with mummies and tomb guardians hidden around each corner. Along the journey will be pottery, textiles and other artifacts left by the Paracas, Moche, Chancay and other peoples, as well as the Incas. Pay close attention and you’ll see the beauty of their arts and their ways of life and death. The trip requires between one and two hours, but it will take you back thousands of years.

Story by Chris Sherman

Photos courtesy of Florida International Museum

Empires of Mystery

(click on photos for enlargement)
clubCupisnique (1000-200 B.C.): This carved and polished basalt club head was among the weaponry of Peru’s ancient civilizations. Gallery 8 -- Warfare


pichersNazca (A.D. 1-700): Pitchers display themes from the supernatural and natural worlds. At left, a female supernatural being is surrounded by children, symbolizing fertility and abundance. Gallery 10 -- Nazca Lines
Moche (A.D. 50-800): While most portrait vessels depict high-ranking individuals, these represent the common man. Extensive detail, such as the wrinkles on the woman depicted on the pitcher fourth from the left, are typical of the realism in Moche art. Gallery 11 -- The People

portrait vessels

fish ritual object

Chimu (A.D. 1100-1450): This monochrome fish-shaped paccha was a ritual object intended to make the earth fertile. Gallery 12 -- The Sea

Sorceress MummyThis mummy was exhumed from Lima’s Huaca Huallamarca, a shrine that later became a burial site. The method of burial corresponds to Middle Horizon culture. Gallery 16 -- Sorceress Mummy Tomb fabricChancay (A.D. 1200-1450): This fabric is painted with stylized bird motifs. Gallery 16 -- Sorceress Mummy Tomb
Sican (A.D. 700 -1370): This gold vaserepousse vase portrays the lord Naymlap, who is the mythical founder of a pre-Chimu dynasty in Lambayeque, in northern Peru. He is identified by a human face with bird characteristics. Gallery 18 -- Lost Temple of the Sun mummy’s tunicChinu (A.D. 1100-1450): This copper repousse pectoral is decorated with geometric shapes and bird imagery, and has perforations that allowed it to be attached to a mummy’s tunic. Gallery 18 -- Lost Temple of the Sun

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