Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas

01
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Overlooking Machu Picchu in 2004

Image © 2004 Gina Carey; Used with permission.
© 2004 Gina Carey

September 11, 2005 to August 27, 2006

About the show:

Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History once again exhibits Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas through August 27, 2006. More than 200 ceramic, bone, metal, stone, textile and wooden works of art and artifacts describe the culture of the Inca at Machu Picchu during the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. In the show's catalogue, curators Richard L. Burger and Lucy C. Salazar, supported by a superb team of scholars, demonstrate convincingly that the site functioned as a royal estate and summer retreat for the Inca elite from the empire's capital, Cuzco. Indeed, it was probably occupied for less than 100 years.

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From your Guide: Stan Parchin, Senior Correspondent for Museums and Special Exhibitions, is a regular contributor to About Art History and the author of this feature. You may read all of his Special Exhibition and Catalogue Reviews here.

This shot, taken by Gina Carey in 2004, overlooks the site of Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes, Urubamba Province. Perched on a precipice overlooking the Urubamba River, this small city functioned as a royal estate and summer retreat for the Inca elite during the Fifteenth and Sixteenth centuries before being abandoned after the Spanish Conquest of Peru (1532) led by Francisco Pizarro (ca. 1475-1541).

In the images that follow, Stan Parchin has assembled a gallery of works of art and artifacts from the special exhibition Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas (on view at Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History through August 27, 2006).

Special thanks to Melanie Brigockas, Public Relations and Marketing Manager at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, for her invaluable assistance in obtaining exhibition images for About Art History readers.

02
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Hiram Bingham III at the Main Camp of Machu Picchu, September 1912

Image © Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University; Used with permission
A Special Exhibition Image Gallery by Stan Parchin Hiram Bingham III at the Main Camp of Machu Picchu, September 1912. Photograph by Ellwood C. Erdis. © Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University

Hiram Bingham III (1875-1956) was the American professor and explorer who rediscovered the remote Inca site of Machu Picchu with the Yale Peruvian Expedition of 1911.

About the show:

Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History once again exhibits Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas through August 27, 2006. More than 200 ceramic, bone, metal, stone, textile and wooden works of art and artifacts describe the culture of the Inca at Machu Picchu during the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. In the show's catalogue, curators Richard L. Burger and Lucy C. Salazar, supported by a superb team of scholars, demonstrate convincingly that the site functioned as a royal estate and summer retreat for the Inca elite from the empire's capital, Cuzco. Indeed, it was probably occupied for less than 100 years.

"Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas" is on view from September 11, 2005 through August 27, 2006 at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, 170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8118 (Telephone: 203-432-5050; Website). The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday from 12:00 Noon to 5:00 PM. Admission to the museum is $7.00 for adults, $6.00 for senior citizens and $5.00 for children 3 to 18 years of age.

**************************

From your Guide: Stan Parchin, Senior Correspondent for Museums and Special Exhibitions, is a specialist in ancient, late-medieval and Renaissance art and history, and a regular contributor to About Art History. You may read all of his Special Exhibition and Catalogue Reviews here.

03
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Aryballos (Late Horizon, Inca, 1476-1534 A.D.)

Image © Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University; Used with permission
A Special Exhibition Image Gallery by Stan Parchin Aryballos (Late Horizon, Inca, 1476-1534 A.D.). Machu Picchu. Painted ceramic. H. 31.5 in. (80.0 cm), Max. D. 23.6 in. (60.0 cm). YPM 17477. © Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University

This aryballos or handled jar with a conical base, shaped by hand and mold because the Inca were unaware of the potter's wheel, is distinguished by its painted black neck, small lug or decorative projection in the shape of a feline head and polished finish of its oxidized orange surface. Although awkward in shape, vessels such as this one were used by the Inca during rituals requiring chicha (corn beer).

About the show:

Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History once again exhibits Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas through August 27, 2006. More than 200 ceramic, bone, metal, stone, textile and wooden works of art and artifacts describe the culture of the Inca at Machu Picchu during the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. In the show's catalogue, curators Richard L. Burger and Lucy C. Salazar, supported by a superb team of scholars, demonstrate convincingly that the site functioned as a royal estate and summer retreat for the Inca elite from the empire's capital, Cuzco. Indeed, it was probably occupied for less than 100 years.

"Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas" is on view from September 11, 2005 through August 27, 2006 at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, 170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8118 (Telephone: 203-432-5050; Website). The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday from 12:00 Noon to 5:00 PM. Admission to the museum is $7.00 for adults, $6.00 for senior citizens and $5.00 for children 3 to 18 years of age.

**************************

From your Guide: Stan Parchin, Senior Correspondent for Museums and Special Exhibitions, is a specialist in ancient, late-medieval and Renaissance art and history, and a regular contributor to About Art History. You may read all of his Special Exhibition and Catalogue Reviews here.

04
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Face-Necked Jar (Late Horizon, Inca, 1476-1534 A.D.)

Image © Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University; Used with permission
A Special Exhibition Image Gallery by Stan Parchin Face-Necked Jar (Late Horizon, Inca, 1476-1534 A.D.). Machu Picchu, Cave 26. Painted ceramic. H. 2.3 in. (5.9 cm), Max. D. 4.7 in. (12.0 cm). YPM 16438. © Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University

This anthropomorphic vessel with a red stylized face on its neck has a white band, outlined in black, that runs horizontally around its body. The archaeologist Hiram Bingham III (1875-1956) proposed that the circles hanging within the white region of the jar's surface were simplified pictorial representations of Inca jewelry.

About the show:

Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History once again exhibits Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas through August 27, 2006. More than 200 ceramic, bone, metal, stone, textile and wooden works of art and artifacts describe the culture of the Inca at Machu Picchu during the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. In the show's catalogue, curators Richard L. Burger and Lucy C. Salazar, supported by a superb team of scholars, demonstrate convincingly that the site functioned as a royal estate and summer retreat for the Inca elite from the empire's capital, Cuzco. Indeed, it was probably occupied for less than 100 years.

"Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas" is on view from September 11, 2005 through August 27, 2006 at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, 170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8118 (Telephone: 203-432-5050; Website). The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday from 12:00 Noon to 5:00 PM. Admission to the museum is $7.00 for adults, $6.00 for senior citizens and $5.00 for children 3 to 18 years of age.

**************************

From your Guide: Stan Parchin, Senior Correspondent for Museums and Special Exhibitions, is a specialist in ancient, late-medieval and Renaissance art and history, and a regular contributor to About Art History. You may read all of his Special Exhibition and Catalogue Reviews here.

05
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Plate with Bird Handle (Late Horizon, Inca, 1476-1534 A.D.)

Image © Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University; Used with permission
A Special Exhibition Image Gallery by Stan Parchin Plate with Bird Handle (Late Horizon, Inca, 1476-1534 A.D.). Machu Picchu. Painted ceramic. H. 1.8 in. (4.5 cm), Max. D. 10.4 in. (26.5 cm). YPM 16950. © Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University

Inca plates often had handles that were anthropomorphic or zoomorphic in design. This one features the head of a bird (possibly a duck) on one end and its tail feathers on the opposite one. Its decoration in black, white and red paint is geometric and rhythmic in nature.

About the show:

Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History once again exhibits Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas through August 27, 2006. More than 200 ceramic, bone, metal, stone, textile and wooden works of art and artifacts describe the culture of the Inca at Machu Picchu during the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. In the show's catalogue, curators Richard L. Burger and Lucy C. Salazar, supported by a superb team of scholars, demonstrate convincingly that the site functioned as a royal estate and summer retreat for the Inca elite from the empire's capital, Cuzco. Indeed, it was probably occupied for less than 100 years.

"Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas" is on view from September 11, 2005 through August 27, 2006 at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, 170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8118 (Telephone: 203-432-5050; Website). The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday from 12:00 Noon to 5:00 PM. Admission to the museum is $7.00 for adults, $6.00 for senior citizens and $5.00 for children 3 to 18 years of age.

**************************

From your Guide: Stan Parchin, Senior Correspondent for Museums and Special Exhibitions, is a specialist in ancient, late-medieval and Renaissance art and history, and a regular contributor to About Art History. You may read all of his Special Exhibition and Catalogue Reviews here.

06
of 10

Paccha Showing a Hand Grasping a Qero (Late Horizon, Provincial Inca)

Image © Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University; Used with permission
A Special Exhibition Image Gallery by Stan Parchin Paccha Showing a Hand Grasping a Qero (Late Horizon, Provincial Inca, 1476-1534 A.D.). Machu Picchu. Ceramic. H. 3.1 in. (7.8 cm), Max. D. 5.5 in. (14.0 cm). YPM 16962. © Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University

This paccha or religious vessel was probably crafted for ritual use. An exquisite example of naturalistic modeling produced by an Inca craftsman, the ceramic piece depicts a right hand holding a qero (beaker). Single-color representations of disembodied extremities were commonly created in Peru's north coast, making it likely that this work originated outside of Machu Picchu.

About the show:

Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History once again exhibits Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas through August 27, 2006. More than 200 ceramic, bone, metal, stone, textile and wooden works of art and artifacts describe the culture of the Inca at Machu Picchu during the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. In the show's catalogue, curators Richard L. Burger and Lucy C. Salazar, supported by a superb team of scholars, demonstrate convincingly that the site functioned as a royal estate and summer retreat for the Inca elite from the empire's capital, Cuzco. Indeed, it was probably occupied for less than 100 years.

"Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas" is on view from September 11, 2005 through August 27, 2006 at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, 170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8118 (Telephone: 203-432-5050; Website). The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday from 12:00 Noon to 5:00 PM. Admission to the museum is $7.00 for adults, $6.00 for senior citizens and $5.00 for children 3 to 18 years of age.

**************************

From your Guide: Stan Parchin, Senior Correspondent for Museums and Special Exhibitions, is a specialist in ancient, late-medieval and Renaissance art and history, and a regular contributor to About Art History. You may read all of his Special Exhibition and Catalogue Reviews here.

07
of 10

Shawl Pin with Triangular Decoration (Late Horizon, Inca, 1476-1534 A.D.)

Image © Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University; Used with permission
A Special Exhibition Image Gallery by Stan Parchin Shawl Pin with Triangular Decoration (Late Horizon, Inca, 1476-1534 A.D.). Machu Picchu. Silver. L. 6.4 in. (16.2 cm), W. 2.7 in. (6.8 cm). YPM 17843. © Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University

Tupus or long shawl pins were a staple of female attire in the Inca Empire. The head of this one features three triangular openings that could have been made during the object's casting process. Unusual in shape when compared to other tupus discovered at Machu Picchu, this decorative work's shape strongly suggests that it was probably manufactured in an area beyond the region's precincts.

About the show:

Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History once again exhibits Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas through August 27, 2006. More than 200 ceramic, bone, metal, stone, textile and wooden works of art and artifacts describe the culture of the Inca at Machu Picchu during the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. In the show's catalogue, curators Richard L. Burger and Lucy C. Salazar, supported by a superb team of scholars, demonstrate convincingly that the site functioned as a royal estate and summer retreat for the Inca elite from the empire's capital, Cuzco. Indeed, it was probably occupied for less than 100 years.

"Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas" is on view from September 11, 2005 through August 27, 2006 at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, 170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8118 (Telephone: 203-432-5050; Website). The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday from 12:00 Noon to 5:00 PM. Admission to the museum is $7.00 for adults, $6.00 for senior citizens and $5.00 for children 3 to 18 years of age.

**************************

From your Guide: Stan Parchin, Senior Correspondent for Museums and Special Exhibitions, is a specialist in ancient, late-medieval and Renaissance art and history, and a regular contributor to About Art History. You may read all of his Special Exhibition and Catalogue Reviews here.

08
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Crescent-Shaped Knife-Pendant with Curvilinear Adornment (Late Horizon)

Image © Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University; Used with permission
A Special Exhibition Image Gallery by Stan Parchin Crescent-Shaped Knife-Pendant with Curvilinear Adornment (Late Horizon, Provincial Inca, 1476-1534 A.D.). Machu Picchu. Tin bronze. L. 3.8 in. (9.7 cm), W. 2.2 in. (5.6 cm). YPM 17876. © Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University

The unusual crescent shape and swirling projections from the knife's top edge suggest that it was produced in an eastern Andean region of Ecuador rather than in Machu Picchu. A central loop in the object's upper decorative area allowed it to be worn as a pendant around the owner's neck.

About the show:

Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History once again exhibits Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas through August 27, 2006. More than 200 ceramic, bone, metal, stone, textile and wooden works of art and artifacts describe the culture of the Inca at Machu Picchu during the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. In the show's catalogue, curators Richard L. Burger and Lucy C. Salazar, supported by a superb team of scholars, demonstrate convincingly that the site functioned as a royal estate and summer retreat for the Inca elite from the empire's capital, Cuzco. Indeed, it was probably occupied for less than 100 years.

"Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas" is on view from September 11, 2005 through August 27, 2006 at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, 170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8118 (Telephone: 203-432-5050; Website). The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday from 12:00 Noon to 5:00 PM. Admission to the museum is $7.00 for adults, $6.00 for senior citizens and $5.00 for children 3 to 18 years of age.

**************************

From your Guide: Stan Parchin, Senior Correspondent for Museums and Special Exhibitions, is a specialist in ancient, late-medieval and Renaissance art and history, and a regular contributor to About Art History. You may read all of his Special Exhibition and Catalogue Reviews here.

09
of 10

Shawl Pin (Late Horizon, Inca, 1476-1534 A.D.)

Image © Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University; Used with permission
A Special Exhibition Image Gallery by Stan Parchin Shawl Pin (Late Horizon, Inca, 1476-1534 A.D.). Machu Picchu, Cave 85. Bone. L. 3.4 in. (8.6 cm), W. 0.8 in. (2.0 cm). YPM 17466. © Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University

As the use of metallurgy increased in Machu Picchu and its surrounding regions, the production of ornaments and tools in bone diminished without completely having disappeared. A finely carved pair of nearly identical birds with beaks touching each other sits perched on the head of this polished tupu or shawl pin. The interior space of the object's rectangular head includes six circle-dot designs arranged in two horizontal rows. Beneath the pin's head is a neat circular perforation that permitted a cord to be run through it for the purpose of securing both the shawl and the tupu for practical and ornamental reasons.

About the show:

Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History once again exhibits Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas through August 27, 2006. More than 200 ceramic, bone, metal, stone, textile and wooden works of art and artifacts describe the culture of the Inca at Machu Picchu during the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. In the show's catalogue, curators Richard L. Burger and Lucy C. Salazar, supported by a superb team of scholars, demonstrate convincingly that the site functioned as a royal estate and summer retreat for the Inca elite from the empire's capital, Cuzco. Indeed, it was probably occupied for less than 100 years.

"Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas" is on view from September 11, 2005 through August 27, 2006 at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, 170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8118 (Telephone: 203-432-5050; Website). The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday from 12:00 Noon to 5:00 PM. Admission to the museum is $7.00 for adults, $6.00 for senior citizens and $5.00 for children 3 to 18 years of age.

**************************

From your Guide: Stan Parchin, Senior Correspondent for Museums and Special Exhibitions, is a specialist in ancient, late-medieval and Renaissance art and history, and a regular contributor to About Art History. You may read all of his Special Exhibition and Catalogue Reviews here.

10
of 10

Zoomorphic Effigy Bottle (Colonial, Late 16th Century A.D.)

Image © Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University; Used with permission
A Special Exhibition Image Gallery by Stan Parchin Zoomorphic Effigy Bottle (Colonial, Late 16th Century A.D.). Ollantaytambo, Cuzco. Ceramic. H. 7.3 in. (18.5 cm), Max. D. 8.9 in. (22.5 cm). © Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University

Created in the Central Andes after the Spanish Conquest of Peru (1532) led by Francisco Pizarro (ca. 1475-1541), this brown vessel is in the shape of a four-legged supernatural entity, perhaps a dragon. Incisions on the surface of the seated creature's broad chest give the object texture. Hind legs terminating in what may be cloven hooves appear in low-relief along the left and right sides of the animal's slender and elongated body.

About the show:

Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History once again exhibits Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas through August 27, 2006. More than 200 ceramic, bone, metal, stone, textile and wooden works of art and artifacts describe the culture of the Inca at Machu Picchu during the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. In the show's catalogue, curators Richard L. Burger and Lucy C. Salazar, supported by a superb team of scholars, demonstrate convincingly that the site functioned as a royal estate and summer retreat for the Inca elite from the empire's capital, Cuzco. Indeed, it was probably occupied for less than 100 years.

"Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas" is on view from September 11, 2005 through August 27, 2006 at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, 170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8118 (Telephone: 203-432-5050; Website). The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday from 12:00 Noon to 5:00 PM. Admission to the museum is $7.00 for adults, $6.00 for senior citizens and $5.00 for children 3 to 18 years of age.

**************************

From your Guide: Stan Parchin, Senior Correspondent for Museums and Special Exhibitions, is a specialist in ancient, late-medieval and Renaissance art and history, and a regular contributor to About Art History. You may read all of his Special Exhibition and Catalogue Reviews here.