Palimpsest Notes from Bob SteltonWithin the political boundaries of Peru exists a vast arrogation of mystery and adventure that beckons adventure travel as demonstrated by Dr. Ellen Burkholder, the CAS March Speaker. Treasures beyond the imagination of human greed or need captured the initiative of many who came to regard the burials as public domain – fit for exploitation!
Primal forces created desert conditions between the sea and the Andean peaks that almost perfectly ended preserved the dead as natural mummies. But almost isn’t good enough. That protection policy ended where the huaqueros (grave robbers) broke earth.
By now the epic adventure of Dr. Walter Alva, and his discovery of the tomb of the Lords of Sipán in 1987, has entered the annals of iconic archaeology, and resides as such, with the immortals like Howard Carter.
Dr. Alva is a worthy recipient of all encomiums tendered. On an uncomfortable January night, he was literally pulled from a hospital bed and driven to a poor peasant’s hut by the police to examine a small hoard of gold the likes of which he never had seen before. He examined treasures that would soon become cultural competitors of Tut’s legendary hoard.
The following day, still very ill, alone, he ascended the tomb, alternatively waving his pistol and warning the angry crowd to back off! When all seemed lost, he trumped the huaqueros’ greed with a plea to work with him to save their patrimony. They worked together, the proof of which is the magnificent Lords of Sipán Museum at Lambayeque.
And that, dear reader, is how the magnificent Lords of Sipán museum at Lambayeque was saved before it was born.
There is more – much more – to this dazzling story of Pre-Inca tombs, archaeology, and crime!
Several years ago a small group from the CAS joined with MexiMayan Academic Travel on a Peru discovery itinerary that included The Tomb of the Lords, The Lambayeque Museum and a memorable meeting with Dr. Walter Alva.
Given the opportunity to explore tomb and museum and perhaps to meet Dr. Alva is truly a bucket item not to be missed. If that can’t be, Amazon can send to you hours of reading pleasure, Lords of Sipán, for about $10.