Home » Exhibitions » Exhibition Review- Peru: a journey in time at the British Museum from 11 November 2021 to 20 February 2022

Exhibition Review- Peru: a journey in time at the British Museum from 11 November 2021 to 20 February 2022

The British Museum presents a major new exhibition entitled Peru: a journey in time that features the rare loan of ancient objects from Peru to the British Museum.

The loan includes over 40 remarkable objects, some dating from over 3,000 years ago from nine museums across Peru. Most of them have never travelled to the UK before. These objects are on display with around 80 other pieces from the British Museum’s collection. This is the first major exhibition the British Museum has ever staged on Peru. It coincides with the 200th anniversary of the country’s independence.

The exhibition ranges from the early culture of Chavin in 1200 BC, up to the fall of the Incas in AD 1532, and explores the rise and fall of six remarkable but little known societies. Peru includes some of most challenging and geographically diverse regions in the world, with landscapes ranging from arid deserts, high mountains across the Andes and tropical forests in the east.

The exhibition is chronological passing through six sections and exploring the past and considering the present. The first section called Living Landscapes, explores the way Andean people have adapted to the difficult environment in the region. To adapt, Andean people have developed belief systems where the natural and supernatural worlds are intimately connected. This is illustrated clearly in the section on Early cultures and the Chavin (1200–500 BC),

The following section looking at life and death in the desert and how the Paracas and Nasca peoples lived and prospered along the south coast of Peru.

The next step on the journey focus on the Moche (AD 100–800) and the Chimu, (AD 1000–1400) who dominated along the coast and inland valleys of northern Peru.

This is followed by a section looking at the two great empires of the highlands of the Central Andes, the Wari (AD 600–900) and Inca (AD 1400–1532).

The exhibition’s journey ends with a look at the Andean legacy, and how the Modern Peru of today combines the cultures, religions and transformations from the past 3,000 years.

Highlights among the objects coming from Peru include a stunning 2,500-year-old gold headdress and pair of ear plates which were part of an elite burial found at the site of Kuntur Wasi, Cajamarca.

Also there is a striking ceremonial drum from around 100 BC – AD 650 featuring a depiction of the capture of defeated enemies in ritual combat, one of the principal scenes of the Nasca people’s worldview.

The oldest object on loan is a ceremonial vessel from the Cupisnique culture, which flourished along what is now Peru’s northern Pacific coast, and is thought to date from up to 1200 BC. It is in the shape of a contorted human body.

This intriguing exhibition reminds visitors that many societies around the world have prospered in less than ideal environments and this isolation often leads to unique societies with interesting belief systems. This exhibition provides considerable insights into Peruvian societies that were closely related to their environment yet believed in the supernatural world of gods and spirits. It also illustrates that these societies were innovative and sophisticated using a series of techniques in engineering, agriculture and textiles to make full use of the limited resources available.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and tickets, visit the British Museum website here

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