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Current time:0:00Total duration:5:44

Inka ushnus: landscape, site and symbol in the Andes

Video transcript

the ocean of project has offered a wonderful incentive an opportunity to start to examine much more closely what is in the British museum's collections the inca objects have storied histories they've come in through diplomats through travelers they reflect the development of the social sciences and archaeology and anthropology as emerging disciplines and what they tell us here is really quite a wonderful individual story about how we connect the ritual activities that are depicted on these objects to what we are discovering in the field Incas were masters of dominating the landscape both in terms of what they did in terms of their everyday practices but also the way that they use the landscape and place certain structures within it the Incas needed a visible symbol of their presence and the platform embodied just that what our excavations have revealed is that the concept of us knew as a drainage channel to receive liquids is conflated with the physical body of the platform and we found Inca ancestral stones laid deep beneath the platform and we found clear excavated evidence of visits made to pour libations to these Inca ancestors and this is a wonderful new insight that lets us know that these platforms were not only built and left as inca statements of their Imperial control but they were visited and and ritually respected one of the most interesting ink artifacts in the collection of the British Museum it's a stone offering vessel which on the front shows members of the Inca elite engaged in a ritual that involves the Sun there are two figures in adoration with the Sun above them and in front of them there is a small animated conical object of a type that we have identified as stone effigy of of the an ancestral Sun and we have excavated on one of our push new sites also there is a figure of an individual who has a hunchback and who stands with a parasol this would have been a civil servant or an administrator who was there to provide shadow 40 the Inca or his coyot his queen well there are several objects that are each of which is very individual and distinctive in character but the connecting thread is drinking very appropriate being the Andean world and it really connects quite wonderfully with a discovery that we've made in the field of similar kinds of objects that we are describing as Inca ancestor figures particular objects like gold camelids would be left in combination with very high status offerings such as human sacrifice usual to do with with children or warriors or women in some context or they get used in in offerings associated with apples very important deities in mountain associations or to do with lakes which are points of origin of local communities you one of the ways in which the British Museum has been able to help shape the project outputs is in creating a portable exhibition these are for display banners the portable display helps explain the project to the local communities that we've been in touch with and is a very meaningful way of reciprocating the knowledge that's generated by the project and returning it to the communities themselves in and around I Iguchi you