The Inca and Their Ancestors: Andean Objects, Technologies, and Issues of Conservation

Best known for the rapid rise and fall of the Inca Empire, a more detailed narrative shows that the Andes region has an extensive prehistory of complex societies of more than three thousand years. This interdisciplinary seminar is a survey designed to introduce students to different Andean societies and technological innovations through the material culture itself. We will examine these Andean objects through a variety of lenses consulting writings from anthropology, archaeology, art history, and conservation science to understand the great achievements of Andean civilizations, including the construction of Inca stone buildings, the evolution of metal working, weaving, and other material types. This course brings conservation science into dialogue with humanist fields. We will discuss what each field contributes to our understanding of the object and technology, and what questions remain. The course will be complemented by visiting the Andean objects we are studying in local museums. Field trips are scheduled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other local museums offering the opportunity for close study of actual objects and to engage with conservators and curators about the technology, conservation, and presentation of these objects. As part of the course students will have the opportunity to create digital conservation projects through a virtual exhibit of Andean objects. 3 credits. Satisfies the non-Western requirement.