3000 years' advanced civilisations
The Inca and their cultural ancestors
World Cultural Heritage Site Völklinger Hütte is exhibiting 120 masterpieces from Larco Museum Peru for the first time ever in Germany. Choice gold exhibits that give an overview of 3,000 years' advanced civilisation in ancient Peru. Additionally there are exhibits from Stuttgart Museum that together comprise the exhibition "IncaGold - 3000 years' advanced civilisations - Masterpieces from Larco Museum Peru".
Peru, in the Andes, is not only one of the countries with the richest bio-diversity in the world, with a great variety of climatic zones and habitats; it is also a country with some of the most important cultural treasures in human history.
There is evidence of early advanced civilisations such as the Chavín culture from 900 B.C., i.e. 2000 years before the Inca, in the Andean highlands. The fact of their existence bears witness to the close cultural contact between the Pacific coast and the lowlands of Amazonia.
The culture of the Moche (100 - c. 600 A.D.), also known as the 'Mochica', is one of the most fascinating and significant civilisations of ancient Peru. The ceramic articles of the Moche, designed with a myriad of forms and vivid colours, gave expression to an entire cosmology, comprising a well developed cult of the dead, the worship of gods with human sacrifices, a rich and fertile rural economy and highly cultivated craftsmanship. Adobe pyramids, whose fame has spread across the world, and tombs of nobles, amply furnished with gold and silver, bear witness today to the high cultural level attained by the Moche civilisation.
Many of the political and cultural achievements of the Moche were reproduced in the cultures which followed, e.g. that of the Chimú and later that of the Inca. In these cultures we find the worship of nature gods such as the sun, the moon or Mother Earth repeating themselves in the language of a thousand years, full of symbolism and craftsmanship reflected in the most fantastic ceramic and textile artefacts and in goldsmithery. Parallels to the cult of the dead are also evidenced by a number of mummies discovered with numerous grave furnishings.
The immeasurable wealth and the extraordinary gold treasures motivated the Spaniards under the leadership of Francisco Pizarro to conquer Ancient America's largest and most powerful empire. The Incas ruled over an enormous empire that they had built up over the course of a mere 132 years by way of a rapid series of invasions, thereby subjugating significant civilisations such as those of the Chimú and the Moche.
The Spanish conquerors reported on how they were overwhelmed by the massive temple sites, palaces and incredible gold treasures they came across when invading the Inca Empire in 1532. For months on end Indian goldsmiths were busy melting down the Inca gold captured by the Spaniards so that it could be transported back home to Spain.
Between 1532 and 1540 at least 181 tonnes of gold and 16,800 tonnes of silver found their way over the Atlantic to Europe. The quantities of precious metals reaching mainland Europe was so great that it triggered in the European financial markets the first major bout of inflation in money and finance history. This myth surrounding the Inca gold is today as vivid as ever. The fascinating gold treasures of the rich culture of the pre-Inca advanced civilisations - those of the Moche, Chimú and Chavín - give us today at least some idea of the extent to which the Spaniards were overwhelmed by what they experienced 500 years ago and of what has kept the myth of the Inca gold so vivid over all these years. The extraordinary gold exhibits on display, splendid crowns, valuable head decorations, precious diadems and sparkling ear decorations were all expressions of the people's ritual veneration of the gods. They give us an insight into the, by our standards, exotic world and religion of the advanced civilisations of the Andes. The exhibits on display at the IncaGold exhibition are a unique testimony of advanced civilisations whose glorious heritage continues to astound people to this very day. "IncaGold - 3000 years' advanced civilisations - Masterpieces from Larco Museum Peru", is the first exhibition at World Cultural Heritage Site Völklinger Hütte to feature world civilisations of the South American Andean state. IncaGold is being presented with the kind support of the Peru National Institute of Culture.