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The French Scientific Mission to South America (1903): the controversies and material legacy of the first extensive excavations in Tiahuanaco, Bolivia

Author(s): Paz Núñez-Regueiro ; John W. Janusek

Year: 2017

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Summary

In the context of a pluridisciplinary mission organized by the French government in Chile, Argentina, Peru and Bolivia in 1903, archaeological excavations were conducted in the monumental site of Tiahuanaco by the naturalist Georges Courty. During his 3-month stay, he conducted extensive fieldwork in the Akapana mound, the Sunken Temple, the Kalasasaya, and the Chunchukala and Putuni structures. The material corpus unearthed is estimated to consist in over 1400 artifacts, later divided between Bolivia and France. Courty also brought back to Paris a map of the ruins and excavations, some stamps and drawings, and a set of 61 photographs. Yet he failed to publish his results. Very early on, he was criticized for his lack of rigor and the destructions on the site, leading to a black legend of the French mission that prevails up to now. Our research aims at reassembling the material archives of Courty’s work, following step by step his excavations and associating his observations with the current state of knowledge. We also review the objects held at the Musée du Quai Branly and the Museo Nacional de Arqueología, in an attempt to contextualize part of the collection, with a special emphasis on stone sculpture.


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Cite this Record

The French Scientific Mission to South America (1903): the controversies and material legacy of the first extensive excavations in Tiahuanaco, Bolivia. Paz Núñez-Regueiro, John W. Janusek. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430659)


Keywords

General
Tiahuanaco

Geographic Keywords
South America


Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15313

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America