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Archaeology: Central and South America

Archaeology: Central and South America

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Great Riddles in Archaeology Lecture Series: El Dorado in the Americas: A Wild Dream or Actual Fact?

Conquistadors, explorers, treasure hunters, and many others have long sought the famed El Dorado or Golden City. Throughout history, elaborate stories and myths have circulated about the existence of such a place and bits of evidence have been assembled to attempt to prove its reality. Dr. Clark Erickson, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, explores the origins of El Dorado, the complex narratives that circulate, and the historical, ethnographic, and archaeological information that may help us understand the popularity of the concept of El Dorado through time.

1hr 3mins

11 Jan 2012

Rank #1

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Preserving the Maya Past

The contemporary Maya living in the Yucatan today identify their heritage and past as related to the Caste War of the mid 19th Century, one of the most successful indigenous rebellions in the Americas. They make few direct ties to the ancient Maya past. A new Penn project in Quintana Roo explores the nature of this past and heritage and is focused on the integration of the contemporary Maya into the archaeological, ethnohistoric and ethnographic study of the Caste War. By Dr. Richard Leventhal, Professor, Anthropoology and Director of the Penn Cultural Heritage Center.


11 Aug 2011

Rank #2

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The Maya Conch

Ethnomusicologist John Burkhalter demonstrates how the Maya would manipulate the pitch of the conch shell.


15 Jun 2011

Rank #3

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Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Peru 1950

This is some of the earliest color footage of Machu Picchu in Cuzco, Peru taken in June and July of 1950. The film begins at a railroad station with people in a cattle car and men on the roof playing instruments. A woman spins at a busy marketplace. The camera pans a narrow steep gorge approaching Machu Picchu revealing terrace farming on side of steep mountain, the valley at base of Machu Picchu, sunrise over terrace farms and ruins, and water coming out of " princess" quarters. Inca stone buildings amid terrace forms on high steep side of mountain near the peak. The camera tracks the view from the plane back to Lima looking southeast toward the mountains.All rights are reserved by the University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (Penn Museum). Any use of the footage in productions is forbidden unless rights have been secured by contacting the Penn Museum Archives at 215-898-8304, or emailfilms@museum.upenn.edu.This film and all of the films in the Penn Museum collection are copyrighted by the Penn Museum, and are not in the public domain. Full length footage can be seen at http://www.archive.org


14 Jun 2011

Rank #4

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Machu Picchu and the Incas

After its “discovery” in 1911 by Hiram Bingham and subsequent research, competing hypotheses have been proposed about the site’s purpose and meaning. Dr. Erickson will evaluate these interpretations.A part of the 2010 "Great Discoveries Lecture Series."

1hr 23mins

14 Jun 2011

Rank #5