The history of archaeology can be seen as a large and open field crisscrossed by thousands of paths made by different people over time. As these people pursued their personal and professional goals, their journeys were conditioned, limited, influenced, or biased by a series of ideas, norms, other people, and innumerable external events both within and beyond their control. At the same time, new paths were created while older roads were cleaned, paved, and even erased by others. This “landscape of the past,” to complete our metaphor, is full of tracks left by archaeologists and others involved in one way or another with the pursuit of the past. The intellectual history of these paths requires us to establish and revisit the paths created by their makers. Some will be well-worn and well-known paths—others less so—but in the end they all combine to create a rich narrative to be explored.
Obviously, we are still far from a definitive history of Peruvian archaeology, or even archaeology in its entirety.1 However, it is a goal that we must continuously pursue because this history is constantly being created and re-created. Some of our colleagues have already begun this work in seminars, academic meetings, and publications. This book is a contribution to that history written from a specific personal and historical perspective, an attempt to highlight the principal players in the history of Peruvian archaeology.
Almost 25 years ago, the Canadian archaeologist Bruce Trigger (1989b) published his History of Archaeological Thought, a book that sparked my initialminterest in the history of archaeology. However, despite the general excellence of Trigger’s work, one gets the clear impression of a largely Euro-American perspective. With only tangential reference to the great Julio C. Tello, for instance, Peruvian archaeology was relegated to being an exotic land where archaeologists came to test European and American theories and methodologies. Yet Peru is a country where archaeology developed its own character and nuances. Certainly, from the very beginning, Peruvian scholars contributed to the canon of archaeological knowledge, both theoretical and empirical. I assiduously avoid any kind chauvinist position or, worse, a nationalism that would exclude people simply because of their place of origin. Yet it is important to understand the trajectory of archaeological practice carried out in Peru vis á vis a strong foreign presence that has dominated the field for decades.
Even though this saturation of so many foreigners could be seen as a negative, one positive result was that Peruvian archaeology emerged as an internationally recognized place to conduct research. Many investigators practiced forms of archaeology developed in other countries far from the Andes; Peru became a country crisscrossed by many different archaeologists and archaeological traditions. In fact, as we will see, many of the great theories used in other parts of the world were also applied in Peru. Likewise, methodologies such as settlement surveys were developed and/or refined in the vast Peruvian deserts, where preservation is so spectacular. And certainly, as one can clearly see from the constant references to archaeology in the popular press, such as National Geographic magazine, Peru is a very special place, thanks to the discoveries of Machu Picchu, the Nazca Lines, and the Lord of Sipán, which have been constantly in the public eye since the very beginning of archaeological exploration.