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Excavating at Túcume and Other Adventures with Thor Heyerdahl

The vast, barren ruins of the pyramids of Túcume rise out of the flat coastal plains of
northern Peru. Though eroded over the centuries, these massive monuments still bear
witness to their original grandeur. Covering over 220 ha (540 acres) and including 26
major pyramids as well as myriad smaller structures, the ancient city is truly
impressive. Norwegian explorer and scientist Thor Heyerdahl first visited Túcume in
1987; though best known for his pioneering trans-Pacific voyage on the Kon-Tiki balsa
raft in 1947, Heyerdahl began a major research project at Túcume in 1988. Over the
following six years, we learned much about this ancient city. First built around AD 1100
by people of the Lambayeque culture, it survived and even grew under successive
waves of conquest by the Chimú and later Inca armies, only to fall into ruins within a
few years of the Spanish conquest. While the Túcume project was still on going,
Heyerdahl was also instrumental in re-opening Cuba to American archaeologists in the
early 1990s. In this illustrated lecture, Dr. Sandweiss reviews Heyerdahl’s contributions
to New World prehistory through their joint work at Túcume and in Cuba.
Crofutt Community Room, 1st Floor, Moderator, Dr. Dan Sandweiss