Empire of the Living Dead: The Scientific History of Peruvian Mummies


Wednesday, October 25, 2017 - 6:00pm
1700 W Montgomery Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19121
United States

An illustrated Weeknights at the Wagner lecture:

Empire of the Living Dead: The Scientific History of Peruvian Mummies
by Dr. Christopher Heaney, Pennsylvania State University

Museum open until the talk begins at 6pm.

When most people think of mummies, they think of Egypt—but mummification began in the South American Andes millennia earlier. It reached its heyday under the Incas in Peru, where the preserved dead were considered powerful lords among the living. When the Spanish invaded in 1532, fear of these embalmed and sacred bodies led to their confiscation, collection, and comparison with the mummies of the Old World. At this Halloween-themed Weeknights at the Wagner talk, Penn State history professor Christopher Heaney explores the afterlives of Peruvian mummies as wandering, scientific specimens, from their 1893 occupation of the Chicago World’s Fair, to their recent and fraudulent enlistment as “evidence” of extraterrestrial life on Earth.

About the speaker: Christopher Heaney is an assistant professor of Latin American history at Penn State, and a postdoctoral fellow at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham, a Real-Life Indiana Jones, and the Search for Machu Picchu (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), and is at work on a history of Peruvian mummies and their collection. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The New Republic. He lives in Philadelphia.

Event Type: 
GlobalPhilly 2017 events
Historical Preservation / Archaeology
Cultural Awareness
History and Preservation
Global Region: