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Everyday Life in Colonial Peru: Archaeology & Texts of an Early Town

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Everyday Life in Colonial Peru: Archaeology and Texts of an Early Town
Jeffrey Quilter, William and Muriel Seabury Howells Director of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology

A common view holds that the 15th-century Spanish conquest of Peru was rapid and that native culture was swept away by the imposition of European beliefs and practices. Until very recently, views of the conquest and the early Colonial Period life were almost entirely derived from texts written by Spanish conquistadors or indigenous people under their control. Now these views have begun to change, thanks to research combining archaeology and studies of alternative texts, such as legal documents.

Archaeologist Jeffrey Quilter, director of Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, discussed his team’s discoveries at Magdalena de Cao, which include clothing, tools, and even paper documents. One of those documents made worldwide news when the team revealed it contained clues to a lost language.