Richard L. Burger (Ed.). the Life and Writings of Julio C. Tello: Arnerica's First Indigenous Archaeologist

By Astuhuaman, Cesar | Antiquity, December 2011 | Go to article overview

Richard L. Burger (Ed.). the Life and Writings of Julio C. Tello: Arnerica's First Indigenous Archaeologist


Astuhuaman, Cesar, Antiquity


RICHARD L. BURGER (ed.). The life and writings of Julio C. Tello: Arnerica's first indigenous archaeologist. x+364 pages, 148 illustrations. 2009. Iowa City (IA): University of Iowa Press; 978-1-58729-783-0 paperback $ 39.95.

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In the first decade ofthe twentieth century, archaeological research in Peru was only just beginning. While some wellrecorded excavations were undertaken by Max Uhle, Peruvian archaeology suffered from a lack ofproper institutional organisation, a shortage of investigators, extensive looting ofthe cultural heritage anda lack of economic support on the part of the Peruvian State. Ir is in this adverse context that Julio C. Tello (1880-1947) emerged and rose to prominence in Peruvian archaeo[ogy. It is important to note that Tello's influence is not only expressed in his own research on Chavin and Paracas and the publication of Origen y desarro/lo de la civilizacion andina (1942) but also in educating the first generation of Peruvian archaeologists, setting up severa] museums in Lima and starting academic journals. As a deputy to the National Congress and an inspirational figure for the Peruvian indigenismo movement, he greatly raised the profile of archaeology, and of the past in general, ar a national and international levei. For these reasons, Tello has been called the 'father of Peruvian archaeology'; the book under review, which proceeded from the 1985 commemorative project of the lnstitute of Andean Research, is devoted to him for bis crucial role inthis institute's history as well as the Andean past as a whole.

The book's editor decided "... to devote the first section of the volume to three chapters that place Tello's career within the broader social and intellectual context of his day and offer an initial evaluation of how his body of work has influenced subsequem generations ofscholars in Peru and abroad..." (p. 3). This first part features biographical essays by Richard Daggett, the preeminent contemporary biographer of Tello, John Murra and Richard Burger. Some crossreferences between Burger's article and the second part ofthe book are useful to contextuallse Tello's writings. The first of these chapters, by Daggett, explores the relationship between archaeology and politics, a constant in Tello's life. In previous biographies this relationship was narrated in part by his friends and colleagues (Mejia Xesspe, Rebeca Carrion, William Strong and Samuel Lothrop), and these formed the basis for Tello's recent official biographies by Luis Lumbreras, Alfonso Jaguande and Cesar Angeles. In contrast, Daggett's biography explores new sources and uncovers unknown aspects of Tello's life; the chapter in the book under review follows a first approach published in Spanish in 2005 (Astuhuaman & Daggett 2005).

The second part, 'Selected writings by Julio C. Tello', contains eleven articles that were chosen "... to illustrate the breadth of his interest and research. …

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