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

Christopher Heaney, Pennsylvania State University

Wagner Free Institute of Science and Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine (Philadelphia, PA)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017 - 6:00pm

1700 West Montgomery Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19121
 
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.
 
This lecture will take place at the Wagner Free Institute of Science and is presented by both the Wagner and the Consortium for History of Science, Technology, and Medicine. 
 
The event is free. Registration encouraged.