Relics of the Past tells the story of antiquities collecting, antiquarianism, and archaeology in Cuzco and Lima over the Araucanian territories and the War of the Pacific in the second half of the nineteenth and the early twentieth century. While the role of foreign travellers and scholars dedicated to the study of South America's pre-Columbian past is well documented, historians have largely overlooked the knowledge gathered and the collections formed among collectors of antiquities, antiquaries, and archaeologists born or living in South America during this period.
The landed gentry, the clergy, and an urban bourgeoisie of doctors, engineers, and military officials put antiquities on display in their private mansions or bestowed them upon the public museums that were being formed by municipalities and governments in Santiago de Chile, Cuzco, or Lima. Men, and some few women, gathered antiquities on their journeys 'inland' and during sociable weekend excursions, but also on quotidian commercial voyages or in military campaigns. They bartered antiquities with their fellow collectors or haggled about their price on the antiquities market. In their hours of leisure, they marvelled at them, wrote about them, and disputed over their meaning, age, and interest in learned societies, informal gatherings, and at meetings in universities and public museums. This volume unveils a hitherto largely unknown world of antiquarian and archaeological collecting and learning in Peru and Chile.