The Ambulatory Archive: Santa Muerte Tattoos as Historical Sources

Historians have often neglected tattoos as a source, as artifacts that shed light upon society. In Christopher Nolan’s film “Memento,” the main character, Leonard Shelby, suffers from amnesia. To trigger his memories—both real and imagined—he uses a jarring mnemonic device: tattoos, webbed across his body, reminding him of his mission of revenge. Outside the movie[…]

A History of Colombian Goldmaking

The Muisca, Quimbaya, Calima, Tairona, Tolima and Zenú chiefdoms in ancient Colombia used gold to fashion dramatic and sophisticated works of art. El Dorado For centuries Europeans were dazzled by the legend of a lost city of gold in South America. The truth behind this myth is fascinating. El Dorado–literally “the golden one”–actually refers to[…]

El Dorado: The Legendary Kings of Colombia’s Indigenous Muisca and Their Gold, 600-1600 CE

Over time, El Dorado extended its meaning beyond its kings to refer to a lost golden city and even an entire region. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction El Dorado (‘Gilded Man’ or ‘Golden One’) referred to the legendary kings of the Muisca (or Chibcha) people who populated the northern Andes of modern-day Colombia from 600 CE[…]

Inka Textile Fabrication in the All-T’oqapu Tunic

The All-T’oqapu Tunic is an example of the height of Andean textile fabrication and its centrality to Inka expressions of power. Introduction The Inka were masters of statecraft, forging an empire that at its height extended from modern Quito, Ecuador to Santiago, Chile. One of the engines that drove the empire was the exchange of[…]

The Paracas Textile of Ancient Peru

Despite the textile’s small size, it contains a vast amount of information about the people who lived in ancient Peru. By Lois Martin Mummy Bundles One of the most extraordinary masterpieces of the pre-Columbian Americas is a nearly 2,000-year-old cloth from the South Coast of Peru, which has been in the collection of the Brooklyn[…]