Machu Picchu with tourists
Set high in the Peruvian Andes, Machu Picchu, built by the Inca Empire around 1450, is one of the most spectacular archaeological sites in the world. Designated a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary and UNESCO World Heritage Site, over the centuries Machu Picchu has acquired archaeological and historical importance, mythic and symbolic significance, a continuing diversity of interpretations, and a myriad of contemporary political and cultural issues.
In a fascinating daylong seminar, George L. Scheper looks through the lenses of geography, history, and culture to uncover new truths about a people and a place that fascinate us still.
9:30–10:45 a.m. Andean Contexts
A geographical and historical overview of the Andean world. The region’s unique alignment of ecological zones influenced the evolution of distinctive cultures and set the stage for the great Inca Empire.
11 a.m.–12:15 p.m. The Empire of the Sun
The Inca state’s range and scope, administrative structures, and cultural expressions. The importance of Cusco, the Inca capital city located at the center of Tiwantinsuyu or “Land of the Four Quarters.”
12:15–1:30 p.m. Lunch (participants provide their own)
1:30–2:45 p.m. Visiting Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu’s stonework and the layout of royal residential buildings and sacred ceremonial spaces. The findings of explorer Hiram Bingham’s 1911—1915 expeditions to the site still serve as a useful introduction, even though his own theories about Machu Picchu were flawed.
3–4:15 p.m. Contemporary Issues and Interpretations of Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu has inspired numerous interpretations over the years, along with questions relating to world cultural heritage, patrimony, and repatriation of artifacts. The problem of overtourism has pushed the site onto the World Monuments Fund’s endangered list.
Scheper is senior lecturer, Advanced Academic Programs, at Johns Hopkins University, and former director of the Odyssey Lifelong Learning Program.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)