Secret Riches: Ancient Peru Unearthed presents 120 outstanding artifacts, including an elaborate gold mask and headdresses, jewellery made from shells and precious stones, implements cast in bronze, and images of the Sicán deity preserved in gleaming blackware ceramics. Many of the personal adornments on display are decorated with gold discs and other attachments that moved and rattled with the wearer’s every step. Sicán metallurgists were without equal in the pre-Hispanic New World . They ushered in the Bronze Age to northern Peru , refined and invented metalworking techniques.
The Sicán culture emerged about 1,200 years ago on the parched land that lies between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains in northwestern Peru . The Sicán harvested the resources of the sea, and turned river valleys that run through the desert into farm land with a major system of irrigation canals. Although the culture survived for close to six centuries (ca. 750-800 to 1375 CE), Secret Riches: Ancient Peru Unearthed focuses mainly on the prosperous Middle Sicán period (900–1100 CE).
Most of what is known about the Sicán has been pieced together in the past 30 years. Long a target of looters, Sicán burial sites were largely ignored by archaeologists, who were preoccupied with the remains of the Inca Empire, until 1978 when a team of archaeologists began exploring Peru ’s Batán Grande region where an entire ceremonial complex was eventually discovered.
Canadian Museum of Civilization Web Site