Rascar Capac, season 1 - EPISODE 5

Dossier ~ Thursday 15th June 2017

Our two researchers’ journey continues...

Porte du Soleil Dieux-aux-Bâton
Porte du Soleil Dieux-aux-Bâton

They are searching for the smallest clues leading to the truth about the mummy that inspired Rascar Capac in the Pre-Columbian collections at the Royal Museums of Art and History. By examining the remains of mummies to understand their lifestyles, culture and funeral rites, they hope to raise questions about the origins of these mummies.

Crânes pré-colombiens

Until now the name “Rascar Capac” has been associated with Baron Jean-Baptiste Joseph Louis Popelaire de Terloo, adventurer and ornithologist who when visiting Bolivia came across several mummies. Among them was Rascar, who apparently was donated to the museum by the Baron. Nothing is certain as the museum has several mummies, the origins of which cannot all be traced with accuracy. So there is some confusion about the origins of Rascar Capac as there is no record of the mummy arriving to the museum or entering the inventory along with the other Pre-Columbian mummies in the collection. During this period in the 19th century museums were often run as curiosity cabinets, and as we start the third millennium with better scientific rigour we can see gaps in our knowledge and in the background behind some of the museum's artefacts. Archaeology is now a multi-faceted discipline that draws on natural science, meteorology, palaeontology and geology to build a holistic picture. Using this methodology researchers are now piecing together the histories of artefacts like puzzles.

L'ennemi juré du capitaine Haddock

With financial backing, the team led by curator of the MRAH Dr Serge Lemaître have been making progress on the ground in the effort to widen the search. The researchers are heading for Lake Titicaca, straddling Peru and Bolivia at an altitude of 3812 m. The recently-discovered resting places of Inca mummies on the Bolivian banks of the lake make this a promising location.

L’équipe menée par le docteur Serge Lemaître conservateur des MRAH, ayant obtenu les moyens financiers nécessaires, est maintenant mobilisée sur le terrain depuis plusieurs jours et met tout en oeuvre pour élargir le spectre des recherches.

Aux abords du lac Titicaca
Aux abords du lac Titicaca

A l’agenda, Le lac Titicaca, à cheval sur le Pérou et la Bolivie. Il est le plus grand lac d’Amérique du Sud et se situe à 3.812 m d’altitude. Le choix de ce lieu est significatif car tout récemment onze niches ayant abrité des momies incas ont été découvertes sur les bords du lac côté Bolivien.

Lac Titicaca
Lac Titicaca
Lac Titicaca

You can find out more at actulatino.com

The City of the Sun in Tiahuanaco is also of great interest, located at the edge of the lake close to the Peruvian border and about 70 km from La Paz. The site is linked to the Pre-Inca Tiwanaku civilisation. This is the civilisation that inspired Hergé’s work for Prisoners of the Sun, and the City of the Sun contains several special buildings such as the Gate of the Sun. The site also features an anthropomorphic statue like those on Easter Island. The Tiwanaku are the ancestors of the first Incas. Some of their remarkably well-preserved mummies, dating back as much as 2000 years, have been found in the Lake Titicaca region.

Statue anthropomorphe

Photos réalisées par ©Serge Lemaître - All right reserved


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