Article: The history of Peru in 10 objects

Thomson belongs to a rare species of explorer.  He is a writer who explores and not an explorer who writes.  And it is Thomson’s extreme humility in the face of both danger and extraordinary success that places him in the same tradition as Eric Newby. (Geographical Magazine)

I normally give any article with a number in its title (“5 reasons why you must…”), a wide berth.

When it’s written by Hugh Thomson, though, I will happily make an exception especially when it seems to be in the same vein as the BBC and British Museum’s excellent podcast series A History of the World in 100 Objects.

When I first started coming to Peru 35 years ago, it’s fair to say it was not for the museums.

I spotted Thomson’s article, The history of ancient Peru in ten objects, on a recent flight back from Madrid in British Airway’s Highlife magazine.

In this short piece Thomson, describes how Peru has significantly upped its game in terms of museums showcasing its pre-Hispanic history.   

Using a variety of objects, he highlights that there is much more to Peruvian history than the Incas, including the Chimú and Moche cultures, 4,000-year-old pyramids as large as those at Giza and tombs yielding treasures rivalling those of Tutankhamun. 

Encompassing pottery, gold, jewellery, coca, pyramids,  Inca messengers, funerary masks and, of course, llamas, Thomson’s article is an inspiration for exploring some of the lesser-known historical sights in Peru. 

Thomson is a writer/explorer and film-maker who has devoted a large portion of his life to understanding and exploring Inca and pre-Columbian civilisations in the Andes.  These have included expeditions to locate Inca ruins as well as making new discoveries at known sites.

He has also written two books about his travels in Peru and the Andes: Cochineal Red and The White Rock, books I came across following an extended trip to South America.  Thomson is an author, like John Hemming, who I instantly associate with South America and the Andes. 






Find out more about Hugh Thomson on his website which contains a blog and information about Thomson’s other books and film projects (one of which was the recent and fascinating BBC series, Treasures of the Indus).

If Hugh Thomson’s books appeal, these are also worth a look: