We worked at the Museo Nacional de Antropología, Arqueología e Historia del Perú during four periods in 2011-2012. This museum holds the majority of the gravelots excavated by Julio C. Tello at the Paracas Peninsula between 1925 and 1929. In order to reconstruct the original contents of a Paracas Necropolis gravelot as fully as possible, we began with a restudy of the individual(s) in each burial, directed by biological anthropologist Elsa Tomasto. This also involved working with the museum personnel to catalogue objects that had remained in storage together with the human remains.
Lizbeth Tepo (Human Remains, MNAAHP), Carmen Carranza, Ann Peters, Carlos Murga (Human Remains, MNAAHP) and Elsa Tomasto, confronting the problem of two bundles labelled “23” — one is burial WK 23 and the other we were able to identify as WK 364.
Ann Peters, Carmen Carranza and Andrés Shiguekawa worked with museum staff to locate other artifacts that had been separated during the original gravelot studies, forty to eighty years ago, and moved around in the museum on many occasions since. We then carried out a technical analysis of each relocated object, integrated with preventative conservation practices designed to preserve it for future research and, when appropriate, for exhibit. We recorded information with digital photographs, including micro-photography. As part of the Museum’s project to restore context to Tello’s collections, objects from each burial were grouped in new storage containers as appropriate, considering their scale and fragility.
Maria Ysabel Medina (Textiles, MNAAHP) Andrés Shiguekawa and Carmen Carranza check the storage list for textile fragments to be stored together to preserve the gravelot association, among the 58 artifacts identified in burial WK 199.
Instead of paying a supervision fee, we were asked to donate equipment that would improve research facilities at the museum, including these we would be using. The Project purchased improved overhead lighting systems (with full-spectrum bulbs) and variable-speed vacuums for the areas of Human Remains and Textiles, and the storage materials for the artifacts we worked with in all areas of the Museum. We also purchased a new tent cover for the area outside the Human Remains laboratory where the dusty process of initiating each study can be carried out.