|As in Egypt, the peoples of the ancient Andes (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and parts of Chile and Argentina) formed great empires that placed a high value on mortuary rites and tomb burials. Similarly, their remains have been preserved by desert dryness. Yet, unlike the classical civilizations of Egypt or Greece, and even their Mayan neighbors, the Peruvians did not have writing, so there is much that we still do not know about their lives.
The core of these collections come from the German archaeologist Max Uhle, who gathered 9,500 catalogued specimens between 1899 and 1905. Uhle was the first to develop chronological sequences for the region. As a result of his work, ancient Andean history has been divided into "Horizons," when wide areas were unified by a religion or empire, alternating with "Intermediate Periods," characterized by local diversity. A great part of his collection comes from documented excavations, with many intact tomb groups; while other objects were purchased from local dealers. Most date from the Early Intermediate Period (200 B.C.-500 A.D.) on to the Late Horizon (1430-1534 A.D.), ended by the Spanish conquest. All the objects displayed here were collected by Max Uhle, with the exception of several objects from his wife.