Pre-Columbian artifacts expert to speak at UMaine

Posted Oct. 05, 2010, at 11:50 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — A leading authority on Pre-Columbian fake artifacts from Mesoamerica and the Andes will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14, at the University of Maine.

The topic of Karen Olsen Bruhns, director of the Cihuatan-Las Marias Archaeological Project for the Fundacion Nacional de Arqueologia in El Salvador, will be “Faking Ancient Mesoamerican Art.”

The event will be held in the Bodwell Area of the Collins Center for the Arts. The lecture is part of the university’s observation of Maine Archaeology Month, established in 2000 to present archaeological research to the public through scholarly lectures, exhibits and tours of archaeological sites.

Bruhns’ presentation will draw on her expertise about fakes, forgeries and forgers from the ancient Americas, according to a press release issued Monday. She believes that the tradition originated when Spanish missionaries demanded pagan artifacts to burn. In response, indigenous populations began churning out reproductions.

Many of these pieces, however, have ended up in museum collections and are exhibited today with little acknowledgment of how they were acquired or whether they are authentic, Bruehns has said. The Pre-Columbian antiquities trade was banned in 1970, but objects continue to circulate on the art market and emerge in museum collections, according to the press release.

During her lecture, Bruhns will take the audience on an illustrated journey of Pre-Columbian art from renowned collections and institutions, which are not as old as they are

labeled. Rather than calling them Pre-Columbian works, Bruhns suggests they be identified as Post-Columbian art.

A professor emerita of anthropology at San Francisco State University, Bruhns received her doctorate in archaeology of Central and South America from the University of California at Berkeley. She has directed archaeological projects in Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and El Salvador, and has participated in projects in Belize and Mexico.

Bruhns has recently co-authored with Nancy L. Kelker two books, “Faking the Ancient Andes” and “Faking Ancient Mesoamerica.”

For information on the lecture, call 581-1901.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/10/05/news/bangor/precolumbian-artifacts-expert-to-speak-at-umaine/ printed on September 21, 2014