A new discovery at Stone Hedge shakes the global media, yet the discovery of a famed Inkan city hardly makes a splash in that country’s gossip. Andean countries should do more to make the research that is performed on their soil that results in findings about their cultural past, accessible to the public. They can reclaim their culture and take credit for arts, foods, and ideas that stem from their people. By doing so they will further interest in their countries, gain respect in the global order, and they will add more cultural identity to their citizens. The most important benefit is that they will add value to the world we live in.
Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina are on a path of peace and rapid economic development and are as rich in culture as the beloved civilizations of Europe and the Far East. This provides the environment and resources needed for research which is being done at a higher rate than ever, but it is not reaching the masses, not even tens of thousands of tourists who go there specifically looking for it. What they receive is information that has been recycled for decades, some of it originating shortly after Hiram Bingham’s rediscovery of Machu Picchu 100 years ago.
The Andean landscape is strewn with archeological sites bathed in history; art that is unique and stands alone on the world stage and aboriginal people that maintain a resemblance to traditional ways of life. Taken in entirety, it makes the “Eternal City” of Rome look like a small farm town compared to it; yet Rome attracts more people than all Pre-Colombian Andean Societies combined.
Perform a basic search about Machu Picchu or Cusco on the internet. Outside of the scholarly pages, the results are repetitive, or the information is out of date. Among the slew of website hits, most are advertisements from touring groups, many of which are unreliable and contradict each other.
Some people look to the millions of descendants of Pre-Colombian cultures. These communities recite their history orally, but five centuries after conquest this information is often inaccurate. The correct information, re-discovered by scientists, is often not taught to these people even when the research is performed on their land and about their ancestors.
Modern governments, scholars, and the classes should scorn new findings being withheld or misinformation being spread about their cultural history: tomatoes are native to the Andes, not Italy. The history of the Irish Potato famine is incomplete without learning about potatoes in their native land of the Altiplano, and the history of significance of Machu Picchu IS known. Oh, and the Mayans, Inkas, and Aztecs aren’t the same.
If the research and findings about these unique Andean countries was publicized correctly, I believe these countries would compete with Europe and North America
in a history that confounds many and is valued by all. These countries would ride the same wave of popularization that Eastern cultures have ridden over the past 50 years-they too offer a place that is an alternative for those who are tired of hamburgers, trips to the Parthenon, and over-circulated replicated art. But no, there is hardly an organization in these countries that want to challenge the status quo, or that will devote the resources and talent to complete such a task. The annual and gradual rise of backpackers and one-time visitors is enough for them. They do not take enough pride in their history to take the path of informing the perception of it.
I know I am doing my part. The books I write, the very existence of this website, are the first steps in a long path at establishing an up-to-date authority on the Pre-Colombian Andes that is easily readable, and accessible to the public in Spanish, English, Aymara, and Quechua. It has a long way to go but will get there.