Last chance to see Inca treasures in Europe

Scores of gold and silver artefacts from Peru, dating back to Inca times and beyond, went on display Friday in Vienna, in an exhibition that will be a last opportunity to see them beyond Peru's borders.

"It's very difficult to get these pieces out of Peru," the curator of "1,000 Years of Inca Gold" Marketa Krizova told AFP Tuesday.

"Precisely because it's part of the national heritage, it can only be lent out of the country for a little time and then it has to come back," she said.

In total, 86 objects including jewellery and funeral masks will be on show until February 27, 2011, on loan from the Gold Museum of Peru in Lima.

In addition to the Inca treasures, the exhibition also features ancient Peruvian art from the Vicus, Nazca and Moche cultures whose heritage was later adopted by the Inca empire. Peruvians see themselves as the direct descendants of the Incas.

For archaeologists, these artefacts have helped explain ancient the civilisations, their religion and day-to-day activities.

But some remain mysteries, such as a golden hand whose use is still unknown.

Krizova described the artefacts as "simply beautiful" adding that "archaeologists have often underestimated that."

The pieces range from delicately crafted jewels that are centuries old to the more streamlined, almost modern, Inca style from the 15th century.

After two earlier exhibits in 2008 and 2009, including one in Prague, the artefacts were returned to Peru before coming to Vienna, as stipulated by Peru's national heritage rules.

No further exhibitions are planned after the end of the display at Vienna's Novomatic Forum (http:// www.inkagold.at) and the precious Inca treasures will return home once again.

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