San Jose de Moro Ceramics Now Available on NOVICA!

Exciting news! Works of Julio Ibarrola, master artisan at our project in San Jose de Moro, are now available for sale on NOVICA, a new global platform in association with National Geographic for local artisans from around the globe to sell their artistic treasures!

Check them out and purchase one here.

Photo of the Week

The Inca archaeological site of Ollantaytambo in southern Peru. Located about 60 km outside the city of Cusco, it was the royal estate of the Emperor Pachacuti during the Inca Empire.

Photo of the Week

A local artisan washes a carved and dyed gourd, preparing it for painting. Local artisans at our project near Pampas Gramalote, Peru create beautiful gourds to sell to visitors of the nearby archaeological site. Dependent on the archaeological and cultural heritage site, this sustainable income results in its preservation by the local community.

A Summer of Sustainable Preservation: SPI’s Summer Newsletter

Our summer newsletter is out! Check it out here!

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SPI at the Inaugural Trujillo Children’s Book Fair

With much fanfare, colorful performers on stilts, and a plethora of children’s literature, the city of Trujillo, Peru, celebrated their inaugural Children’s Book Fair this past weekend, organized by the Regional Office of the Ministry of Culture with the support of several local and regional institutions.

Located on the northwestern coast of Peru, Trujillo stands near several archaeological sites, including the SPI Project site of Pampas Gramalote, which is famous for the mass ancient grave discovered there by archaeologist Gabriel Prieto and his team. The burial contains the skeletons of 42 children and nearly twice as many llamas, sacrificed in a fertility ritual about 800 years ago.

SPI has sponsored one of its unique “People Not Stones” projects at the endangered archaeological site, investing in locally-driven entrepreneurial opportunities whose success is dependent on the preservation of the site. One of these opportunities is the artisan workshop of local master craftsman Ivan Cruz, who creates gorgeous carved and painted gourds, or mates, available for sale to visitors of the archaeological site. In order to attract the tourists who will purchase the works of art of Cruz and his artisans-in-training, the site must be preserved, an endeavor undertaken by the local community.

Hoping to generate greater interest in the local cultural heritage, SPI-supported Cruz offered gourd painting lessons to various groups of children from Trujillo at the three-day long event.

Also in attendance were Theresa Bravo, Director of the Instituto Nacional de Cultura (National Institute of Culture) in Trujillo, Henry Gayoso Paredes, Director of the Proyecto Especial Complejo Arqueológico Chan Chan (Special Archaeological Project of Chan Chan), and Yale archaeologist and Huanchaco native Gabriel Prieto, who leads SPI’s Pampas Gramalote project.

SPI was proud to support its master artisan and team members at the Inaugural Trujillo Children’s Book Fair and is already looking forward to attending next year!

(All photos taken by Angiolina Abugattas)

Check out our slideshow below!

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The Importance of “Local” and Economic Development: Notes from the 4th Annual ARCA Conference

In Amelia, a small, hilltop town that overlooks the dark hills of Umbria, Italy, experts convened from around the world for the fourth annual ARCA (the Association for Research into Crimes against Art) conference from June 22nd to the 24th. “The interdisciplinary event brings together those who have an interest in the responsible stewardship of our collective cultural heritage,” conference organizer Derek Fincham wrote. Interdisciplinary it was, with those attending coming from a wide-range of fields including law, criminology, journalism, art history, museology, archaeology, and historic preservation to discuss the preservation and protection of our global cultural heritage.

How do we best preserve the world’s cultural heritage, whether master painting, shipwrecked treasure, or archaeological site?  Throughout the various case studies, history, and data presented, one word in particular drew SPI’s (unsurprised) attention: local. Local communities, local partnerships, and local economy.

Local communities

Italian journalist Fabio Isman started the conference off on Saturday morning lamenting the plunder of Italian antiquities during the 1960s and 1970s. As he listed treasure after treasure that had been looted from Italian soil—from the Dionysian Kylix to the Morgantina acroliths (looted fromMorgantina,Sicily)—almost all by local looters, the emphasis on local communities stormed to the forefront of the discussion. Why are they looting their own cultural heritage sites? Without another economic alternative, many communities—not just the impoverished ones SPI works with—resort to looting. His parting words, “Italyis still too quiet about it [past looting],” only emphasized the fact that prevention of cultural heritage destruction needs to start at the local level.

Local Partnerships

Dr. Laurie Rush continued the local thread, discussing her work with the military and preventing wartime looting. What allows for successful preservation, she stressed, “is finding the shared interests of the parties involved.” “There must be a shared incentive for the local community,” Rush said, pointing to international examples of local partnerships as models. One example she gave was at the archaeological site of Uruk, the ancient city ofSumer, located in present-dayIraq. “In Uruk, they’re paying local families to protect sites and it’s keeping criminals out,” she reported.

Local Economy

The importance of the local was also present in a discussion of the archaeological site of Morgantina, Sicily, which yielded the famous “Morgantina Venus” that was the subject of Chasing Aphrodite, a book co-authored by Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino, that details the perilous journey of this statue from the black market in Sicily to its purchase by the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, CA. Malcolm Bell III, Professor Emeritus of Art History at the University of Virginia, who led excavations at the site since 1979, noted over email correspondence that “up to the 1980s the site was the scene of looting by some local people.” Such an event emphasizes how important it is for the local community to view its cultural heritage site as a long-term economic asset. If they do not see it as a source of sustainable income, the risk of looting or alternative destructive use (grazing cattle, planting crops on the site) grows. In the case of Morgantina, the story appears to have a positive ending: “In the past twenty-five years the situation at the site has greatly improved. Specifically, looting is much diminished, security is much better, and the local population now defends the site,”Bell remarked. Here at SPI, we want to provide local communities with the entrepreneurial opportunities to create sustainable income from their cultural heritage; income that is dependent on the preservation of the site.

SPI left Amelia with the conviction that focus on the local is imperative to success, and that, now more than ever, the development of local economies is instrumental in saving the world’s cultural heritage for future generations to study and enjoy.

A big thank you to ARCA (specifically Lynda Albertson and Derek and Joni Fincham) for organizing the event.