Open from Saturday at the City of Architecture and Heritage, "Machu Picchu and the treasures of Peru" was prepared "in the midst of the Covid crisis", at a time when the former imperial Inca city, perched at 2,400 m above sea level, "was closed to tourists", explains to AFP Carole Fraresso, curator and associate researcher at the Larco museum in Lima.

The site, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was then filmed by drones.

A visitor to the exhibition "Machu Picchu and the treasures of Peru" at the Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine du Palais de Chaillot, on April 14, 2022 in Paris BERTRAND GUAY AFP

This made it possible to achieve an immersive virtual experience which gives the illusion, seated in an armchair, of flying over the mysterious city like a condor and walking there in the footsteps of a mythological hero half-man, half-feline, Have Apaec.

With a lot of sound and light atmospheres, imitating the sounds of the forest, this experience tested Thursday by AFP begins with an immersion in the Andean natural environment and continues with a physical and didactic discovery of these treasures.

Their story is told by signage fed with augmented reality (texts, images, videos, 3D animated objects).

The exhibition, which must then travel for several years, restores "the successes of the civilizations of ancient Peru (Chavin, Nasca, Mochica, Huari, Chimu) through a selection of around 200 objects from 3,000 years of civilization" that preceded the Inca Empire, says Ms. Fraresso.

The exhibition "Machu Picchu and the treasures of Peru" at the City of Architecture and Heritage of the Palais de Chaillot, on April 14, 2022 in Paris BERTRAND GUAY AFP

The latter only lasted about 90 years.

Machu Picchu, built around 1450, symbolizes its peak.

nature, shamanism

Royal ornaments, jewels and objects of worship in turquoise, tunics of mummies...: in addition to a profusion of splendour, the visitor discovers "how these societies thought and saw the world on three levels: that of the upper, celestial top; from below, ancestors and the dead; and in the middle, that of men", says the commissioner.

Agricultural and dependent "essentially on the cycles of the seasons and the goodwill of nature" to survive, they are "in permanent connection with these worlds" to which they appeal.

The exhibition "Machu Picchu and the treasures of Peru" at the City of Architecture and Heritage of the Palais de Chaillot, on April 14, 2022 in Paris BERTRAND GUAY AFP

The priests observe the natural phenomena, the stars, decipher them and constitute an "agrarian calendar".

Ancestral link between religion and nature, they operate a "shamanic transformation, by absorbing hallucinogenic substances to access the perception of the animal: the bird, symbol of the world above, the snake which sneaks into the world below, and the feline that represents power on earth," she explains.

- Human sacrifices -

To "ensure a good harvest or ward off the anger of the deities after torrential rains", they also resort to "human sacrifice", explains Ms. Fraresso.

It begins with a fight between warriors, the blood of the vanquished being offered to the deities at the top of the temple.

“Sometimes young virgins are put to sleep with + chicha +, fermented corn beer – used for all ceremonies – and buried alive”, adds the commissioner.

A visitor to the exhibition "Machu Picchu and the treasures of Peru" at the Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine du Palais de Chaillot, on April 14, 2022 in Paris BERTRAND GUAY AFP

Among the Incas, human sacrifices take place during the death of a lord or a king, the accession to power, the birth of a son... The hearts of lamas and children are then torn out.

Several sacrificial knives and utensils are on display.

"All these civilizations explain what the Inca Empire was, with incredible managers and soldiers ensuring the expansion and administration of a vast territory of more than 900,000 km2", adds Ms. Fraresso.

The Incas notably developed the largest road network existing before the industrial era.

"Their great strength, she adds, was knowing how to integrate the successes of previous civilizations".

The exhibition "Machu Picchu and the treasures of Peru" at the City of Architecture and Heritage of the Palais de Chaillot, on April 14, 2022 in Paris BERTRAND GUAY AFP

Machu Picchu, abandoned after the collapse of this empire and the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, remained hidden for 500 years, before being revealed to the world by the American explorer Hiram Bingham, and his first pictures in 1913.

© 2022 AFP

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