Walter Alva

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Walter Alva (born 28 June 1951), full name is Walter Alva Alva, is a Peruvian archaeologist, specializing in the study and excavation of the prehistoric Moche culture. Alva is noted for two major finds: the tomb of the Lord of Sipan and related people in 1987, and 2007.

Early life and education[edit]

Alva was born on 28 June 1951 in Contumazá Province.[1] He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in archeology.

Career[edit]

Alva has worked for years at the Bruning Archeological Museum in Lambayeque, Peru. He advanced to the post of director there.

Major finds[edit]

Lord of Sipan[edit]

In 1987, Alva was called by police to investigate a site at Sipán, where huaqueros (grave robbers) had stolen artifacts from an archaeological site. Despite being ill with bronchitis, he made the trip. The robbers had discovered a crypt of a lord, filled with jewels and gold, and Alva knew it was significant.[2] Alva did most of the excavating without delay, as he was concerned that robbers might come back and cause more damage. As a result, he started digging without any funding or the support of the area police, with matters made worse as the result of the primary robber being killed by police.[2]

After further digging, Alva found, among other things, the undamaged body of a Moche lord.[3] From these finds, he and other scholars were able to determine that Huaca Rajada, a group of three pyramids once thought to belong to the later Chimú culture, were a part of Moche culture.[3] The findings were later described by the National Geographic Society as the richest intact pre-Columbian tomb in the Western Hemisphere.[4]

During many of these years, Alva was the director of the Bruning Archaeological Museum in Lambayeque, Peru.

Murals at Ventarron[edit]

In 2007, Alva discovered murals at a 4,000-year-old Peruvian temple in Ventarron. The murals, showing a deer caught in a net, are considered the oldest murals in the Americas.[3] Alva determined their age by the process of carbon dating.[5] The construction material that was used at the temple was not primitive.[6] As a result, Alva was able to show that the civilization was able to spread farther than originally thought.[3] He worked on the dig with his son Ignacio, who is also an archaeologist.[7]

Legacy and honors[edit]

  • 1990, the Orden del Sol del Peru was awarded to Alva.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Jorge Pereyra Terrones (June 5, 2009). 101 Razones por las que estoy orgulloso de ser Cajamarquino (in Spanish). p. 87. 
  2. ^ a b "Raiders of the Lost Tomb". UnMuseum. Retrieved 2010-02-09. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Walter Alva". Minnesota State University, Mankato. Retrieved 2010-02-09. 
  4. ^ Gomer, Peter (September 14, 1988). "Gold-filled tomb casts light on ancient culture". Chicago Tribune. p. 1. 
  5. ^ Heam, Kelly (November 12, 2007). "Oldest Temple, Mural in the Americas Found in Peru". National Geographic. Retrieved 2010-02-09. 
  6. ^ "Ancient Peruvian Temple Hints at Lost Civilization". FOX News. November 13, 2007. Retrieved 2010-02-09. 
  7. ^ "Archaeologists find pre-Columbian tomb". MSNBC.com. July 7, 2008. Retrieved February 19, 2009.