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Monumental Peruvian archaeological work on the empire and culture of the Incas in Ancón, rarely found complete with all 142 chromolithographed plates

REISS, Wilhelm and Alphons STÜBEL (August Henry KEANE, translator).
The necropolis of Ancon in Peru: a contribution to our knowledge of the culture and industries of the empire of the Incas, being the result of excavations made on the spot.
Berlin, A. Asher & Co., 1880-1887. 3 volumes. Large folio (52 x 38.5 cm). With 142 full-page lithographed plates (including 2 printed together on a single bifolium), all but three (70, 70a, 71) chromolithographs and each with printed explanatory text on separate leaves. Loose leaves stored in three original publisher's maroon cloth portfolios. [25]; [15]; [31] ll.; plus the 142 plates and their explanatory text leaves.
€ 6,500
First edition of one of the most important works and one of the first descriptive reports on Peruvian archaeology ever published: a three-volume study of the excavation of the necropolis of Ancón (near Lima) in Peru in 1875 by the German geologists Wilhelm Reiss (1838-1938) and Alphons Stübel (1835-1904). After their systematic excavation of the necropolis of Ancón and its surroundings, they decided to showcase their archaeological findings in the present work. The 15 parts published in 3 volumes show various aspects of the ancient Peruvian culture of the empire of the Incas. The first volume is devoted the necropolis and its graves, giving a clear picture of the site itself and also showing its mummies. The second volume shows several kinds of garments and textiles in a wide variety of patterns, fabrics and colours, including ponchos, borders, fabrics, loin girdles and much more. The third volume comprises lithographs of Peruvian ornaments such as head gear and jewellery, utensils (wooden weapons, work baskets, spindles, etc.), toys, earthenware and the evolution of ornament and design, but also, for example, a treatise by Prof. Dr. L. Wittmack on plants (mainly maize cobs) that were found in the graves. Also included in this volume is a treatise on the human remains, discussing the anatomy of skulls by Prof. Dr. R. Virchow, and another on the remains of mammals (dogs, foxes, etc.) found at the necropolis by Prof. Dr. A. Nehring.
In 1875 Reiss and Stübel made several excavations in and around the area of the necropolis. Their joint work, beautifully displayed the present three volumes, proved seminal, taking the first step toward scientific archaeology in Peru. The atlas is rarely found in its present complete form, with all text leaves and 142 chromolithographed plates.
Altogether the present work forms a highly valuable series of illustrations, illuminating the civilization and industry of the Inca Empire in a spectacular way, the product of Reiss's and Stübel's years of exploration and their systematic and thorough work. Its stunning and detailed plates make it a highly informative source on early Inca culture and a pioneering work of Peruvian archaeology.
With the library label of the Forbes Library (Northampton, Massachusetts) on the front paste-downs of all three portfolios and with their library stamp on all plates. Portfolios worn around the spine and flaps, front boards of volumes 1 and 2 loose, spine of vol. 3 worn but intact. Plates and some text leaves slightly toned, edges of the text leaves fragile and chipped. Overall however in good condition, complete with all the plates, preliminary leaves and text leaves. Palau 256818; cf. Joanne Pillsbury, "From a Republic of Letters to an Empire of Images: archaeological illustration and the Andes, 1850-1890", in: Finegold & Hoobler, Visual culture of the ancient Americas (2017), pp. 43-58.
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