Field Museum goes really old school

"The Ancient Americas," a new permanent exhibition at The Field Museum in Chicago, is scheduled to open Friday.

It's a far-reaching project, "an exploration of the challenges that human beings everywhere have faced for millennia."

The exhibition is based on original research by Field Museum scientists and support staff, research the museum officials say "will shatter long-held preconceptions."

The timespan runs from the arrival on the continent of small groups of hunter-gatherers, to the empires of the Aztecs and the Incas that ruled as many as 10 million people.

Among the displays and activities are a recreation of what the Chicago area was like in the Ice Age circa 11,000 B.C., a re-creation of an 800-year-old pueblo dwelling, the earthworks of mound-building peoples, and depictions of the cities of Tenochtitlan and Cuzco, capitals of the Aztec and Inca empires. Interactive maps, dioramas, computer activities and video animation complement the exhibits.

Also included are artifacts from the museum's huge collection, such things as ceramic Peruvian vessels, hundreds of luxury and spiritual items from the Hopewell collection and 200 scarce gold objects left after conquistadors raided Colombia of its treasures.

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