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The Wiese Foundation, through the Cao Museum, has as one of its main goals the protection and preservation of movable and immovable cultural property of the El Brujo Archaeological Complex. For this reason, the pieces exhibited in the Cao Museum undergo a rigorous monitoring process. One of our main attractions is the so-called “Wooden Idol”. It is a block of sculptural lucumo wood that measures 2.48 m high. It depicts a character in a frontal position who wears a headdress with two found felines. This piece was discovered in 1997 and was deposited as an offering during the construction of the second building of the Huaca Cao Viejo. Its fine carving, size and polychromy makes it a unique and exceptional archaeological piece of the El Brujo Complex and Peru.

Because of its immeasurable historical and artistic value, the Wooden Idol/ídolo de Madera was subjected to a rigorous conservation treatment. The objective was to mitigate deteriorating agents and structurally stabilize the piece.

The treatment began with the development of a comprehensive diagnosis of the piece, thus damages, deterioration agents and risks were identified. Just like people, cultural property receives differentiated diagnoses, which allows the specialist to propose the most appropriate treatment. One of the most elementary technical processes of cultural property conservation is mechanical cleaning. This allows to remove those elements that generate degradation to the piece. This process was slow and thorough, considering that the idol exceeds two meters high.

When the presence of biological agents of deterioration is suspected or identified, the controlled atmosphere technique is used. This procedure consists of placing the piece inside a sealed chamber and injecting gases that prevent the metabolism of insects that could be found inside the piece. The Wooden ídol/ Ídolo de Madera – being solely constituted of wood and being large- is vulnerable to the presence of insects, therefore, he underwent this technique for 20 days. Once the procedure was concluded, we could have the guarantees of a total disinfection of harmful biological agents; which means, all insects died.

Finally, it was reintegrated locally in areas that presented structural risk and prevented an adequate reading of the piece. The results of the conservation process were favorable for its preservation, as it prevented the attack of insects and reinforced its structural stability.

These technical processes allow cultural assets to be preserved for the enjoyment of visitors and future generations. Conservation work means that cultural property can physically prevail as witnesses of our ancestors’ social processes, and thus contribute to the improvement of society.

If you want to know more about the Wooden Idol / Ídolo de Madera, schedule your group visit to El Brujo, here.