Peru: Archaeologists discover 1000 year old skeleton
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The structure is made of fibreglass and represents a ceramic vessel from the country’s pre-Columbian Moche civilisation. It has proven popular with travellers and locals some of whom have posed for selfies in the shadow of the 1.5 metre-long member.
However, one vandal held a security guard at knifepoint and two accomplices smashed a hole into the nine feet tall fertility symbol which is in Peru’s Moche district and a 15-minute long drive away from the regional capital Trujillo.
There are reports of shots fired into the air as they fled.
Mayor of Moche, Arturo Fernández Bazán, told local media: “At two in the morning three hooded criminals held a knife to the security guard’s neck to keep him from reacting or calling his colleagues on the radio, and two of them damaged the phallus.”
Mr Fernández Bazán added that he plans to raise up to 30 more statues representing the Mochica culture with about a third of them representing erotic acts or childbirth.
The crimson statue appears along an archaeological trail in the country which celebrated 200 years since gaining independence from Spain last year.
Mohica is an ancient culture renowned for its sexually explicit pottery.
The roadside statue was erected along a route between the imposing adobe temples of the sun and the moon, or the Huacas del Sol y la Luna. It went on display towards the end of December.
Mr Fernández Bazán, who worked as a gynaecologist before entering local politics, told local media: “In our Mochica culture, these types of ceramics vessels were not considered erotic but represented the Godhead.
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“The [Ancient] Greeks had another type of representation. We have been more aggressive and more direct with our feelings.”
The statue has sparked mixed feelings online with some people posting on the Moche municipality Facebook page that they found the statue offensive or that it should not be seen by children.
Gisela Ortiz, Peru’s culture minister, told the Guardian: “The idea that children shouldn’t see it or it’s too offensive belongs to the time of obscurantism.
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“As Peruvians, we should all feel proud of our diverse heritage, including the sexual or erotic part, which is inherent to the human being.”
She added that while nothing justifies the violence against the security guard, greater efforts to explain the cultural significance of the statue to the local population could help avoid further controversy.
Moche civilisation flourished in northern Peru between 100 – 700 AD.
Ideas differ as to what led to its downfall with scholars pointing to climate change and social unrest as possible explanations.
Sexual activity, the earth’s fertility and crop cultivation were celebrated in Mohica culture.
At the statue’s unveiling, Mr Fernández Bazán told local media: “It represents abundance, fertility and above all, because in these times we need abundance in every sense, in health, the economy, peace and love.
“This is why we’ve been inspired to have this [statue] as it is.”
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