Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Inka Beer Bash Volume 53 Number 6, November/December 2000
by Elizabeth J. Himelfarb

A crane fell on a sacred granite Inka monument known as the Intihuatana, or "hitching post of the sun," during filming of a beer commercial at Machu Picchu, breaking off a several-inch-long chunk. J. Walter Thompson, Co. (JWT), the advertising agency that represents Peru's Cusqueña beer, denies media reports that the crane was sneaked on site--against the wishes of the National Institute of Culture (INC)--under cover of darkness, maintaining that the accident occurred at one in the afternoon.

Preservationists have faulted the Peruvian government for issuing permits to the film's producers with little regard for the cultural impact of location shooting. In its defense, JWT's Lima office released a statement saying, "We are utterly convinced that the past and present cultural manifestations of Cusco [gateway to Peru's Inkan ruins] have an utmost value worthy of exalting in every Cusqueña Beer advertising campaign.... We regret, like every Peruvian, this unfortunate event and guarantee our involvement in clearing out the facts." JWT denies press reports it has been slapped with a lawsuit for destruction of national patrimony.

© 2000 by the Archaeological Institute of America