Wednesday, September 19, 2007, London, Ontario the people of the Peruvian city of Huamachuco have awarded Brescia University College’s Principal, Dr. Theresa Topic their highest honor, the Order of Jose Faustino Sanchez Carrion, in recognition of her contribution to their cultural heritage over the last 25 years.
Meeting August 15 in special session on the feast day of the city’s patron saint, the Huamachuco city council passed a resolution proclaiming Dr. Topic and her husband, Professor John Topic (Trent University) members of the order. The pair was presented with the medal of the order, citations, and gifts.
Renowned in anthropology circles for their extensive research into pre-Andean peoples, the Topics have researched the Huamachuco area since 1981. Combining archaeological research and the study of historical documents, they have helped the people of the Huamachuco area to come to a clearer sense of their cultural identity and unique history. The accomplishments of the Huamachuco culture in the prehispanic period and under the Inca empire immediately prior to 1532 were poorly known and had not been publicized to the local population. “When we first started working in the area, the people would ask us, ‘Are we Incas or Mochicas?’ We would explain that they were neither – they were Huamachuquinos,” noted Dr. Topic.
New information fostered a renewed sense of identity that was enthusiastically embraced by the local population. Townspeople began to stage elaborate pageants in the late 1990’s celebrating their creation myth and key events in their history. Many of the symbols and rituals used in the pageants are based on the work of Dr. Topic and her husband. With the founding of a museum in 2002 housing artifacts from the Topics’ archaeological excavations, the history of the area became better known and the touristic potential of key sites was enhanced.
Professor Topic earned her anthropology degrees at Harvard University and joined Trent University in 1974. She moved to Brescia University College in 1996 to take up the position of Academic Dean and in 1999 she became the first lay Principal of the College. An archaeologist specializing in the prehistory of Peru, she has co-directed extensive fieldwork in both coastal and mountain areas. Her research interests include prehistoric warfare, origins of the state, women in prehistory, and ceramic analysis.
For further information, please contact:
Professor Theresa Topic, Principal, Brescia University College (519) 432-8353, ext. 28224