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One of the cornerstones of art history is the attribution of art work to an artist, culture or time period. Art historians perform this work through a number of methods, including an analysis of medium, provenance, and object history, with the goal of placing a work within a chronological sequence. However, art historical attribution becomes a challenge when studying lesser known cultures or cultures of the past whose art works have been removed from archaeological contexts without rigorous study. As a result, attributions and classifications are sometimes based on minimal information. Once published this information is often uncritically perpetuated. One such case is the metalwork that is typically attributed to the Inca when they are more likely the work of Chimú artists. Teasing out the complex relationship of Chimú art to Inca empire, and the impact of Spanish colonialism on the pre-colonial art historical record, is the topic of this article.