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Volume 11 Edition 4: December 2011 Emily Holmes, Editor

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Palace Excavation in Peru!

Inka ruin

UNCG student, Kristen Welch, in front of the ruins of the Inka storehouses at the site of Camata.

This past summer, students from UNCG ventured to Moquegua, Peru, to attend the Contisuyo Archaeological Field School from June 18 to July 24, 2011.  They joined a team of faculty, Peruvian archaeologists, graduate students, and undergrads from several universities, as well as local villagers, to work on an excavation project.  The UNCG sponsored project was directed by Dr. Donna Nash, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, and took place at the Wari site of Cerro Mejía.  The excavation focused on two hilltop palaces dating back to 600-850 AD and was funded in part by the National Geographic Society.  The goal was to gain a better understanding of the Wari Empire (AD 600-1000) and their early colonization of southern Peru. Research of the Wari colony in Moquegua has been on-going for more than fifteen years with Dr. Nash leading excavations and surveys of the region. This past season, excavations took place in local palaces to examine how local leaders responded to foreign Wari conquerors. Exploration revealed that local leaders invested a great deal in the construction of their palaces with one having an outer wall nearly a meter thick that was built of massive stones and thick red clay mortar. The local leaders who lived in these palaces did not have access to imperial material wealth and few items in the Wari imperial style were found in the palaces.

Peru Excavation

UNCG student, Megan Allen, measures ruins of the massive outer palace wall for her drawing architectural features assignment.

During their study aborad experience, students took two courses—Field Methods in Archaeology and Analysis of Archaeological Data, which helped them learn about different artifact types and basic procedures for analysis. On the site, they received instruction on basic archaeological practices such as drawing architectural ruins, interpreting features, archaeological sampling procedures and excavation (as seen in the photos). Students gained first hand experience colaborating with a team of scholars, including specialists working on mapping, geochemistry, human remains, stone tools, paleobotany, and zooarchaeology.

For the five-week program, the team lived in the beautiful
Peru archaeology

UNCG student, Jennifer Grenier, tries excavation for the first time in the southwest corner of the palace’s large plaza.

colonial city of Moquegua in southern Peru, which has a modern museum and a bustling local market.  Five days a week students traveled uphill by bus to the archaeological site and hiked to the top of the hill each day.  In the afternoons and on Saturdays students worked with artifacts recovered from the site and attended workshops at the museum or field laboratory learning techniques of archaeological analysis. Students also enjoyed a number of field trips to other archaeological sites in the region including the early coastal site of Tacahuay dating to 11,600 BC, the Tiwanaku temple complex of Omo, a late Estuquiña fortified village, and the highland Inka waystation of Camata (pictured above).  Many in the team also visited other local attractions such as modern vineyards, waterfalls, colonial cathedrals, and a cloister of Carmelite nuns.

The Contisuyo Archaeological Field School is being offered again in 2012. This coming summer the team will be working on four different village sites, some of which were later reoccupied by Inka settlers. The goal is to look at important changes through time from the periods before and after the Wari conquest of the region. If you are interested in joining the research team please apply online with IPC or email Dr. Nash for more information.

To learn more about the 2011 Field School you can visit their webpage: http://studyabroad.uncg.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=10585&Type=O&sType=O

On the roof of the project’s field house, Dr. Nash teaches a class on stone tools.  Joshua Wackett concentrates on making a flake that he can analyze for his lab assignment. Other students look on and give him pointers on where to strike the core.

Previous editions:
- Vol 11, ed 3: November 2011
- Vol 11, ed 2: October 2011
- Vol 11, ed 1: September 2011

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