Ecuador: Zuleta Excavation (IFR)

Location: Zuleta, Quito, Ecuador

Session Dates: mid-July - mid-August (dates TBD)

Application Deadline: April 1, 2024

Deadline Type: Rolling


Program Type:
Field School

RPA Certified:

Institute for Field Research (IFR)

Project Director:
Dr. David O. Brown, Dr. J. Stephen Athens, William S. Pratt, Dr. José Echeverría, amd Clementine Martal

Project Description:

Hacienda Zuleta is a colonial-era hacienda nestled in a beautiful scenic valley in the eastern cordillera of the Andes in northern highland Ecuador with an extensive and storied history dating back before the arrival of the Spanish in 1532. The hacienda is home to one of the largest pre-Columbian earthen mound and pyramid sites built by the Cara people starting around 900 A.D. Abandoned just before the Inca conquered the region in the late 1400s, it was eventually reoccupied by the Spanish. Originally founded by a religious order, the hacienda became the private estate of two very popular 20th century presidents of the Republic of Ecuador. Still owned by the Plaza family, Zuleta is today one of Ecuador’s most famous creameries and the site of a conservancy dedicated to the protection of the endangered Andean condor. The Proyecto Arqueológico Zuleta (PAZ) field school team is a group of international and Ecuadorian researchers studying the early life and occupation history of the hacienda and associated mound site including the late prehistoric volcanic impacts on the site and its ancient agricultural systems, its cultural development and social hierarchy, its place in the resistance to the Inca conquest, and the reasons for its eventual abandonment. Ultimately, our research seeks to better understand the development of complex societies, the formation of their cultural landscapes and landesque capital, and their response to climate change and volcanic impacts. Students at PAZ will receive a culturally immersive field school experience at one of the most ecologically and historically unique sites in Ecuador. They will learn about Andean/Ecuadorian history and prehistory and gain hands-on training in scientific and archaeological theory and research design as well as field methods in archaeology, geoarchaeology, and paleoecology.

Period(s) of Occupation: Pre-Colombian

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Students are expected to stay the full length of the program.

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: None

Room and Board Arrangements:
Students will stay in a small, but comfortable hotel in the small community of Zuleta within walking distance of the Hacienda main entrance. Students will generally be required to share a room with one other student, and depending on the number of applicants, the program will occupy a dedicated section of the facility, or possibly the entire hotel. Though blankets will be provided, the hotel is not heated and nighttime temperatures at that time of year can often be quite cold, so sleeping bags are recommended. Laundry facilities will be provided separately by community members; clothes will be hand washed and air-dried as is typical in such small communities.

Academic Credit:
8 semester (12 quarter)

Contact Information:

Institute for Field Research

1855 Industrial Street, Unit 106

Los Angeles



United States

Phone: (424) 209-1173

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