Pambamarca Archaeology Project: Inka Fortresses in Ecuador – On Hiatus

Location: Cangahua, P, EC

Season: August 1, 2025 to August 18, 2025

Session Dates: August 4 - August 18, 2025

Application Deadline: June 22, 2025

Deadline Type: Rolling


Discount for AIA members: Discounted stays at the Hacienda Guachala for members (

Program Type:
Field School, Volunteer, Staff Position

RPA Certified:

Foothill College

Project Director:
Dr. Samuel Connell (Foothill College), Ana Lucia Gonzalez (Foothill College), and Dr. Chad Gifford (Columbia University)

Project Description:

[On Hiatus in 2024 – Read this for 2025 program] Foothill College in August 2024 will be tentatively running a two-week lab project in the Ecuadorian Andes designed for participants who already have field school experience and who only need a few independent study credits.  You will be helping us catalog artifacts while also being immersed in the culture and history. This will be a small community development and lab experience.  We are hopeful the project will run from August 4-18, 2025. Please apply using the preliminary form and we will send you more information.

The 2024 Foothill Ecuador Summer Program is a two week field program designed to explore the cultures of Ecuador both past and present. Participants will get training in theory, methods and modern-day relevance of archaeological exploration by joining a team of archaeologists who have been excavating Inca and pre-Inca fortresses in the Ecuadorian Andes. Our main focus will be on lab work — cataloguing our extensive backlog of artifacts.  The program will also provide opportunities to learn about and participate in ethnographic fieldwork with an applied focus in a multi-cultural setting.

The program is based in the Andean town of Cangahua (Cayambe), where students will live. Daily activities will consist primarily of archaeology lab work, classes, cultural excursions, applied ethnographic fieldwork and community service projects, and free time. The program will run daily for 14 days, with travel and cultural visitation taking place on weekends. (although we would strongly urge independent travel before and after the program!).

All participants must commit to active and positive engagement in all program components. Students will be going though Community Education from Foothill College and receive a certificate for successful completion of the program.  A 2 unit independent study course is part of your program experience.  This two-week program will emphasize laboratory work and so is recommended for students who already have other field school experience and would like to expand their understandings of how the lab component works. However previous experience is not a requirement we are willing to take anyone who is interested!  If you would like a more complete field school experience seek other programs, as this one will emphasize analysis in the lab.

More Details – see project website for photos

Join an international team of researchers in the Ecuadorian Andes for this summer for anthropology and archaeology course work, field trips, and service learning projects. Discover with us the beauty of Ecuador as we continue our archaeological investigation of the fortresses of Pambamarca. Live with us and other project members in the small town of Cangahua an hour north of Quito. Help excavate the fortresses and formulate a plan for development in the indigenous communities where we live. Study archaeology and South American prehistory by taking classes and learning directly from the scientists. Travel with us to some of Ecuador’s famous attractions, including the capital Quito, important archaeological sites, artisan markets, lakes, waterfalls, and volcanic hot springs. Earn credits from Foothill College while gaining valuable experience about the world and improving your Spanish skills. Days will be spent in the culture of Ecuador both past and present.

To learn about the past each student will practice the basic field techniques of archaeology on the Pambamarca Archaeology Project, including excavation, survey and laboratory analysis. Class work will cover some archaeology methods and theory, as well as South American archaeology. Field trips for students will be designed to foster intercultural knowledge. For example students will travel to indigenous communities, market towns, ancient archaeological sites and museums.

To learn about the present, service learning projects will be designed by the students as a way to apply your new found anthropology background to discover real-life solutions to practical community problems. Working closely with representatives from Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Ecuador, your class will be conducted in a dynamic format with students conducting field research to determine a course of action. This program is a more holistic anthropology experience that integrates course lectures, field trips, applied anthropology and service learning projects with archaeology field work.

Period(s) of Occupation: Inca South America

Ecuador Archaeology Cultural Applied Anthropology Hacienda South America

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 14 days

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: None

Room and Board Arrangements:
Participants will stay in a dormitory-styled house located behind the main church in the town of Cangahua, one hour north of Quito at the equator. This Casa Comunal is a large, two-story building with electricity, running water, showers, a kitchen, a mess hall and plenty of beds. Meals are prepared for the project by two wonderful cooks with lots of experience cooking for vegetarians and vegans. Students will also get to stay in the Hacienda Guachala if they would like to take on the extra cost. On days off you are free to explore. There are hikes and hot springs. The world famous artisans and market of Otavalo are located only an hour to the north. Buses are cheap and direct. Come prior or stay after the program has ended to truly explore Ecuador and the rest of South America. For the adventurous, the headwaters of the Amazon River, the majestic Pacific coastline, and even the Galapagos Islands are a short plane trip away. Ecuador is a truly remarkable place, and we are excited to share its wonders with you.  Plan to give yourself a week or two either before or after the trip.  You are in South America - you better take advantage! Cost: $1000 (program fee, not including airfare). Airfare currently is around $500 on Kayak. Ecuador is not expensive, you can enjoy the low cost back-packers lifestyle after the program!

Academic Credit:
1 or 2 units of independent study (Anth 70R or Anth 71R) and/or 1 or 2 units of Archaeology Lab (Anth 16L or Anth 17L) offered by the Foothill College Department of Anthropology.

Contact Information:

Samuel Connell: Foothill College Department of Anthropology

12345 El Monte Road

Los Altos Hills



Phone: 650 949 7197

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