PIARA Field School at Hualcayán, Peru – (Bioarchaeology, Artifact Analysis, GIS, 3D Photogrammetry)

This listing expired on December 31, 2020. Please contact for any updated information.

Location: Hualcayán, AN, PE

Season: July 17, 2020 to August 13, 2020

Session Dates: July 17-August 13

Application Deadline: April 15, 2020

Deadline Type: Rolling


Program Type:
Field School

RPA Certified:

Universidad Nacional Santiago Antúnez de Mayolo

Project Director:
Emily Sharp (Arizona State University) and Lic. Erick Casanova Vasquez

Project Description:

Join PIARA in the spectacular Andean highlands of Peru! We offer an exciting field school course, Analytical Methods in Bioarchaeology and Archaeology, where students focus their studies on a particular analytical specialty in addition to gaining experience in fundamental laboratory skills. In 2020, students will analyze human remains and/or artifacts excavated from prehistoric tombs and a monumental temple complex at Hualcayán. Students will focus their studies on one of the following methodological concentrations: Bioarchaeology or Artifact Analysis. Students will also participate in supplementary Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and 3D Photogrammetry training. Students who participate in the field school will thus not only learn the essential skills required of bioarchaeologists and archaeologists (mapping, curation, artifact processing, osteology, etc.), but also gain exposure to a range of specialized methods that are shaping innovations in the field today. During the field school, participants will live and work in the rural, bilingual Quechua/Spanish-speaking community of Hualcayán (highland Ancash, Peru), as well as travel to important archaeological sites and museums in three cities and visit stunning natural features likes high altitude lagoons.

Since 2011, nearly 200 students from around the world have completed the PIARA archaeological field school at Hualcayán. Hualcayán is located in the stunning Cordillera Blanca mountain range of the Peruvian Andes, situated below the famous Alpamayo glacier in the Huascarán National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site protected for its rare beauty and unique ecosystem. We invite you to come experience this amazing landscape, its people, and its ancient past!

What You Will Learn

The course Analytical Methods in Bioarchaeology and Archaeology is a unique learning experience that provides detailed training in a variety of important methods used in archaeological and bioarchaeological investigations. Students will split their time between learning general laboratory techniques and concentrating on their chosen analytical method. They will also attend lectures, workshops, have open lab time, and discuss readings on Andean prehistory, ethics, human osteology, and artifact analysis.

This field school season is lab-intensive and will offer students the exciting opportunity to analyze the rich collection of materials excavated in previous project years. We will also feature frequent excursions to the archaeological site, where you will learn how to draw and document tombs, set up and work a total station, use a GPS for pedestrian survey, take photos for photogrammetry, and recognize the effects of looting, among other essential skills. At the end of the field school, students will present the results of a group analysis project based on their chosen concentration.

Period(s) of Occupation: Prehistoric Andes. Ancient Hualcayán was occupied for nearly four millennia between 2400 BC and AD 1450.

Prior knowledge of human osteology or artifact analysis is not required. However, we will tailor your experience to your comfort level. For example, students with advanced knowledge in osteology will delve into more complex methods, such as transition analysis and pattern interpretation of cranial wounds, while students with beginner-level knowledge can devote ample time to learning skeletal biology and foundational bioarchaeological techniques. PIARA is committed to maintaining a safe and inclusive working environment for all participants. Please visit our website to view our policies and expectations for acceptable behavior. We have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual or gender-based discrimination or harassment.

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Full length of session

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: No archaeological experience necessary, just one year of full-time undergraduate studies must be completed.

Room and Board Arrangements:
You will live in the heart of a traditional Quechua community in a rural setting, providing an immersed cultural experience. Hualcayán is a community totaling around 500 people, composed of bilingual Quechua/Spanish-speaking farmers growing quinoa, potatoes, beans, and wheat, and raising animals such as pigs, cows, chickens, and guinea pigs (called cuy). In 2012, PIARA constructed a project house with a large lab space, kitchen, bathrooms, showers, and several spacious sleeping quarters. This adobe and concrete building is a ten-minute walk from the archaeological site and will serve as our home, kitchen, classroom (with projector) and laboratory. All participants are required to bring their own sleeping bag and sleeping mat for the floor (accepted applicants will receive a detailed supply list). Hualcayán has a beautiful view of the Callejón de Huaylas valley, and has several other archaeological and natural features within a short walking distance from the village including a waterfall, and students are encouraged to explore the area during free time. We also have a library of archaeology books to read and reference. In the evenings at Hualcayán we will have a movie projector and movies to choose from. We also have a courtyard where you can socialize (or have an impromptu dance party!). A telephone will be available to make and receive international calls, but students are encouraged to arrive with international plans on their personal phones. Chores will rotate and include helping our cook prepare dinner, dishwashing, boiling water, getting lunch ready for the field, bathroom duty, and sweeping. Participants must be willing to live in close quarters with others (including Peruvian students who may not speak English), have a general attitude of cooperation, and have fun while working hard! Prior Spanish or Quechua language training will enrich this experience, but this is not a requirement as the course is instructed in English or Spanish. Cost: $3000

Academic Credit:
6 credits offered by Universidad Nacional Santiago Antúnez de Mayolo (Huaraz, Peru). Credit hours are included in the program fee.

Contact Information:

Emily A. Sharp

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