Excavations on the north coast of Peru

Field School

MOCHE-UNC Community Heritage Field School in Peru

June 21 – July 25, 2018


This field school provides students with the opportunity to learn archaeological excavation and laboratory methods as well as receive instruction on the prehistory of Peru. The program begins with workshops on archaeological methods and the prehistory of Peru, after which, students are prepared to work five days a week in the field, excavating ancient households and tombs at the site of Jose Olaya in Huanchaco, Peru. We spend a few hours on Saturdays touring local archaeological sites including Huaca del Sol and Chan Chan, and Sundays are free days in Huanchaco. We also take a long weekend to tour the famous sites of Túcume, El Brujo and Sípan located north of Trujillo.


This field school is part of the ongoing Moche Origins Project (Dr. Brian Billman, UNC and Dr. Gabriel Prieto, Universidad Nacional de Trujillo). Jose Olaya has a long and complex history of occupation dating over 3,00 years, from the Initial Period, ~ 1500 B.C., to the Colonial era. Located on the coast of Peru, its early inhabitants were fishermen and archaeological evidence suggests that throughout history the site served as a village and as a cemetery. Material culture from many of the north coast cultural traditions, Salinar, Gallinazo, Moche, and Chimu have been identified at the site. Previous excavations revealed extremely well-preserved material culture including ceramics, textile, stone tools, and metal artifacts.


This field school can be taken for full University Credit through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, or it can be taken at a discounted rate through MOCHE, Inc. for interested non-credit students. The University credit is awarded as ANTH 453, Field School in South American Archaeology from the UNC Anthropology Department. Enrollment is through the UNC Office of Study Abroad and includes 6 semester-hours of credit covering a variety of general education requirements. Non-credit students will have the same opportunity for the hands-on experiences of the field school, but will not have the same academic requirements.

The course consists of fieldwork, lab work, workshops, talks, group discussions, and site tours. Fieldwork involves excavation and mapping of burials and households at the site of Jose Olaya. Excavation, mapping, and laboratory analysis are conducted five days a week. In addition to gaining hands on training in excavation techniques, laboratory analysis, and database management, students are actively engaged in implementing the project research design. Through excavation, analysis, readings, and group discussions, we examine how ethnicity, class, and economic relationships are manifested in household remains.

There is no language requirement as all classes are taught in English and logistics are handled by bilingual staff. For more information please email Dr. Brian Billman and Dr. Gabriel Prieto.

Archaeology Internship Program