Excavations on the north coast of Peru

Field School

MOCHE-UNC Community Heritage Field School in Peru

June 21 – July 25, 2017


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 at Pampa La Cruz. 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. Jesus Briceño, Ministerio del Cultura del Perú) which aims to examine how the Southern Moche state developed. Fieldwork involves the excavation of a large fishing village, Pampa la Cruz located on the edge of the Moche Valley on the outskirts of the modern town of Huanchaco. Pampa La Cruz is one of the largest sites in the Moche Valley during the Gallinazo phase and has an extensive occupation spanning multiple cultural periods, Salinar, Gallinazo, and Moche (200 BC – 600 AD). Previous excavations revealed extremely well-preserved material culture including ceramics, textile, stone tools, and metal artifacts.

Pampa La Cruz has a long and complex history of occupation from the Early Intermediate Period, spanning the centuries before and during the rule of the Southern Moche State. The Southern Moche State was a highly centralized, hierarchically organized political system in which leaders exercised considerable economic, military, and ideological power. Leaders of the state directed the construction of some of the largest public monuments in the Americas, led the conquest of neighboring valleys, and organized the production of finely crafted ceramics, textiles, and metal objects. Although clearly one of the largest and most complex prehistoric political systems to have developed in the Americas, the origins and socioeconomic structure of the Southern Moche State are poorly understood.


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 from the UNC Anthropology Department 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 Pampa La Cruz. 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. Alicia Boswell.

Archaeology Internship Program