Field School Volunteers

On the Project

MOCHE Rapid Response Crew Interns will work on the mapping two Community archaeological reserves (Ciudad de Dios and Cerro Leon) and will document and map endangered archaeological sites in the Moche Valley. Over the course of the program, interns will learn by doing:

  • Archaeological ceramic analysis,
  • GPS-based site mapping,
  • Photogrammetric mapping with a drone,
  • How to systematically find and record complex archaeological sites,
  • Digitization and management of survey data and imagery,
  • GIS analysis of archaeological data, and
  • GIS database construction and management.

Work days often involve up to 8 hours of hiking in tough terrain.  Interns must be in good physical health and fitness. The foothills of the Andes in the Moche Valley are extremely steep.  The watershed of the Moche Valley rises from sea level to 14,000 ft in just 20 miles.  In comparison, that the Rocky Mountains by Denver rise less than 7,000 ft over a much greater distance.  Interns must be able to handle long hikes, up extreme terrain, while carrying mapping equipment.

Research Location

Interns work in a variety of locations around the Moche Valley; however, most of our work occurs in the middle valley. Specific projects are chosen each year by Dr. Billman, Dr. Briceño, and Patrick Mullins (co-directors of the Moche Valley Ancient Settlement Survey). Many variables go into deciding which sites we will target for fieldwork, including current state of threats to sites, positive responses from community members, and the research potential of sites.


Our Peruvian staff prepares 3 meals a day, 6 days a week, Monday through Saturday. Breakfast consists of juice, coffee, tea (regular and herb teas), fruit, yogurt, eggs, fresh-baked bread, jams, and butter. In the field, we eat packed lunches: sandwiches, fruit, cookies, and chips. Dinners are typical Peruvian cooking and consist of two or three courses and fruit juice. The first course is either soup or salad. Some common main courses are lomo saltado (stir fried beef and vegetables), aji de gallina (chicken in a cheese and chile sauce), fish in various sauces, such as ajo de mojo (a garlic sauce) or chorrillana (a tomato, chile, and onion sauce), ceviche, and stewed duck (a north coast specialty). For those who wish to give it a try, guinea pig is available. The main course is served with white rice or potatoes or both. Peruvian food is not even remotely like Mexican food, so banish all thoughts of tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. It is similar to Cuban, Puerto Rican, or Spanish cooking. Dessert is served with dinner a few times a week.

Vegetarian meals are available; however, we can’t provide vegan meals.

Sunday meals are not provided. Crews cook together or try local restaurants.


Interns will be housed either with the UNC-MOCHE Field School students at the Hostal McCullum, in the beach town of Huanchaco, or in a rented house in the middle Moche Valley. We do our best to provide secure locations with consistent electricity, running water, hot water, and private bedroom with shared bathrooms. Wifi is not guaranteed.  The safety and health of interns is our first priority. If we stay in the middle valley, there will be opportunities to visit Trujillo and Huanchaco on weekends. Huanchaco is about 40 minutes from where we work in the middle Moche Valley.


The people of coastal Peru speak Spanish, and the Moche Valley is no exception. Very few people in the area speak Quechua.  Muchic, the indigenous language spoken in the region at Spanish contact, has been extinct for nearly 100 years.  

There is no language requirement for the program, as we have bilingual staff. However, if you would like to work to improve your Spanish skills, we can arrange for tutoring with locals for a fee.