Andes, Peru


Peru was the center of many autochthonous civilizations arising from its varied ecological and cultural landscape and the broad focus of the faculty and graduate students at Yale is the emergence of these complex societies in Peru. To this end Yale archaeologists have excavated at sites ranging from the large ceremonial center of Chavín de Huántar in the Highlands to the early fishing village Pampas Gramalote on the Northern Coast. Investigations have extended to Huayurco at the junction of the Amazon and the Andes as well as the large U-shaped centers of Cardal, Manchay Bajo, and Mina Perdida near the Peruvian capital of Lima, and the copper smelting site of Dos Cruces in the lower Zaña valley. These investigations are characterized by a special concern for diachronic change and the use of archaeometric techniques in study of the materials recovered. This wide variety of data sheds light on the various methods by which social complexity was created, negotiated, and perpetuated in the Andean region. Ongoing collaborative research on the sourcing of obsidian, cinnabar and ceramics have yielded an improved understanding of the patterns of long-distance contacts and exchange and the way in which these patterns were modified as Andean societies evolved.

Cardal excavations photo

Because of the historic role played by Yale in the scientific discovery and investigation of Machu Picchu, there also has been a focus on Inca culture that continues in collaborative laboratory studies of ceramic petrography and ancient DNA from Machu Picchu. As a result of the Memorandum of Understanding between Yale and the University of Cuzco (UNSAAC), members of the faculty and staff are involved in the various projects in Cuzco, most notably the organization of summer archaeological workshops at UNSAAC, the development of the Museo Machu Picchu, and the study and conservation of the Bingham Collections currently housed at the Casa Concha. To learn more about ongoing Yale-UNSAAC collaborations, click here.