This summer, students enrolled in a Wagner College program will get hands-on professional experience and in-depth exposure to both historic and modern Peruvian cultures thanks to a faculty member who has worked in Peru since earning her doctorate.
Anthropology professor Celeste Marie Gagnon will conduct a 4-week bioarchaeology field school this summer in coastal Huanchaco, Peru, in collaboration with the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill and Moche Inc.
The Moche civilization flourished along the northern coast and valleys of ancient Peru during the first eight centuries of the Common Era. Gagnon has been studying the ancient Moche people since 1999, when they became the focus of her doctoral work at UNC. Today she studies Moche skeletal remains, looking for the telltale traces of diet, work and violence to learn more about ordinary peoples’ lives and inequality within their culture.
The particular kind of work Gagnon does comes with distinct advantages.
“Most of the archaeologists studying ancient cultures in Peru focus either on architecture and public works, members of the ruling classes, or sacrificial victims,” she explained. “Because I’m interested in ordinary people, my field is wide open.”
A Web page describes the bioarchaeology field school in some detail. There’s lots of lab work on the agenda, since the program is intended to provide both beginning and more seasoned students with hands-on training in osteological methods. Visits are also planned to digs at two nearby archaeological sites, Pampas Gramalote and La Posa.
But Saturday field trips are also included in the schedule, with visits to archaeological community reserves in the Middle Moche Valley, the Huacas de la Luna y de la Sol and Chan Chan.
And, after a day in the lab, or on Sundays, there is the beautiful coastal village of Huanchaco itself, and the nearby city of Trujillo. Those interested in surfing will want to take advantage of Huanchaco’s legendary waves (with a wetsuit, of course — it will be winter in the Southern Hemisphere).
Students can sign up for the Moche bioarchaeology field school three ways: auditing (non-credit), enrolled in one Wagner summer course (AN 291), or adding a second Wagner course (AN 493) — which will make the student eligible to use student aid to cover the cost of the courses.
The field school’s curriculum is structured to accommodate both complete beginners as well as students with previous field training, and all instruction will be provided in English — though knowledge of Spanish will come in handy for those who have it.
Interested? Email Celeste Gagnon.
And for more about Wagner College's complete program of summer courses, both on-campus and online, visit our website.
Want to know more about the Huanchaco field school? Watch this short video made last year by Wagner College student Corrine Matlak: