CIARQ was formed late in 1997, and began work in 1998. One of our first goals was to begin to systematize available information on the archaeology of Arequipa. In 1998, we began two CIARQ projects, the Arequipa Valley Survey, and the Vescelius Collection Rehousing and Documentation Project. We also provided support for the Human Osteological Pilot Project, run by Tiffiny Tung, a graduate student at the University of North Carolina. In addition, we mapped a number of archaeological sites in collaboration with the local National Cultural Institute (INC).
THE AREQUIPA VALLEY SURVEY
The scope of this project includes systematic pedestrian survey of the entire valley, registry of all archaeological sites found, collection of a representative sample of archaeological materials (generally fragments of pottery), and analysis of collections and surface features of each site to determine it's cultural affiliation and approximate age. During four field seasons, from 1998 through 2001, we surveyed systematically an area of roughly 100 square kilometers, and visited and recorded a number of sites outside the area if systematic work. A total of 167 sites were recorded, most of which had not previously been reported.
The sites registered during the survey span many different time periods, including 6,000 year old hunter-gatherer encampments, 2,000 year old Formative Period agricultural villages and larger, more recent sites built by the better known cultures of Tiwanaku, Churajón and Inca.
View a gallery of photos from the Arequipa Valley Survey
VESCELIUS COLLECTION REHOUSING AND DOCUMENTATION PROJECT
In the late 1950's archaeologist Gary Vescelius, then a graduate student, began an ambitious project on the archaeology of southern Peru. Supported by the Fulbright Commission, he spent nearly two years surveying and testing archaeological sites in southern Peru. He registered and made collections at hundreds of archaeological sites, many of which have since been destroyed. His collections were labeled and deposited at the archaeological museum of the Universidad Nacional San Agustín, in Arequipa. Unfortunately, the museum never had the space, personnel, or the resources to care for the collections, some of which sat on the roof of the museum for many years. In 1998, we began a process of re-inventorying the collections, attempting to reconstruct where each object had come from, and re-housing them in new labeled bags and boxes. Using catalogs and notes found both in Peru and at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, we were able to determine the original context of many of the archaeological specimens, although many others had lost their original numbers and were now unidentifiable. We were able to inventory and re-house about half of this important collection, and we hope to finish this project as soon as we can secure funding to continue. Eventually, we hope to use Vescelius' notes and collections to generate information on numerous sites that been destroyed since the 1950's. This will provide us with a more complete picture of the prehistoric settlement patterns, architecture, and ancient material culture of the Arequipa area, and will supplement the information we are able to generate in our Arequipa Valley Archaeological Survey.