Archaeological Excavation Alca, Peru
Dan Sandweiss (CCI), Kurt Rademaker (CCI)
James Hagerman (University of Maine), Ben Morris (University of Maine)
Michael Malpass (Ithaca College), Louis Fortin (University of Maine)
Adan Umire, Oswaldo Chozo
May 10, 2004 to June 19, 2004

House Wall
Sunday May 30 - The team is in high spirits, as we have enjoyed great success in our twelve days of excavation at Waynuna.   We carefully dug into the ceramic period agricultural terraces that occupy the site surface and discovered a variety of artifacts, including Alca obsidian tools and flakes, ceramic potsherds and spindle whorls, bone tools and refuse, and organic remains.   A breakthrough finally came on May 23 when we reached the base of the terrace fill and encountered a stratified series of older buried preceramic living surfaces, the first excavated evidence of preceramic habitation in the Cotahuasi valley.   The discovery of an intact house wall with associated features and refuse, including artifacts of Alca obsidian and datable organic remains, will tell us how old the site is and will help us study possible connections between Waynuna and the coastal site Quebrada Jaguay.

Excavation Crew
Team with Horses
Monday June 7 - With most of the team heading back to the States it is time to begin the next phase of our research - geoarchaeological investigation of the highland Alca obsidian source.   Two Peruvian colleagues Adan Umire and Delfin Condori, Benjamin Morris (UMaine), and I will be heading up the Rio Chococo from Alca to reach the remote Quebrada Pulhuay, a valley at about 4,500-5,000 m elevation near the headwall of a large cirque, where, according to some local villagers, large quantities of obsidian can be found.   Since there are no settlements beyond 3,600 m elevation, we're packing in our supplies on the backs of two horses and a burro and following old footpaths and segments of canal beds, and we should get to the cirque headwall after an all-day hike.   Once we establish our base camp we will spend about 12 days searching for obsidian outcrops and early preceramic archaeological sites.   We will also be checking out kettle lakes, moraines, and other glacial landforms around the cirque to learn about the area's glacial history and to assess the potential for future paleoenvironmental study.


Base Camp Quebrada Pulhuay Kettle Lake

Obsidian Outcrop
Saturday June 19 - We have now returned to the town of Alca, as our work in the Quebrada Pulhuay is completed, and what a wonderful place it was!   The Alca obsidian source is much larger than previously known, spanning hundreds of acres and about 2,000 m of vertical relief.   We mapped the boundaries of the obsidian source and collected more than 100 rock samples for geochemical analysis.   Additionally, we located dozens of preceramic quarry, workshop, and occupation archaeological sites.   Thanks to a great field team who hiked endless miles and endured many nights of Ramen noodle soup, the llamas and alpacas that provided the dung for our "bosta" campfires, and of course the great people from the Cotahuasi valley for their kindness and hospitality.      

With all of the information collected at the Waynuna site and the Quebrada Pulhuay, we will have a very busy fall and winter here at UMaine.   Technological analyses of artifacts recovered from Waynuna and geochemical analyses of Alca obsidian will be aimed at examining links between the Alca source, Waynuna, and Quebrada Jaguay to better understand preceramic highland occupations in southern Peru and possible relationships between this area and the adjacent coast.

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this area and the adjacent coast.

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