Monica Fenton, 2014 Fellow Dig Blog at MOCHE-UNC Community Heritage Field School at Quebrada del Le
Monica Fenton is a rising senior studying archaeology and anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. She has worked in the Penn Museum Archives, Near East Section and American Section. Her research interests include the ancient Americas, bioarchaeology, mortuary practices, gender, and gendered violence. This summer, she will attend the MOCHE-UNC Field School in northern Peru and conduct an original research project on non-specific stress indicators in a sub-adult skeletal population.
Excavation: MOCHE-UNC Community Heritage Field School at Quebrada del León, Peru
Directors: Brian Billman, (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill), Jesus Briceno (INC, Peru), and Jennifer Ringberg (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill)
The MOCHE-UNC Field School will be excavating high-status and low-status residences at the site of Quebrada del León in the middle Moche valley on the north coast of Peru. This large Moche town was occupied from 400 BC to 700 AD. Researchers with the Moche Origins Project hope that excavations will give insight into how the Southern Moche State developed and how highland and coastal cultures interacted in this intermediate area.
Bioarch 'till you drop
This week, I dove headfirst into my independent project and spent all week at the bioarchaeology lab (aside from Friday when my illness got worse again). Completely separate from the field school artifact lab in Huanchaco, the bioarch lab is located at Huaca del Dragón, a Chimu platform mound in Trujillo's La Esperanza district.
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I was all over the place this week because I started my research project...and also started getting sick.
Monday was a lab day so we could finish analyzing artifacts from Cerro la Virgen. We got through the ceramics early in the day, and the TAs had to scramble to give us lithics, textiles, botanical remains, and ornaments to work on. Apparently, we're much more efficient than they expected--we processed everything, got to leave early, and grabbed mochaccinos from the gringo cafe down the road.
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Cerro la Virgen
This week, we mapped Cerro La Virgen, a Chimu town on the outskirts of Huanchaco that's in the process of being destroyed by an illegal quarrying operation. It's over five centuries old and lies along an Inca road that runs from the old Chimu capital of Chan Chan to the Inca provincial capital further inland.
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¡Bienvenido a Huanchaco!
I landed in Trujillo on Wednesday morning, so the first week of field school was a short one. We got a crash course in Peru and visited two of the Moche Origin Project's former excavation sites: Cerro Leon and Cerro Oreja.
Cerro Leon is a mountain to me, but by Peruvian standards it's more of a hill (I've only seen mountains once before in my life). Along the bottom slope lies a looted cemetery. Right below is the associated town, one of the few systematically-excavated rural Moche sites.
The second site we visited, Cerro Oreja, has a less uplifting story. Salvage excavations in the 1990s collected some data from the site's cemetery before it was destroyed by a large-scale irrigation project. The ruins of the associated town lie on the slopes of the mountain between the cemetery and the adobe platform mound close to the peak. The site includes some of the few well-recorded burials from the Gallinazo culture, which shed light on how its successor, the Moche culture, developed.
I'd never hiked before, or even gone camping, but I made it up to the platform mound with the rest of the group! Of course, climbing down was much more harrowing than climbing up...