Cerro de Oro  | Cañete Valley, Peru

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Notable artifacts & features: 
Ceramics, Textile production tools, funerary objects

Age, Period or Culture: Inca: Incan 500-1500 AD
Amphora

Description:

Perched atop a rocky hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean is the 150-hectare archaeological site of Cerro de Oro. Most of Cerro de Oro remains unexplored, yet past excavations have revealed three distinct periods of densely populated occupation over a span of a thousand years. The earliest remains are of a settlement with a vast network of monumental adobe buildings, including houses and funerary structures, dating back to 550-850 AD. The burials contain elaborate funerary bundles with textiles establishing a clear link with highland Wari society (850-950 AD). A later cemetery and residential complex signals Inca occupation of the area from c. 1100 until the Spanish Conquest.

 

Cerro de Oro in Peru is the largest and most influential settlement in the Cañete region and is located about 140 km south of Lima. The site is very well preserved, with wide, tall walls that measure over 10m that are still visible today. The site is well-known for a series of artifacts excavated in 2013 which are currently being exhibited in the Pachacamac Museum. Apart from that, the site is well-known for its monumental architecture and the interpretation center found within it

What to Expect:

 

The experience is a two day/one night expedition that includes the archaeological preservation of 1500 year old structures. The work we will be performing will be an important step toward preserving Cerro de Oro and preparing the site for ongoing archeological visits and for enjoyment by the surrounding community. Once preservation is complete, the site will include an interpretive center, viewpoints and information panels to explain the site’s significance. 

 

What's Included in the Cost:

 

You will be taught how to work on an archaeological excavation in the field.

  • Tools and instruction for archaeological excavation and preservation

  • Lunch and drinks are provided for all participants. 

  • Day 1: Afro-Peruvian dance, music and dinner is provided

  • Day 2: Lunch in Cerro Azul and visit to El Huarco archaeological site 

  • Give me more of an explanation of the day...what time is start? what's the plan for travels to the other activities?

  • Accommodations are not included. 

​What to Bring for the Dig:

clothes? water bottles? snacks?

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Francesca Fernandini, PhD 
Archaeologist
Cerro de Oro & PUCP

  1. What makes your site significant?
    Cerro de Oro is in the lower Cañete valley. It’s a monumental settlement of over 150 hectares that presents a profuse and intensive occupation that spans over 1000 years. This city was composed of houses, temples, cemeteries and specialized workshops all made out of tall and thick adobe walls, some of them over 10m high.

  2. What has been most surprising about your discoveries at this location?
    In 2013 we excavated a very complex elite tomb. The remains from this tomb were curated and exhibited in the MALI museum. Currently some of these pieces are in exhibition at the Pachacamac Museum.

  3. What are your current research objectives at your site? 
    My research objectives for the next two years include excavating a 1500 year old cemetery located in a ravine at the site in order to study diet, pathologies and the general way of life. In parallel, we are developing a more holistic community oriented research program that includes the community in decision making and in the directions the project takes. 

  4. What was most important or rewarding find at this site?
    In 2019 we excavated a household that seems to have been oriented towards textile production. This context is allowing us to explore the entire chain of operation behind textile production, from wool and cotton spinning, to weaving with a waist loom. Remains include different tools such as spades, whorls, looms, waist bands, textiles combs, among other remains. 

All the digs featured on Ancient Odysseys are non-profits and rely upon visitors and donations to continue their important scientific work. Please consider donating if you would like to support this organization's mission. All donations are tax deductible.

Click here to donate to Cerro de Oro

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Cerro de Oro Excavation + Travel Itinerary

Quechua Indigenous Women

Monday | Day 1 | Orientation and Ceramic Registry Workshop

  • 9:30am Orientation and introduction with a brief tour of Cusco city center in the morning followed by a lunch provided for the group at a local restaurant.

  • After lunch, we will head back to the Centro for a Ceramic Registry Workshop led by the Aq’amama archaeologist and anthropologist. You will learn about ceramic artefacts from the Moche, Chimu, Chancay, & Inca cultures and be taught how to clean, measure, photograph and register these genuine Inca and pre-Inca ceramic pottery vessels.

  • 6pm: the day’s program ends. Dinner is on your own.

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Thursday | Day 4 | Onsite Excavation

  • 6:00-6:45am breakfast at Centro Cultural Aq’amama

  • 7am departure in private van transport for excavation site at Machu Culca.

  • 8am-lunch: The team will be introduced to the site archaeologist and staff coordinating the investigation works. After this the group will set to work on the site alongside archaeology students from Cusco.

  • Lunch break with the group at a local restaurant

  • Afternoon: Continued work at the Machu Culca

  • Transport back to the Centro

  • 6:30pm: the day’s program ends. Dinner is on your own.

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Tuesday | Day 2 | Onsite Excavation

  • 6:00-6:45am breakfast at Centro Cultural Aq’amama

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Friday | Day 5 | Ceramic Registry

  • 8:00-9:00am breakfast at Centro Cultural Aq’amama

  • 9:00-2:00pm Much in line with the first day’s workshop, the team will continue with the registration of ceramic artefacts and assist the project archaeologists with the current program that is run in coordination with the Peruvian Ministry of Culture.

  • 2:00pm lunch break with the group at a local restaurant

  • After lunch we will return to the Centro where the team will continue with the ceramic registry process in the afternoon.

  • 5:30pm: the day’s program ends. Dinner is on your own.

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Wednesday | Day 3 | Site Visits

  • 8:00-9:00am breakfast at Centro Cultural Aq’amama

  • 9:30 departure in private van transport to visit 3 sites in Cusco’s southern valley

    • Kañarakay – A small Inca complex at the Huacarpay Lake.

    • La Portada de Rumiqolqa – A Wari aqueduct later modified by the Incas

    • Choquepujio – A Wari complex dominated by high walls with niches

  • Lunch break with the group at a local restaurant

  • Afternoon: visit to San Jeronimo area of Cusco and Raqaraqaniyok – A recently restored complex of more than 40 structures occupied by the Incas and later by Spanish settlers; transport back to the Centro

  • 6:00pm: the day’s program ends. Dinner is on your own.

Saturday & Sunday 
Weekend Excursion
The Sacred Valley

  

In the heights of the Sacred Valley there are humble and hospitable people who maintain traditions that have survived for thousands of years. They live in community and know how to read the signs of nature. They are sensitive people who practice mysterious textile iconography, have unique flora and fauna, prepare exotic cuisine with delicate products, and share a common past linked to pre-Hispanic cultures.​

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Saturday |
Andean Community
 

A guided visit with the Quechua Andean Community, located in the heights of The Sacred Valley. Where you will  participate in their daily activities of the community, spending the morning with women and men doing traditional farming, animal breeding and incredible weaving. 

 

This evening is spent in a hotel in the vicinity. 

Includes transportation from Centro Cultural Aq’amama, lunch, hotel, guide and entrance fees.

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Sunday |Pumamarca, Ollantaytambo & Pachamanca

A charming walk in Ollantaytambo to reach the Pumamarca archeological site, a small archeological complex with narrow streets that was originally built by the Wari people, who populated this area before the Incas and who still live here today. This hike will take us through native tree forests, crystal clear creeks, high mountains, ancient water channels and beautiful Inca terraces. 

 

For lunch, visit an organic farm set on an old Inca Terrace and help prepare a traditional Pachamanca—the ancient Peruvian earthen oven cooking technique, using root vegetables and meats wrapped in local herbs and cooked underground using wood-fire heated stones. Onsite is also a tiny traditional Whiskey distillery, that  uses different Andean ingredients. Salud!

 

Includes breakfast, lunch, guide, entrance fees and transportation to Centro Cultural Aq’amama.

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Monday | Day 8 | Ceramic Registry

  • 8:00-9:00am breakfast at Centro Cultural Aq’amama

  • 9:00-12:30pm The team will continue with the registration of ceramic artefacts and assist the project archaeologists with the current program that is run in coordination with the Peruvian Ministry of Culture.

  • 12:30pm lunch break with the group at a local restaurant

  • After lunch we will return to the Centro where the team will continue with the ceramic registry process in the afternoon.

  • 5:30pm: the day’s program ends. Dinner is on your own.

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Tuesday | Day 11 | Onsite Excavation

  • 6:00-6:45am breakfast at Centro Cultural Aq’amama

  • 7am departure in private van transport for excavation site at Machu Culca

  • 8am-lunch: The team will be introduced to the site archaeologist and staff coordinating the investigation works. After this the group will set to work on the site alongside archaeology students from Cusco.

  • Lunch break with the group at a local restaurant

  • Afternoon: Continued work at the Machu Culca

  • Transport back to the Centro

  • 6:30pm: the day’s program ends. Dinner is on your own.

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Tuesday | Day 9 | Onsite Excavation

  • 6:00-6:45am breakfast at Centro Cultural Aq’amama

  • 7am departure in private van transport for excavation site at Machu Culca

  • 8am-lunch: The team will be introduced to the site archaeologist and staff coordinating the investigation works. After this the group will set to work on the site alongside archaeology students from Cusco.

  • Lunch break with the group at a local restaurant

  • Afternoon: Continued work at the Machu Culca

  • Transport back to the Centro

  • 6:30pm: the day’s program ends. Dinner is on your own.

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Friday | Day 12 | Ceramic Registry

  • 8:00-9:00am breakfast at Centro Cultural Aq’amama

  • 9:00-12:30pm The team will continue with the registration of ceramic artefacts and assist the project archaeologists with the current program that is run in coordination with the Peruvian Ministry of Culture.

  • 12:30pm lunch break with the group at a local restaurant where a traditional dance show is performed by local artists

  • After lunch we will return to the Centro where the project will conclude with the presentation of the certificates of completion for the project team.

  • 5:30pm the program ends and one final night of accommodations is provided

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Wednesday|Day 10 | Site Visits

  • 8:00-9:00am breakfast at Centro Cultural Aq’amama

  • 9:30 departure in private van to visit 3 sites in Saqsayhuaman Archaeological Park

    • Kusilluchayok – This scared shrine is located next to the  Inca trail.

    • Amarumarkawasi –  This site is also known as ‘The Temple of the Moon’.

    • Inkilltambo – A 40 minutes hike  to this recently restored archaeological site.

  • Lunch break with the group at a local restaurant

  • Afternoon views and visits to the terraces and platforms of archaeological site ‘Machu Choquequirao Puquio’

  • Dinner break with the group at a local restaurant

  • 6:00pm: the day’s program ends. Dinner on your own.

Week 1

2022 Dig Dates

Choose 2 dates to excavate at Cerro de  within this time frame

July 15-23

August 6-23

Travel itinerary will be booked around your preferred dig dates

Cerro de Oro + xx day Peru Itinerary 
$xxx/2 weeks

Clicking the above link will take you directly 
to this dig's booking page

13+

Participation is subject to availability and is at the full discretion of the dig location. Prices and dates dates subject to change.