Welcome to the first post of the Ancash Advocate, the new blog for Proyecto de Investigación Arqueológico Regional Ancash (PIARA)! The purpose of this blog is to feature the diversity of projects coordinated through PIARA both in Peru and in the United States. In 2013, the fifth year since the founding of our organization, PIARA continued our long-term archaeology research and community outreach projects and launched new programs as well. Below we summarize just a few of the highlights of this past year –
- In archaeological research, PIARA continued to focus on excavations, survey, mapping, and material analysis, at the sites of Hualcayán and Pariamarca. Projects included field work and the bioarchaeological study of the funerary contexts in four chullpas or machays in the Ichic Tzapa sector; further exploration of the construction sequence of the mound complex in the Perolcoto sector and uncovering Kotosh religious tradition structures and activities; and further defining the characteristics of the domestic area in the Panchocuchu sector. This summer student research projects included ceramics, skeletal analysis, and curation.
- On August 3rd PIARA sponsored the First Annual Cultural Festival of Hualcayán. The event featured several local dance troupes, activities for the children, and music. The festival also featured a Pop-Up Museum created by the PIARA team with cultural materials excavated from the Hualcayán site. PIARA Co-Directors Rebecca Bria and Elizabeth Cruzado Carranza led a tour of the site excavations. The museum and tour were attended by local residents and visitors who drove for as much as three hours to attend the Festival. For many of the local residents, the Pop-Up Museum and excavation tour were their first opportunities to understand the role of these cultural resources in their own heritage. A highlight of the festival was the ribbon cutting on the library and resource center at the village school funded and organized by PIARA.
- On December 14th, PIARA received a special award from the Ministry of Culture of Ancash that recognized our contribution to the preservation and presentation of the region’s culture heritage. PIARA is very proud and appreciative of the award. Receiving this award demonstrates the value cultural heritage professionals in the Ancash Region of Peru place on PIARA’s diversity of projects.
- In 2013 PIARA began a collaborative project with the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa and the Museum Studies Graduate Certificate Program at the University of Memphis (UM). The project will involve UM students collaborating with PIARA researchers and residents of Hualcayán to develop the region’s cultural heritage. In the fall of 2013, UM graduate students prepared a collections management plan specific to the rural Andean setting, created hands-on activities for the village school to educate students on archaeological interpretation, and participated in grant writing activities to secure funding for future projects in the region.
- On December 6th, the Feast of St. Nicholas, PIARA hosted the first ever Christmas celebration for the children of Hualcayán. The blog post and video created by PIARA Co-Director Elizabeth Cruzado Carranza provides highlights of the festive event. Elizabeth’s post also explains why such community outreach projects are integral to PIARA’s perspective on archaeological research in the region.
2014 is shaping up to be an equally busy year for PIARA. Here are just a few of the planned activities and programs –
- In 2014 PIARA will launch a program to bring health and wellness professionals to attend to the many health-related issues in rural Huaylas, Ancash. Individuals in these rural communities suffer chronic illnesses where even simple infections can turn life-threatening. PIARA will participate with area residents to create sustainable solutions for these problems by inviting Peruvian and international health programs to the communities of Hualcayán and Tzactza. Although some might find this aspect of PIARA’s work tangential to our mission, the relevance of health care to cultural heritage organizations is discussed in a recent report of the American Alliance of Museums.
- Beginning in late 2013 and continuing this year, PIARA and Students Without Borders launched a coordinated effort with high school students and teachers from Hualcayán and in Colorado, United States, for joint educational projects in the sciences and humanities to explore global warming impacts and alternative energy resources. Goals of the collaboration include finding innovative solutions useful for all of the students to improve their lives and conserve natural resources. Currently, the Peruvian and U.S. students are exchanging letters to become acquainted, while their teachers prepare the curricula and teaching materials for 2014.
- In addition to holding the Second Annual Cultural Heritage Festival of Hualcayán and educational workshops, in the summer of 2014 we will formally launch a long-term strategic planning process to develop cultural heritage resources of the Hualycayán community for the benefit of that community. The planning and implementation process with be a true co-creative project based on the expressed goals of area residents. We see co-creative projects as those where the community determines the local issue to be addressed and in partnership with agencies such as PIARA, all parties bring their expertise to the table to collaborate in creating the product or experience. Co-creative projects are completed with the community and not for the community. This approach helps to ensure the long-term sustainability of the results. We will report more on this project in future posts, along with several other new and continuing archaeological research projects.
As you can see PIARA’s work continues to grow and gather even more momentum as we enter our sixth year. Be sure to subscribe to our new blog to receive regular updates on our activities. Be certain to visit our website to find out more about PIARA and consider making a donation to help us further our work in Hualcayán and the surrounding region.