Ackerman Research Fellowship provides undergraduate with valuable field work opportunities

By Samuel Neunzig

Samuel Neunzig doing field research. Samuel is squatting down by loose dirt, a mattock is nearby on the ground.

Thanks to the Robert and Lillian Ackerman anthropological research fellowship, I had the opportunity to travel to Peru last summer to attend the Huari-Ancash Field school.

My trip began in Lima, where I had the opportunity to spend three days touring the city, local archeological sites, and museums before departing for the archeological site I would be working on.

The trip to the site required a 12-hour bus ride from Lima into the Andes and a further climb of around 2,000 ft at high elevations to reach the excavation site. Once there, we set up our tents to camp at the site in Ampas.

I had the opportunity, after clearing the site of ground cover, to perform a solo excavation of a site that is traced to the Recuay culture dating back 1500-2200 years ago. I unearthed jewelry such as copper pins and a variety of ornate beads, and hundreds of pottery sherds representing styles from many parts of Peru. These finds were vital for understanding the architecture and traditions of the people who created the site.

For me this was an amazing experience that I don’t believe I could have attained anywhere else. Following the end of the excavation and reconstruction of these sites, I had the opportunity to travel and work on another site in rural Peru, that of a structure which was inhabited many times through history and potentially dating to more than 2,000 years. At the end of July, I had spent more than a month working in Peru, and I took the rest of the summer to travel, starting in Cusco, viewing the incredible archeological sites, and eventually ending in New Zealand where I was able to travel the North Coast. 

Samuel Neunzig hiking in the mountains.