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Department of Art and Art History Associate Professor Steve Bourget is directing a critically important archaeological project at Huaca el Pueblo, near the coast of Peru. Huaca el Pueblo is a site with monumental architecture and residential areas situated in the Zaña Valley; it lies very close to the Pan–American Highway.
The site is dominated by a step–and–fret pyramid reaching 80 feet in height. The pyramid is associated with a series of residential and ritual platforms containing numerous rooms and corridors that may have constituted residential facilities for the elite. It is suspected that there is probably a vast residential area as well, but it is still buried under dense accretions of windblown sand.
Dr. Bourget has worked closely with Art History division graduate students on this project, providing them with professional field experience. Unlike other projects in Peru, this project is an investigation into the organization of north coast polities and the development of social complexity during the Early Intermediate Period (100 – 800 A.D.) in South America. With the investigation of Moche sites possessing monumental architecture, and the assessment of the Moche presence in the Zaña and Lambayeque valleys, Bourget is studying the regional organization of this cultural formation.
Although great advances have been made over the last two decades in the field of Moche studies, most of the research in regards to social organization has concentrated in only the Jequetepeque, Chicama and Moche valleys. Bourget's work in Huaca El Pueblo is providing key insights into a new geographical area, allowing Andean scholars and students to continue to piece together this puzzle of the past.