Uncovering the Secrets of Cosma

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Looking Ahead

The end of the 2014 season barely made a dent in what the Cosma team still had before them—a complex of ceremonial mounds, domestic structures, burials, and other features that altogether likely span a period of over 3,000 years, most of which still remains hidden beneath overgrowth and soil. But it was an auspicious start.

“Plans for next year are to expand our excavations at Karecoto,” says Munro. “I’d like to put in a larger trench to see if we can locate the stairway up the mound summit, and the end of the underground gallery. Our 2014 findings have shown us that Karecoto was mainly utilized during the Initial Period (1800/1500 BCE – 900 BCE) and Early Horizon, and the final capping episode on the mound summit happened during the Early Horizon. We located two separate floor levels, but due to the soil composition, which is very compact, very hard clay, we were only able to get down 9 feet within Karecoto. The mound was mapped at 18 meters high. So our understanding of the complexity of this structure is still very minimal.“

At Ashipucoto, Munro and colleagues want to continue excavating the circular room to identify internal elements and features and recover artifacts. Because this room was found on the west side of the mound, the team also has plans to excavate another large unit on the other side of the mound to determine if there are any other rooms or structures.

For the third mound, Kunka, time simply ran out. It remains relatively unexplored. But in 2015, they plan to dig a test pit there to establish the chronology. “Surface artifacts and architecture initially made us believe this mound is of later construction (Early Intermediate Period), but we won’t know for sure till we are able to peel back the layers of the mound,” says Munro.

Ultimately the reseachers want to expand on the work here to develop an understanding of the nature and complexity of inter-regional interactions in the upper Nepeña valley, the overall geographic context of the Cosma sites. Cosma will be a key to developing this understanding, not the least of which is the alluring mystery of its location: “The site is located in an isolated area that is hard to reach. Why was a major monumental center constructed in that area instead of along one of the major prehistoric trade routes of the valley?” asks Munro. The key might rest within the bigger picture of what was happening here in terms of the sociocultural dynamics. “I’d really like to help shed light on intermediary zones and their importance within larger scale politics and interaction networks.”

Stone points found during excavations at Karecoto. Courtesy Kimberly Munro and the Cosma Archaeological Project.


Ceramic effigy fragment recovered from Ashipucoto. Courtesy Kimberly Munro and the Cosma Archaeological Project.


Ceramic panpipe fragment recovered from Karecoto. Courtesy Kimberly Munro and the Cosma Archaeological Project.


Chimú face-neck vessel shown to team by local community member, originally recovered from Ashipucoto. Courtesy Kimberly Munro and the Cosma Archaeological Project.



Readers who are interested in learning more about the Cosma Archaeological Project or who desire to participate in the excavations are encouraged to go to the project website.

The Cosma Archaeological Project has also partnered with the local community leaders in Cosma to provide medicines, school supplies, dental care products, and funding for community development projects, such as repairing buildings, creating irrigation canals, and installing bathrooms and showers.  Go to this website for more information and to donate.


The Cosma Archaeological Project Field Team

Kimberly Munro

Project Co-Director Kimberly Munro

Kimberly Munro is a PhD student at Louisiana State University. She has seven years of Cultural Resources Management (CRM) experience working for the United States Forest Service and the National Park Service.  She also has spent five field seasons in the Andes, primarily on the north coast of Peru and the Peruvian central highlands. She has worked as an instructor both in the field and in the classroom, and plans to continue long-term investigations of the complexity of inter-regional interactions in the upper Nepeña River Valley.

Jeisen Navarro Veiga

Project Co-Director Jeisen Navarro Veiga

Jeisen Navarro has 20 years of experience working in northern Peru and is a member of the Registro Nacional de Arqueológos del Perú (RNA). He has co-directed dozens of projects and was most recently co-director of the Samanco archaeological project in the Coastal Nepeña Valley.

David Chicoine

Project Advisor Dr. David Chicoine

Dr. David Chicoine is an Assistant Professor at Louisiana State University. He earned his PhD from the University of East Anglia in 2007. Chicoine has over 10 years of experience working on the Peruvian north coast and has a long term research project at the site of Caylán, in the lower Nepeña Valley. His research has focused on the design and use of architectural spaces, modes of social interactions, foodways, funerary practices, visual arts, religious symbolism, and marine exploitation. Dr. Chicoine will be advising on the project, and all university credits for the field school will be offered and overseen by him.

The 2014 Field Team


Above images courtesy Cosma Archaeological Project


Source: http://popular-archaeology.com/

By Dan McLerran

Dan McLerranAs Founder and Editor of Popular Archaeology Magazine, Dan is a freelance writer and journalist specializing in archaeology.  He studied anthropology and archaeology in undergraduate and graduate school and has been an active participant on archaeological excavations in the U.S. and abroad.  He is the creator and administrator of Archaeological Digs, a popular weblog about archaeological excavation and field school opportunities.

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