Archaeologist Steve Bourget Presents New Findings from a Dig in the Andes

On Saturday, April 26th at 2pm, the Blanton will host Dr. Steve Bourget, Director of Scientific Research, Museum of Ethnography, Geneva in a free public lecture in the Blanton auditorium. In this special presentation, Dr. Bourget will discuss exciting new discoveries at the Moche archaeological site of Huaca Dos Cabezas in the Jequetepeque Valley in northern Peru.

Huaca Dos Cabezas, Jequetepeque Valley, Peru.
Huaca Dos Cabezas, Jequetepeque Valley, Peru.

The site of Huaca Dos Cabezas pertains to the Moche culture, which dominated the north coast of Peru during the Early Intermediate Period (200-800 CE). The archaeological site includes a vast urban settlement with a central adobe pyramid, which once towered over 30 meters above the surrounding landscape. The damage in the center, presumed to result from Colonial-period looting, produced two peaks on the north-facing structure suggestive of two heads, or Dos Cabezas (see photo).

The site of Dos Cabezas was excavated between 1994-2001 by Dr. Christopher B. Donnan, from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Through his investigations, Dr. Donnan uncovered three intact elite tombs on the southwest corner of the adobe pyramid. These impressive burial contexts have recently been published in a detailed volume available through Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press (Donnan 2007).

Adobe wall with aligned post holes, Huaca Dos Cabezas Archaeological Project.
Adobe wall with aligned post holes, Huaca Dos Cabezas Archaeological Project.

During the first season of renewed archaeological investigations in 2011, research at the site entailed cleaning the surface erosion and interior cavity of the central adobe building in order to determine the sequence of building construction. This resulted in the definition of at least three superimposed buildings during the Moche occupation of the site, with potential corresponding superimposed floor levels within the north patio or plaza.

During the second field season in 2013, investigations sought to clarify this sequence of site construction through focused efforts on the northwest corner of the building. These excavations led to the exciting discovery of a semi-circular structure that appears to have functioned as an observation point. The nature of this discovery will be the center of Dr. Bourget’s conversation at the Blanton. Following an introduction to the site, its layout and excavation history, Bourget will discuss the recently discovered structure and its implications for the ongoing research and interpretation of Moche material culture.

Dr. Bourget’s lecture is presented in conjunction with Between Mountains and Sea: Arts of the Ancient Andes, on view through August 17 at the Blanton and guest-curated by Dr. Kimberly L. Jones. Dr. Jones is the Ellen and Harry S. Parker III Assistant Curator of the Arts of the Americas at the Dallas Museum of Art and previously served as curator of the Art and Art History collection in the Art and Art History department at The University of Texas at Austin.

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