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Ana Cecilia Mauricio Uncovers History at Los Morteros

Ana Cecilia Mauricio, pictured left, is researching geoarchaeological explorations of an early monumental site in Peru called Los Morteros. Pictured right is an aerial view of stone structures on the top of the mound of Los Morteros and the windbreaks built to protect excavations against the strong coastal winds.
Ana Cecilia Mauricio, pictured left, is researching geoarchaeological explorations of an early monumental site in Peru called Los Morteros. Pictured right is an aerial view of stone structures on the top of the mound of Los Morteros and the windbreaks built to protect excavations against the strong coastal winds.

Peruvian archaeologist Ana Cecilia Mauricio received her first grant from the National Geographic Society in 2012. Her project involved using ground-penetrating radar to determine the nature of an extensive, mound-shaped feature at Los Morteros, a site in Pampa de las Salinas along the northern coast of Peru.

According to previous investigations, the mound at Los Morteros was a "stabilized dune" whose sandy top was used as a cemetery by the site’s ancient inhabitants. However, excavations carried out by Mauricio in 2012–2013 uncovered a long occupation history evident in stone hearths containing small fish bones, charcoal, and scallop shells. Mauricio’s 2012 study also demonstrated that Los Morteros is not a natural feature but an artificial mound built through a combination of human activity and eolian, or windblown sediment, processes.

Mauricio received her second grant from the National Geographic Society in 2016 to continue her research at the site of Los Morteros. Mauricio’s recent field season at Los Morteros and the surrounding area aims to build on her 2012 findings by investigating how the site developed over time as well as how the environment may have impacted the lives of those who lived there thousands of years ago.

Photographs by:
  • Matt Finlayson
  • Ana Mauricio