So if you know me, you probably know that I love archaeology, particularly Latin American archaeology. That’s what I want to go on to study once I graduate. If you know West Michigan, you probably know that there’s not a whole lot of Latin American archaeology going on in the area. Not that I blame them at all, it’s not exactly the best location to be doing Latin American archaeology (which would be – of course – Latin America). And while everyone at Hope has been absolutely amazing in supporting me in my goals, it’s hard to get hands on experience there, which is part of the reason I chose to study abroad in Ecuador.

At USFQ (the university I attend) I’ve been able to take two different archaeology classes this semester, one specifically geared to Andean Archaeology. It is absolutely my favorite class that I’ve ever taken, even though the language makes it much harder than the classes I’ve taken at Hope. We’ve gotten to go down to the lab they have and see their artifacts, as well as have some hands on experience with some of the less costly ones (read pot sherds). We spent an entire class, once, learning how you would go about making arrowheads (which may not sound exciting to you, but it was very exciting for me!).

Some of the pot sherds I got to clean in the archaeology lab at USFQ
Some of the pot sherds I got to clean in the archaeology lab at USFQ

There are pre-Colombian archaeology museums around every corner in the historic district, as well as a few sites within the Quito metropolitan area (I’ve been to more than a few), and many more on the coast and the Amazon. From the university, we can see in the distance where the Inga (not Inca!) civilization mined obsidian over 11,000 years ago.

An archaeological site called Agua Blanca on the coast down by Puerto López
An archaeological site called Agua Blanca that’s on the coast down by Puerto López.

During my fall break, I had the amazing opportunity to go visit Cuzco, in Peru. We spent a whole day walking through about 7 sites in the Cuzco area, then went to Machu Picchu! It was one of the best experiences of my life, even if we had to get up at 4am to make sure we beat the crowds there.

But the most exciting part is that I’m making connections with the professors here who do research in (mainly) Andean archaeology. One of them, who I’ve talked with, has connections in the national lab where they do preservation and analysis of artifacts from Ecuador (!!!!!!!!), and has contacted the director so I can go visit. I am also going to be able to spend some time helping one of my other professors with his research. One of the best parts about being here has been that I really get to see my dream career in person, and talk to and learn from people who are living it

Published by Kimberly Breyfogle

Class of 2021 IES Abroad Quito, Ecuador Chemistry, Spanish w/ minor in History, Biology

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