Project Description


The Uspallata Valley Archaeology Project is a unique opportunity for students to investigate the site of Cerro Tunduqueral. This site has Mendoza’s densest concentration of rock art (more than 400 designs) but we know very little about the people who made these enigmatic engravings. To look for answers we will excavate a nearby rock shelter and compare it to excavations at a second rock shelter in the mountains to the east. The deepest levels of these sites may shed light on the valley’s early occupation, which dates back to over 13,000 years, and includes the region’s earliest human occupation. Students participating in this field school will discover how hunters and gatherers moved around the landscape, how agriculturalists tapped into its rich soils, how pastoralists took llamas to pasture in secluded mountain valleys, and how these people confronted the Inca empire. The Inca’s massive territorial expansion from Cuzco ended in Uspallata, the empire’s southernmost Andean occupation.

Download Syllabus
  • Course Dates: Jun 1-Jul 1, 2017
  • Enrollment Status: CLOSED
  • Total Cost: $4,200
  • Course Type: Field Archaeology
  • Payment Deadline: Apr 21, 2017
  • Instructors: Dr. Erik J. Marsh
  • Orientation:  April 18, 4:00pm Los Angeles Time
Program Closed

Course Details


The directors welcome emails and inquiries about the research elements of this project. More general information (tuition, health insurance, and payment schedule) can be found under the ‘Students’ tab above. Any further questions may be addressed to IFR staff. Additional details about research, course schedule, travel, accommodation, and safety can be found on the syllabus. Contacting the directors or the IFR office is encouraged and appreciated. It may help you determine if this field school is a good fit for you.

Dr. Erik Marsh
Dr. Erik Marsh
Dr. Marsh is a Researcher at CONICET & Laboratorio de Paleo-Ecología Humana Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina.


My experience at the Uspallata field school was absolutely life changing. Not only did it solidify my love for archaeology and my plans to pursue it as a career, but it also broadened my interests within the field. At Uspallata, we explored many aspects of archaeology, such as excavation, survey, soil testing, geological processes, dating methods, and identification of lithics and ceramics. Everyone at Uspallata was so welcoming and optimistic, and Dr. Marsh made the entire experience incredibly fun. I cannot recommend this field school enough. From the beauty of the site to the academic opportunities it has provided me, the Uspallata field school is truly an adventure I’ll never forget.
Savanna Buehlman-Barbeau, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2016
The Uspallata 2016 field school was not only my first time traveling out of the United States, but also my first time doing field archaeology ever. During the late fall of 2015, I had decided to send an application for the field school seeking adventure and knowledge. Dr. Erik Marsh and our small group of three gave me more than enough adventurous and knowledgable experiences than I could have asked for. From the cozy, kind staff at the hostel, to the lectures given by guest speakers, the entire trip was well planned and very enjoyable. Dr. Erik Marsh is incredibly easy to talk to as well as very knowledgable about many things, not exclusively field archaeology. Though there were late nights filled with laughter, we also learned an incredible amount about excavation, survey, dating methods, identification of lithics and ceramics, ecology of the area, geological processes, and soil testing. This field school gave me an unforgettable life altering experience and a hunger for anthropology. My college also awarded me with 12 credit hours, accelerating my college graduation plan and career plan accordingly.
Kristin Carline, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2016

Tuition Includes:

  • Costs of instruction
  • Cost of Academic Credits
  • Room & board
  • All local transportation
  • Health Insurance

Student Fees

A nonrefundable deposit of $500 is required to secure a seat in this program.  This program requires an application (no application fee is requested). Only accepted students should pay the deposit fee. Deposit fee is part of the program Tuition. The remaining tuition, minus the $500 deposit, must be paid prior to the tuition deadline (see above under “Course Details”).

Important Note: If you were accepted to this program but did not cancel your participation by the tuition payment deadline, you are legally responsible for the full tuition regardless of attendance in this program. Please read the IFR Cancellation Policy for further clarification.

  • A 2.5% Processing Fee is automatically assessed for all credit/debit card payments
  • A $100 Late Fee will be assessed if full tuition payment is not completed by the deadline.
  • Look at the field school syllabus above for room & board details.


Students and staff will stay at the Hostel Cerro del Cobre, south of the town of Uspallata. The elevation is around 2,100 meters above sea level (6890 feet) so a short period of adjustment to the altitude will be mandatory. Conditions are basic but comfortable with hot water, etc. Students will sleep on bunk beds in shared rooms and have access to the property’s ample outdoor areas and communal rooms.

MEALS: Food is provided by the program Monday to Friday (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Students are responsible for their weekend meals. All meals will be group events and will provide plenty of nutritious but basic food based on local dietary customs, not least of which includes the famous Argentine barbecue. Vegetarian diets may be accommodated but options are limited. More specialized diets (vegan, kosher, etc.) are impossible to accommodate at this location.

Travel Info

Students will be met at the first day of the program at either the Mendoza airport (MDZ) or bus terminal by project staff members. Students must let project staff know their flight arrival time. The secondary meeting place is Lagares Hostel.

If you miss your connection or your flight is delayed, please call, text, or email the project director immediately. A local emergency cell phone number will be provided to all enrolled students.

VISA REQUIREMENTS: A valid passport is required to enter and depart Argentina. Travelers entering Argentina on a US passport can stay for 90 days as tourists; no visa is required. Travelers entering on passports from other countries are asked to check the Argentine Embassy website page in their home country for visa requirements. For more information visit the US State Department Travel Advice page

HEALTH ISSUES: For specific information regarding travel health issues pertinent to travel in Argentina, consult with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Student Safety

Student safety is paramount for the IFR. Unlike many universities who are self-insured, the IFR purchases a range of high end insurance policies from some of the largest insurers in the world. Students in all our international programs have a comprehensive health insurance policy. It covers sickness, and chronic and mental health conditions at 100% of the cost. We have a strong evacuation and extraction policy. We can remove students from any location anywhere in the world with one phone call – whether medical evacuation, political or natural disaster extraction and anything in between. We purchase intelligence services from a global private provider and monitor the world 24/7. We automatically enroll our students to the US State Department STEP program. All of our students receive safety orientations both before and on the first day of each program. Our faculty have all been working in the areas where we operate field schools for years. They are intimately familiar with local customs and traditions, know the landscape well and have deep relationships with local communities.

All our domestic programs are coordinated with local authorities which are informed of our operations. Students in domestic programs are covered by their own health insurance and evacuations are managed by local emergency services, as appropriate.

The IFR has strong, explicit and robust policy towards discrimination and harassment in the field (click here for a shortcut). If students feel they cannot discuss personal safety issues with the field school staff, the IFR operates an emergency hotline where students can contact IFR personnel directly.

Travel does involve risk, but we try to minimize this risk as much as possible. Call us at 877-839-4374 or email us at if you have questions about the safety of particular programs.