Project Description


Please note that this program does not award credits units at this time. Students will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the program. Students are encouraged to present the syllabus of this program to their advisers and petition their home university for awarding credit units internally. The IFR is standing by to help students with this endeavor.

On the Sondor Bioarchaeology Project, participants will help investigate the enigmatic fate of a late prehistoric society known as the Chanka. Situated in a region of the southern Peruvian Andes called Apurimac, the Chanka began to coalesce in earnest around 1000 CE, establishing dozens of fortresses on precipitous hilltops and ridges. Until recently, much of what we knew about the Chanka was gleaned from written accounts authored by Spanish missionaries, conquistadors, and aristocrats. Recalling the testimonies of indigenous informants, Colonial authors vividly related the trials and tribulations of Chanka chiefs and tribesmen who were singularly motivated by an incurable desire to invade foreign lands and enslave the conquered masses. Yet these lofty aspirations were never realized. Around 1400 CE, the Chanka were decisively vanquished in a grisly battle with their bitter rivals, the illustrious Inca. However, for scholars of Andean history, a nagging question still remains: What became of Chanka after their spectacular defeat? This project, situated at Sondor, the premier Chanka-Inca settlement in Apurimac, addresses that perplexing issue by examining the biological and social consequences of “growing up Chanka” in the face of Inca imperial incursion. The upcoming 2017 field season will immerse participants in a full spectrum of bioarchaeological methods and anthropologically informed research–an approach which fosters the development of skills necessary to interpret multiple data sets and test working hypotheses. Project members will engage in field recovery operations, laboratory practicums, and museum conservation work to learn how archaeological data are collected, processed, and assessed.  At the conclusion of the field program, participants will be able to effectively excavate a mortuary unit as well as conduct comprehensive analyses of skeletonized and mummified human remains. For further details about this program, click here.

Download Syllabus

Course Details

  • Course Dates:
    Session 1: Jun 18-Jul 15, 2017
    Session 2: Jul 16-Aug 12, 2017
  • Enrollment Status: CLOSED
  • Total Cost: $2,800
  • Course Type: Biorchaeology
  • Payment Deadline: April 21, 2017
  • Instructors: Dr. Danielle Kurin
  • Orientation:  April 25, Session I – 5:00pm; Session II – 6:30pm Los Angeles Time
Program Closed


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. Danielle S. Kurin
Dr. Danielle S. Kurin
Dr. Kurin is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Anthropology and Director of Walker Bioarchaeology and Biogeochemistry Lab (BABL) at the University of California, Santa Barbara


Danielle is a superb and committed instructor. I had no previous archaeological experience before my arrival to Andahuaylas, but she taught me how to clean and identify bones, how to conduct basic osteological analysis, how to survey land for new archaeological sites, and how to conduct fieldwork, all while assisting four or five other members of my group. She also made sure to take our group to local festivals, archaeological sites, and tourist attractions, making each visit relevant and informative. Meanwhile, she encouraged and facilitated my personal research endeavors. When I decided to conduct research on evangelical missions in the central Andes, she introduced me to religious community leaders, helped me forge connections, and helped me to better interpret and understand my experiences. And no matter how much anyone of us complained about boredom, about the cold, about being discouraged, about the strikes, anything, she always had something positive to say, and encouraged us to move forward. I truly believe that my experience in Peru would have been significantly less engaging without Danielle’s skillful leadership.
Sarah Bechdel, Bryn Mawr College (2010)

Tuition Includes:

  • Costs of instruction
  • 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 will stay in our rustic Field Station in the town of Talavera, a suburb of Andahuaylas City. The Field Station has a fully outfitted lab, running water, showers, electricity, flush toilets, rooftop terrace, guinea pig hutch, full kitchen, table games, and lending library; students sleep in bunk beds in doubles, triples, or quads. The project will provide you with a mattress and some warm llama wool blankets.

MEALS: All meals will be communal events and will provide plenty of nutritious but basic food in the tradition of local cuisine. Students will be provided with continental breakfast and sack lunches. Dinners are drawn from Peruvian highland cuisine which is heavily based on rice, corn, potatoes, legumes and animal protein such as eggs and chicken. Specialized diets (vegan, gluten-free, kosher, etc.) are near impossible to maintain and strict vegetarians will find options limited.

Peru - Sondor
Peru: Sondor

Travel Info

You are responsible for making your own travel arrangements. Students will be met by project staff at the Ayacucho airport (AYP) upon flight arrival (June 18 for Session I, July 16 for Session II). At present, there are two daily flights from Lima to Ayacucho. Let project director know on which flight you will come. Students will be met at the arrival area – look for a project staff member holding the sign “IFR Field School”. Students are encouraged to buy one ticket from their departure home airport to Ayacucho as this will be the cheapest ticket available.

There are many buses between Lima to Ayacucho and the trip takes about 12 hours. However, most of the road is a winding single lane highway and prone to accidents. We encourage students not to take the bus to and from Ayacucho but use flights. If students do take the bus to Ayacucho, meeting place is still at the airport arrival area when flights are coming in.

If you missed your connection or your flight is delayed, please call, text or email to the project director.  Local cell phone numbers and other emergency contact information will be provided to all enrolled students.

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.