Project Description

All IFR field school applicants should familiarize themselves with IFR COVID-19 Practices before beginning the enrollment process. Program logistics are subject to change as health and risk management experts provide new recommendations and best practices. Each field school syllabus includes specific information about COVID-19 as related to travel regulations and recommendations, accommodations, local protocols, face mask policy and managing COVID-19 cases or outbreaks.

Due to widely available vaccines in the United States and, in response to the strong recommendation of national medical experts, IFR policy requires that all field school participants be vaccinated prior to their field school. Students enrolled in a IFR program are encouraged to schedule their vaccine appointment as soon as possible if they still intend to participate in their field school. Please contact IFR Staff if you have any questions or concerns.

You may want to refer to the following websites to stay informed of COVID-19 case numbers and regulations/policies for Ecuador:


Hacienda Zuleta is a colonial-era hacienda nestled in a beautiful scenic valley in the eastern cordillera of the Andes in northern highland Ecuador with an extensive and storied history dating back before the arrival of the Spanish in 1532. The hacienda is home to one of the largest pre-Columbian earthen mound and pyramid sites built by the Cara people starting around 900 A.D. Abandoned just before the Inca conquered the region in the late 1400s, it was eventually reoccupied by the Spanish. Originally founded by a religious order, the hacienda became the private estate of two very popular 20th century presidents of the Republic of Ecuador. Still owned by the Plaza family, Zuleta is today one of Ecuador’s most famous creameries and the site of a conservancy dedicated to the protection of the endangered Andean condor. The Proyecto Arqueológico Zuleta (PAZ) field school team is a group of international and Ecuadorian researchers studying the early life and occupation history of the hacienda and associated mound site including the late prehistoric volcanic impacts on the site and its ancient agricultural systems, its cultural development and social hierarchy, its place in the resistance to the Inca conquest, and the reasons for its eventual abandonment. Ultimately, our research seeks to better understand the development of complex societies, the formation of their cultural landscapes and landesque capital, and their response to climate change and volcanic impacts. Students at PAZ will receive a culturally immersive field school experience at one of the most ecologically and historically unique sites in Ecuador. They will learn about Andean/Ecuadorian history and prehistory and gain hands-on training in scientific and archaeological theory and research design as well as field methods in archaeology, geoarchaeology, and paleoecology.

Download Syllabus

Course Details

  • Course Dates: July 10–August 12, 2023

  • Enrollment Status: Closed

  • Total Cost: $4,300

  • Course Type: Field Archaeology, geoarchaeology, paleoecology

  • Payment Deadline: May 30, 2023

  • Instructors: Dr. David Brown, Dr. J. Stephen Athens, Dr. José Echeverría & William Pratt

  • Orientation: TBD
  • Academic Credit: 8 Semester Credit Units (equivalent to 12 Quarter Units)


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. David O. Brown
Dr. David O. Brown
Dr. Brown is a Research Fellow at the Texas Archaeological Research Laboratory, University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. J. Stephen Athens
Dr. J. Stephen Athens
Dr. Athens is General Manager and Senior Archaeologist at International Archaeological Research Institute, Inc.
William S. Pratt
William S. Pratt
Mr. Pratt is a PhD candidate at University of Texas at Austin and a researcher in the Soils and Geoarchaeology Laboratory in the Department of Geography and the Environment.
Dr. José Echeverría
Dr. José Echeverría
Dr. Echeverría is a researcher at the Universidad Técnica del Norte-Instituto de Altos Estudios and is a leading ethnoarchaeologist in northern Ecuador.
Ryan Scott Hechler
Ryan Scott Hechler
Mr. Hechler is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology of Tulane University and a Research Associate of the Latin American & Iberian Institute of The University of New Mexico.


This is a new IFR field school. No student testimonials are available at this time.

Tuition Includes:

  • Cost of Instruction
  • Cost of Academic Credit Units
  • Room & Board
  • All Local Transportation
  • Health & Evacuation Insurance

Student Fees

This program requires an online application — there is a $25 fee to submit an application. Once admitted, a payment of the nonrefundable deposit fee is required to secure a place in the program(s). The Tuition balance (total program cost minus the deposit fee) must be paid prior to the Tuition deadline as listed above under “Course Details.” A $100 late fee will be added to all accounts not paid in full by the Tuition deadline.

Deposit: A nonrefundable $500 deposit fee is required to secure a seat in the program. This deposit is part of the total Tuition and NOT in addition to it.

Withdrawal & Cancellation Policy: If you paid the deposit fee but did not cancel your participation by the Tuition payment deadline, you are legally responsible for the full Tuition regardless of attendance at any IFR program. Please carefully read our Withdrawal & Cancellation Policy for further information. In the event that IFR must cancel a field school, all accepted students will be notified as soon as possible and will receive a refund of all tuition paid including the deposit fee. IFR offers students the opportunity to transfer to another field school, permitting that there are spots available and the program director approves the student to participate in their field school. Upon approval of the program director, IFR staff will make the arrangements to transfer the student’s application and payments.

Credit Card Processing Fee: A 3.5% processing fee is automatically incurred for all credit/debit card/online payments.

Academic Credit Opt Out: Students who wish to participate in an IFR field school without earning academic credit units may do so and receive the following discounts: $300 off a full program (4 or more weeks in length) or $200 off a short program (2-3 weeks in length).

Trip Cancellation Insurance: Please consider purchasing a travel interruption insurance policy that will cover your travel cost and the cost of the IFR program once you make a commitment to attend a field school.

The added risk of COVID-19  should be a “covered event” in your policy.
Please note that the cost of coverage varies, based on your age, the program duration and geographical location.
You may get help and advice from your insurance broker and we offer the links below to help you educate yourself on these insurance products.
– Travel Insured International offers coverage Trip Cancellation or Interruption for Any Reason (review coverage based on your state).
– Compare quotes from different companies offering Trip Cancelation insurance plans.


Students will stay in a small, but comfortable hotel in the small community of Zuleta within walking distance of the Hacienda main entrance. Students will generally be required to share a room with one other student, and depending on the number of applicants, the program will occupy a dedicated section of the facility, or possibly the entire hotel. Though blankets will be provided, the hotel is not heated and nighttime temperatures at that time of year can often be quite cold, so sleeping bags are recommended. Laundry facilities will be provided separately by community members; clothes will be hand washed and air-dried as is typical in such small communities. It is recommended that students label their clothes as they are done in large batches and mix-ups occur regularly. Though the washing is done with care, garments that require special treatment can be problematic or might even be damaged, so odd fabrics and special-care clothing should be avoided.

Lunches will consist of sandwiches and field food prepared by students themselves from foods provided at the hotel each morning. Breakfasts and dinners will be eaten as a group at the hotel, prepared by local cooks. Local foods are very heavily potato and rice based but can be accompanied by a variety of fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Some accommodations can be made for vegans, vegetarians, and students with allergies or special dietary restrictions, but other specific dietary restrictions such as kosher or halal meals may not be feasible. All participants in a field school, students and staff, will wear masks while indoors (i.e. during lectures, during labs, in shared residential spaces, etc.). Regular hand washing will be a part of the project’s daily schedule.

Travel Info

Due to ongoing uncertainties regarding the travel regulations related to COVID-19, IFR will assess the local conditions closer to the travel date (5–6 weeks prior to the program beginning) and will make Go/No Go decisions then. We urge you to participate in the mandatory orientation meeting when we will discuss the latest travel information and regulations. We also suggest you consider postponing the purchase of your airline ticket until after the program orientation.

New students can meet field school directors at the Quito International Airport on Monday July 10, 2023. Students must inform the project staff of their arrival time in Quito before the project to arrange transport from the airport which is some distance from the site. Directors will transport students from the airport directly to the site by car. If you are coming overland or would like to arrange your own transportation to the site, please inform the project as soon as possible and provide contact information. If you missed your connection or your flight is delayed, please call, text or email project director immediately. A local emergency cell phone number will be provided to all enrolled students.

For up-to-date COVID-19 information, please check the United States Embassy website.

Students who encounter problems upon entry should contact field school directors via text, phone, or email.

Once at the Zuleta community, students will travel from the hotel to the excavation locations either on foot or by vehicle depending on the distance to the location. Students traveling by vehicle will be expected to wear masks while inside.


A valid passport over six months from its expiration date is required to enter Ecuador. This is important; persons with less than six months before their passport expiration will be turned away at the airport. No visa is required for U.S. visitors for stays of 90 days or less. Stays of greater than 90 days will require a travel visa to be obtained in advance. Citizens of other countries are asked to check the embassy website at their home country for specific visa requirements.

Student Safety

The IFR primary concern is with education. Traveling and conducting field research involve risk. Students interested in participating in IFR programs must weigh whether the potential risk is worth the value of education provided. While risk is inherent in everything we do, we do not take risk lightly. The IFR engages in intensive review of each field school location prior to approval. Once a program is accepted, the IFR reviews each program annually to make sure it complies with all our standards and policies, including student safety.

Students attending IFR international programs are covered by a comprehensive Health Insurance policy that includes physical illness or injury, mental or chronic conditions. No deductible and 100% of costs are covered up to $250,000. In addition, we provide Political and Natural Disaster Evacuation policy, which allow us to remove students from field school location if local conditions change. Our field school directors are scholars that know field school locations and cultures well and are plugged in into local communities and state institution structures.

Students attending IFR domestic programs (within the US) must have their own health insurance and provide proof upon enrollment. IFR field school directors are familiar with local authorities and if in need of evacuation, local emergency services and/or law enforcement will be notified and activated.

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

Call (877-839-4374) or email ( if you have questions about the safety of any particular program.