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  Field Notes From
Inca Rescue

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From Author

Guillermo A. Cock

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Ira Block

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Ira Block

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Inca Rescue

Field Notes From Author
Guillermo A. Cock
Best Worst Quirkiest

When graduate student Susan Haun joined us at the site, we assigned her to excavate a burial in Sector 4, where Violeta Chamorro was in charge. Violeta had chosen an excavation that was already revealing its contents. She asked Susan to move to another burial since the second one seemed easier for a novice at the site. Beginners luck! A few minutes later Susan called to show us what she was excavating: the mat covering the first mummy bundle with a false head we had encountered in seven months of excavations!
This was only the second false-head bundle from the Inca period ever found by an archaeologist, and it was in mint condition. Immediately the women started to jump and dance, shouting, “Falsa! Falsa! Falsa!”
That began a tradition of celebration they repeated almost 50 times in the following months

We had great moments throughout the excavations. We also had a few “nightmares,” some of which were real. Perhaps the worst one was the problem with the dogs and the burials.
Practically every household in Tupac Amaru, the shantytown on top of the Inca cemetery, has a pet dog. Many of them have more than one. The dogs spend most of the time outside, playing in the streets. Some of the dogs jumped into our huge trenches during excavation. At night some of them went into our pits to steal the mummy bones, some of which had a good deal of soft tissue or flesh.
At the end of every day we covered each burial with cardboard, wood planks, plastic sheets, and other materials. Then we secured them with rocks and sand. We practically had to rebury each burial.
At night the excavation areas were guarded, but the dogs still got in. In a few cases they succeeded in taking one or two bones. We found the remains nearby, marked by dog teeth.


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