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June 2002-January 2005Interactive Dig at Tiwanaku
Harvard field-school student Helen Human
Helen and her trenchmates take a break.

Photos courtesy Alexei Vranich. Click on images for larger versions.


Helen Human, who will be a junior at Harvard University in the fall, decided to come to Tiwanaku to gain practical archaeological experience and help her decide on a future line of study. She took some time to answer a few questions posed by her fellow field school student Alison Peters.

Alison: Why did you choose Tiwanaku?

Helen: Harvard used to run a field school at Copán. That was actually my first choice, but they stopped offering the course because of the political situation. Tiwanaku is a natural second choice because of the program's connection with Harvard and the importance of the site.

Alison: How do you feel so far about Bolivia and the field school? What do you like, what do you dislike?

Helen: Traveling in Bolivia is a really different experience for me. Getting around is a lot more difficult because of the blockades. When we were trying to get from La Paz to the site, we encountered a fairly angry crowd of locals and had to take another route. We were concerned we were going to have rocks thrown at us, but luckily we were able to negotiate safe passage that time. Everything here is a lot less structured. I guess that would have to be the thing I dislike. It's just a little more precarious. However, seeing this unique place and culture that I had never really studied is an enjoyable experience.

Alison: How do you like the actual digging? What has been your most exciting find?

Helen: I would have to say I am leaning toward museum work. Digging is...fun. So far our unit is the only one that is entirely unexcavated in the field school. This means that we have to go really slowly and meticulously, and we are coming across a lot of bone and ceramic. It is a little frustrating, while other groups are uncovering structures, to still be debating what to do with generally unassociated artifacts. But then again, we get to find neat things like the large section of a Tiwanaku pot and a human jaw.

Alison: What do you know about the human jaw? Do you know how old it is?

Helen: We don't know that much about it. At this point, we just bag it and it's off to the lab. We found it while excavating in level two, which is only about ten or fifteen centimeters down. It probably isn't very old and it wasn't associated with other human bones, so we aren't dealing with a burial.

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© 2004 Archaeological Institute of America

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