Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



This dissertation examines communities of practice over the longue durée in Nivín, a region of the middle Casma Valley, north-central coast of Peru. In particular, collaborative archaeological efforts between 2016 and 2019 have yielded data to investigate architecture, pottery making, and food consumption from the Early Horizon until the Late Intermediate periods, or between roughly 1,000 B.C. and A.D. 1,150. Based on multiple lines of archaeological evidence, the study explores the development of these ancient practices through time and their entanglement with broader regional phenomena. I am particularly interested the economic, social and material implications of these practices, and how they resonate with today’s educational programs and ways young Niviñeros engage with their past, cultural heritage, and the legacy behind by their ancestors.

Developed within a public archaeology framework, the research was designed from the start in concert with local community members through a co-creative approach. The community requested the involvement of archaeologists, and their relationships started before any archaeological field research even began in the area. This situation combined with the lack of systematic research and considerable threats to site preservation have contributed to the importance of its archaeological research. Public and co-creative archaeology is crucial because the participation of the local community improves the preservation of cultural heritage, including sites and artifacts. In addition, co-creative educational initiatives helped to bridge ancient and contemporary practices.

Research in Nivín is both timely and critical, as the archaeological sites in the area are under threat of destruction. Until this project no scientific excavations had been conducted in this area. Survey, mapping and excavations have provided information confirming the continuous human occupation, subsistence, and consumption patterns of past groups, evidence of trade and exchange networks, and the social processes that might have affected cultural developments in the region. Fieldwork sampled three sites in particular: El Monumento de Nivín, Pan de Azúcar de Nivín, and Cerro Pacae. Spatial data from these sites help clarify the distribution of settlements over time, and changing forms of the human-landscape engagements. The analysis of excavation contexts and archaeological materials shed light on the ways that ancient Niviñeros have made things through time. I focus on pottery making through the analysis of ceramic attributes. I deploy a communities of practice approach to unpack the materialities, regional forces and other entanglements that shaped ways of doing things and consumption patterns in Nivín over the longue durée. Overall, this dissertation exemplifies how, by promoting co-creative projects, archaeologists can not only help save, preserve, and value cultural heritage preservation, but more importantly how collaborative science can become a symbolic and educational engine of social change and economic development.



Committee Chair

Chicoine, David



Available for download on Saturday, October 28, 2028