Studying Bones
Above the Valley
UCF Students with flag

UCF anthropologist J. Marla Toyne used a system of safety ropes to reach ancient burial sites at La Petaca in the Peruvian Andes that were previously inaccessible by archeologists. "Very little is known about the site — the number of tombs, how they were built, who was buried inside," says Toyne. "Our investigation was the first to answer these important questions.” 

For the La Petaca fieldwork, Toyne was assisted by graduate researcher Lori Epstein and undergraduate volunteer Armando Anzellini, ’13 (left to right). "I felt safe while I was on the cliff, and was able to work independently and document archaeological contexts without fear or hesitation," says Epstein. "l really learned the necessity of being flexible in the field."

Perched on a narrow ledge hundreds of feet above the valley floor, Toyne made detailed sketches of the Chachapoya burials. "We identified at least 120 human-made structures used as burial places, including open chamber tombs, platforms and, surprisingly, walkways that connected groups of tombs,” she says.