MAPA Chachapoya

Arqueología de Paisajes Mortuorios Andinos - Archaeology of Andean Mortuary Landscapes

The Project

Our Purpose:

The purpose of the MAPA Chachapoya Project is to map the relationships between people, places and ancestors of the past in the Northeastern Andes of Perú. MAPA is an ongoing dissertation project lead by a team of international researchers conducting archaeological research on the Chachapoya past.

MAPA stands for “Archaeology of Andean Mortuary Landscapes” and it also means “map” in Spanish! One of the main tools that our team uses to understand the past is mapping pre-Hispanic above-ground mortuary structures. These archaeological sites can be found across the Andes, but they are particularly important to the Chachapoya region because they can show us how different people connected with their ancestors in the past. Our website is a useful way to inform and exchange ideas with the public about this archaeological work and build our understanding of the Chachapoya past with interested communities.

Our Team:

The MAPA Chachapoya Project is run by a team of local Peruvian collaborators situated in the Chachapoya region, and an international archaeologist. The team is lead by Canadian-Colombian archaeologist and PhD Candidate Daniela Maria Raillard Arias (Northwestern University), with support from Leymebamba Museum assistant and certified guide Segundo Priciliano Aguilar Silva, registered Leymebamba Community Tourism Association guide Eyrin Chavez Chancahuana, and consultant Guidmar Chavez Llatance. All our team members have extensive experience in archaeology, tourism and heritage, and most are Spanish-English bilingual.

MAPA is a developing dissertation project and more team members are getting involved as research progresses, so stay tuned for updates!

Meet the Team!

  • Daniela Maria Raillard Arias (hBA, MA): Daniela is currently a PhD candidate at Northwestern University in the Department of Anthropology, where she is specializing in Andean archaeology. Daniela grew up in Northern Canada with her Colombian and Swiss parents, where she became interested in history, heritage and land-based work at a young age. She has spent four field seasons and over 16 months in Northeastern Perú, where she worked as an English teacher for young professionals, guided treks, and conducted archaeological survey and excavation. To learn more about Daniela’s work, visit her personal website at:

Our Logo:

Our Ethics:

  • How does MAPA conduct its research?

The MAPA Chachapoya Project works towards research that is for and with local and descendant communities.

MAPA takes inspiration for this research strategy from community-based and collaborative archaeology practices (see Dr. Sonya Atalay in bibliography link). This means that MAPA is constantly involving community interests so that research about the Chachapoya past is useful for people today.

For example: MAPA regularly communicates with community-based tourism organizations to learn about the interests and needs of local guides. From these conversations, MAPA learned that mapping archaeological sites is an important first step for local tourism organizations to identify and begin developing local attractions.

  • How is the work and contributions of community collaborators recognized?

The MAPA Chachapoya Project recognizes that community relationships are the foundation of this research.

In fact, most people involved in MAPA are part of the local and descendant community. When research is shared, MAPA uses the following statement to recognize the work of community collaborators in online and offline spaces:

“MAPA would like to acknowledge the contributions of our communities of collaborators who are crucial to the project, in the field through the assistance of guides, landowners, cooks and hospitality providers, and online through our Facebook supporters.”

For example: General public and academic presentations include an acknowledgement of community work and contributions on a PowerPoint slide. The names and contribution of particular community collaborators, like guides or research assistants, are verbally mentioned in presentations.

  • How is your data used?

The MAPA Chachapoya Facebook page and website have both a social and academic purpose. MAPA shares research to engage the public and receive feedback on the work.

Contributions to the MAPA Facebook page help the project learn about public interest in the archaeology project. Comments, views, and likes are all forms of public engagement and they help the MAPA team understand what communities need from archaeology. All identifying information will be removed before using contributions for research purposes.

For example: The number of likes and comments on a picture posted on the Facebook page may be shared with an academic audience to demonstrate community support for the MAPA project.

  • Why don’t we post location information?

Although the MAPA Chachapoya Project works to be as transparent as possible, we withhold certain information for ethical and political reasons. MAPA does not publicly share the specific location of archaeological sites to prevent additional looting, vandalism and exploitation of unprotected cultural heritage.

MAPA recognizes the long and painful history of looting Andean heritage since the Spanish invasion. Even though it is impossible for organizations to protect all archaeological sites and most have experienced looting to some extent, MAPA refuses to enable additional destructive activities by sharing location details, included but not limited to unethical research, irresponsible tourism and trekking, vandalism and targeted looting.

For example: Destructive activities are done by amateur archaeologists who use unethical research practices or tourists who take “souvenirs” in the form of artifacts or pictures on top of fragile architecture. In other cases, visitors write or carve their marks into archaeological sites. Sharing specific location data could increase traffic to these vulnerable archaeological sites and expose them to further damage.

  • How can you use MAPA content?

Content published on the MAPA Chachapoya Facebook page and website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. See:****

This means that you can copy and share content on different platforms (like sharing a Facebook picture or post), but you cannot alter the material without permission. MAPA content cannot be used for commercial purposes, such as selling tourism packages or other products, without written consent from the MAPA team.

Feel free to contact the MAPA team if you would like to use any material for research or other purposes.

For example: MAPA particularly encourages the use of our content for student projects, or initiatives to promotion of cultural heritage.

  • How do we approach culturally sensitive material?

The MAPA Chachapoya Project recognizes cultural and historical sensitivities surrounding archaeological sites and material.

For this reason, MAPA applies a TK Culturally Sensitive Label from Local Contexts. See:

This Label is being used to indicate that this material has cultural and/or historical sensitivities. The label asks for care to be taken when this material is accessed, used, and circulated, especially when materials are first returned or reunited with communities of origin. In some instances, this label will indicate that there are specific permissions for use of this material required directly from the community itself.

For example: When visiting a mortuary site and/or before beginning archaeological work, the MAPA team does a pago ceremony. Coca leaf, trago, tobacco or food is offered to the ground, archaeological remains, and bodies at the site. The team shares their peaceful intentions and aspirations for work at the site and asks for the permission from the site. This helps address concerns about physical and spiritual dangers of archaeological sites and foster respect towards people and places of the past.

  • Google Analytics Statement

At this time, the MAPA Chachapoya Project does not collect information through Google Analytics.

The Chachapoya