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Cajamarca (Past & Present)


Cajamarca is best known as the place of the fateful confrontation between the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro and the last Inca emperor, Inca Atahualpa, in the November of 1532. The great Plaza de Armas of the original Inca city of Cajamarca, where the confrontation reportedly occured, is located directly beneath the modern city's Plaza de Armas. 

Cajamarca boasts at least 5000 years of local prehistory, spanning from Archaic Period cave occupations and rock art to the engineering feats of the Formative Period cut-stone canals at Cumbe Mayo and the civic ceremonial platform mounds at Layzón and Huacaloma. During the Middle Horizon (A.D. 600 - A.D. 1000), massive local centers like Coyor (Collor) were occupied alongside intrusive Wari imperial centers at El Palacio and Yamobamba. During the Late Intermediate Period (A.D. 1000 - A.D. 1465), a number of fortified communities, such as the one at Yanaorco, competed with one another. The Inca built a huge regional administrative center at Cajamarca after approximately A.D. 1470. Unfortunately, nearly all signs of the Inca center are now covered by the modern city of Cajamarca.

Today, Cajamarca is a bustling city and the capital of the Department of Cajamarca in the northern Peruvian Andes. With approximately 200,000 inhabitants, the city has markets, hotels, pubs, museums, and restaurants. It offers plenty to do on evenings and weekends off!

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Cajamarca street scene.


Much of the architecture and art seen on the streets of Cajamarca today has its origins in the Colonial Period and its influences in Spanish architecture and design.


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Facade of the Belen Complex in the Cajamarca historic district.


Participants in the field school will live in the town of Baños de Inca, located just east of Cajamarca. We will live and work in a project house that will act as dormitory, project laboratory, and lounge.

If you have questions, please contact the project directors: Dr. Melissa Murphy ( or Dr. Jason Toohey (