The Skeletons of Olmos, Part IV: Soccer Club—1, Archaeologists—0

One of the Olmos skeletons, cleaned and awaiting examination. Photo: H. Klaus
One of the Olmos skeletons lies cleaned and awaiting examination. (Photo by Haagen Klaus)

Haagen Klaus studies the ancient and mysterious remains of societies along Peru’s northern coastal areas. A recent project has seen him racing against the clock in the modern-day town of Olmos to rescue skeletons from a looming construction project and the scathing rains of El Niño. Here, he concludes the tale, picking up after his team has been bumped from their hotel rooms by a traveling soccer club.

Searching for a New Home

Just like that, the students, Raul, and I had nowhere to live as the work in Olmos had reached a critical make-or-break phase. When working in another country far from home, flexibility is crucial. One must be an adaptable problem solver, able to compensate for and overcome circumstances that you can hardly anticipate. As such, a good field archaeologist always has a “Plan B,” “Plan C,” “Plan D,” in their back pocket. But I was not planning on facing homelessness in the field, being unceremoniously kicked out of our hotel by a visiting soccer team. We literally had hours to find a new place to crash.

If something didn’t work out in Olmos, I started to realize that the situation did not present much of a Plan B. It was late in the day, and public transportation to the south was shutting down. The next nearest possible place to stay was a hotel about two hours south, and getting out of town with five people and a ton of gear was looking more improbable by the minute. I try to have a cool demeanor, but my internal anxiety levels started to rise. I can sleep anywhere, but my responsibility was to my crew and to my students. The buck truly stops with me when —> Read More