Castillo de Huarmey. The Wari Empire Centre on the North Coast of Peru.

Castillo de Huarmey, phot. Miłosz Giersz
Castillo de Huarmey, phot. Miłosz Giersz

Person conducting excavation: Miłosz Giersz, PhD
Country: Peru
Site name: Huramey
Type of the site: settlement, palace, temple, cemetery. Wari Empire (600 – 1050 n.e.).
Involved institutions: IAUW, PUCP, NGS, APPEA

Description of the research:
Twelve centuries ago, in a Peruvian desert on the Pacific coast, on the outskirts of the first empire of pre-Columbian Andes, called Wari by archaeologists, a new centre of power was established, with Castillo de Huarmey as its capital. Centuries before the Inca rose to power, the rulers of the Wari Empire developed a unique culture that created rare works of art and architecture. Castillo de Huarmey became one of the richest necropolis of the Wari Empire elites.

phot. Miłosz Giersz
phot. Miłosz Giersz

The Huarmey Valley, located in the Ancash region about 300 km north of the capital of Peru, Lima, is one of the many river valleys on the desert Pacific coast. In that peaceful oasis, over a millennium ago, the Wari people established a new centre of power. Castillo de Huarmey, located 1 km (0.6 mi) east from the present-day capital of the Huarmey province, covers an area of 45 ha. It is dominated by a monumental palace and the royal necropolis built above it, on the summit of a natural rock hill. Plundered and damaged over decades, only in 2010 were the ruins of the capital of a Wari Empire province finally, and extensively, studied, when a team led by Miłosz Giersz and Patrycja Prządka-Giersz, both from the University of Warsaw, with Krzysztof Makowski and Roberto Pimentel Nita from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (Lima), carried out the first archaeological excavations. There, after years of work, a Polish-Peruvian team of archaeologists directed by dr. Milosz Giersz from the University of Warsaw, Poland, unearthed the first undisturbed royal tomb of pre-Columbian Wari civilization that consisted of remains of 58 noblewomen, 6 human sacrifices, two mutilated guardians and over 1300 artefacts made of gold, silver, bronze, decorated pottery as well as rare wood, bone, and shell and stone materials. This discovery was considered by National Geographic Society and ARCHAEOLOGY. A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America as one of the most important archaeological findings worldwide. Those archaeological excavations brought as many unique data as new research questions that archaeologists are trying to answer by continuing multidisciplinary research at this unique pre-Columbian site.

Project financing:
The 2010 field season of the Castillo de Huarmey Archaeological Project was supported by grants from the National Science Center of the Republic of Poland (2970/B/H03/2009/37) and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Republic of Poland (579/N-PERU/2009/0). The 2012-2018 field seasons of the Castillo de Huarmey Archaeological Project were supported by grants from the National Science Center of the Republic of Poland (NCN 2011/03/D/HS3/01609 and NCN 2014/14/M/HS3/00865), the National Geographic Society (EC0637-13, GEFNE85-13, GEFNE116-14 and W335-14) and financial support from Compañia Minera Antamina S.A. Many Project’s initiatives were also supported by the Foundation for Polish Science (grant KWERENDA 2011/195), the National Science Center (grants NCN 2015/18 / E / HS3 / 00106 and NCN 2015/19 / N / HS3 / 00880) and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (Diamond Grant 2013012043), as well as the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru in Lima, Polish-Peruvian Society for Andean Studies, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Peru and the local government of Huarmey.

Miłosz Giersz

Miłosz Giersz
PhD Miłosz Giersz


duty hours:
Monday, 13:15 – 14:45
Thursday, 11:30 – 13.00
room 1.18a

research interests:
South American archaeology, funeral Archaeology, pre-Columbian material culture, archaeometry, public archaeology, anthropological archaeology


Polish archaeologist, the University of Warsaw graduate. For his PhD dissertation, defended in 2007, he was awarded The Prime Minister’s of Republic of Poland Award, as well as the Ignacio Domeyko Award for the best Latin-American PhD, founded by the Polish Society for Latin American Studies. Since 2002 he has co-directed two consecutive Polish-Peruvian archaeological projects in the northwestern Peru: the Valle de Culebras Archaeological Project, and the Castillo de Huarmey Archaeological Project. During the latter, he led the team that excavated a pre-Columbian royal mausoleum at Castillo de Huarmey with the first unlooted royal tomb of the queens of Wari, an ancient civilization of South America predating the Inca empire (ca. 600 – 1050 AD). This sensational discovery was voted as one of the Top 10 Discoveries by the Archaeological Institute of America in 2013, and enjoyed wide coverage by the National Geographic Magazine, both its International (June 2014) and worldwide editions (June-August 2014), for many of which it was chosen as the cover story. He has been awarded with the “Zostańcie z nami!” [Stay with us!] scholarship for outstanding young researchers, founded by the biggest Polish weekly magazine Polityka (VIII Edition, 2007), a TRAVELER 2013 National Geographic Award for the most important Polish scientific achievement of the year (2013), and the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (2015) and the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Peru (2018), for the achievements in the field of science and outstanding contributions in the cooperation between the Republic of Poland and the Republic of Peru. Dr. Giersz is widely recognized as an expert on the Andean and South American archaeology. He is a member of many societies connected with his profession, including The Explorers Club and the Society for American Archaeology. He acts as the President of Polish Society for Latin American Studies. He is also the author of many books and articles on archaeology and art of the pre-Hispanic Latin American cultures. His previous and current research projects were financially supported by many polish and foreign institutions, including of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Republic of Poland, the National Science Center, the Foundation for Polish Science, the Expeditions Council of the National Geographic Society, the Global Exploration Fund and the National Geographic Society Waitt Grants Program, as well as the ANTAMINA mining company. He also organised (as curator or co-organizer) diverse museum and poster exhibitions in Poland and abroad, including  the exhibition Castillo de Huarmey. El Mausoleo Imperial Wari organised at the Museo de Arte (Museum of Art) in Lima in 2014, and Skarby Peru. Królewski grobowiec w Castillo de Huarmey at the State Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw (December 2017 – May 2018). This last one was the first museum exhibition in Poland of original pre-Columbian artefacts brought from Peru. It was also Europe’s first opportunity to see the unique artefacts discovered at Castillo de Huarmey archaeological site.