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Tributes flood in to commemorate Ann Kendall, pioneering archaeologist of the Andes


We learned this week of the death of pioneer archaeologist, Dr Ann Kendall OBE, who founded the Cusichaca Archaeological Project in the Peruvian Andes in 1977. Trustees of the Cusichaca Archive released this tribute:

“Dr Ann Kendall OBE, who died on Saturday 23 February this year, led one of the largest multi-disciplinary projects ever mounted in the Peruvian Andes. The Cusichaca Archaeological Project embraced archaeology, ecology, ethnography and rural development. The rural development projects affected many communities and lives in Peru and provided a formative experience for many young archaeologists across the world. Ann’s work and legacy lives on in the Cusichaca Archive, now in the care of Senate House Library, University of London. This rich resource will inspire new generations of researchers and create a fitting memorial to a remarkable woman.”

Gill Hey, one of the original lead archaeologists on the Cusichaca project, said: “Ann played such an enormous part in my life and - through the Cusichaca Project - in making me what I am. It is massively sad and a huge loss. If you think about it, no one else could have pulled that project off - getting the army to donate all that kit and time in support roles, convincing the INC year-after-year to give us a permit, believing in the research value of what we were doing when some were sceptical and persevering with the agricultural regeneration scheme when everyone was oh-so cynical about it. An awful lot of people owe an awful lot to that lady - especially us! Bless you Ann, and rest in peace”.

Caroline Kimbell, Associate Director: Licensing & Digitisation, Senate House Library, said: "Although we never met Ann in person, she has been a force of nature, an indomitable pioneer and a woman who has had a profound influence on us all here at Senate House Library. Over the last 3 years we have worked with the Cusichaca Trust to accession Ann’s archive and material from those who worked on the project. Now we are working to make the Trust's archive discoverable and usable to researchers worldwide. Ann’s legacy in the Andes and here at the University of London is assured, and our sympathies are with her family at this sad time."

Dr Ann Kendall’s legacy

Dr Ann Kendall OBE founded the Cusichaca Trust in 1977 to carry out archaeological, anthropological and environmental investigations in the Peruvian high Andes, spending over three decades on this expedition. For this work, she was awarded the Order of Merit by the Peruvian Government in 1980 and an O.B.E. in 1994 for her contribution to overseas development work. Brought up in the UK and Brazil, Ann did her PhD at the Institute of Archaeology at University College London, part of the University of London, where she is an Honorary Research Fellow.

Ann’s work in the Andes began with an investigation of Incan infrastructure in the Andean valleys around Machu Picchu, much of which had fallen into ruin in colonial times. She was a pioneer of applied archaeology – the experimental reconstruction of irrigation systems in a challenging environment of high altitude and steep slopes. ‘Cusichaca’ is a Quechuan word meaning ‘Happy Bridge’, it symbolises the collaborative and respectful approach of Ann’s pioneering work.

Dr Ann Kendall and her team researched and reconstructed the monumental land-management infrastructure of irrigation ponds, canals, terracing and architecture in the Inca Valley, that in a pioneering use of “applied archaeology”. Ann Kendall presided over the inauguration of reconstructed canals which provided constant irrigation for some 160 hectares of agricultural terracing and would be a prime source of sustenance and income for nearly 350 families, over 2,000 people. While doing this extraordinary work, the team also made many domestic finds; pottery in particular.

As a result of her work, the valley was gradually returned to productivity, ecological health from the reintroduction of native food and medical crops, and re-population. The Cusichaca Trust’s work is now run by a Peruvian government agency.