Anthropologist John Rick and his wife are honored by Peruvian government

the Ricks
John Rick and Rosa Mendoza Rick at Chavín de Huántar in Peru. (Photo courtesy of John Rick.)

JOHN RICK, professor of anthropology, emeritus, in the School of Humanities and Sciences, and his wife, ROSA MENDOZA RICK, an archaeologist and co-researcher, were recently honored by the government of Peru for their work at Chavín de Huántar, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

On May 6, the couple received the Order of Merit for Distinguished Service, an award given for distinguished service to Peru in the fields of the arts, sciences, industry or business. A small ceremony took place at the Peruvian Consulate in San Francisco. The award was initially bestowed in 2019, but the ceremony was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“National-level government recognition by this award is very meaningful and gratifying to us,” said John Rick. “It helps fuel our desire to keep making contributions to knowledge of Peruvian culture.”

The couple has been working in Peru for 50 years, exploring a place that has special significance to them because of her Peruvian heritage.

Chavín de Huántar, which dates to the first and second millennia B.C., has yielded crucial information on how early religious cults strategized the beginnings of political authority in the Andes.

“I believe that people of the past are a natural continuum with ourselves and that societies became increasingly inegalitarian and authority-structured through conscious efforts on the part of some segments of the society,” Rick said.

Artifacts unearthed by archeological fieldwork have shed light on how the interests of some were subordinated to, or regulated, by an emerging ruling structure.

“If we don’t understand how we came to be organized, we don’t understand ourselves,” Rick said. “Much of that process predates extensive record-keeping, and thus, archaeology is one of our best roads to such understanding.”

Read more on the School of Humanities & Sciences website.