Constanza Ceruti (born 1973, Buenos Aries) is an anthropologist and mountaineer who currently lives in Salta, Argentina. She is a pioneer in the field of high-altitude archaeology, and the only woman, for over 20 years, to study Inca ceremonial centers on the summits of Andean peaks over 6000 meters. Oh yea, and did we mention? She’s climbed over 100 mountains above 5000 meters within the context of systematic archaeological research. In addition to South American summits in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru, she’s also explored mountains in Mexico and Nepal. Most of her field research has included mountains that had never been explored before-at least not by archaeologists.
With an early love for anthropology, and determined to go into high-altitude archaeology by age 14, she graduated from the University of Buenos Aires with a degree in anthropology in 1996. In 1999, she teamed up with National Geographic, co-directing an expedition to Llullaillco (at an altitude of 6739 meters). This expedition climbed to heights that no other team of archaeologists had worked at before and yielded tremendous results. Working with Johan Reinhard, Ceruti discovered three of the best preserved mummies in the world, all dating from the Inca period, alongside rich assemblages of funerary offerings including gold statues and pottery that even held remnants of food.
In 2000, she became the first woman to be awarded the Gold Condor mountaineering award, the most important award of the National Army of Argentina. In 2001, she received her PhD from the University of Cuyo in Mendoza, making her the first archaeologist to specialize in high-altitude archaeology. Adding to her list of esteemed awards, Ceruti became an Emerging Explorer of the National Geographic Society in 2005 and was honored at the Prince of Asturias Award Ceremony in 2006. In 2007, she received the Courage Award from the WINGS WorldQuest, an association that celebrates the accomplishments of women explorers, and in 2013 she was selected to be a Member of the Society of Woman Geographers.
Constanza Ceruti can now be found working as a scientific investigator for CONICET in Argentina and as a Professor of Inca Archaeology at the Catholic University of Salta. She is the founder and ad-honorarium director of the Institute of High Mountain Research at the Catholic University, has produced over 100 scientific publications and is also a Distinguished Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of West Georgia.
Images provided by Constanza Ceruti and used with permission.