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After coming face to face with ancient Inca civilization during a summer trip to Peru, Marquis Scholar Adam Buchwalter ’04 (Bayside, N.Y.) spent the semester unearthing information on a renowned piece of Inca architecture known as Machu Picchu.

A double major in history and anthropology and sociology, Buchwalter uncovered the true purpose of Machu Picchu in a research project guided by Susan Niles, professor of anthropology.

Last year, Buchwalter enrolled in Niles’ class on Inca civilization, which immediately piqued an interest in Machu Picchu. “It was one of the most interesting classes I have taken at Lafayette,” he says. “I was awestruck by the slides she showed.”

When presented with the opportunity to visit Peru, Buchwalter didn’t hesitate. He spent three weeks sightseeing, and Machu Picchu was on his list of destinations. “I spent three days at Machu Picchu itself,” he says. “As a result, I wanted to do more research on the site to unveil its true purpose.”

Buchwalter read a number of books written by Hiram Bingham, Machu Picchu’s discoverer, and works written by other notable anthropologists. He concluded that Machu Picchu is one of the royal palaces of Pachacuti, an Inca leader born in 1438, who was known for designing many ornate palaces and temples.

“Professor Niles is very skilled in teaching courses on the Incas and their civilization,” Buchwalter explains. “She is one of the most caring professors I’ve had and really cares deeply about her student’s academic, social, and personal progress.

“I think Lafayette is a good environment for independent study projects. The faculty and administration encourage students to conduct research in fields they would like to pursue and supply the needed resources.”

Buchwalter is a photographer for The Lafayette and member of Hillel Society. He also is secretary of Theta Chi fraternity and chairs its social and rush committees.

Categorized in: Academic News