Smithsonian Journeys Experts

Tamara Bray

photo of Tamara Bray

Tamara Bray is an Andean archaeologist specializing in the Inca Empire and the archaeology of northern highland Ecuador, where she’s maintained an active program of field research since 1986. Her work focuses on questions of imperial Inca expansion; Inca art, architecture & iconography; the role of food & feasting in the Andes; and the agency of objects. Her most recent field project is centered on the frontier site of Inca-Caranqui located in northern highland Ecuador where she has conducted excavations for the past several years with the support of funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Wenner-Gren, Dumbarton Oaks, and the National Geographic Society. She has published extensively on her research in both Spanish and English in such journals as World Archaeology, Latin American Antiquity, Journal of Field Archaeology, Chungara, and the Cambridge Archaeological Journal. She has also published several edited volumes, including, most recently, “The Archaeology of Wak’as: Explorations of the Sacred in the Pre-Columbian Andes” (2015).

Dr.  Bray is Professor of Anthropology at Wayne State University. After receiving her doctoral degree from Binghamton University in upstate New York, she worked for several years at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History before becoming a member of the Wayne State faculty in 1995. In 2013, she was named Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year by the President’s Council of State Universities of Michigan.

What Our Travelers Say

She was willing to share her knowledge at all times, went above and beyond to make us all feel welcome. She was friendly and helpful at all times. Great study leader!

- Smithsonian Journeys Traveler