Archaeology Field School

Exploring three Copper Harbor structures

May 8 – June 22, 2017 (Track A)

SS 3210 Field Archaeology (undergrad) / SS5700 Archaeological Field Methods (grad)

This year's archaeological field school will continue the collaboration between Michigan Tech and historic Fort Wilkins by investigating three buildings associated with the Fort, which is located in Copper Harbor. You will learn the entire archaeological process: site survey and mapping, excavation and data collection, lab identification and artifact processing, artifact analysis and interpretation, and producing the draft site report.

Excavations will focus on the Astor House and the privy and wash house associated with the Range Light Keeper's House. The Astor house was originally constructed as a storehouse associated with Fort Wilkins, but was later used as a hotel. The structure is noted for housing the first printing press in the Upper Peninsula which printed the Lake Superior News and Mining Journal from 1846 to 1848. The range lights and the keeper's house were constructed in 1868.

Inquiries should be filed with Dr. Wurst.

The Field School Experience

Learning archaeological fieldwork is an immersive experience where teamwork is essential. It takes weeks of work before a person can begin assembling the clues from each discovery into meaningful pictures of the past. As a result, students should expect the work to be exacting, often slow, and physically challenging, as one develops professional skills over time. We work eight-hour days in all conditions, five days a week throughout the six-week summer course.

What will I learn?

During the Summer Field School, students will learn a wide range of archaeological field methods and gain proficiency using important equipment and tools. Examples of what team members learn include the following:

  • consulting documents, maps, aerial photos, and oral history during excavation and survey
  • using traditional mapping technologies, along with new technologies, such as Global Position Systems (GPS) and digital Total Station (EDM) tools, in mapping landscape details such as walls, structures, and roadways
  • working with Shovel Test Pit survey for data recovery, including appropriate sampling methodology to ensure that artifacts are representative of the larger area
  • ethically driven decision making about artifact collection, cleaning, identification, analyses, and conservation, considering industrial archaeological sites in particular
  • working with stakeholders of the site in the responsible conduct of public scholarship and research with industrial heritage, including legal and ethical issues surrounding industrial communities, sites, and landscapes.