Social Sciences

Archaeology Field School

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.

2019 Field School

May 13 - June 27, Track A
SS 3210 Field Archaeology - 6 credits (undergraduate)
SS 5700 Archaeological Field Methods - 3 credits (graduate)

This year’s field school will be focusing on a series of projects in conjunction with Keweenaw National Historical Park and Isle Royale National Park. The Quincy Mining Co. was one of the largest and most successful copper mining ventures on the Keweenaw Peninsula; its productive history spanning nearly a century. Today, its remains constitute some of the most iconic features of the region’s mining heritage.
This summer, students will:

  • Survey for, and excavate, potential sites of prehistoric copper mining.
  • Assist in mapping, documenting, and excavating what are believed to be features associated with the company’s earliest activities at the outset of the Keweenaw’s copper mining industry.
  • Investigate the location of a National Guard encampment occupied during the 1913-14 copper miners’ strike on the Quincy mine property, adding new information to one of the region’s most contentious historical events.

Students will also have the opportunity to experience Isle Royale National Park as the field school assists in archaeological surveys of several historic and prehistoric copper mining sites on the island.

There will be camping!

What will I learn?

Student inside an excavation square section collecting artifacts

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, remote sensing data, 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.

Current Michigan Tech Students

Michigan Tech undergraduate students can take SS 3210 Field Archaeology to complete up to 6 credits for any element of their general education degree requirements. The credits can count as either HASS (up to 6 credits) or STEM (up to 4 credits). Social Science majors (including Anthropology, History, and Social Sciences) may apply the credits to meet requirements of their degrees OR for general education. SS3210 may also be used towards completion of the Social Science minor in Historical Studies. Prior to enrolling, please confirm with your departmental academic advisor that the credits will count toward your desired degree requirements.

  • Register for the Field Archaeology course on Banweb. The undergraduate course number is SS3210, and the graduate course number is SS5700.
  • You can repeat credits for SS3210/SS5700, so you can take this course again for credit if you have already completed a field school.
  • Complete the Field School Application Form.

Domestic Undergraduate Students Enrolled in Outside Universities

To register for the Field Archaeology course as a guest student, complete the following steps:

  • Complete the Field School Application Form.
  • Visit the registrar at your home university and request a guest student application form. Using your own university's form streamlines the credit transfer process.
  • Note that you may enroll in whatever number of credit hours your institution requires. For example, some universities require their students to complete 4 credit hours of field school training. You should enroll for the number of credits appropriate to your home department’s or university's requirements.
  • You may need to take the form to your university's registrar, and they will certify your application and forward the form to Michigan Tech’s undergraduate admissions office; confirm this step with the registrar. You may be required to pay a $30 application fee. Tech’s admissions office will submit the form to the registrar’s office. If you have questions about registering for this course, email Tech’s registrar’s office or call 906-487-2319.

International Students

International students could participate on a tourist visa, since the Field Archaeology course only lasts for seven weeks.

Michigan Tech has a number of international cooperative and exchange agreements that can facilitate guest students from around the world. We encourage prospective students to email International Programs and Services for advice.