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.

The 2018 Archaeology Field School will run during Track A, May 14 - June 29. The field team will conduct excavation at a number of sites related to Keweenaw history, including initial assessments of ancient mining locations, residential and work sites related to early African American residents of Keweenaw County, and Houghton’s Chinese immigrant community. Students will also undertake significant excavation of Michigan Technological University’s first women’s dormitory. Each site will allow students to design approaches to data collection; execute their plans through mapping, testing, and excavation; and complete initial data analysis and reporting—all critically designed within professional and ethical best-practices.

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.