Archaeology Field School

The 2024 Field School Experience

You are invited to join the MTU’s Social Sciences Dept’s summer archaeology Field School in 2024!
The field school will meet for seven weeks, June 24 – Aug 09, 2024, MTU’s Summer Track B. Students will have the opportunity to enroll in from 6 – 9 credits of courses in Archaeological Field Methods (3 – 6 credits) and Public Archaeology (3 credits). In 2024 the Field School will begin a multi-year program exploring Native American and European Copper mining and life in the scenic Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Where and What

The 2024 Archaeology Field School will be primarily based at the Delaware Mine historic site, a coordinating site of the Keweenaw National Historical Park. The Delaware Mine has a wide array of both European historic structures and remains and many prehistoric mining pits. We will explore both prehistoric and historic mining remains, and interpretation planning will be part of the Public Archaeology class.

All students will have opportunities to participate in all aspects of the work: survey – both instrumental and pedestrian, site lay-out, excavation, field lab work, and public education. No archaeological experience is necessary.

Along with work at Delaware the crew may also spend a portion of the field school performing archaeological survey and testing work at several other nearby sites in the Keweenaw Peninsula. 


You! All undergraduate students are welcome to be a part of the 2024 Field School, you do not need to be a history or anthropology major to be a part of the team. While prior archaeological course work would be great, it is not a requirement. Non-MTU students are cordially invited to join us too. MTU students will need to have completed both UN 1015 and UN 1025 prior to the start of the program.
Us: The faculty leaders of the program will include Profs Dan Trepal (a specialist in mining archaeology and GIS, Daniel Schneider (a specialist in cultural resource management), Tim Scarlett (a specialist in survey methods and instrumental documentation), and LouAnn Wurst (a specialist in excavation and public archaeology). Prof Trepal is the only one who will be with the program for the full 7 weeks. Cooperating scholars and community members of the Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community, Michigan Technological University and the Keweenaw National History Park will lend their expertise too.

The Classes:

SS 3210 – Archaeological Field Methods, 3 – 6 credits. This course will provide a comprehensive introduction to archaeological field methods, topics covered will include instrumental survey, pedestrian survey, GIS studies, shovel test pitting, site preparation and layout, excavation, proper completion of field forms and notes, and experimental archaeology. A very hands-on experiential course students will take part in all of the above activities under the direct supervision and instruction of the faculty and graduate TAs. Supplemental readings and site visits will also be a part of the course.

SS 3990 – Public Archaeology, 3 credits. (You must also be in enrolled in SS 3210.) This course will explore the ways in which archaeology is presented to the public. Being primarily based at a major public site, Delaware Mine, will allow for a hands-on component, weekly field trips to other historic and archeological sites will broaden the experience for the students.

A "Typical Day":

Arguably in archaeological field work no such thing as a typical day exists as discoveries, weather and the unexpected will impact what is done.

However, to the extent that a typical day does exist it will go something like this, work will start at 8 am with a daily briefing and “classroom instruction” – there are buildings at the Delaware Mine for these to take place in if necessary. Field work at about 8:45am – 9:30am, break and discussion, more work from c. 10am – Noon, Lunch, Work resumes at 1:30 pm – 3:30, break and discussion, more work until 5:00 pm.

What course work will be the focus each day? This too will vary due to conditions but over an “average” week (Monday – Friday) approximately 2/3 of the time will be devoted to SS3210 an 1/3 to SS3990. It should also be noted that the topics of the two will merge together so at times it may be hard to say which is the “official” focus.

Weekly field trips will take place on Wednesday to sites of historic and archaeological interest in the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Logistics and Costs:

All students will take a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 9 credits paying regular MTU tuition, in-state, out-state, etc. In addition, there will be a program fee of c. $2,000 – this will cover housing, most food (group cooking) and field trips. Students will be responsible for their weekend food, texts and personal gear and equipment (a trowel, notebook, field clothing – rain gear is essential!, etc.) Full equipment lists and packing instructions will be provided in the spring of 2024. Students are also responsible for their travel to the field school rendezvous location – the main MTU campus in Houghton, Michigan.

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 standard archaeological 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
  • use traditional and new mapping technologies, such as Global Position Systems (GPS), Total Station (EDM), and other instruments for GIS-based analysis
  • standard excavation techniques and methods
  • ethically-driven decision making about artifact collection, cleaning, identification, analyses, and conservation, considering industrial archaeological sites in particular
  • live and work collectively as part of a team to achieve our goals
  • work with volunteers to educate the public about archaeology

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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 must also be enrolled in SS 3990 Public Archaeology. 
  • 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.

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