Anthropology Field Study SL Course

June 21, 2016


The 2016 archaeological field school will continue investigations designed to identify, investigate, and interpret the physical remains of Fort St. Joseph (20BE23) and contemporaneous sites in the St. Joseph River valley of southwestern Michigan. This year we will expand our excavations on the floodplain (Fort St. Joseph—20BE23) and continue to explore adjacent areas.

Students in the field school will receive instruction in surveying techniques, proper field excavation, artifact processing and analysis, and interpretation of findings as part of a long-term program devoted to exploring colonial interactions between Native Americans and Europeans in the North American fur trade. In the course of a 4-day orientation, we introduce students to archaeological theory and method; background information on the fort site; and the results of previous work. We will also discuss the development of a research design and how we will implement our field methods to address our research questions. There will be lectures and discussions during orientation and later in the field school on the Native American occupation of the region before contact, the motivations of early French explorers, activities associated with the fur trade and daily life, the history and material evidence of 18th century architecture, and the importance of the St. Joseph River for people who lived in the vicinity of Niles—the theme of this year’s open house. Students will also be exposed to various information sources that historical archaeologists use in their studies such as written records, maps, and museum collections. We’ll spend the next six weeks in the field recovering, recording, and interpreting archaeological materials from sites in the St. Joseph River valley, weather permitting, including Fort St. Joseph. All students have the opportunity to gain experience in a range of different field techniques. In the event of rain we schedule other learning activities such as lectures and field trips whenever possible.


1. Students gain competence in surveying techniques, proper field excavation, artifact processing and analysis, and interpretation of findings by practicing and teaching novice archaeologists in our summer camp program.

2. Students learn to practice publicly engaged archaeology and heritage management by interacting with members of the community to learn how to disseminate information and how decisions are made in developing and interpreting a heritage tourist site.

3. Students gain an appreciation for the multiple stakeholders who have a concern with archaeology by attending our public lecture series and participating in an open house that showcases archaeological findings to a broad segment of the community and allows students the opportunities to discuss their role in the recovery of history.

4. Students learn how to conduct archaeology in the contemporary world in which there are multiple stakeholders with an interest in the work by engaging with communities to make the writing of history more collaborative in an effort to transform and decolonize the discipline (see Nassaney 2011, 2012).

REQUIRED READINGS: The materials in the course pack are required readings. You should read the course pack carefully from cover to cover by the end of the orientation and have it with you at all times in the field. In addition, you should consult the readings in the bibliography.

See below for full syllabus:

Anthropology Field Study SL Course- Western Michigan University 2016


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