About this class: Archaeology is teamwork, and succeeds best when people cooperate, share each other s work assignments and contribute together to achieve the project s goals. Several of the course assignments have been designed with that in mind. It is my hope that we can constitute ourselves on the model of an archaeological team, working together to achieve the common goal: becoming archaeologists in theory and practice.

An introduction to the theory and practice of archaeology; i. e., how and why archaeology is done and what can be learned from it.

  • A. Introduction to the theoretical framework that gives archaeology its place alongside history, anthropology and other disciplines
    B. Preparation for field archaeology, digging, recording, processing and interpretation
    C. Enabling of the critical reading of technical and popular archaeological literature
    D. Appreciation of the significance of archaeological objects (sites and artifacts)


Class list-serv: Communication about assignments, discussion of details and debating of issues, sharing anything interesting.

1. Texts.

  • (a) The core of this course is the study of the text (Renfrew & Bahn, purchased + Barker & Harris, and other handouts) on theory and practice. My class presentations assume that the assigned reading has been done. A reading guide will be handed out to enable you to focus on the information to be presented and discussed.
    (b) The problems and videos are designed to illustrate the application of text theory. Write a one-page critical summary of each, due the day reports on them are presented in class.On-schedule execution of these reading and writing assignments will count for 10% of your grade. Doing them late counts as non-performance.


2. Reports on problems and videos. In the earlier portion of the semester a series of 4 class reports are assigned on either problems or videos. You will be assigned to one of four 1 or 2- person teams, each of which will prepare one of these reports. Credit is 5 %.

3. Tests. There will be two examinations during the semester (see syllabus) with (a) a combination of factual short essays based on the assigned textbook material and (b) longer essays based on topics developed in class and involving all resources used. Each are worth 25 % of your course grade.

4. Field work and reports on the Calvin Garbage Project (CGP 2000).

  • a. For the Calvin Garbage Project you will be assigned a specific task, as a member of a 2- person team. You and your team member will contribute a field report on your assignment, the specifics of which will be made clear later. Your role in the fieldwork and report is worth 20% of your course grade. [This builds on work done by the Spring 99 class.]
    b. Your role in the interpretation and final report will count for 15 % of the course grade. You will have from April 10 to May 8 to work on this, with the last two class periods allotted to presentation and discussion. The results will be submitted to CEAP, the Calvin Environmental Awareness Program, a subsidiary of Service Learning at Calvin College.


Colin Renfrew and Paul Bahn (RB), Archaeology: Theories Methods and Practice. London:Thames and Hudson, 1996
Out of the Past (OP), The Annenberg Collection. part of an eight-video series
Preston, Douglas1998 "Cannibals of the Canyon", New Yorker (Nov. 30): 76-89
Harris, Edward C. Jones, Steve Jenkyns, Richard 1979 Principle of Archaeological Stratigraphy. San Diego: Acad. Press, pp. 29-53.
1997 Crooked Bones. New York Review of Books (Feb. 6): 23-24. (review of JohnEvangelist Walsh, Unraveling Piltdown: The Science Fraud of the Century and its Solution.)
1996 " But is it true?" The New York Review of Books (Dec. 19): 15-18. (Reviews two biographies of Heinrich Schliemann and Russia s catalogue of the Gold of Troy exhibit)
Preston, Douglas 1995 The Mystery of Sandia Cave. The New Yorker (June 12): 66-83. (On professional faking and misrepresenting excavation results)

M Jan 31 Course introduction
W Feb 2 Nature and aims of archaeology RB Introduction
F 4 History of archaeology RB I
Sa 5 Mysteries of Egypt, Grand Rapids Public Museum
M 7 History of archaeology, "Schliemann of Troy," RB 1; Jenkyns
W 9 Uses and abuses of archaeology,
F 11 Archaeological evidence, "C. Dawson of Piltdown" RB 2, Jones
M 14 Archaeological Evidence, "Sandia Cave" RB 2, Preston
W 16 Archaeological sites & features; "Service Learning" RB 3
F 18 "New Worlds" video, OP I
M 21 Survey and Excavation RB 3, cont.
W 23 Dating and chronology; assignment of Reports RB 4
F 25 Stratigraphy and typology RB 4 cont.
M 28 Seriation, Report 1; Stratigraphy, Report 2 Patterson, Problems 1, 2
W Mar I Laws of stratigraphy: the Harris Matrix Harris: 29-53
F 3 Excavation methods: the trowel and the soil
M 6 Social Archaeology, Report 3, "The Hearth" RB 5; video OP 2
W 8 Reading Recess
F 10 Environmental archaeology RB 6
M 13 Subsistence and diet, "Anasazi Retreat" RB 7, Preston
W 15 EXAMINATION I RB 1-6, matrl thru March 10
F 17 Calvin Garbage Project (CGP) setup "Arizona Garbage Project"

W 29 CGP setup CGP
1999 data
F 31 CGP setup
M Apr 3 Technology RB 8
W 5 Trade and exchange RB 9,
video OP3
F 7 CGP fieldwork
M 10 CGP fieldwork
W 12 CGP poster session
F 14 Cognitive Archaeology: Symbols and Writings RB 10: 369-385, video OP 4 Report 4, "Signs and Symbols"
M 17 Cognitive archaeology: Religion RB 10: 386-402, CGP reports
W 19 Archaeology of people RB 11vF 21 Good Friday
M 24 Explanation in archaeology: "Traditional" RB 12a
W 26 Explanation in archaeology: "Processual" RB 12b
F 28 Archaeology in action: Umm. el-Jimal project RB 13
M May l Cultural property, professional standards RB 14, handout
W May 3 Review
M 8 CGP Interpretation and reports
W 10 CGP reports and conclusions
T 16 9 – 10:30 a. m. Examination session: Course retrospective and conclusions RB 7-14 (exclude 13)

Calvin College Garbage Project (CGP 2000)
Fieldwork Plan
1. Field stations and staff assignments
Station # Station identification

  • CGP-1 Spoelhof Center
    CGP-2 Service Building
    CGP-3 Eldersveld Schultze dorm
    CGP-4 Phi-Chi Apartments
    CGP-5 Physical Education Bldg
    CGP-6 Knollcrest Dining Hall
    CGP-7 Hiemenga Hall / Hekman Library


Field supervisor
Allan Kalf
I. Background research

  • A. CGP 1999 data and results
    B. Monthly and yearly disposal records, ServiceBuilding, Geoff Van Berkel
    C. Status of recycling and composting on campus, Henry Kingma
    D. Other studies: Arizona Garbage Project, other campuses
    E. West Michigan Environmental Action Council, Tom Leonard, director
    F. Other


II. Field work and research schedule

  • CGP- 1: 8 am, Thursday, April 6, 2000
    CGP-3: 8 am, Thursday April 6, 2000
    CGP-4: 8 am, Thursday, April 6, 2000
    CGP 5: 9 am, Saturday, April 8, 2000
    CGP-7, 10 am, Thursday, April 6, 2000


III. Equipment
IV. Guarantee of privacy statement
V. Safety procedure

The Calvin College Garbage Project (CGP)
The CGP is an archaeological assessment of the rubbish produced by the Calvin College campus community, conducted by the students of IDIS 240, "Introduction to Archaeology." Inspiration and some methodology came from the Arizona Garbage Project, a pioneering archaeological- program for studying modem American cultural habits (see Rathje, William, and Murphy, Cullen, Rubbish! The Archaeology of Garbage (Harper-Collins, 1992). On the academic side the project provided an exercise in staging fieldwork, data recording, report writing and interpretation and publication (on the Web). On the practical side, the project is a study of the culture of the Calvin College community, but has the special service goal of providing background data for improving disposal, recycling and composting procedures. The project is under the auspices of CEAP, and was carried out in cooperation with the students of the ESC, about 15 of whom volunteered for the actual fieldwork. The fieldwork consisted of a detailed cataloguing of the rubbish put out at seven selected collection stations on a typical April 1999 weekday by seven teams made up of a class member and two student volunteers. A preliminary report was presented in poster form at the CEAP poster session. A comprehensive report, based on the student s individual reports, will be prepared this summer, and placement of data, reports and interpretations on a Web site is in progress, but will not be announced until final editing and checking has been done. A further phase of this project is planned for the spring of 2000. Special thanks are due to the organizations already mentioned, and also to Calvin s Recycle Coordinator and Campus Safety, for enabling a safe and efficient field process. Bert de Vries IDIS 240 instructor and CGP coordinator

The Calvin College Garbage Project"An archaeological assessment of the rubbish produced by the Calvin Collegecommunity"

I. Background: the Arizona Garbage Project
Rathje, William, and Murphy, Cullen, Rubbish! The Archaeology of Garbage (HarperCollins, 1992).

II. The assessment of volume and type of rubbish produced by the Calvin College Community. Purposes for the data:

  • A. Understanding the culture of Calvin College
    B. Improve the Campus waste disposal, recycling and composting procedures
    C. Formulate advice on material conservation at the consumption end.


III. Methods:

  • A. Study the campus disposal systems:
    A geography of deposits and dumps: Dorms, Apartments, Dining halls, Offices, Class rooms, Science building, Service building Grounds
    B. Preparation, week of Mon., March 15- Sat. March 20
    Fine tune research goal
    History: Activities by other campus agencies
    Clearances: Lay ground work with responsible campus organizations
    Develop and disseminate "Guarantee of Privacy statement;"
    Define and implement safety procedures;
    Develop forms;
    List and locate equipment ;
    Map the campus and plan 
    Preliminary poster design
    C. Field work, week of Wed. April 7 – Tues. April 13
    Weighing and sorting
    Recording – by sorted category – by quantity – –photography, slides and digital
    D. Report writing
    Verbal description of field work done
    Quantified and qualified summary of recorded data
    Analysis of data in light of research question
    E. Publication/publicity
    Archive the field records and reports
    Prepare Poster for April 20 CEAP Poster Session
    Report results and recommendations to relevant campus agencies
    Publish short (preliminary) report in Chimes and elsewhere [over]


IV. Organizational structure

  • A. Sponsorship
    Service Learning (credit) Rachel Van Noord s class visit, Mon., Feb. 15
    Environmental Stewardship Coalition (ESC, sponsoring agency)
    IDIS 240 (archaeological experts)
    B. Team structure
    Project director – IDIS 240 instructor
    Field archaeologists – IDIS 240 class members – 8
    Advisor: Representatives from Environmental Stewardship Coalition,
    Service Learning, Campus Environmental Safety
    Rachel Van Noord, CEAP (Service Learning), ESC
    Rachel Veltman, ESC, Recycling/Composting
    Ken Zylstra, ESC, Recycling/Composting
    Geoff Van Berkel, Recycle Coordinator
    Jennifer Ambrose, Environmental Safety
    Volunteers – ESC members – 16


V. Time frame and schedule

  • A. Assess amount of time required and trade for other course assignments
    B. Completion goal: week of April 19, Earth Day


The members of the Calvin College Garbage Project guarantee that:
Nothing of a personal nature (letters, homework, etc) will be examined further than what is necessary for recording purposes.
Names, addresses and other personal information will not be sought or recorded.
Controversial items (illegal substances, etc) will be recorded, but will not necessarily be published.
Names of the specific apartment and residence hall examined will not be published.
Garbage will not be retained by the examiners-all garbage examined will be returned to its disposal location.



School: Calvin College
Professor: Bert de Vries