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Department of Anthropology

Mountains and Plains   

The University of Wyoming 2017

Archaeology Field School

 Wyoming Field School Video
We will be at the same sites this year.

The University of Wyoming Archaeological Fieldschool provides professional-level training in field research methods at three Wyoming locations.  Learn to recognize and identify chipped stone tools and debris, ceramic sherds, faunal remains, fire-cracked rock, stone circles and fire hearths; collect sediment, radiocarbon, and flotation samples; read stratigraphic profiles; excavate; record data; read maps; use a GPS; conduct surface survey; fill out site forms -- all the basics of archaeological fieldwork.  You will learn how to use field technology, such as total stations. This year's fieldschool continues the 2014-16 fieldwork and includes a mammoth kill site near Douglas, Wyoming, where the student will be introduced to geoarchaeology; surface survey in the foothills along the east side of the Bighorn Mountains (in Butch Cassidy's Hole in the Wall country), where the student will learn proper field-recording methods, map-reading and use of a GPS; and excavation of a deep, well-stratified rockshelter on the west side of the Bighorn Mountains north of Ten Sleep, Wyoming where the student will learn precision excavation.  As you can see, the fieldschool includes a range of experiences - and each at a beautiful Wyoming location. 

All students will live in a fieldcamp, and must provide their own basic camping gear (tent, sleeping bag, etc.; the fieldschool provides all kitchen and excavation gear).  All students will assist in regular camp chores (cooking, cleaning up, etc.). The work is physically demanding, and takes place regardless of Wyoming's fickle weather (which can include rain, snow and/or freezing temperatures even in summer). Students should be in good physical shape and prepared to eat and live in remote locations away from town, Internet access and cell phone connections.

We teach the fieldschool in three 10-day sessions, separated by two, four-day intervals.  Students are responsible for themselves during those four days.  Although students can register for just one or two of the 10-day sessions, we give preference to those students enrolling in all three.  The reason is that a 6-credit, 30-day fieldschool is the minimal accepted standard to qualify for entry-level employment on research or Cultural Resource Management projects. Credit from the University of Wyoming fieldschool should be transferrable to any academic institution and fulfill the fieldschool requirement of any CRM company.

We can accept about 12 students for the fieldschool, and welcome applications from students at any educational level or from any background.  We do, however, give preference to those students majoring in anthropology, who seek a career in archaeology and who have taken at least one archaeology course. The fieldschool is a good place to discover if a career in archaeology is the right place for you.

Note: we will leave for the first field camp early on June 12 from the Anthropology Building at the University of Wyoming.  Non-UW students should plan to arrive in Laramie no later than June 11. We can assist with locating a place to stay with one of the UW fieldschool students.

Three Main Field School Sessions (2 credit hours each for a total of 6 credit hours)

Please fill out an Application Form and forward it to Field School Director Dr. Todd Surovell:  surovell@uwyo.edu. Once decicions are made, we will forward the information needed for Admission to UW and for Registration for the Field School

Print Application (MS Word)   Application (pdf)

Field School Sessions:

Field School Session 1 (June 12 - 21) – Precision excavation at Alm Shelter.

During session 1 we will be on the west side of the Bighorn Mountains, near Hyattville, Wyoming, and excavate a rockshelter at the mouth of Paint Rock Creek (near the Medicine Lodge Creek Site).  This shelter was tested a few years ago and contains a deep (~3 meter), stratified record of more than 13,000 years.  We will continue the  2014-2016 block excavation at the site, using the techniques of precision excavation.

Field School Session 2 (June 26 – July 5) – La Prele Mammoth Kill Site.  

Located near Douglas, Wyoming, this site was briefly excavated about 25 years ago; in 2014 we began new excavations at the site.  Previously, the excavators had recovered a partial mammoth skeleton and some non-diagnostic stone artifacts.  Although one analysis concluded that the mammoth was not associated with the stone artifacts, our data suggest this is in fact, a mammoth kill site. In 2015-16 we excavated an associated scatter of stone tools and waste flakes, finding pieces of several bone needles, and a thick layer of red ochre. In 2017 we will continue excavation of the associated lithic scatter. 

Field School Session 3 (July 10 - 19) – Surface Survey in Hole-in-the-Wall Country.

During this session we will conduct surface survey and record archaeological sites in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains, north of Casper, Wyoming. We will also continue the 2015-16 test excavations at a deep open site, and visit nearby rock-art sites and a bison jump site.

Course Instructors:

Dr. Todd Surovell, UW Faculty Archaeologist, and Director of the Frison Institute

Todd Surovell is an archaeologist with expertise in the Paleoindian period of North America.  He has worked western North America, northern Europe, southwest Asia, and Mongolia.  He has more than 20 years of field experience and has published a book on lithic technology and more than 40 journal articles and book chapters.

Dr. Robert L. Kelly, UW Faculty Archaeologist

Kelly has over 43 years of experience in archaeology, excavating throughout North America and elsewhere. He has lectured around the world and is internationally recognized as an expert on hunting and gathering cultures. He is the co-author (with David Hurst Thomas) of two widely-used textbooks, Archaeology and Archaeology: Down to Earth.  He is also the author of The Lifeways of Hunter-Gatherers (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and a new book, The Fifth Beginning: What Six Million Years of Human History Can Tell us About the Future (U. California Press, 2016)He is also researching the archaeology of receding ice patches in the Rocky Mountains.   

Tuition and Fees

Please note these are 2016 rates; we don't expect the 2017 rates to be much higher, but will post them when they are available. As in previous years, we hope to offer In-State Resident Tuition rates to out-of-state students. 

Undergraduate Field School Tuition (in-state rates):  $113/credit hour; Graduate tuition: $221/credit hour.  Plus fees ($26.87/credit hr, and a flat fee of $147.74).

Undergraduate/graduate fees (to cover equipment, food, transportation): $350/credit hour

Total cost, 6 credit hours:  Undergraduate: $3086.96 (tuition and fees).  Graduate: $3734.96

(* non-UW Students, add $40 to the above totals for the UW Admissions Fee)


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Anthropology Department

12th and Lewis Street

Dept 3431

1000 E. University Avenue

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307 766-5136

Email: anthro@uwyo.edu

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