FIELD TECHNIQUES IN ARCHAEOLOGY

Anthropology 377                                                                                               Washington and Lee University
Professors Alison Bell,
Laura Galke and Bernard Means                                                                                                     Spring 2004

 

Instructor Contact Information

Professor Bell will hold office hours in Newcomb 6 on Thursdays from 3:00-4:30 and will be available on Fridays to meet with individuals or groups of students. Please feel free to contact her in any of the ways below:

            email: bella@wlu.edu
            office: x 8638
            lab: x 8574

Professor Galke (galkel@wlu.edu) and Professor Means (meansb@wlu.edu) can be contacted at the Laboratory of Anthropology (x8574).

 

Course Description and Expectations

This class provides students an intensive introduction to archaeological methods and interpretation. After a week of classroom-based orientation to central issues and techniques, students spend five weeks in the field and laboratory learning to conduct site testing and preliminary assessments, to develop research designs, to establish excavation grids, to excavate by arbitrary and natural strata, to complete site records, to draw plan and profile views of excavation areas, and to identify, label, and catalog artifacts. In addition to becoming familiar with these key archaeological skills, students remain engaged in the “big questions” of site interpretation through readings, written assignments, and an interpretive site project.

To succeed in this course, students must
Ø      arrive for class on time
Ø      have an excellent attendance record
Ø      use proper methods of testing, excavating, and recording sites
Ø      complete all field forms and maps accurately
Ø      submit all written assignments
Ø      complete a site project.

Specific assignments and projects are explained below.

 

Course Text

Students should purchase the reader for this class from Karen Lyle in Newcomb 26.


Course Schedule

Ø      Monday through Thursday of the first week, we will meet in Northen Auditorium for up to three hours. On Monday, Wednesday and Thursday we will meet 1:00-4:00. On Tuesday we will meet 2:00-5:00.

Ø      In all other weeks of the term, we will meet Monday through Wednesday at the Anthropology Lab at 9:00 a.m. and travel to Longdale. We will finish our day by 4:00.

Ø      On Thursdays we will meet at the lab at 9:00 but will only work half a day. Students will have Thursday afternoons on their own to complete readings and short written assignments. 

Ø      Monday through Wednesdays and Thursday mornings we will often be in the field but will also spend time in the lab as necessary to stay on top of artifact processing.

Ø      We will meet at 10:00 on Friday mornings in University Center Room 205 for approximately one hour of class. Students then set their own schedules for the balance of the day, working on their projects in the lab or field as needed.

 

Course Outline and Assignments

Week One (April 19-23)

a) Reading For Tuesday, April 20: “Big Questions” in Historical Archaeology

Kenneth L. Feder (1994). “The Archaeology of History,” pp. 6-24 in A Village of Outcasts: Historical Archaeology and Documentary Research at the Lighthouse Site. Mayfield Publishing Company, Mountain View, California.

Stephen A. Mrozowski and Mary C. Beaudry (1990). “Archaeology and the Landscape of Corporate Ideology,” pp. 189-208 in William M. Kelso and Rachel Most (eds.), Earth Patterns: Essays in Landscape Archaeology. University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville.

b) Reading for Wednesday, April 21: Introduction to Longdale

Alison Bell and Laura Galke (2004). Consumption in a Company Town: Conspicuous Display, Restraint, and Pleasure in a Nineteenth-Century Virginia Iron-Mining Community. Paper presented at the Society for American Archaeology Meetings, Montreal, Canada.

Catherine Stroh (n.d.). “The Longdale Mining Complex, Allegheny County, Virginia.” http://archaeology.wlu.edu/longdale.html

Due Wednesday at 1:00 p.m.: Response Paper (approximately two pages double-spaced) summarizing and reflecting on main points of Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s readings. What are some of the main issues in historical archaeology, and how can we address them through our research at Longdale?


c) Reading for Thursday, April 22: Archaeological Methods and Cultural Resource Management

E.B. Banning (2000). "Basic Artifact Conservation," pp. 129-139 in The Archaeologist's Laboratory: The Analysis of Archaeological Data. Plenum Press, New York.

Thomas R. Hester (1997). “Methods of Excavation,” pp.69-110 in Thomas R. Hester, Harry J. Shafer, and Kenneth L. Feder, Field Methods in Archaeology, Seventh Edition. Mayfield Publishing Company, Mountain View, California.

R. Michael Stewart (2002). “Cultural Resource Management Studies” and “Research Design” excerpt pp. 38-44, and “Summaries of Significant Federal Historic Preservation Legislation,” pp. 341-343 in R. Michael Stewart, Archaeology: Basic Field Methods. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, Dubuque, Iowa.

Handout Distributed in Class (W&L Archaeology: Field and Lab Methods)

Please be prepared to discuss or raise questions about these readings in class on Thursday.

 

Week Two (April 26 -30): Ethnicity, Social Relations and Power in Mining Communities

John Bezis-Selfa (1999). A Tale of Two Ironworks: Slavery, Free Labor, Work and Resistance in the Early Republic. The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Series, 56(4):677-700.

Charles B. Dew (1994). Bond of Iron: Master and Slave at Buffalo Forge. W.W. Norton, New York, pp. 98-121.

Due Friday, April 30 at 10:00 a.m.: Short reflection on ways in which Bezis-Selfa’s and Dew’s studies can inform or inspire our research. What issues or questions did they investigate that might be pertinent for Longdale? This assignment can be a few paragraphs or even a bulleted list. The quality of the content is what matters.

 

Week Three (May 3-7): Gender and Class in Mining Communities

Hardesty, Donald L. (1994). “Class, Gender Strategies, and Material Culture in the Mining West,” pp. 129-145 in Elizabeth M. Scott (ed.), Those of Little Note: Gender, Race and Class in Historical Archaeology. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Shackel, Paul (2003). “Remembering the American Industrial Landscape.” http://www.heritage.umd.edu/CHRSWeb/Heritage%20Spotlights/Heritage%20Spots%20Mar03.htm

Due Friday, May 7 at 10:00 a.m.: Returning to the “big picture.” Based on the these readings as well as your experience thus far at Longdale this term, what can or should archaeology contribute to our understanding of American history? What types of narratives or information should we be trying to develop about diverse people’s life experiences?

Week Four (May 10-14): Material Culture Analysis

Donald L. Hardesty (1988). “The Archaeology of Mining Settlements and Households,” excerpt pp. 67-81 in Donald L. Hardesty, The Archaeology of Mining and Miners: A View from the Silver State, pp. 67-104 in Historical Archaeology Special Publication Number 6.

Susan Lawrence (2001). After the Gold Rush: Material Culture and Settlement on Victoria’s Central Goldfields,” pp. 250-266 in Iain McCalman, Alexander Cook and Andrew Reeves (eds.), Gold: Forgotten Histories and Lost Objects of Australia. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Due Friday, May 14 at 10:00 a.m.: Short reflection on ways in which the Hardesty’s and Lawrence’s studies can inform or inspire our research, especially with artifact analysis. What issues or questions did they investigate that might be pertinent for Longdale? This assignment can be a few paragraphs or even a bulleted list. The quality of the content is what matters.

 

Week Five (May 17-21): An Overview of Prehistoric Archaeology in the Mid-Atlantic

* Meeting Time to be Determined (probably 9:30-noon)

Richard Dent (2003). Excavations at a Late Woodland Village in the Middle Potomac Valley: Theory and Practice at the Winslow Site.  Journal of Middle Atlantic Archaeology 19:3-24.

John Hart (2003). Rethinking the Three Sisters. Journal of Middle Atlantic Archaeology 19:73-82.

Bernard Means (2001). Circular Reasoning: Ring-shaped village settlements in Late Prehistoric southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond. Journal of Middle Atlantic Archaeology 17:109-132.

Due Friday, May 21 at beginning of class: general response paper. Briefly summarize the main issues considered in each article and describe your reactions to them, singly or as a whole. What struck you about these articles? For example, some practitioners consider historical and prehistoric archaeology very different pursuits; others view them as similar in fundamental respects (methodological and theoretical). Having read these articles on prehistoric sites and the preceding articles on historical archaeology, what do you think?

 

Week Six (May 24-28): Presentations of Research

No reading is assigned for this week. Towards the middle of the week we will gather in an informal context for students to share the findings of their research projects.


Site Project

When we begin fieldwork this spring, we will be testing two domestic sites in the Longdale Mining Community. All students will participate in processing artifacts from these sites.

Each student will then begin work with approximately four other students on some part of one of these sites. Based on their analysis of the fieldwork and artifacts discovered, each group will develop a research design: a plan for how they want to test that site further. You must submit this research design (as a group) one week after we have completed the initial archaeological testing of your site.

We will approve or work with you to modify your research design, and then will teach you how to establish excavation units. Your main focus during the third, fourth, and fifth weeks of the spring term (and the sixth week if needed) will be excavating these units and processing the artifacts, with our guidance and the supervisors’ help.

Your final project interprets the results of this research. It must include:
a)      an electronic copy of your artifact database
b)      copies of all site maps (plan and profile views, etc.)
c)      a paper explaining your research design, execution of that design, results, and interpretation/conclusions.

You should submit parts “a” and “b” as a group, but may submit part “c” either individually or as a group. All parts are due by 5:00 p.m. Monday, May 31. We would welcome them earlier.

Grading

Written assignments (on readings): 20%

Field work (attendance and punctuality, attention to testing and excavation methods,
quality and completeness of forms and maps, etc.): 40%

Site project (research design, artifact database, site maps and interpretive paper): 40%

Please Note

We believe that the schedule and final project outlined above will work well for this course. However, because archaeology by definition reveals the unknown, we may encounter unanticipated circumstances. For example, it is possible (although not probable) that the sites we plan to test will yield too few artifacts or features to justify further research. In that case, we will choose a new site or sites on which to focus our field efforts and your final projects. Please know up front that flexibility is an important and integral part of archaeology.

The basic structure of the class will not change. We will be in the field/lab Monday through Wednesday 9:00-4:00 and Thursdays 9:00-noon; we will have classes Friday mornings; the readings and assignments will remain the same, and you will have a final project that includes a database, maps, forms, and interpretive paper. The particular focus on the site projects, however, may shift depending on what we discover early in the term.