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Students Get Hands-On Experience in Archaeological Field School

Posted on 18 June 2013 | 9:48 am

The College of Charleston’s summer 2013 Archaeological Field School, offered in conjunction with the Charleston Museum and the South Carolina State Parks and Recreation Department, is currently in session. Students will work on three very different sites during the seven-week field school.

Archaeology students spent the first four weeks investigating the area of a slave settlement at Hampton Plantation State Historic Site north of McClellanville.

The last three weeks (through June 28) the student crew will rotate between Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site in Summerville where they are looking for the foundation of the St. George Parish Church, and the Lord Ashley site, the location of English Lord Proprietor Anthony Ashley Cooper’s early trading post, located on private property in Dorchester County.  Watch a video from an earlier dig at this site. The crews are working from 8:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. and the public is invited to watch. At Colonial Dorchester the following entrance fees are required: $2 for ages 15 and up, $1.25 for S.C. senior citizens, and free for children under 14.

Students are learning the skills and techniques that will prepare them to work as archaeological technicians in the contract archaeology field and/or to attend graduate school in archaeology, historic preservation, or another related field.

“Our archaeology program is very strong, and many former students have gone on to attain professional jobs or have been accepted into graduate school,” says Dr. Barbara Borg, Associate Professor of Anthropology and one of the team teachers of the archaeological field school. “We are thrilled to begin offering a new archaeology major in Fall 2013 that can be combined with several other traditional majors. Our field school is only one of several options a student can choose to complete the Capstone requirement for an archaeology major or minor.”

The team-taught eight-credit field school meets the Register of Professional Archaeologists’ standards, providing students with systematic in-depth training in all phases of basic archaeological field research including surface survey, shovel testing, excavation, mapping, photography, data interpretation, and artifact processing and analysis. In addition to putting in seven-hour days in the field, students complete a strong academic component consisting of hands-on identification of ceramics, a selection of readings and professional journal articles, a final written project, and a final exam. Upon completion of the Field School, students often participate in one or more hands-on archaeological internships with the Charleston Museum, Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site, Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site, and/or the H.L. Hunley Project.

“SCPRT Archaeologist David Jones, and other members of his staff, have worked diligently to assure that our students have had a wonderful educational experience on some very exceptional archaeological sites,” Borg notes. “Also, crucial support received from MWV (MeadWestvaco Corporation), the Historic Charleston Foundation, and the private landowners has again made it possible for the field school to work at the Lord Ashley site.”

For more information about the field school, contact Dr. Barbara Borg at borgb@cofc.edu.

For more information on Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site, contact SCPRT archaeologist Larry James at ljames@scprt.com.

For more information on the Lord Ashley excavations contact Andrew Agha, also a State Park Service archaeologist, at Ctla707@yahoo.com.

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