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Lowcountry Archaeological Field School this Summer!

By Lauren Saulino
Posted on 2 February 2015 | 7:15 pm — 

COURSE: ANTH 493 Archaeological Field School, 8 s.h. of credit
DATES: Monday, May 18, 2015 through Thursday, June 2, 2015 (7 weeks)
TIME: 7:30 a.m. – 2:30/3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
PLACES: Dill Property (James Island), Manigault House (downtown), and one of the state parks (yet to be determined)
INSTRUCTORS: Dr. Barbara Borg (CofC), Ms. Martha Zierden (Charleston Museum) and Mr. Ron Anthony (Charleston Museum).  Other archaeologists from the SC state parks system will also be working with us when we are working on one of their sites.
TRANSPORTATION: Students usually drive their own cars or arrange to ride with other students.  If the state park we work in is farther away than CharlesTowne Landing (West Ashley) or Colonial Dorchester (Summerville) the park service will hopefully provide a van and driver.  (This happened one year when we traveled to Hampton Plantation State Historic Site near McClellanville, SC).  Students are expected to be on site ready to work by 7:30 a.m. (this is to avoid the heat later in the day, and you will be grateful for it).

This is an intensive, team taught field school (a 400-level course), the goal of which is to teach you all the basic skills of doing field archaeology. All special equipment will be provided, though there will be one required reference text to purchase.  There is a hefty academic component to the course with articles to read and summarize (made availabale on the OAKS system), a mid-term ceramics identification exam, a synthetic hypothetical project exercise, and a final written exam.  You must be able to do the homework on your own time, after the field day is over, so this means evenings and weekends.  It is important to not over-schedule your life during field school.  60% of your final grade is field skills, and 40% is written work.

We dress sensibly for the temperature and the conditions, and no special clothing or shoes are required.  Athletic shoes, shorts, T-shirts, and hats are usual, long pants if we are working in the woods, and a rain poncho or jacket.  No sandals or flip flops are allowed for safety reasons.  Students bring their own sack lunches daily.  Water in coolers will be provided.  No alcohol is allowed.  Many students find the small rigid plastic coolers that hold food and drink (and that you can also sit on) to be very convenient, as we do not always have picnic tables.  Rest rooms are “usually” within walking distance.

A field school looks wonderful on your resume, and if you hope to work in, or go to graduate school in, archaeology you will be expected to have attended at least one substantial field school.  Field school teaches you how to work in a real research environment, and as a close-knit team despite occasional challenging weather extremes.  Field school is a wonderful experience for most, but you have to be serious about your participation.  You are graded on the skills you learn in field school, and there is little time to make up missed field days or written work.  Committing to doing all the work and staying on schedule is essential for success.  Those students who do this will find the field school to be a wonderful experience, we hope, and we have found this to be so over the past 20 years!

I hope this description finds some of you thinking seriously about field school.  This particular field school will not be held again until Summer 2017, though there are other possibilities both on and off campus to complete a field school. Again, shoot me an e-mail if you think you might be seriously interested: Dr. Borg (borgb@cofc.edu)

http://today.cofc.edu/2015/01/29/graduate-student-digs-old-charleston-city-wall-thesis-research/

Photo by Grace Beahm, Post & Courier

College of Charleston historic preservation student Justin Schwebler is literally in the trenches proving his thesis.

Schwebler, who will earn his Master in Science later this year, is tracking and analyzing the use of Bermuda stone in Charleston, South Carolina. His research showed the stone was used as the foundation of the city’s original sea wall, built in 1769, and he wanted to prove it.

With the help of his professors in the joint master’s program between the College of Charleston and Clemson University, a dig was organized to uncover portions of the wall.

On the first day of the dig, Bermuda stone was uncovered, though not in the area believed to be the original sea wall.

Schwebler explains, “The stone is soft – it can actually be cut with a saw – so it is very possible the stone crumbled away after its lengthy exposure to water and waves.”

READ: Learn more about the dig in the Post and Courier.

Photo by Grace Beahm, Post & Courier

Bermuda and Charleston had a strong trade relationship in the 1700s, with thousands of blocks of Bermuda stone coming into the Port of Charleston. That said, it’s now rare to find in the city, and even more rare in other U.S. locations.

“Bermuda stone is in at least two other notable places downtown,” Schwebler notes. “The ‘pink house’ at 17 Chalmers St. and ‘Pirate’s Courtyard’ at 145 Church St.”

 

College of Charleston sophomore Jami Baxley is the only student participating in an archaeological project in Greece during the 2013 summer months. She will join two College of Charleston professors and other researchers for a month in Greece collecting archaeological data on more than 1,400 objects from the ancient Palace of Nestor in Pylos. Over the next year, the team, led by Classics Professor Kevin Pluta and Dimitri Nakassis of the University of Toronto, will compile a traditional print volume and a searchable online database of their findings. Jim Newhard, College of Charleston Professor and Director of the Archaeology Program, will also be a researcher on the project.

“I am absolutely thrilled to accompany two of my professors on this project in which I will gain hands on experience that will directly relate to my career aspirations,” says Baxley, a classics and archaeology major from Beech Island, S.C. “Being the only student is a bit nerve-racking (and exciting!), but I am ready for the challenge and look forward to all I will learn.”

The project will document via Reflexive Transference Imagery (RTI), 3D imagery, X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF), and traditional illustration the administrative archives of the Palace of Nestor at Pylos, Greece. The publication and corresponding spatial database would effectively compile the scholarship of several generations of Linear B scholars into a concise, organized system, useable by scholars, students, and interested lay communities; and expand use of this dataset to broader cross-cultural comparative applications.

The online database, in development at the College of Charleston, will be searchable by tablet, fragment, word, or geochemical signature. The documentation via multiple imaging formats will also provide an archiving component to a valuable dataset that is of a fragile nature. The final images and data will reside at the College of Charleston on a dedicated server.

“This project is an excellent example of the ways in which the expertise and research of the faculty are leveraged for high impact experiences for students, while at the same time moving the discipline of archaeology forward in exciting ways,” explains Jim Newhard, Classics professor and incoming director of the archaeology program. “I am looking forward to seeing this collaboration develop for the benefit of all the cooperating institutions, researchers, and students.”

The project currently has funding from the Loeb Classical Library Foundation, the Institute for Aegean Prehistory, the Michael Ventris Foundation, and the College of Charleston.

For more information, contact Jim Newhard at newhardj@cofc.edu.

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