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Archaeology of Native American and Spanish Encounters in Georgia

Location

Dougherty County (near Albany), Georgia, USA

Program Description

This archaeological field school will be conducted at two large towns in southwestern Georgia established by Native American members of the prehistoric Mississippian culture (ca. AD 1000-1600). The oldest site features three large earthen platform mounds built by Native people for social and religious purposes. The mounds are surrounded by an extensive village. The size and complexity of the site indicate that it functioned for a time as the regional capital. The other site succeeded the first one and it is marked by more than 15 small, earthen mounds, apparently used for multiple purposes.

Historical documents, and prior archaeological evidence, also indicate that the infamous Spanish conquistador, Hernando de Soto, passed through or very close to these sites in the spring of 1540. In his day this Indian territory was known as Capachequi. By the seventeenth century a group of missionized Indians had reoccupied the oldest site.

The ultimate goal of this field school is to train students in archaeological field methods. That goal will be met by involving participants in the documentation and exploration of both of these important sites. One activity will involve sampling deposits in the village area with small tests. Other sections of the villages will be examined by more intensive excavation in order to document the locations of Native-built structures. In addition, geophysical survey will be conducted to further document the extent and kinds of buried evidence present across the large area.

The field school is ultimately aimed at giving students a level of competency in the archaeological field process. The agenda includes intensive instruction in total station mapping, systematic site sampling, and hand excavation of units. Students will also be exposed to the process of geophysical survey. Emphasis will be given to documentation of stratigraphy and soils, sampling strategies, and field photography. Attention will also be given to processing and identification of artifacts in a field laboratory. Successful completion of a field school of this kind is a gateway to eventual employment in archaeology.

Location Description

The archaeological sites are located in Dougherty County, GA on a beautiful private property, about 30 minutes south of Albany, GA.

Director

Dennis Blanton | blantodb@jmu.edu | Sociology & Anthropology

Accommodations

Field school students and staff will reside in a nearby campground. Students must be prepared to live and cook in tents in a field camp for the duration.

Meals will be prepared community-style but at least once a week we will venture into town to sample local restaurant fare.

All participants will share housekeeping duties.

Facilities convenient to the site will serve immediate needs in the field.

The cost of meals is included in the basic program cost, including the restaurant outings.
We will make regular trips to town to procure proviions for three daily meals. 
As noted above, kitchen duties will be shared by all participants.

Additional Items to Consider

The archaeological field school involves outdoor living and rigorous, outdoor activity. Assume that the conditions will be hot and humid.

Students will be living and working in a team-oriented environment.

Wireless and cellular connections will be available but service is often spotty. An advance conversation with the program director is strongly advised and attendance at advance planning meetings is required.

Students must also plan to supply their own camping gear (small tent, sleeping bag, etc.). Cooking equipment and food will be provided.

History and Geography majors often find this program of interest.  

For more information about the Program Director, his research, and the field school, please click here.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

Prerequisite: ANTH 197 or equivalent archaeological introduction

Junior or Senior standing is preferable, but not required

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($25 fee)
  • Short Essay 
  • Interview with Program Director
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU and first semester transfer students

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 


apply now 

Application Deadline

Dates


All dates are tentative and subject to change

Courses

ANTH 494: Field Techniques in Archaeology (5 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.

Cost

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