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Points of Contact: The Archaeology of Indian-Spanish Interaction During the Colonial Era


Telfair and Dougherty Counties, Georgia, USA

Program Description

If you enjoy outdoor activity, exploration, and science, this is the experience for you. Our archaeological field school creates an opportunity for undergraduate to gain hands-on experience with the principles and methods applied by contemporary archaeologists in a fieldwork setting. Instruction will occur as part of an ongoing research project in southern Georgia (USA) that is documenting evidence of first encounters between Native American Indian communities and exploring Spanish during the first half of the 16th century.

Two sites will be investigated. The first is a large, virtually undocumented Mississippian mound complex (ca. AD 1350-1600) where we will create a detailed map and begin sampling the archaeological deposits (approx. 2 weeks). This site is located within an Indian province called Capechequi known to have been visited by the entrada of the infamous conquistador, Hernando de Soto.

The second site is a late prehistoric Indian community (ca. 1450-1550) that the project has established to be a place of direct Indian-Spanish contact, probably involving De Soto’s contingent (approx. 4 weeks).

The field school agenda includes instruction and participation in total station mapping, systematic site sampling, and hand excavation of larger units. Attention will also be given to rigorous documentation of field activities and findings via a field laboratory, digital photography, etc.

Special outings and activities will include visits to regionally-prominent archaeological sites such as Kolomoki and Ocmulgee, a visit to beautiful and historic Savannah, and visits to local museums. Guest archaeologists will periodically provide lectures and demonstrations.

Location Description

We will explore two archaeological sites, both located in rural areas of southern Georgia. The Glass Site is a sixteenth-century Native American Indian village located at the edge of an abandoned channel of the Ocmulgee River in a largely wooded setting (Telfair County near Jacksonville, GA). The Heritage Mounds Site is located on a large plantation in Dougherty County (near Leary, GA). The Heritage Site features three large “Indian mounds” and an extensive prehistoric village. Most of this area is also wooded. The nearest towns of any consequence are Douglas in the first case and Albany in the second case. We will reside in Douglas at South Georgia College (dormitories) and in Albany at a motel.


Dennis Blanton | | Sociology & Anthropology


We will reside in Douglas at South Georgia College (dormitories) and in Albany at a motel. Opening and closing group dinners will be provided, along with basic breakfast and lunch provided daily throughout the program.

Additional Items to Consider

Good physical health and stamina are important. All of our activity will be outdoors and archaeological field work is almost always a strenuous undertaking. Students will want to be prepared for heat, insects, and… “dirt.”

This program will be especially rewarding for students of anthropology and history but it will also serve students with an interest in cultural geography.

Sophomore, Junior, and Senior-level students will be best suited for the program

Students with outdoor experience usually thrive, in addition to students interested in the natural world – along with anthropology, archaeology, and history.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

Application Process

For this program, students need to complete the online application (a $25 fee required), which includes:

  • Short essay
  • Official transcript required for first-semester transfer and non-JMU students.

Online Application Coming Soon

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


ANTH 494: Field Techniques in Archaeology (6 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.