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

Location

Dougherty County (near Albany), Georgia, USA

Program Description

This archaeological field school will be conducted at a large but barely-documented Mississippian mound complex (ca. AD 1000-1600) in southwestern Georgia. The site features three large earthen platform mounds build 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.

Historical documents also indicate that the infamous Spanish conquistador, Hernando de Soto, passed through or very close to the site in the spring of 1540. In his day this Indian territory was known as Capachequi. 

The priority of the field school will be to train students in archaeological field methods. That goal will be met by involving participants in the documentation and exploration of this important site. One activity will involve sampling deposits in the village area with small tests. Other sections of the village 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.

Location Description

The archaeological site is in southwestern Georgia near the city of Albany. It is in a classic southern coastal plain landscape featuring extensive freshwater wetlands and longleaf pine-live oak forests on large plantations. The property on which we will be operating is beautifully maintained in almost park-like conditions. Students will enjoy daily sightings of diverse wildlife: deer, turkeys, a variety of water birds, wild pigs, alligators, etc. The weather in May and June will be warm if not hot with high temperatures in the 80s-90s and, generally, relatively high humidity as well.

Director

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

Accommodations

The site is located in Dougherty County, GA on a beautiful private property, about 30 minutes south of Albany, GA. Field school students and staff will reside near the site, in and around a rented house (in other words, camping near the house is an option).

Most 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.

Additional Items to Consider

Field and living conditions will be demanding. Students must be prepared for physical activity in a hot, humid environment.

Working and living conditions require patience, respect, and full participation.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

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 
  • Faculty Recommendation
  • 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