University of Arizona, School of Anthropology REU Program at Rock Art Ranch

The University of Arizona School of Anthropology’s Rock Art Ranch Fieldschool has been conducting fieldwork since 2011 in northeastern Arizona near Winslow. The fieldschool is for undergraduate and graduate students at all skill levels. A new program within the fieldschool is a National Science Foundation funded Research Opportunity for Undergraduate Student (REU) program that begins June 2 and continues through July 18, 2014. The REU Program involves five weeks of fieldwork plus two weeks of work within Arizona State Museum (ASM) labs on the University of Arizona (UA) campus. The program is focused on teaching students the basics of scientific methodology and how it is applied in the everyday world, in this case through archaeological research of past groups. The REU program pays participants $500/week plus expenses, but is limited to 10 individuals selected by the project director. Preference will be given to students from underserved groups, which are defined as individuals not having adequate access to science education and its application in the real world. REU students do not receive academic credit, but can opt to sign up for 7 hours of undergraduate credit through the University of Arizona summer school program. Details on credit costs are presented below.


Participants will learn archaeological survey and excavation techniques for the first five weeks of the program. For survey, participants will learn site identification, location and mapping using GPS and a total station; artifact identification, collection and processing; soil and plant identification; and artifact analysis and sourcing. For excavation, the participants will learn mapping at all levels of the site, feature identification, the principles of stratigraphy and their application to the archaeological record, seriation techniques, artifact identification and typology, and basic laboratory procedures – cleaning, inventorying, and basic analysis. Finally, participants will be shown how by combining survey, excavation and lab analysis, a more complete understanding of human society in the past can be achieved. 

 During the two weeks at ASM on the UA campus, students will spend two days each with ASM faculty in the Conservation Lab (how to preserve objects), Bioarchaeology Lab (study of human remains – optional), Zooarchaeology Lab (study of animal bone), and Homol’ovi Archaeology Lab (study of pottery, stone tools, etc.). The last two days, students will present the results of their projects to other students and faculty. 


Project Location:  Rock Art Ranch is a private ranch 25 miles southeast of Winslow that still raises cattle and bison. ( ranch contains some of the Southwest’s most spectacular rock art with more than 40 galleries, which have been completely documented, dating from 5000 BC to AD 1400. The ranch lies in the high desert at 5100’ elevation, in an area used over the past 7000 years by mobile hunting and gathering groups, early farmers, and later, after A.D. 500, by ceramic-producing, sedentary farmers representing archaeological cultures of the adjacent Mogollon Rim and Colorado Plateau regions. No professional archaeological work had been conducted on the ranch or its nearest neighbors, other than documentation of the petroglyphs, until the fieldschool began in 2011. 

Google Map of the Surrounding Area


For 2014, the participants will focus on finding and describing the archaeological record of the ranch through survey while conducting a second season of limited excavations on a late 12th century pueblo of 30-50 rooms. To date 90 sites have been documented and collected on the ranch representing how people have used the landscape over the past 5000 years, providing insight into how and why groups migrated to and from the area, and what role the rock art played in communicating identity and ownership for these groups. Through radiocarbon dating, excavations have already helped develop a tighter chronology for the area and provided details on length of site occupation and subsistence base. The 90 new sites cluster in three time periods: Archaic/Basketmaker II (pre/early agricultural), 3000 BCE-500 CE; Basketmaker III/Pueblo I, 600-900 CE; and Pueblo III, 1100-1250 CE. It is the BMII groups who created most of the petroglyphs. BMII, BMIII, and PI ancestral pueblo groups occupied pit houses, rooms excavated into the ground, whereas PIII groups built small to medium-size pueblos of 5 to 20 rooms. Each habitation site housed 2-5 families. Farming locales have also been discovered and are helping us understand the complex and lengthy use of Rock Art Ranch over the past 5000 years. The pueblo to be further excavated appears to be the center of an extensive community of small farmsteads (pueblos of 2-10 rooms) and may have been occupied for several generations. The pueblo is a 20-mile drive from ranch HQ and is the largest pueblo known in the area prior to 1250.

Schedule:  Fieldwork is conducted from 6:30 am to 2:30 pm Monday through Thursday and Friday morning. Friday afternoon all students will work in the lab and on projects. Saturdays are devoted to field trips with dinner eaten at local restaurants. Due to the remote location of the project, trips to Winslow to do laundry and shopping will be done on Sunday morning with the afternoon available for exploring or catching up on sleep.

Field Trips and Lectures:  There will be four field trips: one to the Hopi mesas for an opportunity to see communities and ceremonies of the descendents of some of the groups who lived in the research area; one to a local state park; the other two are to regional archaeological sites managed by the National Park Service. Talks by staff and guests will take place 2-3 evenings a week during weeks 2-4 in the dining hall. These talks will cover the past and present cultures of the region, geology, flora and fauna, dendrochronology, ceramic and lithic analysis, and much more. 

Accommodations & Transportation:  Students will stay in wood-frame cottages (no electricity) near bathroom facilities having electricity and showers for men and women. All housing is near the dining hall, which has electricity, with two bathrooms and a kitchen. There is also a small museum on site. The project lab for artifact cleaning and analysis is attached to the dining hall. Breakfast and dinner will be served in the dining hall and lunch will be eaten in the field. At the University of Arizona, participants will be housed in a university dormitory and issued meal cards to be used during their stay. Participants will be transported in University of Arizona vehicles to Rock Art Ranch from Tucson at the beginning and end of the fieldwork.

Course Instructor:  

E. Charles Adams is a Professor in the School of Anthropology and Curator of Archaeology in the Arizona State Museum, both at the University of Arizona. Research interests include Protohistoric and historic Pueblo archaeology, Hopi ethnography, religion and ritual in the archaeological record, settlement patterns and land use. Dr. Adams will direct survey and is overall principal investigator for the project. 

Associate Faculty:

Vincent M. LaMotta:  Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois, Chicago. Research interests include the archaeology of the Hopi region of the Southwest, Pueblo and Ancestral Pueblo history and cultures, ancient religion and ritual, site formation processes, archaeological method and theory, ceramic analysis, and zooarchaeology. Dr. LaMotta will direct excavations at a ca. 1225 CE pueblo on the ranch.

Richard C. Lange: Research Specialist Principal, Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona. Research interests include long-term survey and excavation in the area through the ASM Homol’ovi Research Program, cliff dwellings in the Sierra Ancha of central Arizona, settlement patterns and land use, ceramic and lithic analysis, and field methods. Mr. Lange will direct excavations at a ca. 1175 CE pueblo south of the ranch.

Course Credits: If an REU participant wishes to receive academic credit for participating in the program, Dr. Adams will be your instructor of record. Registration is required for one 3-credit course on labwork and one 4-credit course on fieldwork. The courses are Anth 455a and 455b, section 1 (undergraduate credit) or Anth 555a and 555b, section 1 (graduate credit). Each student, whether taking the course for credit or not, will do a research project in addition to fieldwork. For those earning credit, grades will be based on the student’s participation in all field activities and a project done in consultation with the instructor to be completed by the end of the session. An application form  (click here) is attached and must be submitted by March 14, 2014 to be considered for the REU program. Please note that each applicant must also have two letters of recommendation to be considered. Students will be notified of acceptance by March 28. Once an individual is accepted into the REU program, more information about what to bring, where to meet, how to get paid and reimbursed for expenses, and so forth will be provided.

Tuition and Fees:  For participants choosing to receive credit, registration is subject to normal University of Arizona tuition and fees for summer school, which are the same for in-state and out-of-state students. In 2013 these fees were $380/credit hour for undergrads and $420/credit hour for graduate students. A special course fee of $1200.00 for 7 credit hours covers field school costs and is due at registration.