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Archaeology Southwest and University of Arizona 2018 Upper Gila Preservation Archaeology Field School in Southwest New Mexico

2018 Upper Gila Preservation Archaeology Field School in Southwest New Mexico

Joint program of the University of Arizona and Archaeology Southwest, now accepting applications

Join us this summer for the 2018 season of our Preservation Archaeology Field School! Students will earn 7 hours of undergraduate or graduate credit through the University of Arizona while investigating how ancient communities formed during an era of migration and social change. Our team will excavate at the 14th-century Gila River Farm site in beautiful southwest New Mexico. We will also record sites on survey, analyze what we find in the lab, and learn to make and use ancient tools. Field trips to archaeological sites, visits to contemporary Native American communities, and public outreach events in our project area emphasize communication with diverse audiences. Together, students and staff explore ethically responsible and scientifically rigorous field and research methods while investigating compelling questions about our shared past.

Our 2018 field season runs May 28 through July 5. Students will participate in test excavations at the Gila River Farm site near Cliff, New Mexico. Farmers lived in this adobe pueblo community during the period from A.D. 1300-1400. Community members participated in the Salado ideology, which blended preexisting local traditions throughout the Southwest with traditions carried by migrants from the Kayenta area of northeastern Arizona. Key questions include what kinds of pottery the site’s residents made and used and how this reflects their social connections to other areas, how residents used local plants and animals, and where they obtained raw material for stone tools, particularly obsidian.

The field school begins at Archaeology Southwest’s Tucson, AZ headquarters, where students will take part in a three-day orientation to the Southwest before proceeding to our field site. Experienced staff members from academic and Cultural Resource Management backgrounds work side by side with students throughout the course. In addition to excavation skills, students learn how to locate and document sites on survey and assess their condition, and how to process and analyze artifacts in the lab. Experimental archaeology activities include building a replica adobe room and lessons in flintknapping, atlatl use, and other ancient technologies. Lectures, field trips, and public outreach events expand these essential skills and present real-world opportunities to practice the principles of Preservation Archaeology.

Project location, accommodations, and transportation: Our field camp lies at 4,500 feet above sea level in the scenic Cliff Valley of New Mexico, between Safford, Arizona, and Silver City, New Mexico. Students and staff camp around a small ranch building that serves as a project headquarters. Students provide their own tents and sleeping equipment. Camp amenities include a comfortable outdoor shower enclosure, portable toilets in camp and at our work site, and a camp house with electricity and running water, and group meals prepared by a professional cook using locally-sourced ingredients. During our orientation in Tucson, field school students reside in UA campus housing (also covered by the field school fee).

Expenses for weekend field trips are covered by the field school fee, including lodging and occasional restaurant meals. We provide all transportation during the field school, including field trips and transportation between Tucson and the field site at the beginning and end of the program.

Course instructors: Karen Gust Schollmeyer is a Preservation Archaeologist at Archaeology Southwest and a Visiting Scholar at UA. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Arizona State University in 2009. Her interests include long-term human-environment interactions; food security and landscape use; and how archaeologists’ long-term insights can be applied to modern issues in conservation and development. Her research has been published in American Antiquity, the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, Kiva, and various book chapters. She has directed numerous field schools in southwest New Mexico.

Jeffery J. Clark is also a Preservation Archaeologist at Archaeology Southwest and an adjunct faculty member at UA. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in 1997. Dr. Clark has worked extensively in Southwest Asia and the southern U.S. Southwest. His primary research interest is assessing the scale and impact of ancient migration using archaeological data. He has written extensively on the topic, including one monograph, an edited book, several book chapters, and articles in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, American Antiquity, Kiva, Journal of Field Archaeology, and Journal of Archaeological Research.

Tuition and Fees: Tuition and fees for University of Arizona summer school are the same for in-state and out-of-state students. Summer 2018 tuition has not yet been set, but in 2017 was $3,256 for undergraduates and $3,506 for graduate students. A $1,200 course fee covering lodging and transportation costs associated with the field school is due at registration.

Funding is available for qualified undergraduate students. This field school has been selected as part of the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. Undergraduates who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents will receive a stipend that can be used for field fees, UA tuition, and travel costs. Graduate and foreign students will be considered for admission to the field school, but are not eligible for financial support through the REU program. See the Archaeology Southwest website ( for more information on who qualifies.

Application and registration: Applications are available here. Enrollment is limited, and applications received by March 5, 2018 will receive priority. Applications will be accepted until the course is filled. Once accepted, students may register for one 3-credit lab course and one 4-credit field course. The courses are Anth 455a and 455b, section 2 (undergraduate credit) or Anth 555a and 555b, section 2 (graduate credit). Please check with your advisor about transferring UA course credits to your home university.