Registration for summer archaeology field school now open

Screen Shot 2019-02-17 at 4.39.32 PMScreen Shot 2019-02-17 at 4.36.20 PMBy Carlee Berkenkemper

Elm Staff Writer

Calling all Indiana Jones fans, or rather, serious anthropologists who know that real archaeology involves less idol-stealing and more painstaking brushwork: registration for Washington College’s Archaeology Field School. The school is an immersive, eight-week experience that will run through May 20 to July 12.

Divided into two parts, field school participants will spend their first four weeks working in partnership with the Lost Towns Project Inc. at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary in Anne Arundel County.

Their focus will be on documenting the effects of erosion and climate change on 10,000 years of human occupied settlements surrounding the Patuxent River. Specifically, the Lost Towns Project revolves around the investigation of three colonial towns in Anne Arundel County: Providence, Londontown, and Herrington.

According to their website, Jug Bay Wetlands “consists of 1,700 acres of open water, tidal freshwater marshes, forested wetlands, upland and riparian forest, creeks, meadows, pine and sand barrens, and fields along the Patuxent River.”

This portion of the program will be led by Dr. Julie Markin, department chair and associate professor of anthropology.

Markin noted that the first half of the field school will be especially relevant for students interested in the relationship between anthropology and environmental studies.

“If you’re interested in the past, how we can improve our relationship to the environment, or in humans, this is a great course,” Markin said. “You get to be with other people outside looking through a millennium of human occupation.”

The second portion of the field school will take place at Andelot Farm, an early colonial plantation in Kent County inhabited from 1680 to 1720. Students will draw upon work that began in 2015 to study the remains of early English settlement.

This aspect of the field school will be led by Chuck Fithian, lecturer in anthropology, Dr. John Seidel, director of the Center for Environment and Society and assistant professor of anthropology and environmental studies, and Elizabeth Seidel, director of WC’s Public Archaeology Lab.

The lab, located off campus at 210 S. Cross St., is where all artifacts from excavations are processed.

“For students considering a career in archaeology or historic preservation, an archaeology field school is essential. It gives them necessary skills and experience — we cover everything from surveying and mapping to excavation and analysis techniques,” Seidel said.

In addition to learning real-world archaeology skills like survey, laboratory, and excavation techniques, students will be able to experience the thrill of piecing together the past under the guidance of trained professionals.

“We handle objects that haven’t been touched by people in centuries. Digging an archaeology site is like solving a fascinating puzzle — piecing together clues to understand the past,” Seidel said.

Additionally, WC’s archaeology lab often hires students who have successfully completed the field school, creating additional opportunities for those passionate about the field.

The cost of the field school is $3,500, which includes tuition, fees, and housing. Students receive eight credits for the course, covering ANT 296-10 and ANT 296-20, and are required to register for both sections of the course.

“What makes the 2019 session such a unique opportunity is that we will be conducting excavations at two sites from very different time periods and teaching different skills. Getting experience in both time periods during a single summer field school is unusual and will really give our students an edge, preparing them for whatever they decide to do next,” Siedel said.

For more information, contact Dr. Markin or Fithian at or

Additionally, students interested in volunteering at Jug Bay Wetlands or Andelot Farm should contact Dr. Markin or Elizabeth Seidel at, respectively.

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