Field Laboratory in Archaeology

5 credit hours

Introduces the techniques and theory of primary archaeological lab analysis through the examination of materials from sites currently under investigation. Individual projects may center around particular interests. (2 lecture hours, 6 lab hours)

Students will receive both lecture and hands-on training pertaining to the processing, identification, and stabilization of archaeological material culture. This will be supported by readings from an internationally recognized text as well as a manual especially prepared for this project. Additional reinforcement will be provided by Czech specialists and visits to Czech museums and archaeological laboratory facilities. Additional visits to facilities in neighboring nations may also be arranged, pending availability of personnel from these institutions. Evaluation of students will be based on (1) participation in course-related activities, (2) completion of a predetermined number of practicum hours in laboratory (minimally 40), (3) maintenance of appropriate journal and record forms to demonstrate student work, and (4) demonstrated competence and safety with fundamental laboratory procedures.

Course Objectives Include:

Introduction to the functions and roles of an archaeological laboratory

The laboratory as a central place on a project

The laboratory as a resource center

The laboratory as a compliment to field exploration in addressing research questions

Introduction to the realm of archaeometry (an alliance between natural sciences and archaeology), including its benefits and limitations

Analytical techniques and possibilities for specific material remains

Procedures for conserving material culture in the field and field laboratory

Teach methods of material cultural processing

Connection between laboratory techniques and research questions

Connection between laboratory procedures and larger issues of data manipulation and interpretation

Artifact cleaning, storage, and cataloging

Artifact identification and issues related to the significance of temporally and culturally diagnostic materials

Teach methods of data control and tracking

Fundamentals of data recording

Fundamentals of database design and operation


Students completing this course should...

Demonstrate competence in safely handling materials associated with archaeological laboratory work

Demonstrate competence in the processing and tracking of archaeological material culture

Demonstrate familiarity with the different roles played by an archaeological laboratory, both to project members and visitors

Demonstrate familiarity with the basic categories of material culture recovered from the excavations in the region

Be able to use basic database technology to enter, find, and sort appropriate data.

Have increased personal confidence and self-reliance as a consequence of undertaking hands-on experiences in archaeology and by experiencing a Non-American culture firsthand