About Western's Summer Field School Program
Thousands of years of human occupation and use have left a myriad of traces on the landscape of Northwest Washington. Archaeological sites as diverse as shell middens, peeled cedars, gold mines, logging camps, and stone tool quarries represent natural resource use by Native Americans and Euro Americans. Western's field school offer students the opportunity to experience the diverse environments and types of archaeological remains falling within a relatively small geographic area.
The course differs from many in its emphasis on survey, site recording, and non-destructive data collection techniques, in addition to excavation. This realistically reflects the balance of practical skills required of many professional field archaeologists, and is in keeping with the preservation ethic in archaeology and Native American concerns about site disturbance.
General Course Structure and Staff Supervision:
Dr. Jerald Ek, the course instructor, is assisted by supervising research assistants who are advanced undergraduate or graduate students from Western. Students are often divided into crews to rotate between the different projects and staff members.
Students are required to participate in group discussions, lectures, and field work. There are also short quizzes on the text and on training sessions. In order to accomplish our goals we must operate as a team. In the field everyone is expected to contribute to the best of their ability. Students receive a letter grade based on participation and demonstrated accomplishments.
Archaeological field work is very physical. Excavation is done with manual tools and survey involves lots of walking, some of it in steep and rough terrain and through such vegetation as nettles and blackberries. If you have special limitations, let us know in advance so arrangements can be made.
In various field schools we have experienced a wide range of conditions. Be prepared to be: hot, dry, wet, cold, rained on, fogged in, wind blown, mud covered, and bitten by swarming insects; often, all at once or in the course of a single day.
Be prepared to work in any kind of weather.
Equipment and packing:
Some field equipment will be provided to you. The department has only a limited number of compasses and it is highly recommended that you purchase your own. You are responsible for bringing lunch each day and your personal necessities. Field equipment lists are provided on a project by project basis, but a basic one can be found here.
You are required to have some form of health insurance to participate in field school. Western offers some student health insurance options.