Preservation Archaeology in Southwest New Mexico

Location: Mule Creek, New Mexico, United States

May 27, 2015 to July 5, 2015

Application Deadline: 
Friday, March 6, 2015

Flyer: preservation_archaeology_2014.pdf

Program Type

Field school


Archaeology Southwest and the University of Arizona

Project Director:

Dr. Karen Schollmeyer and Dr. Jeffrey Clark, Archaeology Southwest

Project Description

Undergraduate and graduate students will learn excavation, survey, and lab analysis methods and conduct experimental archaeology work in a beautiful, remote, and archaeologically rich part of the American Southwest. Our innovative curriculum highlights the goals, ethics, and practice of Preservation Archaeology, which integrates research, education, and preservation within a community-based framework. Together, students and staff explore ethically responsible and scientifically rigorous field and research methods while investigating compelling questions about our shared past.

In 2014, students will participate in test excavations at the Dinwiddie site near Cliff, New Mexico. Farmers lived in this adobe pueblo community during the period from A.D. 1300-1450. 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 2014 field school will begin 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. In addition to excavation skills, students learn how to create surface artifact density maps; 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.

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 our website for more information on who qualifies.

Period(s) of Occupation: AD 1250-1450

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Full session

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 
None; some related coursework preferred

Room and Board Arrangements

Our field camp lies at 5,200 feet above sea level in the scenic valley of Mule Creek, New Mexico, between Safford, Arizona, and Silver City, New Mexico. Students and staff camp on the Rocker Diamond X Ranch, a working cattle ranch with basic yet comfortable accommodations. 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, running water, and kitchen where a professional cook prepares project meals using locally-sourced ingredients.

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

During our orientation in Tucson, field school students reside in UA campus housing (also covered by the field school fee).

$1200 (may be covered by stipend for qualifying undergraduates)

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
University of Arizona
Number of credits offered 4-credit field course and 3-credit lab course
$2,868 (covered by stipend for qualifying undergraduates); approximately $3,190 for graduate students


Contact Information
Karen Schollmeyer
300 N. Ash Alley