2023 US (MS) Bioarcheology at Asylum Hill

Location: FV48+WX Madison, MS, USA

Season: July 10, 2023 to August 5, 2023

Application Deadline: April 7, 2023

Deadline Type: Exact Date


Program Type:
Field School

RPA Certified:

University of Mississippi Medical Center (US), Millsaps College (US, Center for Field Sciences (US)

Project Director:
Dr. Jennifer Mack and Dr. George Bey

Project Description:

The state-run Mississippi Lunatic Asylum (later known as the Insane Hospital) opened in 1855 in the capital city of Jackson and closed in 1935. The institution housed patients from all areas of the state and many came with physical maladies in addition to mental conditions. Approximately 1/3 of the 30,000 patients who were admitted over an 80-year period died at the Asylum and more than 4,000 were buried in the cemetery on site, now known as the Asylum Hill Cemetery, where wooden grave markers have long-since deteriorated.   

The former Asylum lands are currently home to the ever-growing University of Mississippi Medical Center, opened in 1955. The Asylum Hill Cemetery is now being respectfully excavated to make way for expansion of vital healthcare services. This presents a research opportunity at a scale rarely seen in the U.S. Students will focus on bioarchaeological methods, including burial excavation, human osteology, and mortuary artifact identification. Students will also learn basic archaeological methods, such as mapping, soil sample collection, and creation of field sketches. 

Previous coursework in human osteology is not required but will be beneficial to participants

Period(s) of Occupation: Historic Period

Application deadline is Feb 1, 2023. Tuition: $4,495 or $2,750. Full tuition: ($4,495) covers full cost of instruction, room and board, transportation while in the program and 8 semester credit units (equivalent to 12 quarter credit units). Credit units are awarded through our School of Record -- Iowa Wesleyan University. Lower tuition ($2,750) does not cover room or board but does cover full cost of instruction and 8 semester credit units (equivalent to 12 quarter credit units).

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Full length of the program

Minimum Age: 18 years old

Experience Required: Introduction to Anthropology or Archaeology or a similar course is required. A course in Human Osteology is not required, but a previous knowledge base will allow students to engage more extensively with the fieldwork. This is hands-on, experiential learning, and students will study on-site how to conduct archaeological research. Field work involves physical work and exposure to the elements and thus requires a measure of understanding that this will not be the typical university learning environment. You will have to work outdoors and will get sweaty and tired. Students are required to come equipped with sufficient excitement and adequate understanding that field work requires real, hard work, in the sun and rain. The work requires patience, discipline, and attention to detail.

Room and Board Arrangements:
For students paying full tuition ($4,495): Student accommodations will be double-occupancy rooms in a dormitory at Millsaps College. Participants will be expected to bring their own bed linens, blankets, pillows, towels, and toiletries sufficient for a 4-week stay. Bathroom tissue is provided. Meals are provided daily, excluding Sunday lunch. Breakfast and dinner will be served in the Millsaps cafeteria. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are normally available. Lunch will be provided on site Monday through Saturday. Students who need accommodation for dietary restrictions must inform the project director in advance of arrival in Jackson.

Academic Credit:
8 Semester Credits Units (equivalent to 12 quarter credit units) through our School of Record -- Iowa Wesleyan University

Contact Information:

CFS Admissions

Los Angeles

Phone: (562) 584-0761

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