2024 US (MS) Bioarcheology at Asylum Hill

Location: Jackson, MS, USA

Season: June 30, 2024 to August 3, 2024

Application Deadline: February 2, 2024

Deadline Type: Exact Date


Discount for AIA members: No

Program Type:
Field School

RPA Certified:

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

Project Director:
Dr. Jennifer Mack, University of Mississippi Medical Center

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 2, 2024. Tuition: $4,155 or $2,650. 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 – Culver Stockton College. Lower tuition ($2,650) 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 session

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 ($4,155): 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 5-week stay. Bathroom tissue is provided. Continental breakfast will be available seven days a week in the Millsaps dormitory kitchen for dorm-stay students only. Lunch will be provided on site Monday through Friday. A buffet will allow students to make their own sandwiches and will also include fruits, vegetables, chips, snacks, and water. The cost of site lunches is included in the field school fees for all students. Dinners will be self-catered. There is a small kitchen in the Millsaps dormitory many nearby restaurants and shops. Weekend lunches are not included in student fees. On excursion days (optional), the class will stop at a restaurant for the midday meal, but students will be responsible for their own expense.

Academic Credit:
8 Semester Credits Units (equivalent to 12 quarter credit units). Credit units are awarded through our School of Record – Culver Stockton College.

Contact Information:

Dorian Chee

11209 National Blvd #137

Los Angeles




Fax: (562) 584-0761

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