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From Field to Lab: Bringing Science to Underserved Undergraduate

Location: near Winslow, Arizona, United States

June 6, 2016 to July 22, 2016

Application Deadline: 
Friday, March 18, 2016

Deadline Type: 
Exact date

Flyer: PDF icon 2016_brochure_for_posting-reu.pdf

Discount for AIA members: 

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona

Project Director:

E. Charles Adams, PhD

Project Description

The University of Arizona School of Anthropology’s Rock Art Ranch Fieldschool has been conducting fieldwork since 2011 in northeastern Arizona near Winslow. The fieldschool is for undergraduate and graduate students at all skill levels. A new program within the fieldschool is a National Science Foundation (Grant 1262184) funded Research Opportunity for Undergraduate Student (REU) program that begins June 6 and continues through July 22, 2016. To be eligible for this program you must be an undergraduate when the program begins. The REU Program involves five weeks of fieldwork plus two weeks of work within Arizona State Museum (ASM) labs on the University of Arizona (UA) campus. The program is focused on teaching students the basics of scientific methodology and how it is applied in the everyday world, in this case through archaeological research of past groups. The REU program pays participants $500/week plus expenses, but is limited to 10 individuals selected by the project director. Preference will be given to students from underserved groups, which are defined as individuals not having adequate access to science education and its application in the real world. REU students do not receive academic credit, but can opt to sign up for 7 hours of undergraduate credit through the University of Arizona summer school program. Details on credit costs can be found at the AIA Rock Art Ranch fieldschool listing..

Participants will learn archaeological survey and excavation techniques for the first five weeks of the program. For survey, participants will learn site identification, location and mapping using GPS and a total station; artifact identification, collection and processing; soil and plant identification; and artifact analysis and sourcing. For excavation, the participants will learn mapping at all levels of the site, feature identification, the principles of stratigraphy and their application to the archaeological record, seriation techniques, artifact identification and typology, and basic laboratory procedures – cleaning, inventorying, and basic analysis. Finally, participants will be shown how by combining survey, excavation and lab analysis, a more complete understanding of human society in the past can be achieved.

During the two weeks at Arizona State Museum (ASM) on the UA campus, students will spend two days each with ASM faculty in the Conservation Lab (how to preserve objects), Bioarchaeology Lab (study of human remains – optional), Zooarchaeology Lab (study of animal bone), and Homol’ovi Archaeology Lab (study of pottery, stone tools, etc.). The last day, students will present the results of their projects to other students and faculty.

Project Location:  Rock Art Ranch is a private ranch 25 miles southeast of Winslow that still raises cattle and bison. (Use your browser to search for links to Rock Art Ranch, Arizona.) The ranch contains some of the Southwest’s most spectacular rock art with more than 3000 glyphs, which have been completely documented, dating from 6000 BCE to 1400 CE. The ranch lies in the high desert at 5100’ elevation, in an area used over the past 13,000 years by mobile hunting and gathering groups, early farmers, and later, after 500 CE, by ceramic-producing, sedentary farmers representing archaeological cultures of the adjacent Mogollon Rim and Colorado Plateau regions. No professional archaeological work had been conducted on the ranch or its nearest neighbors, other than documentation of the petroglyphs, until the fieldschool began in 2011.

For 2016, the participants will focus on finding and describing the archaeological record of the ranch through survey while conducting a third season of limited excavations on a ca. AD 1250 pueblo of 5-10 rooms. To date 153 sites have been documented,collected, and dated on the ranch representing how people have used the landscape over the past 13,000 years. As a result, we have gained insight into how and why groups migrated to and from the area and what role the rock art played in communicating identity and ownership for these groups. Through radiocarbon dating, excavations have already helped develop a tighter chronology for the area and provided details on length of site occupation and subsistence base. The 153 new sites cluster in three time periods: Archaic/Basketmaker II (pre/early agricultural), 3000 BCE-500 CE; Basketmaker III/Pueblo I, 600-900 CE; and Pueblo III, 1100-1250 CE. However, in 2015 we recorded and collected two Paleoindian sites dating 11,000-6,000 BCE based on recovery of spear points as old as Clovis. It is the BMII groups who created most of the petroglyphs. BMII, BMIII, and PI ancestral pueblo groups occupied pit houses, rooms excavated into the ground, whereas PIII groups built small to medium-size pueblos of 5 to 20 rooms. Each habitation site housed 2-5 families. Farming locales have also been discovered and are helping us understand the complex and lengthy use of Rock Art Ranch. The 5-10-room pueblo to be further excavated is part of an extensive community of small farmsteads (pueblos of 2-10 rooms) and was occupied for one to two generations.

Period(s) of Occupation: Southwest Archaic/Ancestral Pueblo

Evidence of Hopi visitation to well-known rock art site in Arizona discovered. Sites associated with 8000-year use of famous petroglyph site in Arizona discovered. Paleoindian sites with Clovis points documented in 2015.

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 37 days

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 

Room and Board Arrangements

Students will stay in wood-frame cottages (no electricity) near bathroom facilities having electricity and showers for men and women. All housing is near the dining hall, which has electricity, with two bathrooms and a kitchen. There is also a small museum on site. The project lab for artifact cleaning and analysis is attached to the dining hall. Breakfast and dinner will be served in the dining hall and lunch will be eaten in the field. At the University of Arizona, participants will be housed in a university dormitory and provided funds for meals during their stay. Participants will be transported in University of Arizona vehicles to Rock Art Ranch from Tucson at the beginning and end of the fieldwork. All costs to the participant are paid by the NSF-REU grant.

$500/week stipend

Academic Credit

Number of credits offered N/A


Contact Information
E. Charles Adams
Arizona State Museum, PO Box 210026
Recommended Bibliography: 

Adams, E. Charles. 2002. Homol’ovi: An Ancient Hopi Settlement Cluster. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Burton, Jeffrey F. 1993. Environmental Setting. In Days in the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forests of Northern Arizona, edited by Jeffery F. Burton, pp. 7-30. Western Archaeological and Conservation Center, Publications in Anthropology 62.

Cole, Sally J. 1990. Legacy on Stone: Rock Art of the Colorado Plateau and Four Corners Region. Johnson Books, Boulder.

Lange, Richard C. 1998. Prehistoric Land-Use and Settlement of the Middle Little Colorado River Valley: The Survey of Homolovi Ruins State Park, Winslow, Arizona. Arizona State Museum Archaeological Series 189, University of Arizona, Tucson.

Smiley, Francis E. 2002a.  "Black Mesa before Agriculture: Paleonindian and Archaic Evidence." In Prehistoric Culture Change on the Colorado Plateau: Ten Thousand Years on Black Mesa, edited by Shirley Powell and Francis E. Smiley, pp. 15-34. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Smiley, Francis E. 2002b.  "The First Black Mesa Farmers: The White Dog and Lolomai Phases." In Prehistoric Culture Change on the Colorado Plateau: Ten Thousand Years on Black Mesa, edited by Shirley Powell and Francis E. Smiley, pp. 37-65. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Walker, William H. 1996. Homol’ovi: A Cultural Crossroads. Arizona Archaeological Society, Homolovi Chapter. Arizona Lithographers, Tucson.