This listing expired on May 15, 2016. Please contact for any updated information.
Preservation Archaeology in Southwest New Mexico

Location: Cliff, New Mexico, United States

May 25, 2016 to July 5, 2016

Application Deadline: 
Friday, March 18, 2016

Deadline Type: 
Exact date

Flyer: PDF icon asw_field_school_2016.pdf

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified

This project is an RPA certified field school


Archaeology Southwest and the University of Arizona

Project Director:

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

Project Description

Join us this summer for the 2016 season of our Preservation Archaeology Field School!  Students will earn 7 hours of undergraduate or graduate credit through the University of Arizona while investigating how ancient communities formed during an era of migration and social change. Our team will excavate at the 14th-century Gila River Farm site in beautiful southwest New Mexico. We will also record sites on survey, analyze what we find in the lab, and learn to make and use ancient tools while building a replica of a prehistoric structure.  Field trips to archaeological sites, visits to contemporary Native American communities, and public outreach events in our project area emphasize communication with diverse audiences.  Together, students and staff explore ethically responsible and scientifically rigorous field and research methods while investigating compelling questions about our shared past.

In 2016, students will participate in test excavations at the Gila River Farm 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 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. Experienced staff members from academic and Cultural Resource Management backgrounds work side by side with students throughout the course.  In addition to excavation skills, students learn 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 architectural experiments 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.

Period(s) of Occupation: AD 1250-1450

Excavation, survey, lab techniques, and experimental archaeology in a preservation-oriented curriculum

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 4,500 feet above sea level in the scenic Cliff Valley, New Mexico, between Safford, Arizona, and Silver City, New Mexico. Students and staff camp around a small ranch building. 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 meals prepared by a professional cook.

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 fee with 7 credit hours to help pay for food, equipment, and transportation costs. Funding may be available for qualifying undergraduates, see our website for details.

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
University of Arizona
Number of credits offered 4-credit field course and 3-credit lab course (both upper-division)
$2,868; $3,190 for graduate students


Contact Information
Karen Schollmeyer
300 N. Ash Alley
520-882-6946 x28