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San Juan College Totah Archaeological Project Field School

Location: Farmington, New Mexico, United States

May 22, 2017 to August 11, 2017

Session dates: 
There is only one tweve week session, but because students can sign up for various credit hours, they can attend different parts of the session. Those who are auditing can attend any portion of the session.

Application Deadline: 
Monday, May 22, 2017
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Deadline Type: 
Contact for details

Discount for AIA members: 

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



San Juan College 4601 College Blvd. Farmington, NM 87402

Project Director:

Linda Wheelbarger, San Juan College

Project Description

The San Juan College Totah Archaeological Project field school is the main component of an on-going research project funded by San Juan College and Tommy Bolack, owner and manager of the B-Square Ranch.  The field school is conducted on the 13,000 acre B-Square Ranch, a combination working cattle ranch, waterfowl conservation area, and museum facility.  We are in high desert Colorado Plateau terrain and normally receive only 8 inches of precipitation a year.  It is hot in the summer, but rarely over 100 degrees.  Our area is called “Totah” by the local Navajos meaning “land amidst water” because of the three rivers which junction at the western edge of Farmington. 

This year we will be continuing to work at Point Pueblo, a large Chacoan greathouse community dating to the Chacoan Pueblo II time period of AD 850-1150 and the subsequent Pueblo III time period of AD 1150-1300.  Both the great kiva and the great house will be undergoing excavation this year.  Point Pueblo is located at the base of the Shannon Bluffs on the south side of the San Juan River immediately south of the city of Farmington, New Mexico.  You can see photos from past years on our web page at I am definitely behind in updating the web page with the last few year’s information, but several students have helped me get those reports finalized and they will be online mid March 2017. 

This year for the first time, the field school will be held through San Juan College’s entire 12 week summer session, May 22 to August 11th, 2017.  Even though we are starting earlier than usual this year, students may register for the class as late as June 21, 2017, because the amount of time they are required to attend is dependent on the particular course(s) for which they register.  Three separate courses are offered concurrently during the 12 week time period, a 6 credit ANTH 288 Field School, a 3 credit ANTH 280 Archaeology Internship, and a 6 credit ANTH 280 Archaeology Internship.  Four weeks of participation are required for the 6 credit classes and two weeks of participation are required for the 3 credit class.  As long as the student meets those time requirements, they may choose to attend any portion of the twelve weeks.  Students can choose to take the field school or the internship or both the field school and the internship for a total of 3, 6, 9, or 12 credits.

All students are welcome to stay for the entire session if they so desire whether they are taking the course for a grade or are auditing the class with no grade. 

People interested in attending the field school as a volunteer may sign up under the ANTH 280 3-credit internship Auditing the course (no grade given to the student) and thus can attend the entire session or any part of the session but are not responsible for any course requirements. Students who have previously taken and paid for the field school or internship, are permitted to volunteer with no fees required.

Participants in the field school/archaeology internship course will receive instruction in archaeological excavation, survey, mapping of sites using both compass and tape as well as with hand held GPS data downloaded to GIS software, laboratory processing of recovered cultural materials, drafting, and artifact analysis. Tours of local archaeological sites, as well as lectures on southwestern archaeology and contract archaeology, and workshops on artifact and ecofact analysis are included in the session.  Sites that are toured include Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, Aztec Ruins, Salmon Ruins, and the Navajo pueblitos of Largo Canyon.  Tours are optional because many of my students have already been to these sites.  There will be three camping trips during the session, also optional.  The first trip is for solstice at Chaco Canyon, the second is in the La Palta Mountains prior to visiting Mesa Verde, and the last is the South Gap conference which is scheduled for the weekend after the Fourth of July.  A fourth trip, camping at Pecos, NM for the Pecos Conference is scheduled for the very end of the session.  


Students should note that the primary purpose for taking a field school is to acquire excavation and survey experience.  To that end, the 2017 proposed field work portion of the class will take place during weeks 2 through 9 of the 12 week session.  Therefore, students should take that into consideration as they choose which weeks of the field school to attend. 


The first week of the summer session, May 22-26, will provide students with experience preparing for a field school including organizing field school equipment and paperwork as well as conveying materials to the site and setting up the equipment tent. 


Excavation and survey will be conducted for the next 8 weeks of the 2017 session, from May 29 through July 21st.  However, it should also be noted that the first week of excavation, May 29 through June 2, will include Monday as a class day orienting students to the project and archaeology of the Southwest and Tuesday activities will consist of a tour of the archaeological sites on the Ranch.  The remaining portion of that week will include a fair amount of cleaning previous excavation areas as well as clearing brush for potential remote sensing.  We will likely be able to excavate only on Thursday and Friday of that first week.     


The final three weeks of the 2017 field school session, July 24th through August 11 will focus on lab work consisting of additional cleaning of artifacts, photographing artifacts, data entry of artifact data and provenience data, manipulation of that data into tables, drafting of plan views and profiles completed during the excavation, as well as some limited artifact analysis.  At the end of the last week of the session, Wheelbarger will be attending the Pecos Conference which in 2017 will be held at Pecos, NM.  Students who use the last week of the field school session as part of their attendance will be expected to go to Pecos, NM on Thursday, August 10, either with Wheelbarger or on their own, and attend the Conference on Friday, August 11th.  Although not required, students will probably want to stay and attend the Saturday Pecos Conference events and Sunday field trips.  


Thus, students desirous of field work will need to attend a minimum of 1 or 2 weeks within the excavation and survey portion of the class which is from May 29 through July 21, 2017.  In general, we excavate 3 or 4 days a week with the other 1 or 2 days spent on lab, survey, or field trips.  I have scheduled one day of archaeological survey on the Chaco North Road (for the Bureau of Land Management) and one day on the B-Square Ranch where I will go over survey methodology, then we will survey a specific area, find a site, and I will have students record the site using both GPS and compass/tape techniques.  Lab days will include washing and cataloging collected artifacts, as well as listening to lectures on a number of archaeological topics such as Southwest archaeology, ceramic and lithic analysis, and contract archaeology processes and procedures. 

For the past ten years, I have concentrated excavation on the Point Pueblo great kiva with more limited work conducted on the great house and other parts of the site.  For more information on past work, contact Wheelbarger or see more details on the San Juan College Totah Archaeological Project weg page.


The goal for 2017 is to continue excavation of Floor 2 in the great kiva exposing the Chacoan pier roof support features that are hidden under the post-Chaco occupation remodeled roof support platforms, finish excavation of the vaults, and possibly excavate beneath a portion of Floor 3 (the original floor) to investigagte the cultural materials that continue below the center of the original great  kiva floor.  In 2006-2007, 2011, and 2014, we excavated portions of the great house.  In October of 2016, I held a volunteer session to expose more great house walls and that was very successful.  In 2017, we will definitely continue to excavate within the great house structure.  I want to excavate one or two of the long front rooms so that it can be compared to other excavated great houses.  

Period(s) of Occupation: Ancestral Puebloan/Anasazi, Pueblo II-III time period, A.D. 900-1300

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Project size: 
25-49 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: For those taking the class for credit: 2 weeks are required for 3 credits, 4 weeks for 6 credits, 6 weeks for 9 credits, and 8 weeks for 12 credits. Those who are auditing can attend any portion of the 12 week session.

Minimum age: 
16, with special stipulations (contact Wheelbarger)

Experience required: 
No experience required and no pre-requisites

Room and Board Arrangements

Room and board are the responsibility of the student, however, for the last six years I arranged for out-of-state students to stay at the Economy Inn in downtown Farmington where special rates were given to the students.  This has worked out very well and the Economy Inn has agreed to provide special rates again in 2017.  The motel is located in our small downtown area only 2 blocks from the Three Rivers Brewery and Café, only a couple miles from the Ranch headquarters.   All rooms have a microwave and small refrigerator.  When sharing a room with another student, a room with two beds is a total of  $250 for each week ($125 for each student).  Students may choose to not have a roommate,and single occupancy rates are $240 per week.  There is one room with four beds and a full kitchen (large refrigerator and stove, but no oven).  When 2 or 3 students are staying in that room it is still only $125 per week for each of them.  If four students stay in that room, the cost is reduced to only $95 per week for each student.  

Also, students are welcome to find their own lodging, stay at local campgrounds, or they may choose to camp for free on Bureau of Land Management land in the vicinity (no amenities) .  Contact Wheelbarger for more information.

Check out the Farmington New Mexico Convention and Visitors Bureau’s web page that has lots of information on the area ( and also the college web page has a Housing link on the Admissions page that you can check out.  The phone numbers for Realty Agents and several Apartment complexes are listed there. 

Food costs are dependent on the student, but $100 per week is a good, although relatively minimal, estimate.   For further information contact Linda Wheelbarger at:

In general, total room and board costs, if staying at the Economy Inn, will range from $195 to $225 per week for those sharing rooms or $340 per week if a student stays in a room by themselves. Or, if students choose to camp, costs can be greatly reduced or they will be increased if you choose to stay at a more expensive motel.

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
San Juan College 4601 College Blvd. Farmington, NM 8am7402
Number of credits offered ANTH 288-001 Field School = 6 credits, ANTH 280-001 Archaeology Internship = 3 credits, ANTH 280-002 Archaeology Internship = 6 credits, Students can petition for a 4 or 5 credit Internship
For New Mexico residents, the per credit hour fee is $46.00 plus an additional flat fee of $77.50 for students taking 1-4 credit hours or an additional flat fee of $155 for students taking 5 or more credit hours. For out-of-state residents, the per credit hour fee is $146.00 plus an additional flat fee of $200.00 for students taking 1-4 credits or an additional flat fee of $305.00 for students taking 5 or more credits. In addition, there is a $0.75 activity fee per credit hour for both New Mexico residents and out-of-state or international residents. All field school students must pay an equipment and supply fee to help cover equipment, vehicle rental, and supply costs. The equipment and supply fee is $100 for each 3 credits, thus if you register for 6 credits it is $200, $300 for 9 credits, and $400 for 12 credits. Total tuition cost for the field school including credit hour fee, additional flat fee, activity fee and equipment and supply fee is: New Mexico Residents: 3 credits = $317.75; 6 credits = $665.50; 9 credits = $906.75, 12 credits = $1008.00 Out-of-State Residents: 3 credits = $677.75; 6 credits = $1,385.50; 9 credits = $1,925.75, 12 credits = $2,028.00


Contact Information
Linda Wheelbarger
4601 College Blvd.
United States
505 320-1834 (cell)
Recommended Bibliography: 

Ancient Peoples of the American Southwest by Stephen Plog, Second Edition 2008, Thames and Hudson, NY, NY

The Chaco Experience: Landscape and Ideology at the Center Place by Ruth M. Van Dyke, 2007, School for Advanced Research Press, Santa Fe, NM

A History of the Ancient Southwest by Stephen Lekson, 2009, School for Advanced Research Press, Santa Fe, NM