Cape Cod National Seashore: Cultural & Environmental Change, 1644-1800 Eastham, Massachusetts, USA - Institute for Field Research

Location: Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts, United States

June 30, 2019 to July 27, 2019

Application Deadline: 
Friday, April 5, 2019

Deadline Type: 

Flyer: PDF icon syllabus-us-cape-cod-2019.pdf

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



University of Michigan, Dearborn, Connecticut College, Institute for Field Research

Project Director:

Dr. John Chenoweth

Project Description

This project looks at a well-known religious community in a less-clearly-understood time: the century and a half during which the descendants of those called “the Pilgrims” radically altered the landscape of Lower Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The outer cape was settled by Europeans starting in 1644 with the founding of Nauset (later Eastham). This settlement was motivated in part by profit, but it was still a religious community, and they carried with them a view of the natural environment as a gift from God to be mastered, “improved,” and used. The settlement at Nauset quickly began to consume the resources of the Lower Cape, and over time this required economic and social adaptations. How did their religious relation to nature change when the environment began to fail them? To answer this question, we will excavate one of the earliest European sites on Cape Cod to see how they adapted both economically and culturally to deforestation and soil erosion that occurred between 1644 and 1800.

Participants in this field school will stay at Cape Cod National Seashore, living in an 1870s Coast Guard Station adjacent to the beach.  Activities will include excavation, mapping, and lab work, as well as interaction with site visitors, local historical sites, and museums. Not only will we gain a better understanding of this period, we will also discuss how to best present the information to the public, as stories of the Pilgrims often incorporate narratives of colonial dispossession and environmental change.

Period(s) of Occupation: Historical Archaeology

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Participants must stay entire duration of the field school.

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 
No prior experience is required to participate in this field school.

Room and Board Arrangements

During the project, we will stay in an historic, 1870s Coast Guard station right on the beach. It has been updated for safety (such as fire codes) and outfitted to host groups such as ours and others. Rooms have bunk beds and 3 to 8 students will share a room with other students of their own gender identification (room sizes vary). It has modern plumbing (toilets and showers), drinkable water, electricity, and some spectacular, spectacular views of the marsh and ocean.  It has heat (being on the water, the temperature gets quite cold some nights) but no air conditioning.  It is also an old building and will probably have the occasional insect, draft, or broken thing.  Oh, and no wifi! (Though smartphone should get good data reception).

Room and Board are included in the tuition of this field school.

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
Connecticut College
Number of credits offered 8 Semester Credits


Contact Information
Institute for Field Research
2999 Overland Ave. Suite 103
Los Angeles
United States
Recommended Bibliography: 

There are two required books for this course and some additional readings, provided in pdfs. Students

are required to bring both books with them to the field, because there will be tests on them, and are recommended to have done at least the readings from Hester, Shafer, and Feder before the field school. Good airplane reading!

Safety and Preparation (required in advance of the project)


Methods Readings (strongly suggested to complete in advance)

    • Hester, Shafer, and Feder (2009). Field Methods in Archaeology, 7th   Edition. Left Coast Press
      • Also available from McGraw Hill; both are fine as long as they say “7th Edition.” Available used online, very inexpensively!
      • We will read Chapters 3, 5, 6, 7, and 10, in addition to pages 188-189 and 198-215 only.
    • Chenoweth, J. M. and M. F. Janowitz (2016). A Primer in Historical-Period Ceramics. In J. M. Chenoweth (ed.), The Historical Archaeology Laboratory Handbook, The Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, DC, 51-70.
      • No, you won’t be expected to memorize every type, but we will want you to be broadly familiar with the larger groups and what kinds of things to look for when learning types. Yes, I wrote this, and no, I don’t get any money from it!
    • South, Stanley. (1978) Pattern Recognition in Historical Archaeology. American Antiquity 43(2):223-30.

Theory and Local History Readings

    • Deetz, J. (1996). In Small Things Forgotten, 2nd edition. New York, Doubleday.**
      • This book is available in many used bookstores and online quite inexpensively (some less than $1, plus shipping!), but make sure you have the 1996 version, not the earlier edition.
      • Please read the entire book!  It’s not that long, and it’s very well-written.
    • Chenoweth, J. M. (2014). Practicing and Preaching Quakerism: Creating a Religion of Peace on a Slavery-Era Plantation. American Anthropologist 116(1): 94-109.
      • Yep, wrote this one too, and still no money for the ole prof….
    • McManamon, F. P., P. E. Rubertone, et al. (1985). Chapters in the Archaeology of Cape Cod. Vol III. The historic period and historic period archeology. National Park Service., [Selections—provided in PDF]

Museums, Heritage, and Colonialism (all in PDFs)

  • Lindauer, M. (2008). The Critical Museum Visitor. In New Museum Theory and Practice, J. Marstine (Ed.).
  • Howard, Peter. 2003. Heritage: Management, Interpretation, Identity. Ch 1. “What is Heritage?” pp. 1-13.
  • Silliman, S. (2005). Culture Contact or Colonialism?: Challenges in the Archaeology of Native America. American Antiquity 70(1): 55-74.
  • Zimmerman, Larry. 2005. "Public heritage, a desire for a 'white' history for America, and some impacts of the Kennewick Man/Ancient One decision," International Journal of Cultural Property 12: 265-274.