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

This listing expired on November 1, 2019. Please contact for any updated information.

Location: Cape Cod National Seashore, MA, US

Season: June 30, 2019 to July 27, 2019

Application Deadline: April 5, 2019

Deadline Type: Rolling


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: 18

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

Academic Credit:
8 Semester Credits credits offered by Connecticut College. Tuition is $3,680.

Contact Information:

Institute for Field Research

2999 Overland Ave. Suite 103

Los Angeles



United States

Phone: 4242091173

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