Chiriquí Archaeological Project

This listing expired on May 15, 2023. Please contact for any updated information.

Location: Isla Palenque, Panama

Season: June 13, 2023 to July 3, 2023

Application Deadline: March 1, 2023

Deadline Type: Exact Date


Program Type:
Field School

RPA Certified:

College of Lake County

Project Director:
Dr. Scott Palumbo

Project Description:

Work on a tropical island
Training students since 2013
Low Cost for an international field school
Low student to professor Ratio
Student publication and conference presentation opportunities

The Chiriquí Archaeological Project is proud to be one of the most economical non-profit field schools in Latin America and one which offers six transferable college credits while maintaining a very low faculty-to-student ratio. You will be involved in an active research project with involving excavation, survey, and lab analysis. The cost of the field school subsidizes many of the research expenses and covers your in-country expenses.

The 2023 field school will map and excavate the La Pitahaya archaeological site. La Pitahaya is a large pre-Columbian village notable for its dense nucleation. The site contains numerous earthen mounds, stone pillars, and residential sectors dating primarily to a poorly understood period of time (A.D. 900 to 1100) between the earlier Formative period and the Chiriquí period. This era was associated with a number of conspicuous social changes around the isthmus, including population growth, greater monumentality, and clear evidence for rank differentiation.

Our current research questions deal with the organization of particular domestic activities. We seek to understand 1) if craft production and ceremonial activities were realized within La Pitahaya, 2) if and how these practices were associated with evidence for social rank, and 3) how these patterns changed over time. Each student will learn compass and tape mapping, shovel testing, pedestrian survey, stratigraphic excavation, laboratory processing, and artifact cataloging. Interested students will have additional opportunities to conduct community outreach, learn the basics of ArcGIS, co-author portions of the annual site report and collect data that may inform individual research projects in future years.

Period(s) of Occupation: San Lorenzo Period (AD 900-1100)

The program fee for the project is $2299. This does not include tuition, international airfare, or your passport fees. The program fee does cover lodging and meals in Panama for seven days per week, international traveler’s insurance, laundry service, all transportation within Panama, group excursions, access to archaeological tools and materials, and other class supplies. The program offers open enrollment. Interested applicants must submit their application through CLC’s Center for Global Engagement under the link for “Panama: Chiriquí Archaeological Project”: To ensure acceptance to the field school, applicants must meet the minimum standards described in the link above and send a nonrefundable deposit of at least $500 (this is only refundable if the field school is canceled). Payment of the remainder of the program fee is due by March 1, 2023, to guarantee a spot on the team. The field school requires a minimum of 3 credit-seeking students to run and is capped at 9 students to ensure an optimal faculty-to-student ratio. Preference is given to students who have had some exposure to archaeology. If the program becomes filled, a waitlist will be generated and applicants notified of their position.

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 3 weeks

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: None

Room and Board Arrangements:
Students will be housed in an ecolodge or local hotel and dinners contracted through a local cook. Breakfasts usually involve fruit and coffee, bag lunches are arranged in the field. Dinners typically consist of fresh salad, seafood, or rice and beans. Vegetarian diets can be accommodated. Students can expect to share same-sex accommodations with one or two other students.

Academic Credit:
Six semester credits total through the College of Lake County. Four credits for ANT 240: Anthropological Field Methods and two credits for ANT 241: Anthropological Lab Methods.

Contact Information:

Dr. Scott Palumbo

19351 West Washington Street




United States

Phone: (847) 543-2931

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