Copper Country Archaeological Survey

Location: Eagle River, MI, US

Season: May 14, 2018 to June 29, 2018

Session Dates: May 14-June 29

Application Deadline: April 13, 2018

Deadline Type: Contact for details


Program Type:
Field school

RPA Certified:

Industrial Heritage and Archaeology Department of Social Sciences Michigan Technological University

Project Director:
Timothy J. Scarlett

Project Description:

Join Michigan Tech’s archaeology team studying copper mining communities in the heart of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. The Keweenaw is famous for its abundant formations of native copper, ranging in size from pebbles to record-breaking boulders of pure metal. The region is the center of one of human’s most ancient metallurgical traditions. This summer’s field school crew will survey a number of different kinds of sites from different time periods in the region’s history, from ancient mines to historic houses. The 2018 season is the latest in many years of work in this area at sites like the Cliff Mine and Clifton, Fort Wilkins State Park, Keweenaw National Historical Park, Porcupine Mountains State Park, Isle Royale National Park, and Hiawatha National Forest. The purpose of this summer’s work is to assess a group of potential sites and gather preliminary evidence that can guide future large-scale studies directed at deepening our understanding of communities that are not well documented in the area’s histories.

This summer, we will survey and excavate at a series of Copper Country sites, exploring:

•The Phoenix Hotel site in Eagle River

•African American residents of Keweenaw County

•Chinese immigrant and Chinese American residents in the City of Houghton

•Michigan Technological University’s first women’s residential dormitory

•Ancient mining in Keweenaw County

This field school will introduce student participants to site survey and assessment, research design, and evaluations of integrity and potential significance. Students will approach a series of site types; undertake mapping, remote sensing, and documentation at each one; design testing strategies; complete data recovery; and finish with analysis of the investigations. Excavations will include “Phase I” style Shovel Test Pit survey, “Phase II” style hand excavation of grid units, and perhaps “Phase III” style monitoring and data recording in conjunction with heavy earthmoving equipment. All survey and excavation work will be guided by discussions of best-practice within explicit ethical and legal frameworks.

Learning archaeological fieldwork is an immersive experience where teamwork is essential. It takes weeks of work before a person can begin assembling the clues from each discovery into meaningful pictures of the past. As a result, students should expect the work to be exacting, often slow, and physically challenging, as one develops professional skills over time. We work eight-hour days in all conditions, five days a week throughout the six-week summer course. All that time is essential to the process of learning tools and techniques, as well as piecing together the clues. Students should expect to do the actual fieldwork, not watching other people doing the “important” jobs. Every day, each person adds an important piece to this large, multiyear, interdisciplinary jigsaw puzzle.

Michigan Tech’s archaeology field schools include active programs of public education and outreach, in conjunction with our collaborative partners. Students can expect to complete the course with a preliminary analysis of the survey and excavation data as well as a portfolio of social media postings about public archaeology in Michigan’s Copper Country.

Period(s) of Occupation: Paleoindian-Historic

Students will live in Houghton. Michigan Tech will help guest students to find accommodations in town for during the field school. Project participants are encouraged to explore the Keweenaw during their time off, and many will choose to bring outdoor recreation gear for mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, backpacking, and road biking, and the many water sport opportunities provided by Lake Superior. A short drive within Michigan's spectacular Keweenaw Peninsula brings visitors in reach of two national parks, two national forests, several state parks and wilderness areas, industrial heritage museums and monuments, miles of public lakeshore, watersports, and world-class mountain biking trails. This is an equal opportunity course, and students with disabilities or special needs should contact Dr. Scarlett to discuss accommodations during the registration process.

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 6 weeks for students enrolled for credits.

Minimum Age: 16

Experience Required: No experience is required.

Room and Board Arrangements:
Michigan Tech will help guest students find a place to stay in Houghton, Michigan. Options include on-campus housing, sublets of private housing, and campgrounds. Final arrangements are individual student's responsibility. Cost: There are no additional weekly fees beyond the tuition, course fee, and housing/food expenses.

Academic Credit:
Variable, 1-6. Depending upon student needs at their home university. credits offered by Michigan Technological University. Tuition is Cost for non-resident undergrad students is about $1,100 per credit. In-state rate is $550 per credit (and this rate is extended to certain neighboring states, veterans and children of vets/active duty persons, and others. Contact the university for details)..

Contact Information:

Timothy Scarlett

AOB 209/Soc Sci/MTU




United States of America

Phone: (906)4872359

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