Costa Rica: Guanacaste – Institute for Field Research

This listing expired on November 1, 2022. Please contact for any updated information.

Location: Guanacaste Province, Bagaces, Costa Rica

Season: July 3, 2022 to August 6, 2022

Application Deadline: June 1, 2022

Deadline Type: Rolling


Program Type:
Field School

RPA Certified:

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Red Deer College, Universidad de Costa Rica, Connecticut College, Institute for Field Research

Project Director:
Dr. Carrie Dennett, Dr. Larry Steinbrenner

Project Description:

The Guanacaste Archaeological Project (GAP) focuses on the Palo Verde National Park on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, a protected Ramsar Wetland, wildlife refuge, and one of the last remaining tropical dry rainforests in the Neotropics. Situated near the mouth of the Tempisque River on the Gulf of Nicoya, the park features deep archaeological sequences dating from at least 800 BC to as late as the time of Spanish contact, with some of the earliest evidence for human activity in this culturally diverse region. This field school will begin with one week of lecture and study focusing on pre-Columbian culture at the University of Costa Rica in the capital city of San Jose in the Central Highlands (incorporating field trips to the city’s world-class museums), followed by four weeks of field survey, mapping, excavation, and laboratory training at Palo Verde. Here students will have the unique opportunity to intensively explore pre-Columbian cultural continuity and change across various archaeological contexts, potentially including open-air sites, shell mounds, caves, and developed community areas clustered within the park. Participants will assist the project in identifying and reconstructing the organization and function of individual sites, assessing community development (material culture, mortuary practices, seasonal mobility, foodways, and estuary resource exploitation strategies), and examining the relationship between sites across time in an unparalleled ecological setting.

Period(s) of Occupation: Pre-Colombian 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 required.

Room and Board Arrangements:
During the first week of the project in San Jose, students and non-Costa Rican staff will be housed in modest hotels (shared rooms) in San Jose. During the subsequent four weeks of the project, students and non-Costa Rican staff will stay in shared accommodations in rental housing in Bagaces, Guanacaste, the closest full-service city to the Palo Verde National Park. Housing will be maintained (cleaned and secured) by vetted, hired staff from the local community. Conditions will be basic but modern; air conditioning will likely not be available (fans will be provided). All meals will be communal events. Meals during the first week in San Jose will comprise simple hotel restaurant and cafeteria fare. During the work week in the field, project personnel will be provided with cooked meals for both breakfast and dinner prepared by hired staff. Packed lunches (stored in coolers) will be prepared and transported daily into the field. Students will be required to arrange for their own meals on free weekends. It is unlikely that we will be able to handle very specific dietary needs; loosely vegetarian diets can probably be accommodated (though options may be limited), but vegan and/or gluten-free diets will be difficult to accommodate. For these reasons, students are required to indicate any potential dietary restrictions and/or food allergies during their application interviews with PIs.

Academic Credit:
8 Semester Credits credits offered by Connecticut College. Tuition is $5,055.

Contact Information:

Institute for Field Research

1855 Industrial St. Unit 106

Los Angeles



United States

Phone: 424-209-1173

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