Historical Archaeology Field Institute

This listing expired on August 18, 2019. Please contact for any updated information.

Location: Alexandria, VA, US

Season: May 20, 2019 to June 1, 2019

Session Dates: MAY 20 - 24; MAY 28 - JUNE 1


Program Type:
Field school

RPA Certified:

George Washington University and Alexandria Archaeology

Project Director:
Dr. Pamela Cressey, Dr. Eleanor Breen, Dr. Garrett Fesler, and Benjamin Skolnik

Project Description:

This two-week intensive field school offers hands-on experience in excavation and laboratory study of a historic archaeological site located in Alexandria, Virginia. Steeped in American history, the City of Alexandria has several historic districts and developed the first community archaeology program in America, making it an ideal setting to learn about archaeological field techniques, historic artifact identification and analysis, and archaeological interpretation.  

This summer’s institute will take place at an urban plantation site at Shuter’s Hill overlooking Old Town Alexandria.  Established in ca. 1780, what became known as Shuter’s Hill plantation remained in use until the early twentieth century.  Not necessarily a rural plantation, nor an urban lot, Shuter’s Hill functioned as an urban plantation; its residents raised crops and farmed the land, but had the advantage of urban markets and contemporary goods close at hand.  Working under the guidance of Alexandria Archaeology staff members, students will excavate elements of the plantation where enslaved Africans lived and worked, including the earliest structure identified on the site, a dwelling likely occupied by enslaved Africans in the 1770s and 1780s.

The ten-day course in field and laboratory methods is taught by a team of archaeologists as a case study/mini-practicum.  In the first week students work in the field, and learn and apply basic field techniques.  In the second week the students transition to the Alexandria Archaeology Museum to wash, sort, identify, and analyze the artifacts they excavated.  Workshops are held throughout the course and include topics such as excavation methods, artifact identification, curation/collections management, geo-physical applications in archaeology, GIS mapping, and public archaeology.  Students will be expected to keep a daily field log, conduct nightly readings, and participate in regular roundtable discussions.  Students will participate in two capstone interpretive experiences: first a group discussion with the City’s archaeologists in which the data derived from the class activities are broadly interpreted; and second, a public tour of the site developed by the students.

The course has relevance to undergraduate and graduate students in American Studies, Anthropology, Archaeology, African American Studies, Africana Studies, History, Museum Studies & Education, Preservation, and Women’s Studies, and anyone who would enjoy a first-hand opportunity to participate in archaeological research.

Period(s) of Occupation: 18th century

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Room and Board Arrangements:
None. Cost:

Academic Credit:
credits offered by George Washington University. Tuition is .

Contact Information:

Alexandria Archaeology

105 N. Union Street, #327





Phone: 7037464399

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