San Juan College Totah Archaeological Project Field School

Location: Farmington, NM, US

Season: June 3, 2019 to July 12, 2019

Session Dates: There is only one six week session, but because students can sign up for various credit hours, they can attend different parts of the session. Those who are auditing can attend any portion of the session. In addition, I allow students to come help me prepare during the week before field school starts, May 27-31, 2019, and/or stay to help in the lab the two weeks following the field session, July 15-26, 2019.

Application Deadline: June 3, 2019

Deadline Type: Rolling


Discount for AIA members: None

Program Type:
Field school

RPA Certified:

San Juan College, 4601 College Blvd., Farmington, NM 87402

Project Director:
Linda Wheelbarger, San Juan College

Project Description:

The San Juan College Totah Archaeological Project field school is the main component of an on-going research project funded by San Juan College and Tommy Bolack, owner and manager of the B-Square Ranch. The field school is conducted on the 13,000 acre B-Square Ranch, a combination working cattle ranch, waterfowl conservation area, and museum facility.  We are in high desert Colorado Plateau terrain and normally receive only 8 inches of precipitation a year.  It is hot in the summer, but rarely over 100 degrees. Our area is called “Totah” by the local Navajos meaning “land amidst water” because of the three rivers which junction at the western edge of Farmington. 

This year we will be continuing to work at Point Pueblo, a large Chacoan greathouse community dating to the Chacoan Pueblo II time period of AD 850-1150 and the subsequent Pueblo III time period of AD 1150-1300. The great house and other areas of the site will be undergoing excavation this year. Point Pueblo is located at the base of the Shannon Bluffs on the south side of the San Juan River immediately south of the city of Farmington, New Mexico. You can see additional information, reports, photos, and other research from past years on our web page at…. I have provided IT with the most recent reports, research, and photos, but as of the end of February 2018 they are not yet up, but should be within the next few days.   

The 2019 session will be held from June 3 through July 12 with a couple weeks of lab following the session for those who wish to stay and gain additional lab experience such as artifact and provenience data entry and drafting. Three separate courses are offered concurrently during the 6 week time period: a 6 credit ANTH 288 Field School, a 3 credit ANTH 280 Archaeology Internship, and a 6 credit ANTH 280 Archaeology Internship. Four weeks of participation are required for the 6 credit classes and two weeks of participation are required for the 3 credit class. As long as the student meets those time requirements, they may choose to attend any portion of the 6 weeks. Students may register for a 3 credit class as late as July 1, 2019 or a 6 credit class as late as June 17, 2019, because the amount of time they are required to attend is still possible during the remaining session. Students can choose to take the field school or the internship or both the field school and the 3 credit internship for a total of 3, 6, or 9 credits.

All students are welcome to stay for the entire session if they so desire whether they are taking the course for a grade or are auditing the class with no grade. 

People interested in attending the field school as a volunteer may sign up under the ANTH 280 3-credit internship Auditing the course (no grade given to the student) and thus can attend the entire session or any part of the session but are not responsible for any course requirements. Students who have previously taken and paid for the field school or internship, are permitted to volunteer with no fees required.

Participants in the field school/archaeology internship course will receive instruction in archaeological excavation and survey including mapping of sites using both compass and tape as well as with hand held GPS unit waypoints and polygons downloaded to GIS software. We will also conduct laboratory processing of recovered cultural materials, drafting, and artifact analysis. Tours of local archaeological sites, as well as lectures on southwestern archaeology and contract archaeology, and workshops on artifact and ecofact analysis are included in the session. Sites that are toured include Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, Aztec Ruins, Salmon Ruins, and the Navajo pueblitos and rock art of the Largo Canyon area. Tours are optional because many of my students have already been to these sites. There will be three camping trips during the session, also optional. The first trip is for solstice at Chaco Canyon, the second is in the La Plata Mountains prior to visiting Mesa Verde, and the last is the South Gap conference/field trip which is scheduled for the weekend after the Fourth of July.

I always spend the week before the session (this year it will be May 27 through May 31, 2019)  preparing for the field school and if any students would wish to help, they can come early. Class attendance is not counted for that week, but would be included in any reference/recommendation letters requested by the student. The prep week will provide students with experience such as organizing fieldwork and paperwork as well as conveying equipment to the site and setting up the equipment tent.

Monday of the first week of field school is a class day orienting students to the project, archaeological fieldwork procedures and practices, and archaeology of the Southwest. Tuesday activities will consist of a tour of the Ancestral Puebloan and Navajo sites as well as rock art on the Ranch. We will begin excavation on Wednesday, June 5, 2019. A calendar of activities will be provided to students requesting additional field school information.

The two weeks following the field school, July 15 to 26, 2019, will focus on lab work consisting of additional cleaning of artifacts, photographing artifacts, data entry of artifact data and provenience data, manipulation of that data into tables, drafting of plan views and profiles completed during the excavation, as well as some limited artifact analysis. Our local Southwest Pecos Conference from August 9-11, 2019 and students are encouraged to accompany me. I always give a presentation on the summers work and a couple students from previous years may be presenting posters.     

In general, we excavate 3 or 4 days a week with the other 1 or 2 days spent on lab, survey, or field trips.  I have scheduled one day of archaeological survey on the Chaco North Road (for the Bureau of Land Management) and one day on the B-Square Ranch where I will go over survey methodology, then we will survey a specific area, find a site, and I will have students record the site using both GPS and compass/tape techniques. Lab days will include washing and cataloging collected artifacts, as well as listening to lectures on a number of archaeological topics such as Southwest archaeology, ceramic and lithic analysis, and contract archaeology processes and procedures. 

We began field schools at Point Pueblo in 2006 and spent many years working in the great kiva. The past three years we have concentrated on the great house and other areas of the site and we will be continuing that focus in 2019. Normally, my reports and photos and additional information are available on the San Juan College Humanities web page, however, they have just made the SJC web pages ADA compliant, and I did not get those changes to them in time, so information will not be available until the end of March.  Contact for access to that information until the end of March.  

The goal for 2019 is to continue the search for great house walls and kivas and excavate within the four multistory rooms that were just discovered last year.  There are a few final projects to be completed in the great kiva including following Floor 4 which was discovered two years ago underneath the great kiva. That floor provided an archaeomag date of AD 910 to 1040.    

Period(s) of Occupation: Ancestral Puebloan/Anasazi, Pueblo II-III time period, A.D. 900-1300

Archaeological field school, archaeological field school 2017, American field school, American archaeological field school, Southwest archaeological field school, field school excavation, Anasazi field school, Ancestral Puebloan field school, Chaco field school, Chacoan field school, Point Pueblo field school, field school at Chacoan Outlier, great house, great kiva, great house, Totah, Four Corners field school, New Mexico archaeology field school, San Juan River, Farmington, San Juan College archaeology field school.

Project Size: 25-49 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: For those taking the class for credit: 2 weeks are required for 3 credits, 4 weeks for 6 credits, and 6 weeks for 9 creditsThose who are auditing can attend any portion of the 6 week session.

Minimum Age: 16, with special stipulations (contact Wheelbarger)

Experience Required: No experience required and no pre-requisites

Room and Board Arrangements:
Room and board are the responsibility of the student, however, for many years I have arranged for non-local students to stay at the Economy Inn in downtown Farmington where special rates are given to the students. This has worked out very well and the Economy Inn has agreed to provide special rates again in 2018. The motel is located in our small downtown area only 2 blocks from the Three Rivers Brewery and Café and only a couple miles from the Ranch headquarters. All rooms have a microwave and small refrigerator. When sharing a room with another student, a room with two beds is a total of  $250 for each week ($125 for each student). Students may choose to not have a roommate with a single occupancy rate of $240 per week. There is one room with four beds and a full kitchen (large refrigerator and stove, but no oven). When 2 or 3 students are staying in that room it is still only $125 per week for each of them. If four students stay in that room, the cost is reduced to only $95 per week for each student.   Also, students are welcome to find their own lodging, stay at local campgrounds, or they may choose to camp for free on Bureau of Land Management land in the vicinity (no amenities). Contact Wheelbarger for more information. Check out the Farmington New Mexico Convention and Visitors Bureau’s web page that has lots of information on the area ( You can also check your smartphone for Realty Agents and Apartment complexes in Farmington.    Food costs are dependent on the student, but $100 per week is a good, although relatively minimal, estimate. For further information contact Linda Wheelbarger at: Cost: In general, total room and board costs, if staying at the Economy Inn, will range from $195 to $225 per week for those sharing rooms or $340 per week if a student stays in a room by themselves. Or, if students choose to camp, costs can be greatly reduced or they will be increased if you choose to stay at a more expensive motel.

Academic Credit:
ANTH 288-001 Field School = 6 credits; ANTH 280-001 Archaeology Internship = 3 credits; ANTH 280-002 Archaeology Internship = 6 credits; Students can petition for a 4 or 5 credit Internship credits offered by San Juan College, 4601 College Blvd., Farmington, NM 87402. Tuition is For New Mexico residents, the per credit hour fee is $46.00 plus an additional flat fee of $77.50 for students taking 1-4 credit hours or an additional flat fee of $155 for students taking 5 or more credit hours. For non Mew Mexico residents, the per credit hour fee is $146.00 plus an additional flat fee of $200.00 for students taking 1-4 credits or an additional flat fee of $305.00 for students taking 5 or more credits. In addition, there is a $1.75 activity fee per credit hour and an Equipment and Supply fee of $100 for each 3 credits that is applicable for all students. All field school students must pay an equipment and supply fee to help cover equipment, vehicle rental, and supply costs. The equipment and supply fee is $100 for each 3 credits, thus if you register for 6 credits it is $200, $300 for 9 credits, and $400 for 12 credits. Total tuition cost for the field school including credit hour fee, additional flat fee, activity fee and equipment and supply fee is: New Mexico Residents: 3 credits = $317.75; 6 credits = $665.50; 9 credits = $906.75, 12 credits = $1008.00 Out-of-State Residents: 3 credits = $677.75; 6 credits = $1,385.50; 9 credits = $1,925.75, 12 credits = $2,028.00 .

Contact Information:

Linda Wheelbarger

4601 College Blvd.




United States

Phone: 505 320-1834 (cell)

support Us

The AIA is North America's largest and oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to archaeology. The Institute advances awareness, education, fieldwork, preservation, publication, and research of archaeological sites and cultural heritage throughout the world. Your contribution makes a difference.

Post a Fieldwork Opportunity