CANCELLED FOR COVID-19 San Juan College Totah Archaeological Project Field School

COVID-19 NOTICE: Please be sure to reach out to the project contact to find out the status of their upcoming season. Many projects have altered fieldwork plans and the information below may not reflect that.

This listing expired on August 11, 2020. Please contact for any updated information.

Location: Farmington, NM, US

Season: June 22, 2020 to July 17, 2020

Session Dates: Our single four week field session has recently been rescheduled because of the coronavirus to June 22 to July 17, 2020 with an informal lab session held for the two weeks following the four week field work session. Those who are auditing can attend any portion of the four week field session. All students are welcome to help me prepare during the week before field school starts, June 15 to 19, 2020, and/or stay to help in the lab the two weeks following the field session, July 20-July 31, 2020.

Application Deadline: June 22, 2020

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:
David Witt, University of Buffalo 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 (SJC) 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 to 12 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.  Although our Totah Archaeological Project web page is available, the yearly summary excavation reports are not available because they have not been made ADA compliant.  Please contact Wheelbarger for additional information on previous field school  yearly reports.

As mentioned above, the 2020 four-week field school session has been rescheduled because of the coronavirus to  June 22 through July 17 with two weeks of informal lab work following the session for those who wish to stay and gain additional lab experience such as artifact organization, artifact and provenience data entry, drafting, and report preparation. Two courses are offered concurrently during the official four-week session: a 6 credit ANTH 2120 Field School and a 3 credit ANTH 2998 Archaeology Internship.  All four weeks of participation are required for the 6 credit ANTH 2120 Field School and two weeks of participation are required for the 3 credit ANTH 2998 Archaeology Internship.  The ANTH 2998 students may choose to attend any portion of the 4 weeks as long as the amount of time attended is the equivalent of two weeks, or 80 hours. Students may register for the 3 credit class as late as June 5, 2020 because the amount of time they are required to attend is still possible during the remainder of the session.  All students are welcome to stay for the entire field session if they so desire whether they are taking the course for a grade or are auditing the class with no grade.  All students are also allowed to stay for the two weeks of informal lab following the field session.

People interested in attending the field school as a volunteer may register for the ANTH 2998 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 may be 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.

We always spend the week before the session (this year it is now rescheduled to June 15 to 19, 2020)  preparing for the field school and if any students would wish to help, they can come early and  potentially utilize this time as class hours.  Prep week will provide students with experience in organizing and buying field equipment and prepping paperwork as well as conveying equipment to the site.

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 and rock art on the Ranch. We will begin excavation on Wednesday, June 24, 2020. A calendar of activities will be provided to students requesting additional field school information.  In the past, we have included several field trips but because the 2020 session is two weeks shorter than previous sessions, a more limited number of field trips will be scheduled on weekends.  These will include Mesa Verde National Park and Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

The two weeks following the field school, July 20 to July 31, 2020, will focus on continuing the lab work conducted during the field school.  This will consist of additional cleaning of artifacts, photographing artifacts, 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 ( is from August 6-9, 2020 and students are encouraged to accompany me. I always give a presentation on the summers work and students are encouraged to present a talk or poster.

In general, we will excavate 3 or 4 days a week with the other 1 or 2 days spent on lab or survey.  I have scheduled one day of archaeological survey on the Chaco North Road (for the Bureau of Land Management) one day on the B-Square Ranch where we will go over survey methodology, survey a specific area, find a site, and 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 several years we have concentrated on the multi-story D-shaped great house and will be continuing that focus in 2020. Normally, my reports and photos and additional information are available on the San Juan College Humanities web page, however, they have recently made the SJC web page ADA compliant, and I did not get those changes to them in time, so contact me for that information.

The goal for 2020 is to continue excavation within the multistory rooms of the D-shaped great house.  There are a few projects to be completed in the great kiva including following Floors 4 and 5 of the original great kiva, the structure recently discovered beneath the upper great kiva. Floor 3 provided an archaeomag date of AD 910 to 1040 and likely dates to the latter end of that time period.

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

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Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: For those taking the class for credit: 2 weeks are required for 3 credits and 4 weeks for 6 credits. Those 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 motel 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 2020. 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 including taxes ($125 for each student). Students may choose not to have a roommate with a single occupancy rate of $240 per week including taxes. 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 including taxes for each of them. If four students stay in that room, the cost is reduced to only $95 per week including taxes 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 or Airbnb rentals in Farmington or nearby cities.    Food costs are dependent on the student, but $100 per week is a 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. Transportation: Students without vehicles can ride with other students or when necessary the director will pick them up in the morning and drop them off at the motel on work days.

Academic Credit:
ANTH 2120-001 Field School = 6 credits; ANTH 2998-001 Archaeology Internship = 3 credits This is undergraduate credit offered by San Juan College, 4601 College Blvd., Farmington, NM 87402. Tuition for New Mexico residents is a per credit hour fee of $49.00 plus an additional flat fee of $77.50 for 1-4 credit hours or $185 for 5 or more credit hours. Tuition for Non-New Mexico residents is a per credit hour fee of $155.00 plus an additional flat fee of $137.50 for 1-4 credits or an additional flat fee of $305.00 for students taking 5 or more credits. Also, ALL students, both resident and non-resident, must pay a $1.50 activity fee per credit hour and an Equipment and Supply fee of $100 for each 3 credits, The Equipment and Supply fee covers equipment, vehicle rental, porta-pottie rental, and supply costs. 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 = $329; 6 credits = $688.00 Non-New Mexico Residents: 3 credits = $707.00; 6 credits = $1,444.00

Contact Information:

Linda Wheelbarger

4601 College Blvd.




United States

Phone: 505 320-1834 (cell)

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