Smiths Island Archaeology Project Fieldschool

This listing expired on July 1, 2018. Please contact for any updated information.

Location: St. George's Harbour, BM

Season: May 27, 2018 to June 24, 2018

Session Dates: May 27-June 24, 2018

Application Deadline: April 1, 2018

Deadline Type: Rolling


Program Type:
Field school

RPA Certified:

University of Rochester

Project Director:
Dr. Michael Jarvis

Project Description:

Now entering its seventh season, the Smiths Island Archaeology Field School has trained dozens of students in excavation and research methods and prepared them for graduate study. Besides investigating a variety of 17th and 18th-century sites ranging from a 400-year old early settlers’ house to a quarantine hospital, students learn about the early Modern Atlantic World from an island at its center. Students are involved in all aspects of fieldwork, including excavation, artifact identification, documentary research, mapping, photography, and 3D digital modeling. Through readings, exploration, tours of local sites and even an experimental archaeology practicum, students will learn about Bermuda’s extensive history and the process of Americanization. During the 2018 season, we will extend excavations near Oven Site (c. 1615) to find the main manor house, continue digging a military and civilian quarantine site, and survey the island’s western bay to find new sites. Prior archaeological experience or knowledge of early American history is not required!

Our field school is based in St. George’s, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which boasts more than sixty 18th-century houses and forts for students to study – and is still an active sailing port which hosted the Americas World Cup in June 2017.  

Fieldwork: We will spend four weeks excavating sites on 60-acre Smiths Island, located in St. George’s Harbour, and will commute to work daily by boat. Work will be physically demanding. Because the island is heavily overgrown, this field school may not be suitable for students highly allergic to poison ivy. Work will include a blend of field excavation and artifact processing and analysis. On rain days, we will conduct primary research in the Bermuda Archives in Hamilton (Bermuda’s capital). Students can also pursue an optional Digital Archaeology component and be trained in making 3D photogrammetry models of historic forts and structures in St. George’s, diagnostic artifacts, and of different Smiths Island sites. The work, in short, will be hard but intellectually rewarding.

Program Costs are $4,250, exclusive of airfare to/from Bermuda (about $450) but includes housing, food, transportation, and field trips within Bermuda. 

Most students enroll in HIS 299 (Field and Research Methods in Archaeology) and earn 4 University of Rochester credits. Students with prior archaeological field experience can take HIS 398, Advanced Field Methods. These courses can satisfy requirements in the UR Archaeology, Technology and Historic Structures program or be used toward history, anthropology, and digital media studies majors. Graduate Students can get 5 credits for taking HIS 498 Archaeology Field & Research Methods for the same program fee.


Period(s) of Occupation: Bermuda's founding (1610) to present day; 28 sites under investigation spanning 400 years.

The 2018 season will focus on two active sites on eastern Smiths Island and begin surveying and testing four new sites at the west end. Smallpox Bay site is the ruins of a quarantine house where eighteenth and nineteenth century civilians, soldiers and their families stayed during smallpox and yellow fever outbreaks, but it sits atop the site of a briefly occupied 16112 town. Oven Site is an outbuilding dating to 1615, and this season we will survey to find the mansion house that it served. The four new West End sites include a cluster of foundations thought to be an enslaved or free black Bermudian hamlet, a huge industrial limekiln, an early tarris water tank, and an 18th century stone house foundation, all of which have little or no archival documentation

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 29

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: None, but advanced courses are available for students with prior archaeological training

Room and Board Arrangements:
Housing: We will stay in a former Bermuda Police barracks just to the north of St. George’s. Housing and food are included in the program cost, but students may have to cook their own meals. Bermuda is very expensive: most food is imported and rents are very high. There will be a certain element of “roughing it” to keep the field school affordable. That said, you will be living in the oldest town in English America and a short walk away from four beaches. Cost: $4250 inclusive of room, board and tuition

Academic Credit:
4 undergraduate (HIS 299 or HIS 398) 5 graduate (HIS 498) credits offered by University of Rochester. Tuition is $4250 (included in total program cost).

Contact Information:

Michael Jarvis

Dept. of History, Rush Rhees Library 364


New York


United States

Phone: 585-275-4558

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