Record Keeping: Because the most important part of an archaeological excavation is the proper and detailed recording of data, record keeping will be emphasized in this course. You will maintain detailed forms of each unit, unit level, and feature, which will be routinely checked and monitored by their supervisors. They will also draw maps of the site, units, and profiles, as well as learn how to properly take archaeological photos. You will also be able to use multimedia to record additional data and methods, through digital video. Lastly, you will keep daily field notes, in which they will record what is happening in their unit and at the site, what methods are being used for excavation, what artifacts are being found, and possible interpretations. Throughout the field school, you will be expected to keep a daily notebook, which will be provided by the Campus Archaeology Program. This will include entries about your field work, artifacts being found, techniques being used, and possible interpretations of the site. These notebooks will be reviewed at the end of each week by the site supervisors and returned with feedback. They will be kept by the Campus Archaeology Program at the end of the field season.
Tour Guides: Each day, two students will be selected to serve as site tour guides. These guides will be responsible for giving site tours to any visitors to the excavation. At the beginning of the day, these tour guides will provide a trial tour to site supervisors, in which they will receive instruction about certain things to include in their presentation of the site. This process will teach students about engaging with the public, while also reenforcing the methods and techniques they are learning by explaining them to others.
Blog Posts: Each student will be required to write 2 posts on the course blog. This blog will be made public, with the intention that people outside the excavation will be able to learn about the site and archaeology. Students will be provided with instruction about how to properly write a blog post, and also suggestions about how to write for the public. These posts will be reviewed by supervisors before they are published. These posts may be written individually, or jointly with other students. At the beginning of the week, six students will volunteer to write a post during that week. Students will also be expected to respond to questions posed by the public. Again, through this process students will learn how to interact with the public, while also revisiting the techniques they are learning in the field by teaching them to others.
For a guide on how to use WordPress and upload your blog post visit this page: Guide to Blogging for the MSU Field School
Readings: Students will be provided with a number of readings about Michigan State history, archaeology that has already been completed on campus, as well as articles that discuss public archaeology. These readings will provide a cultural and historical context for the excavations. They will also be provided with a field and lab methods guide written by Dr. Lynne Goldstein, co-director and RPA. These readings are available at this link for download.