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Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work

Kansas Archaeological Field School

ANTH 535 Field Methods in Archaeology (4 credit hours)


Instructors: Brad Logan (Research Assoc. Professor) & Lauren W. Ritterbush (Professor)

CHECK OUT THE 2016 VIDEO (click here)

The Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work at Kansas State University is unable to offer the Kansas Archaeological Field School in the near future, but through this webpage, you can learn about our previous archaeological field schools.  Similar field schools are offered by other institutions.  The following can provide ideas about what to look when selecting a similar experience.

Archaeological field schools provide students with essential hands-on training in archaeological data recovery methods in the context of a research project.  K-State has done this most recently while exploring the prehistoric landscape of Wildcat Creek drainage in and around Manhattan, Kansas.  The field school provides basic and advanced training in a problem-oriented research project designed to provide significant information on regional archaeology. During the field school, students devote full time on weekdays to instructional activities in the field and archaeology lab while collaborating with their peers and professionals in archaeology and related fields. All enrollees must participate for the duration of the field school, including some evening activities. No prior archaeological experience is necessary.

  KAFS 2014 survey


Archaeological Field Techniques

Participants in the Kansas Archaeological Field School receive instruction in a variety of archaeological and ancillary field techniques.KAFS 2

  • Basic excavation skills
    • placement and laying out of excavation units (e.g., 1x1m),
    • excavation techniques using shovels, trowels, & other hand tools,
    • excavation of controlled levels,
    • screening,
    • measuring and recording provenience (piece plotting),
    • soil or sediment description and differentiation,
    • recording stratigraphic profiles,
    • accurate completion of unit or level forms,
    • plan mapping,
    • photography,
    • descriptive note-taking,
    • tool maintenance,
    • back-filling
  • Total station (EDM) site mapping
  • Pedestrian survey
  • Basic outdoor and excavation safety
  • GPS mapping
  • Shovel tests and associated documentation
  • Completion of site registration forms
  • Interpretation of topographic maps
  • Artifact identification
  • Initial data processing in the laboratory
  • Field demonstrations of geoarchaeological techniques, such as extraction of soil cores, magnetic sampling, and interpretation of the soil/sediment matrices

gps kp3

Classroom and laboratory instruction is also provided in various topics:  

  • research questions and project design,
  • project logistics,
  • archaeological methods,
  • regional archaeology,
  • specialized analyses,
  • replicative studies,
  • Geographic Information Science (GIS),
  • artifact and sample processing,
  • curation
Field trips are included to expand student understanding of archaeology, regional culture history, and public archaeology.  Our field trips involve tours of regional sites and on-going archaeological projects, the Flint Hills Discovery Center, and the Pawnee Indian Museum (Republic County).
Requirements Fulfilled:  ANTH 535 fills an advanced elective in archaeology for anthropology majors and minors.  It also fills an advanced Social Science and the K-State 8 Empirical and Quantitative Reasoning requirement.
NOTE:  Subsequent enrollment in ANTH 540 Archaeological Laboratory Methods is recommended to continue learning archaeological research methods (essential to a potential career in archaeology, understanding archaeological analysis and interpretation, and material culture studies).

Schedule and Logistics

Field and laboratory training occurs Monday through Friday from 7:30AM to 5:30PM throughout the four-week field school with occasional evening activities (e.g., guest speakers, hands-on atlatl and other demonstrations).  Students must provide their own room and board, including a daily 'sack' lunch to be taken to the field each day.  Transportation to and from the field sites from the Kansas State University campus will be provided.
(For information on on-campus summer housing: http://www.k-state.edu/summer/summer-housing.html)

Field School Costs

All students pay in-state/resident tuition and fees at an off-campus rate of $1,691 (2016 rate) through Global Campus plus $350 for transportation and supplies. (There are no non-resident rates; non-residents pay in-state tuition.) 
Before enrolling, students must apply directly to the instructors.  Access, print, complete, and deliver the field school application at http://www.ksu.edu/sasw/anthro/apply.htm.  A signed letter of reference attesting to the applicant's character is required.  (Students must arrange this and include it with the application.)  All applicants must provide proof of health insurance for the month of June and have an up-to-date tetanus vaccination.  Applications will be reviewed as they are received. 
Additional Information
Contact Dr. Brad Logan (785-532-2419; blogan@ksu.edu) or Dr. Lauren W. Ritterbush (785-532-6828; lritterb@ksu.edu)
Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work, Kansas State University, 204 Waters Hall, 1603 Old Claflin Place, Manhattan, KS  66506 

Comments from students in previous Kansas Archaeological Field Schools:

  • "I think that this was an amazing experience.  I was able to learn the techniques that are required to get a job in this field.  The days are hot and long, and you come home covered in dirt.  But, its great because you are learning in a relaxed environment. I had a blast and made some new friends.  I recommend this field school to anyone interested in archaeology." (2014)
  • "I knew going in that this would show me if I was meant to be an archaeologist. ... the experience of learning about and finding artifacts from a past culture is breathtaking.  As an avid museum goer, being the one finding the artifacts and discussing its meaning made all of the dirt and bug bites worth it.  Do it, you will never regret it."  (2014)
  • "KSU Field School was a great experience.  It left me with confidence and knowledge I can carry on to a career in fieldwork.  Working with professionals like Dr. Logan & Dr. Ritterbush is something anyone going into archaeology work should experience." (2014)
  • "I not only learned to excavate units at an archaeological sites, I also was given the opportunity to use supporting equipment and technology and learn to apply them.  The instructors were very knowledgeable and creative in giving us the best return on our tuition investment.  I finish this field school very well-rounded in preparation for future field endeavors."  (2014)
  • "The field school was mentally and physically taxing, but incredibly rewarding.  It is a great, hands-on way of learning archaeological field techniques.  Despite how exhausting it can be, it is exciting and fun.  I have no regrets and am delighted that I have taken this class." (2014)
  • "I had an amazing experience at the K-State Archaeological Field School.  I learned that I really want to pursue archaeology as a career.  This field school gave me the experience and skills needed to become an archaeologist.  Dr. Logan and Dr. Ritterbush were excellent professors."  (2014)
  • "Field school is an amazing opportunity.  I was interested in archeology before, but after doing this field school I can absolutely see myself doing this as a career. ... It is also a great place to meet new people and learn skills in a far more hands on and exciting way then you could in class."  (2014)
  • "Great field school, I learned so much in just four weeks.  The amount of work and lectures was perfect - just enough to keep us busy but not enough to exhaust us. ... I feel like I learned everything that I should have and enjoyed all of it." (2012)
  • "The course was excellent, well-managed & of appropriate length." (2012)
  • "Well done Dr. Logan, I look forward to this fall semester's lab class." (2012)
  • "The field school was very well prepared & taught.  The incorporation of cleaning artifacts & sorting them was also very helpful in being able to identify artifacts in the field." (2010)
  • "Choosing to participate in this field school was the best decision I have made in my college career.  The methods and techniques I acquired while in the field school will deem useful in my future career plans." (2010)
  • "This course was really helpful. I feel  like I'm better prepared to decide what area of archaeology I want to work in now.  Plus I had a great time!" (2008)