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Field School, Day 1

– post by David K., field school student

And we’re off! The 2016 FSU Archaeological Field School began today at FSU’s Department of Anthropology labs. Eighteen graduate and undergraduate students spent their day in the lab cleaning artifacts excavated from an archaeological site located southeast of Tallahassee. These artifact samples were recovered from ‘shovel tests,’ or small holes (generally less than 18″ across), that are dug to make note of the presence/absence of artifacts, middens, and other features at a known site. Archaeologists with the National Park Service’s Southeastern Archeological Center spent the past several weeks digging shovel tests to help us identify areas that are suitable for further excavation. As the artifacts were cleaned, the students were able to handle and identify different types of pottery sherds, animal bones, oyster shells and other objects that early Floridians had discarded in the course of their daily lives.


Students are sure to write all provenience information on the drying paper.

Once the artifacts had been cleaned, they were separated and placed in drying racks.


Rows of artifacts drying in specimen trays.

Once dry they will then be counted and weighed in order to compare determine where the densest artifact and midden concentrations are at the site. These comparisons will give this class of future archaeologists a better idea of where to locate their excavations over the next several weeks.


A small sampling of artifacts washed today.


Dr. Peres and Dr. Thomas, archaeology professors at FSU, designed this field school  as a hands-on classroom for their students as part of their research into ancient lifeways of native Floridians. Over the course of the summer semester, research will include: defining how big the of an area humans occupied at this location; understanding how this community relates to others like it across the southeastern U.S.; assess the assumptions and interpretations about the importance of aquatic and terrestrial animals and plants in the diet; and learn about ritual life of Floridians during the Woodland Period (roughly 1000 BC to AD 1000).

Please continue to follow our blog and Facebook page as we head out of the lab and into the field. The mosquitos will be plentiful, the students will be eager to learn and gain experience, and your supportive comments and questions are welcome!



Associate Professor of Anthropology at Florida State University Zooarchaeologist Awesome dessert maker

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