Oregon State University

Frequently Asked Questions

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2014 Coopers Ferry Archaeological Field School
June 23 to August 15

Should I be doing anything extra in preparation?
I suggest that students start reading about the lower Salmon River canyon. I provide a number of published papers on my webpage that provides a good place to start: http://oregonstate.edu/cla/anthropology/faculty-staff/davis/

How will we get there & can I bring my own car?
We will be camping just outside of Cottonwood, Idaho for the duration of the field project (8 weeks).  Project vehicles will provide transportation to and from the field school. Our field camp is located on public land close to the site and will have parking for private vehicle if students choose to drive themselves to the field camp.

What will our living conditions be like?

We will be living in a field camp with tents, a field kitchen, shower facilities, and portable toilets.

Will we be isolated?
Our field camp is located just outside of the town of Cottonwood, Idaho. Students are free to go to town on their free time. Vans will go into town once a week for supplies. Cell phone use and internet access can be limited.

What is the weather like?
Summers can be very hot, with daily temperatures well above 100 degrees. Sometimes the summers will have rain, so prepare for all kinds of weather.

Do I have to register for credits and how much does it cost?
Participating students must sign up for 12 credits of Archaeology Field School (ANTH 438; or 9 credits of 538 if you’re seeking graduate credit), which is expected to cost about $2100 in 2012 (ca. $2600 for ANTH 538).  Students must also purchase two textbooks and obtain some personal tools (list provided on this website at http://oregonstate.edu/cla/anthropology/bring).  In addition to these costs, students will be responsible for paying for their own food, laundry, and entertainment. Food costs vary, depending on the individual, but might be expected to cost $50-$75/week or more.  In the past, students developed cooperative arrangements to share food costs and cooking responsibilities.  Communal kitchen, shower, and restroom facilities will be established at the camp for free student use.  A van will bring students from the OSU Corvallis campus to Idaho and back again; arrangements can be made to pick up students who choose to fly into the nearby Lewiston, Idaho airport.  Students wishing to bring their own vehicles or to travel by air will be responsible for all associated costs. Current OSU and non-OSU students are welcome.

What equipment should I bring?
Please review the list at http://oregonstate.edu/cla/anthropology/bring

How much physical labor will I have to do?
The short answer to this question is: some, but not too much.  The long answer is more telling, however.  Although everyone mainly associates archaeology with the discovery of amazing artifacts, a successful field expedition is built on the establishment and maintenance of many logistical aspects that must be in place before anything else can happen.  As far as physical labor goes, about 90% of our effort will be expended during the first and last weeks.  Once we arrive at our field location, everyone will work to set up their own tent and we’ll all pitch in to build our kitchen facility, sun shelter, showers, and water station.  These first aspects will take a day or more and will require the coordinated effort of all members of the field crew to unload vehicles and trailers, set up furniture and appliances, erect tents, lay flooring and cut grass and weeds.  Once we get our field camp set up, we’ll work to build a sun shelter and fence at the site.  Beneath the shade of our sun shelter, we’ll work to uncover the site’s excavation block by digging up and carrying out more than 5,000 sandbags—all of which will happen in a single day’s work.  After the site is shaded, uncovered, and fenced off, we’ll learn about our field procedures and will get to work excavating new deposits. From weeks 2-6, our physical labor demands are few, and primarily limited to loading and unloading gear each morning and afternoon, carrying buckets of sediment to the screens, and making new sandbags each week.  In the last week of the field school, we’ll have to put the old and new sandbags back into the excavation block (this is easier at this point, since you’ll be working with, instead of against, gravity), bury them, and break down our excavation shelter and fencing.  Finally, we’ll work throughout the last week to disassemble our field camp in an orderly manner; load things back onto trucks and trailers, and head home.  Students who are physically fit will have no problem with the labor required in the field.  Students who find the concept of physical exertion and manual labor to be an unfamiliar, theoretical concept will be challenged on many days.  While some people are more physically capable than others, all we expect is that you work to the best of your abilities.   Maintaining a safe and happy workplace is our main goal.  Nearly everyone finds archaeology’s combination of physical and mental effort to be highly rewarding.

Will I be able to behave in an offensive, disruptive or illegal manner at the field school?
To be honest, no one ever asks this question; however, it’s an important topic that needs to be discussed up front.  For nearly all students, the ability to participate in an archaeology field school at a great site, set in a beautiful and rugged environment is a grand adventure that they will remember fondly for the rest of their lives.  These students focus on the task at hand—learning contemporary field methods and concepts in the pursuit of archaeological knowledge—and revel in the new experience of living and working well with others in a field setting.  Although students of this type come from all corners of our nation (and sometimes from beyond), they all share similar traits: they are respectful of others, they are polite and patient in their interpersonal interactions, and they do not engage in offensive, disruptive or illegal behaviors while participating on the field school.  To be clear as to what these behaviors entail and how sanctions may be applied visit: http://oregonstate.edu/studentconduct/code/index.php

Everyone deserves to work and learn in a productive, professional setting and the nature of our work demands a high level of performance from participants.  Working at the Cooper’s Ferry site is a privilege, not a right.  Because we are guests in the local community, your actions reflect upon our project and OSU as well.  Students demonstrating significant behavioral problems at any time during the field school session will be removed from the field school.  Students performing illegal behaviors will be reported and turned over to local law enforcement agencies.

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