Archaeology Field Schools

Archaeology field schools are multi-week hands-on opportunities for students to learn up-to-date techniques of archaeological survey, excavation, and and site recording; get experience in analysis and artifact curation; and gain skills that will serve in a wide variety of future of archaeological jobs. Although typically for students, many field schools also welcome members of local historical or archaeological societies, or provide opportunities for the public to experience archaeology for themselves. Even if you're not planning on becoming an archaeologist, you can still attend a field school. Archaeology field schools are offered throughout the globe, and typically for college credit.    

To attend such a field school, you'll need stamina, clothes you don't mind destroying, a hat with a brim, and SPF 30 sunblock. You'll need a strong sense of adventure; a stronger sense of humor; and the ability to work hard without complaining (too much!). But you might have the time of your life.

Archaeology field schools are offered by the Dare to Discover partners!

Lakeside Lab Summer Courses in Archaeology 

The Office of the State Archaeologist and Iowa Lakeside Laboratory will continue on-going research efforts in the Iowa Great Lakes region, including excavations at a Woodland-era site (13DK96) within the Kettleson-Hogsback Wildlife Management Area adjacent to Spirit Lake, through three different summer archaeology fieldwork courses between June 12-30, 2017: a 4 week session, 2 week session, and 1 week session.

Previous Lakeside Laboratory summer archaeological field schools have investigated late prehistoric/protohistoric Oneota tradition sites since 1995 and Woodland adaptations since 2014, recovering large assemblages of diverse materials including arrow and spear points and other stone tools, decorated ceramic sherds, copper fragments, bison bones and other faunal remains, and worked catlinite and glass trade beads. Features related to semi-subterranean houses including hearths, storage, and refuse pits will be investigated as opportunity permits.

As this is primarily a field course, excavation and mapping notes as well as recording of general observations while digging will be required. Lab processing forms will also be completed by field school participants. No formal tests or writing assignments are required beyond the field notebooks (which will include building an annotated bibliography from pertinent source materials provided by the instructor).

Participants will be introduced to the essential methods of field archaeology including artifact identification, site mapping, excavation techniques, artifact processing, and beginning analytical methods. The field school will include lectures on Iowa archaeology and the culture history sequence of western Iowa as well as day trips to the Sanford Museum in Cherokee, Iowa and the Dixon Oneota site, and possibly the Blood Run National Historic Landmark, Jeffers Petroglyphs, and Pipestone National Monument.

NOTE: Tuition for this section is assessed separately and billed in addition to tuition and fees for other courses. See Miscellaneous Fees on the Registrar website .

This section is offered through the Division of Continuing Education (DCE). New or returning students unable to register directly in MyUI click here to proceed. Contact DCE at 319-335-2575 or for assistance.

Registration Information

You are encouraged to register and secure housing early. Registration in Lakeside Laboratory courses is accepted only by completing the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory Registration and Housing Form. You can complete the form online or download a copy. This may be done well before the start of scheduled early registration for summer session. Forms are only processed through the administrative office. For further information, contact The University of Iowa Division of Continuing Education, 250 Continuing Education Facility, Iowa City, IA, 52242-0907; telephone (319)335-2575 or 1-888-469-2338; e-mail

University of Iowa Woodpecker Cave Field School

Join Professor James Enloe at Woodpecker Cave in Coralville, Iowa, during summer 2017! This experience will run from May 15-June 9 and is worth 3 s.h. Completion of this course can prepare students for an entry-level Cultural Resource Management (CRM) job. Those interested in this field school should visit this site for more information

Woodpecker Cave Archaeological Field School
Woodpecker Cave is a perfect first archaeological field experience, with a low threshold of accessibility and access. The cave shows evidence of occupation from the Archaic Period, about 7000 or 8,000 years ago, through the late Woodland Period, around 400 to 800 AD. Artifacts include pottery, stone tools, animal bones, mussel shells, fire-cracked rock and other artifacts.
Students will learn up-to-date techniques of excavation and recording, get experience in analysis and artifact curation,  and gain skills that will serve in a wide variety of future of archaeological jobs. In particular, students will be trained on Electron Distance Measurer (EDM) mapping through computer programs, both for topographic maps of the area and for recording precise 3-D locations of artifacts for studies of spatial structure. All necessary field equipment and recording forms for the field school will be supplied. Students will be evaluated based on participation, learning, and practice of excavation and recording techniques.


Old Capitol Museum

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