Topic ID #36939 - posted 4/12/2016 5:44 PM

Fort Massachusetts Field School 2016- Alamosa,Colorado


Archaeology Field School Location and Dates

Application Deadline 
Start Date 2016-06-13 
End Date 2016-07-20 

Multiple Sessions Yes 
Multiple Session information

6/13 through 6/22
6/27 through 7/06
7/11 through 7/20

Archaeology Field School Location 

Six miles north of Fort Garland, CO

Archaeology Field School Tuition and Credits

Sponsoring College/Institution 

Adams State University is a small, state-supported four-year liberal arts University with some graduate programs, including an online program in Cultural Resource Management.

Academic Credit 

Six graduate or undergraduate credits in anthropology or history. (Graduate students will have some additional requirements)

Archaeology Field School Tuition 

$800 total per student - subject to grant funding

Archaeology Field School Room and Board 

Camping on-site, limited amenities - students provide own food and camping gear (tent, trailer, or RV)

Additional Information on Tution/Room and Board/Travel Costs 

Optional field trip during second 4-day break, students split travel costs

Archaeology Field School Description

The field school offers 6 credits in history or archaeology at the graduate or undergraduate level. Training is provided in a number of areas:

Archaeological survey: Students will be introduced to standard techniques used to find, recognize, evaluate, and record archaeological sites.

Geospatial Data Management Students will receive training in the recording, management, and analysis of spatial data with an array of devices often including but not limited to optical transit, electronic total stations, Global Positioning System (GPS), and a selection of geophysical devices as appropriate to the work. 

As data is collected, students will be introduced to concepts of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as they apply to archaeology.

Archaeological Excavation: Students will be trained in the basic procedures of excavation, including:

1. Laying out an excavation unit

2. Using standard excavation tools to dig the unit to professional standards

3. Filling out excavation forms

4. Completing unit level and profile sketches

5. Photographing the unit

Artifact Processing: Students will learn the basic field procedures for cleaning, cataloging, and preserving artifacts for later analysis. 

In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo officially ended the Mexican War and the lands of Southern Colorado, including the San Luis Valley, were ceded to the United States. The San Luis Valley was already the location of several Hispanic settlements that represented the northernmost reaches of the Mexican frontier in this region. Five years later, the United States Government established a military presence in the San Luis Valley with the construction of Fort Massachusetts. This fort was occupied for approximately five years before it was relocated further south and renamed Fort Garland. Those five years represent a period of poorly documented changes for the US military. Many of the details we would like to know about that time are only contained in the archaeological record, a record that is particularly well preserved at the Fort Massachusetts site.

Location of Fort Massachusetts: The layout and features of the fort have been lost to history. Simply identifying, and mapping the outlines and features of the post would be a significant contribution to local history. It has puzzled modern historians why the Fort was located where it was. The location does not seem to make complete military sense. We hope to gain some insight into the thought process of the Fort planners through excavation and additional complementary research. 

Fort construction: Every fort on the frontier was constructed differently yet conformed, more or less, to general conceptual models used by the Army. Specific details of construction for Fort Massachusetts are sketchy. There is only one official map of the Fort that is known to exist.

Military organization: The 1850s was a time of reorganization and change for the U.S. Military. For instance, the typical mounted troops at the time were dragoons, not cavalry. Historical records indicate that both dragoon and infantry units made up the Fort garrison. It is unclear how these units were expected to function and what types of uniforms and equipment were being supplied to frontier troops at this time. It is anticipated that the archaeological record present at the fort will supply some of this kind of information.

Lifestyles at a frontier outpost: During the 19th century, little was documented about daily life at military posts, especially those on the frontier. For example, military posts rarely were populated entirely by military personnel. Investigations at Fort Garland revealed the presence of a number of civilians, a considerable number of whom were women and children. However, since Fort Massachusetts was the first post in this area, it is unclear whether the same kinds of non-military personnel would have been present. 

Existing studies of women at military posts usually focus on upper middle class and upper class women who were wives of the officers. Working class women have been largely ignored in historical and archaeological studies. Yet, such women were present in the form of “laundresses.” Our studies of this class at Fort Garland have been particularly revealing . We know that they were present at Fort Massachusetts since the only existing map of the fort identifies laundress quarters. 

Students as young as 16 will be considered for the field school. Volunteers may attend free and receive the same training as students, but only on a space-available basis. They will not receive academic credit.

Archaeology Field School Additional Information

Archaeology Field School Type 

Historical archaeology with some emphasis on geoarchaeology

Time Period 

1852 – 1858

Field School Setting/Conditions 

Participants will be in a semi-primitive camping situation in a moderate to cool climate. The location is in a wooded area near the base of a mountain. A mountain stream runs through the site and adjacent to the camping area.

How is the project area accessed each day 

Participants will walk the short distance from the camp to the site. Private vehicles other than RVs will not be allowed on the site or in the camping area. Cars will be parked in a secure parking area several miles away. Periodic shuttle trips will be made to the parking area so students may carpool to nearby towns to replenish supplies as necessary.

What is the daily schedule for the field school 

June 13 to July 20: Three 10-day sessions with 4-day breaks between

Number of years this Archaeology Field School has been in operation 
Three years at this site, 10 years in the area 
Is there a professional certification for this field school 


Directors and Instructors 

Director and Principal Investigator: Richard A. Goddard, Ph. D. 

Most of the staff (5) are graduate students from institutions across America and foreign countries. Additional consultants are brought in as needed.

Specialized skills you will have the opportunity to learn 

Archaeological survey

Archaeological excavation techniques

Optical and Electronic survey and mapping

Global Positioning System (GPS)

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Field laboratory procedures

Artifact and feature stabilization*

Basic soil analysis *

Remote sensing *

LIDAR scanning *

* As required by the research

Will there be additional organized activities? 

A wide variety of extracurricular activities are available during the breaks. An optional field trip to a major archaeological site, such as Chaco Canyon, is offered during the second break. The setting is conducive to hiking in off times.

Occasional, mandatory evening lectures will be presented by the field school staff. Occasionally, lectures may be presented by visiting specialists. Local historical reenactors will visit the site and provide hands-on experience with 19th century living.

Is travel restriced during free time? 

Free time travel by private vehicle will not be possible during the 10-day sessions but will be possible during the breaks. Local hiking or running will be possible during free time.

Other resources students will find useful 

Students and volunteers, once accepted into the field school, will be provided access to a restricted website where they will be provided additional information and where they can communicate with other students, volunteers, and staff. To apply, go to

Archaeology Field School Contact Information and Website

Field School Website 

Field School Contact Information

Macy Franken, office manager

Field School Contact E-mail 


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