Iowa Archaeological Field School 2016

Post Date: 

Friday, March 4, 2016

by John Doershuk, State Archaeologist, University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist

On Sunday February 21st, I presented a talk in Des Moines on Iowa Lakeside Lab Archaeological Field School activities at site 13DK96 spanning 2014–2015. I recently gave a similar talk on February 16th for the UI Anthropology Club and will be speaking at Grinnell College and Iowa State University in March, all with the intent of drumming up student interest to enroll for the 2016 version of the field school. Dates this summer will be June 13 – July 8. Students earn 4 semester hours of college/university credit in 4 weeks participating in an outdoor hands-on learning experience, there are a limited number of room & board scholarships still available, and all students pay tuition at the in-state university rate. See:
Students should note they enroll for Lakeside courses directly via the Lakeside website. While students can only take one course at a time at Lakeside they can sign up for sequential courses and make a summer of it!

Student with pottery sherd from site 13DK96

I spoke on the 21st with a small but very attentive group of 12 members of the Central Chapter of the Iowa Archeological Society, having been invited by President Fred Gee. Fred had a vested interest in my coming to speak as he has assisted my students both years with our work at 13DK96. And indeed, I included in my PowerPoint a picture of Fred excavating the hearth feature we uncovered in 2015! Fred is a very proficient digger and while only out for a week each season serves as a good role model for the students demonstrating efficient and carefully documented field techniques. 

Site 13DK96 is an excellent setting for students to learn about archaeological field data collection methods and also to develop a beginning understanding of how archaeological sites fit into and are preserved (or destroyed) by modern land use practices. The relatively protected and undisturbed location of 13DK96 makes it easy for students to take the mental leap back in time to what Woodland cultural adaptations might have been like as they investigate the site deposits. We’ve recovered copious ceramic sherds representing several ware types as well as lots of flaking debris and stone tools, fire-cracked rock, and many animal bones including turtle, fish, and various small to medium mammals. As noted we discovered a well-preserved hearth last year and anticipate finding additional features. These aspects of 13DK96 support a robust research plan into Prairie Lakes region Middle and Late Woodland social organization, subsistence practices, and especially evolving ceramic technology. 

Questions? Please email me at