The purpose of an archaeological field school is to train students in archaeological methodologies so they are better prepared for careers in archaeology, cultural heritage/resource management, and historic preservation. Generally, field schools offered by universities in Caribbean countries tend to focus on archaeological field methods and do not give students a broader understanding of local culture, history, or make them aware of how their research can inform not only island visitors but also the local population of the past. The intent of the proposed field school is to offer students not only archaeological experience, but also opportunities to communicate their research to island visitors and to interact with Kittitians through public archaeology days, the St. Kitts National Trust, and tours of local heritage sites.
In order to help students better appreciate community involvement, presentations will be given to Christophe Harbour employees, the St. Kitts National Trust and to the general public throughout the field school. It is also proposed that, if possible, the field school hold public archaeology days during which island visitors and nationals can visit the investigations, learn about the archaeology of St. Kitts, and possibly partake in some hands-on excavation opportunities. It is anticipated that the public archaeology days will not only benefit the field school participants by providing them with outreach experience, they will also benefit the public (tourists and nationals) by making the discoveries more accessible to them. Furthermore, by raising awareness of the special heritage of St. Kitts, the nation as a whole will be able to contribute to furthering research on the history and prehistory of their own land.
Although there are plans for outreach and other opportunities, the main focus throughout the field school will be to provide archaeological training and research opportunities for the students. We will be investigating two archaeological sites on St. Kitts through survey and excavation. The two sites include a pre-Columbian ceramic age habitation (Site 12) and a possible 17th to mid-19th century habitation (Site 6). The archaeological investigations will include traditional methods of surface survey, shovel test pits, and excavation units, but will also include technological innovations like computer tablet recordation, GPS units, and web-based outreach that are critical to modern archaeology. Our day will start at 7:00 am and we will continue in the field until 2:00 pm. Then we will undertake 1-2 hours of laboratory processing daily. The work week will be Monday through Friday with optional laboratory time on Saturdays.
Throughout the course of the archaeological field school students will have training in field and laboratory methods. At the end of the course students should expect to have the following skills and knowledge:
1. Archaeological survey and excavation methods;
2. How to use a GPS unit and tablet computer in recording site attributes;
3. Laboratory processing and artifact analysis;
4. Interaction with public and descendant communities;
5. Interaction with clients, governmental agencies, and non-governmental organizations;
6. And how archaeology contributes to our understanding of the past and present.