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Mesoamerican Archaeology Field School


USF Summer Education Abroad Program in Honduras

May 27-July 1, 2012


Read about our previous field season here




DSCN0599The USF Mesoamerican Archaeology Field School is a five-week summer research program that allows participants to explore the fascinating history of pirates and Puritans in the Caribbean through scientific excavation of 17th century English and indigenous Pech settlements at New Port Royal and Camp Bay Village, both located against a backdrop of beautiful tropical forests and pristine beaches on Roatán Island, Honduras. As one of the educational components of Project Roatán, an international collaborative between the University of South Florida and the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History, the program introduces participants to the ways in which archaeology can answer questions about past lifeways and simultaneously contribute to understanding the current intersection of cultural heritage and global tourism.






Through assisting archaeologists in the field and laboratory, field school participants are trained in the methods, theories, and ethics of contemporary archaeology. Participants also learn about the cultures and history of Mesoamerica and the Bay Islands through seminars and field trips led by USF faculty, and gain a broader perspective on the world by living and working in a modern Central American community. Both undergraduate and graduate students are invited to participate. The program is designed to allow participants to learn and practice methods of archaeological survey, excavation, data collection and materials recovery, recording, and processing, as well as laboratory analysis and artifact cleaning and conservation.







DSCN2225.JPGThe curriculum surveys modern field and laboratory analytical techniques appropriate to anthropological archaeology, stressing their relation to basic theoretical questions and assumptions. It also provides practical knowledge of, and experience in using, the methods of public and applied archaeology. Through readings, lectures, and discussions, the historical development of archaeology and cultural resource management are considered, and then the key concepts that define the discipline are analyzed. These techniques and strategies are simultaneously applied to investigate the archaeological sites on Roatán’s East End, settlements with residential and ceremonial components that were occupied at the time of Christopher Columbus’ famous encounter with a local trading canoe in 1502 as he passed by the island on his final voyage to the Americas.







The curriculum also explores the evolving cultural traditions of southeastern Mesoamerica. Participants begin by examining the ideas that influenced prehispanic religion, economy, and politics. The continuities and changes in these traditions brought about by the Spanish Encounter are then pursued. More recent historical patterns and processes on Roatán and its neighboring islands are finally considered. This rich and complex history brought together a blend of indigenous Pech islanders, Spanish colonialists, African peoples, British and Dutch settlers, and Caribbean pirates and buccaneers, which gives Roatán its distinctive cultural character today.









The program is led by Dr. Christian Wells, a faculty member in the Department of Anthropology at USF who has worked in Honduras and neighboring countries for over 15 years. The first few days of the program are devoted to orientation to the community where we live and to the archaeological sites that we will investigate. The remainder of the program focuses on field and lab research, with participants divided into teams of three or four students each. Each team rotates among projects centered on survey, mapping, excavation, laboratory analysis, and public outreach.










The total program cost is $4,995 all inclusive for both undergraduates and graduates. This cost includes the program fee, the Education Abroad Administrative Fee, and all instructional fees and tuition (for 6-9 credit hours). The program provides all transportation while in Honduras, as well as all lodging, meals, field trips, equipment, and supplies. Participants are responsible for their own airfare (ca. $450 from Houston or ca. $550 from Miami), a Marshalltown trowel and other personal gear, any recommended books, and personal spending money.











For more information, visit the USF Education Abroad Website or email Christian Wells. To apply, fill out an application and send it, along with a copy of your curriculum vitae or resume and at least one letter of recommendation, to: Christian Wells, Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Ave., SOC 107, Tampa, FL 33620 USA, or via email to The deadline for applications is April 2, 2012 or until the program is filled.












Assistance with funding for this program can be sought by applying for a USF Compass Scholarship ($500-$1000), an AIA Waldbaum Field School Scholarship ($1,000), a Boren Scholarship (up to $20,000), or a low-interest (5.75 % APR) student loan from the USF Federal Credit Union (up to $2,500). USF Honors College students are encouraged to contact the Honors College for additional funding opportunities.