In this #FieldWorkFridays episode Kara Wallace, University of West Florida Field Director and graduate student, explains some of the fieldwork she led for her thesis research in the summer of 2021. She explains how learning surveying techniques and shovel testing prepares students for future job opportunities!
A group of University of West Florida archaeology students spent a few weeks investigating a large Native American site in Gulf Islands National Seashore Naval Live Oaks Area. Students and field directors surveyed the site to determine its boundaries. They did this with shovel testing. Shovel testing is a common way for archaeologists to determine if a site exists or not. Basically, they used shovels to dig holes straight down into the ground at a specific depth and width over a grid. The dirt is then sifted using a screen, and any artifacts are collected and recorded on a map. While the area does have a couple of known mounds, the survey did not impact them.
Students learn this shovel testing technique because it is a very common practice within cultural resource management. Cultural Resource Management firms, or CRMs, are privately owned companies who are contracted to conduct archaeological fieldwork. CRM companies also provide many other services such as historical and architectural research, and even museum exhibit design!
*Like all archaeology fieldwork on federal property, this archaeological survey was conducted with the proper permit from the federal government.
UWF Combined Archaeological Field School Description:
The terrestrial portion of UWF’s combined archaeological field schools will advance archaeological research projects on the late prehistory of Pensacola Bay. Specifically, we will be conducting investigations of two Native American sites located on the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The course is organized to benefit those students participating in the joint terrestrial/maritime field school; complete archaeological projects will be conducted during each 4-week half of the semester. As per all of UWF’s archaeological field schools, students will learn about and directly experience a variety of relevant archaeological field techniques and principles, from shovel testing and field orientation, to mapping, proper documentation of the work, and elements of research and career development.