Offered every Fall Semester
Course Description: Archaeology is the study of past human societies through the material remains they left behind. This course will introduce you to the field methods archaeologists use to recover evidence of past societies. You will participate in excavations at the prehistoric site of Moundville, Alabama.

Course Objectives/Learning Outcomes: In this course you will work with other students and the supervising archaeologists as a research team on an archaeological excavation. You will learn what field archaeologists do by doing it! You will learn basic excavation techniques and skills: how to identify, map, measure, recover, and record archaeological data. At the conclusion of the course, you will have excavation experience and an insight into the archaeological research process. Your efforts will also contribute directly to a greater understanding of ancient Moundville.

Research at Moundville
Assisted by students, Dr. Blitz has initiated the Early Moundville Archaeological Project (EMAP). EMAP is a research project to address the origins and early development of the Moundville site. The precolumbian peoples who built mound centers such as Moundville, known as Mississippian, lived in societies with ranked kin groups and strong leaders. Moundville has been identified as the central place of a prehistoric chiefdom, a political organization in which households and communities formed territories under a permanent office of leadership, or “chief.” In contrast to an increased understanding of the developmental history of the Moundville site obtained over the last decade, relatively little is known about the early origins of the site, factors involved in the site’s founding, and the nature of early community organization. The research project will test the hypothesis that competition for control of key resources by emergent leaders was an important strategy in the establishment of chiefs and chiefdoms such as Moundville.

EMAP 2004: Field School Students Excavate Mound X

Mound X is a low mound that dates to the early Moundville I phase, ca. A.D. 1100-1200. Mound X is the only known mound at the site that dates to the time that Moundville was established as a chiefly center. Therefore, material remains recovered from Mound X can be compared to previously excavated early Moundville I deposits from off-mound areas at Moundville and nearby sites to measure economic competition and ritual activities among households at the critical time of chiefdom formation.

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