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Grand Forks, ND

Archaeological Field School, 2008


Field Techniques In Archaeology

Anthropology 380, up to 6 credits
Dates: May 16 - June 27, 2008
Istructors: Dr. Dennis Toom and Michael A. Jackson

Application Deadline: May 1, 2008 (extended!)


The Department of Anthropology, University of North Dakota, invites students to attend its Archaeological Field School in May and June, 2008. Anthropology 380, Field Techniques in Archeology, will be a six-week field class covering both archeological survey and excavation techniques. The field school is scheduled to take place from 16 May through 27 June 2008. The course is being offered in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service and the USDI Bureau of Reclamation.

The 2008 summer field school will be held at two locations: (1) the Elkhorn/Ebert Ranch on the Little Missouri River north of Medora, North Dakota, and (2) the Fairbanks site (32SN174) on the James River (Jamestown Reservoir) north of Jamestown, North Dakota. A map of the two field school locations is provided here.


Elkhorn/Ebert Ranch Survey

A Young Theodore Roosevelt A Young Theodore Roosevelt The first two-three weeks of the field school will involve an archeological survey of riverfront property at the Elkhorn/Ebert Ranch, which was recently acquired by the USDA Forest Service and will be incorporated into the Dakota Prairie Grasslands. The Elkhorn/Ebert Ranch is directly across the Little Missouri River from Theodore Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch, a unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The Elkhorn Ranch was home to Roosevelt in 1885, who remarked that he never would have become President, if not for his time in the North Dakota Badlands. His views on conservation were shaped during his time in western North Dakota.

The Forest Service recently acquired the Ebert Ranch to forestall development across from the National Park unit. The Forest Service is sponsoring the archeological survey of the Ebert Ranch. Its main purpose is to provide the Forest Service with a comprehensive archeological inventory of the property for future management purposes and to help plan the rehabilitation of the ranch property back to native prairie.

The Elkhorn Ranch Today The Little Missouri River in the Badlands Badlands in Evening


Fairbanks Site (32SN174) Deep Excavations

32SN174 Cutbank Profile Photograph32SN174 Cutbank Profile DrawingThe second three-four weeks of the field school will involve extensive test excavations at the Fairbanks prehistoric archeological site on Jamestown Reservoir. The Fairbanks site was discovered in recent years following exposure by shoreline erosion along the reservoir. It contains as many as six well-stratified and deeply buried prehistoric archeological components. The deepest occupation levels were radiocarbon dated to ca. 5335 B.C., placing them within the Early Plains Archaic period. Early Plains Archaic sites are very rare, and are among the earliest known prehistoric sites in eastern North Dakota. Other components identified at the site by preliminary testing include Northeastern Plains Village and probable Middle Plains Archaic. Jamestown Reservoir is managed by the USDI Bureau of Reclamation, the sponsor of the Fairbanks site testing project.

In 2008, we intend to conduct deep excavations into the cutbank face, to a sufficient depth so that all prehistoric components at the site are sampled. Two probable hearth features, located between 4-5 m below the modern ground surface, will be a principal target of the excavation work. Students will receive training in all aspects of archeological fieldwork. This will include the use of different kinds of field equipment and techniques for excavation and artifact recovery, site mapping, documentation, and record keeping. Students will also be instructed in the use of modern electronic mapping techniques and instruments, including work with a Sokkia total station and various types of GPS receivers.

Fairbanks Site Overview View of the 5-m high cutbank 2003 Profiling Work at the Fairbanks Site


Field Trips and Other Activities

Field trips are planned to archeological and other sites of interest in the Northern Plains. We may visit some or all of the following places:


Get Paid for School

We are pleased to announce that this year field school students will be paid minimum hourly wages as student interns while working on the second part of the field school at the Fairbanks site. This recent innovation in field school offerings allows students to earn some income while getting first-hand experience in field archeology and earning valuable university credits. Basic living expenses (room and board) are also provided from field school project funds. Most field schools charge special fees for room and board, but the UND field school does not. This is because it is linked to externally funded research projects which cover these expenses for our students.


Employment After School

UND Anthropology Research anticipates a busy schedule of archeological fieldwork this summer after the field school is over. There is a distinct possibility that we will be able to hire students to work as professionals on various field research projects during the rest of the summer.


Field School Credits and Cost

The field school will be offered as a regular six-week class from May 16th through June 27th, 2008. Students can enroll for up to six semester hours of undergraduate credit in Anthropology 380, Field Techniques in Archaeology (one credit hour per week). The application deadline has been extended to May 1, 2008. Enrollment is limited so please apply early.

Costs of the field school include:

  • a $35.00 admission fee (only applies to students newly enrolled to UND)
  • standard tuition and fees (see table below; rates subject to change without notice)
Undergraduate Residency Category
Tuition (6 credits)
North Dakota
Minnesota (with Reciprocity)

Contiguous States & Provinces, Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), & Midwestern Higher Education Consortium (MHEC): Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washingston, and Wyoming; Canadian Provinces: Manitoba and Saskatchewan

All Other States and Provinces (Nonresident)


Lodging and food will be provided. Local transportation, camping equipment (if needed), and all field equipment are also provided. Additional information regarding UND tuition and fees is available from the UND Student Account Services Office.


Application and Contact Information

For application forms and more information, students should contact Dr. Dennis L. Toom by phone (701-777-2437) or email ( The application is available online as a PDF file for you to print out. Completed applications should be mailed to:

Dr. Dennis L. Toom
Anthropology Research
Department of Anthropology
University of North Dakota
236 Centennial Drive Stop 7094
Grand Forks, ND 58202-7094

Alternatively, you may request an application by writing to the above address. Application forms are also available for general distribution in the Anthropology Department main office in Babcock Hall Room 104, on the UND campus in Grand Forks.

updated 14 April 2008


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